STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
The fourth Haverford Music Festival is going to be as much a community block party as it is a concert.
“It’s a really nice end of summer celebration. Chances are you’ll see some friends. We want to encourage families to come out and enjoy the festival,” said publicity coordinator Barry Gutman. A Havertown native now living in Bryn Mawr, he said that the festival has “that sense of community” to it.
Set for noon to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 6, the free event organized by the Haverford Township Civic Council will feature food booths, a beer garden, children’s activities and more along Darby and Eagle roads in Havertown. According to civic council president Chris Whiting, attendance estimates top 15,000 people.
There will be more than 30 performers on four stages. Among the headlining acts will be Beatlemania Now, Chico’s Vibe, singer/songwriter Ben Arnold, guitarist David Falcone, and Audra McLaughlin of NBC’s “The Voice” teamed up with her friends in the Sara Spicer Band. The Cabin Dogs, which Gutman described as Americana in the vein of The Band and The Felice Brothers, were added just last week.
Beatlemania Now’s multimedia Beatles tribute show — complete with several costume changes and songs from their entire career — at this year’s festival coincides with the 50th anniversary year of The Beatles’ arrival in the U.S.
Broomall resident Scot Arch, who plays the role of John Lennon, said that the band has been marking the occasion by opening their shows with 20 minutes of songs from The Beatles’ set list from their first Washington DC concert. Besides the hits, they also reverently perform songs the Fab Four never took outside the recording studio, such as “Your Mother Should Know” from “Magical Mystery Tour.”
Beatlemania Now is nearing the end of a three-year residency run at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. This summer, they’ve been performing every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, said Arch, who started out playing in character as John Lennon on “truck and bus tours” of a traveling version of the Broadway show “Beatlemania.”
Beatlemania Now is “my own version of the show,” he said.
Of Cooper Franson, who will take the stage as Paul McCartney, Arch said: “You couldn’t find anyone who sounds more like Paul.”
The Beatles sound is fully realized with Chris Colon as George Harrison, Eric Smith (son of Fran Smith Jr., who played McCartney opposite Arch’s Lennon in “Beatlemania” and has played in Philly groups like Johnny’s Dance Band and The Hooters) as Ringo Starr, and offstage musician Zach Harski.
“This Beatles show isn’t about The Beatles, it’s about the ‘60s … haircuts, fashion, boots. They changed a whole generation of people,” said Arch, adding that he’s seen teens and young children also appreciate the music.
Gutman dubbed the nine-piece Chico’s Vibe “the ultimate party band.” “Fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, they know it all,” he said, noting that members of the band have toured and recorded with acts such as Beyoncé, Aretha Franklin and The Temptations, and that Prince Charles has seen Chico’s Vibe perform.
An alumna of the Let There be Rock School Delco, McLaughlin will be showcasing her song writing as well as her singing. “This is a great opportunity to folks to know what she’s been doing since ‘The Voice’,” said Gutman.
Although festival admission is free, a $2 donation gets you a numbered wristband that makes you eligible to win raffle prizes donated by area businesses (check www.haverfordmusicfestival.org after the festival to see if you won). The wristband is also good for slide-all-afternoon on the inflatable slide for young children.
There’s also a raffle for $500. Cash Raffle tickets are $1, or an arm’s length for $10. The drawing will take place at about 8:15 p.m. on the Field Stage. You don’t need to be present to win because the winner’s name will be posted to the festival website.
Want to volunteer? Need volunteer service hours? You can join in the fun by selling raffle tickets, T-shirts, souvenirs and more. “The HMF Committee has about 30 volunteers, with an additional 100 volunteers needed for the day of the festival,” Whiting said in an email.
“They’re really needed from around 6 to 9:30,” noted Gutman. Click on the volunteering tab at Haverfordmusicfestival.org.
According to a press release, to date more than $30,000 raised from the event has been distributed for community projects and organizations, including Haverford High School’s Jazz Residency Program, the Grange Estate’s outdoor amphitheater, Haverford Township’s Adult School and Music Works, the friends of Haverford Trails, Haverford Township’s Dog Park and Kelly Music for Life.
For more on the 2014 Haverford Music Festival, check https://www.facebook.com/pages/Haverford-Music-Festival/199756656728878.