City spaces provide outlets for live music

Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five perform at Dilworth Park as part of an ongoing concert series.
Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five perform at Dilworth Park as part of an ongoing concert series.

It did not take long for the area in front of the stage at Dilworth Park to fill with dancers moving to the music of Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five.

The band – fronted by Boyer College of Music and Dance alumna Chelsea Reed – performed as part of the WXPN-curated Dilworth Park Live @ Lunch series. The inaugural series features a free performance from both local and national acts every Wednesday at Dilworth Park. Milton kicked off the series on May 6, which wraps up on June 24 with Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas.

John Vettese, editor of WXPN’s music blog “The Key,” said Center City District Parks approached the radio station to help curate the artists selected to perform at Dilworth Park.

Vettese said that many of the musicians featured in the Dilworth Park series have worked with WXPN in the past or are set to perform at July’s XPoNential Music Festival.

“All the bands we put together for Live @ Lunch are artists that we have working relationships with,” Vettese said. “There’s this familiarity, but also just this excitement to continue working.”

Milton and Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Five performed at the WXPN’s concert series during last winter’s Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Four artists from the Live @ Lunch series, including Pine Barons and Vita and the Woolf, are set to perform at the XPoNential Music Festival.

Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas is performing as a part of WXPN’s year-long project called Zydeco Crossroads, which started with the help of a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

“The idea behind that is bringing musicians who normally just play the zydeco circuit in southern Louisiana up to Philadelphia,” Vettese said.

WXPN is taking advantage of the open spaces popping up around the city as the summer approaches. Vettese said Dilworth Park provides a space for those looking to spend their lunch break outside and get introduced to new artists, or see familiar local artists.

With the help of promoters Chris Ward of Johnny Brenda’s and Jeff Meyers of Boot & Saddle, WXPN and “The Key” curated Waterfront Sessions, a free, outdoor concert series hosted at Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest.

“Last summer, Spruce Street Harbor Park was one of the coolest hangs of the summer,” Vettese said. “It was such a great place to go on any night and then the fact that they had a free show once a month was super, super cool.”

This summer, live music will return on a more regular basis. Performances from local acts spanning a variety of genres will take place twice a month from June to September. Each month will feature a performance at both Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest.

Vettese said the varied audiences, especially at Dilworth Park, are what make the outdoor performances special.

“It’s cool when the music connects with the crowd,” Vettese said.

Tim Mulhern can be reached at timothy.mulhern@temple.edu.

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