Courier Post reports: Wiggins Park hosts three-day XPoNential Music Festival
12:17 AM, Jul. 20, 2012
The weather might be hot, but the entertainment at the XPoNential Music Festival — which kicks off today at Camden’s Wiggins Park — promises to be even hotter. Now in its 19th year, the weekend event begins at 5 tonight and runs until Sunday night. The festival will showcase dozens of musical talents running the gamut from pop to blues-rock, alt-country to singer-songwriters.
“Philosophically, this festival is what I call our ‘gathering of the tribe,’ ” said WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay. “Our mission is to connect artists and audiences, and we love to be able to do that in person, as well as through the radio. We strive to provide as much music over this weekend for the least amount of money.”
Some of the acts scheduled to appear this year include JD Souther, Diego Garcia, Kathleen Edwards, Dawes and acoustic guitar wizard Kaki King.
There’s a lot new at this year’s festival, LaMay noted, with the biggest change being the “add on” shows Saturday and Sunday nights at the nearby Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Wilco, The Avett Brothers and Dr. Dog on Saturday, and Counting Crows on Sunday. Lawn seat admission to both shows is included with the purchase of a three-day pass to the XPoNential fest.
“Partnering with the Susquehanna Bank Center has enabled us to get bigger bands, like Counting Crows and Wilco,” LaMay said. “Bands today really rely on their touring revenue and things have gotten competitive in terms of getting headliners in. By offering these at a larger venue, we were able to attract them and still keep the price down and preserve the ‘weekend festival’ vibe.
“We hope to see about 15,000 people come out, all told,” he said, noting that last year’s excessive heat proved challenging for festival-goers and performers alike: “We’ll be turning up the breezes on the river this year,” he quipped.
The festival has changed locations (and names) a few times since its inception in 1994, going from a one-day singer-songwriter event at Penn’s Landing to the weekend-long musical smorgasbord it is today. 2012 marks its eighth year at Wiggins Park.
As for the musicians, LaMay said, the festival provides a great opportunity for them to connect with longtime fans — and to recruit new ones through the power of their talent.
One buzz-worthy act making his first appearance at the festival is New York-based singer-songwriter Diego Garcia, whose debut solo album, “Laura,” has been a huge hit with the XPN crowd during the past year. The “Laura” in question is now Garcia’s wife, but he wrote the album’s songs prior to their marriage, when they had broken up.
“I’d written the songs for cathartic reasons. And when it came to recording them, my goal was to make something as uncompromised, as beautiful and real as our story, and my love for her,” Garcia said. “I’m so pleased these songs have resonated with so many listeners.”
Garcia will perform an acoustic set Sunday at the festival with a five-piece band, adding that he thinks he’s “at my best onstage.” He said he plans to play several tracks from “Laura” as well as some new songs, and a few cover tracks, such as Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”
“I’m excited to be part of this; the people at XPN are like family to me,” Garcia said, adding that he feels “very connected” to his Philly-area audience.
In addition to the musical acts performing on two stages, there are plenty of other activities, too.
Returning again to the festival is the Village Green, where festival attendees can learn about sustainable and eco-friendly products and services in the region.
A Crafts Village along the marina will feature handcrafted creations for sale. Ticket holders can also visit the Camden Children’s Garden from noon to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. (XPN’s Kids Corner host Kathy O’Connell is not attending this year; she is recovering from surgery).