The Philly Music Festival will again be a live, in-person event when it returns this fall, and it’s coming back bigger than ever — staged in five venues over five nights in October.
The all-local, multi-genre fest runs from Oct. 6 to 10 with a slate of acts that includes Alex G, Hop Along, Moor Mother, Son Little, Ivy Sole, and Spirit of the Beehive. The Scranton punk-pop band The Menzingers will close out the weekend with two headlining shows at Ardmore Music Hall.
The non-profit festival benefitting local music education was founded in 2017 by Philadelphia lawyer and local scene booster Greg Seltzer. It carried on last year as a scaled-back, virtual-only event, presented over two nights at the Ardmore venue.
This year, it’s growing again. The PMF will kick off at the World Cafe Live Oct. 6 with Wednesday night shows in the venue’s downstairs Music Hall and upstairs Lounge. The PMF then moves on to Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday, Oct. 7.
The next night, Friday Oct., 8, there will be Center City shows at Milkboy Philly and the REC Philly space at the Fashion District Philadelphia. The festival then closes at the Ardmore Music Hall Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9 and 10.
Opening night at the World Cafe Live will be headlined by Alex G, the prolific songwriter out of Havertown. And yes, he is again known as simply Alex G, after years as (Sandy) Alex G, (his dispute with Colorado singer Alex G having been resolved.)
Opening for him will be Spirit of the Beehive, the South Philly psychedelic trio whose new album Entertainment, Death has met with critical raves.
That same night, the upstairs Lounge at the WCL will feature three shows presented by and featuring the Philadelphia poet, musician, and activist Moor Mother. She’ll perform in spoken-word abstract hip-hop style with her band Irreversible Entanglements, and with punk rock collaborator Steve Montenegro as Moor Jewelry.
The Frances Quinlan-led Philly band Hop Along headlines the Johnny Brenda’s date and is sure to sell out the undersized room. AnnonyXL and Lunch are also on the bill.
Soul-rock singer Son Little tops the bill at Milkboy, joined by folkies Stella Ruze and power trio Kelsey Cork & the Swigs. The late night REC Philly show that follows will be free, with rapper Ivy Sole and songwriters Barney Cortez and Moss Mesima.
The Menzingers’ two shows at Ardmore Music Hall will have two different lineups to open them. On Saturday, it’s punk band Control Top and singer Kennedy Freeman’s gauzy indie pop project High Noon. Sunday’s openers are the rock trio Queen of Jeans and the Balkan brass band West Philadelphia Orchestra.
Last year, the PMF raised $50,000 for music education charities like Settlement Music School, Jazz House Kids, and Girls Rock Philly, which are also among this year’s beneficiaries. Seltzer says the festival has also distributed 330 micro-grants of up to $250 “to artists and venue staff struggling with the impact of COVID.”
For 2021, “my target is to exceed the $50,000 donation to music education,” the Ballard Spahr attorney says. “We’ve already raised the money to pay the musicians, and then we want to sell out all the shows and ensure the independent venues do very well.”
The PMF also has a networking aspect, including talks on Oct. 9 at World Cafe Live like “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” about musicians making Philadelphia their home and “Only A Pawn in their Game” about surviving as an indie artist in a corporate environment.
Tickets range from $25 to $39 per show and go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday at phillymusicfest.com.