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Love from Philly: Highlights from Busking On Broad opening night of the virtual music fest

The Love From Philly virtual music fest kicked off on Friday night, raising over $10,000 to assist Philadelphia musicians and venue workers. It continues on Saturday and Sunday.

Ardmore Music Hall Family Dand closing out the virtual music festival Love From Philly on Friday night.
Ardmore Music Hall Family Dand closing out the virtual music festival Love From Philly on Friday night.Read moreLove From Philly

Love From Philly, the virtual music festival and COVID-19 relief fund-raiser that kicked off Friday as the lockdown workweek drew to a close, is a three-day event that will have showcased over 70 acts by the time it closes out with a RJD2 dance party Sunday night.

Friday’s Busking On Broad start-up session was an unqualified success. Over 51/2 hours, 29 all-local mostly up-and-coming acts played sets ranging form one song to 20 minutes.

In the 10 o’clock hour of the impressively efficient and smoothly staged show — which was produced by Philadelphia music impresarios Andy Hurwitz and Craig Kaplan, with Our People Entertainment — Chris Perella of Ardmore Music Hall, one of the fest’s guest curators, said that the fest had thus far raised over $10,000.

That money is all going to the nonprofit 30 Amp Circuit, which in turn is giving out $330 micro-grants to Philly musicians and music business workers in need. The fest is being livestreamed for free on YouTube via the web site

» READ MORE: Love From Philly, a virtual fest of Philly bands to play for COVID-19 relief

Standout performances on Friday night came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Big bands like Darla, Worldtown and Ardmore Music Hall Family Band, who closed the show with a cover of Talking Heads’ “Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)," filled the boxes of a Zoom screen with self-isolated musicians, pulling off together-while-apart musical interplay without a snag.

The duo Trap Rabbit comprised masked men on drums and keyboards, streaming in-the-pocket funk from their warehouse rehearsal space in Philadelphia’s Harrowgate neighborhood, near Kensington. Songwriter Ali Awan played solo acoustic, sharing unreleased new songs like “Cherry Pits” and “Spacin‘ Out,” whistling while he strummed.

Julian Booker paid tribute to John Prine, who died from the coronavirus last month, with a cover of “Illegal Smile.” And Dylan Hepner of Hepner’s Rebellion added a canine touch to his living room-intimacy approach, performing with his well-behaved dog beside him.

Veteran Philly musicians Charlie Ingui (of the Soul Survivors) and Don Lee Van Winkle (of the American Dream) teamed up for a cover of Jackie DeShannon’s 1969 hit “Put A Little Love In Your Heart.” Ingui altered the lyric in the final to chorus to “Put a little mask on your face,” as he and Winkle covered up their faces on the song’s coda.

Technology was put to creative use. The band billed as Alexxis & the Medicine turned out to consist of singer Alexis Cunningham and guitarist Eric Bazilian of the Hooters, playing a duet though the former was in Philadelphia and the latter in Sweden.

Many performances were creatively staged. Muscle Tough’s psychedelic funk jams were rewarding musically, and also trippy visually offering more to entertain the eye than the standard musician-on-the-couch livestream presentation.

And coolest looking of all was Swift Technique with Lady Alma in which the Philly funk band and veteran soul vocalist came alive in a preproduced segment as animated figures created by Erik Horvitz in a two-song story arc in which they flee to Mars to escape a greedy landlord.

Love From Philly fest is scheduled to continue at 3 p.m. Saturday at with a full slate of Philadelphia jazz acts and 3 p.m. on Sunday with a mix of rock, pop, and hip-hop, including Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs and Freeway.