From October 10 – 15, Philly Music Fest returns for six nights, in six venues with twenty-one artists who consider Philadelphia home. A non-profit organization founded by a local husband and wife team, Greg and Jenn Seltzer, PMF has donated more than $275,000.00 to local musical education programs and artists in need — after paying all venues and artists to perform at the festival. PMF features Jazz, Rock, Hip Hop, Punk, Bluegrass, Folk, Spoken Word and Americana artists.
Philly Music Fest has sold out the last three years. Tickets can be purchased via the festival’s official website or via the venue websites including World Café Live, Johnny Brenda’s, Ardmore Music Hall, MilkBoy, REC Philly and Underground Arts.
This year’s event will host national headliners that have appeared recently at major festivals and venues such as Coachella, Firefly, Bonnaroo, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Riot Fest, Bowery Ballroom, Outside Lands, South By Southwest, The Fillmore, and Newport Folk Festival.
Additionally, Philly Music Fest does its homework and focuses on emerging, up and coming bands from Philadelphia.
This year’s lineup features Low Cut Connie, Mannequin Pussy, a “To Be Announced” surprise national headliner, Ron Gallo, Screaming Females, Shamir, Empath, Saleka, Electric Candlelight, Lady HD, Kayleigh Goldsworthy, Ghosh, Echo Kid, Max Swan, Stereo League, Marielle Kraft, Riverby, The Ire, Justmadnice and Perpetual Motion.
“It’s really cool to see how Philly Music Fest has grown,” says Adam Weiner whose band Low Cut Connie returns to PMF as a headliner after playing a much smaller Philly Music Fest in 2018. “They are doing great work and I hope it continues. Music education gives kids a lifeline that they can cling to throughout their lives, and I am very happy to be participating in this festival and echo its mission.”
Founder, curator and producer, Greg Seltzer tells ABS, “We have the incredible fortune of programming a genre-less music festival. There are few analogs in the music industry. The ability to book bands from any genre, so long as the bands are from Philly, enables Philly Music Fest to remain fresh – remain cutting edge in terms of the lineup, and constantly evolve and remain diverse.
“In addition to being genre-less, our secret weapon is the non-profit business model of Philly Music Fest. By not prioritizing profit, Philly Music Fest is able to prioritize artists and independent venues, then donate the remaining proceeds of the 7-day festival to music education for kids. We’ve got no staff, hardly any overhead – we’re laser-focused on our mission.”
“Philly has embraced me immensely,” says Shamir. “I’ve never felt truly a part of a music scene until I moved to Philly which is a huge part of why I moved here. Philly has provided me the space to continue to be inspired while also showing support when it matters. I couldn’t ask for a better home or scene. I didn’t grow up with music education programs at my disposal. I was an anomaly in my middle school for being able to play guitar because I taught myself despite some of the surrounding schools having a guitar program. My reality shouldn’t be the norm so anytime I can help change that, I will.” Shamir will headline at Milkboy, along with the retro Rock of Echo Kid and the Jazz and R&B of Max Swan.
Mannequin Pussy is Philly’s most recent “breakout” band, as they played a critically acclaimed set in April at Coachella and are booked for Firefly in Delaware and Riot Fest in Chicago. “Inspiring new generations of artists is what helps keep music and music scenes alive – the work that PMF is doing is so important to our community and to the people who have been unable to work and perform over the last two years,” enthuses Mannequin Pussy’s Missy Dabice. “Philly is so lucky to have a festival that is so supportive of local talent.”
Philly Music Fest’s impact has grown each year. In 2017, the non-profit donated $15,000 to music education programs. In 2018, the total increased to $25,000, then $40,000 in 2019, $50,000 in 2020 and $75,000 in 2021. Programs that receive donations include Rock to the Future, Girls Rock Philly, Settlement Music School, Musicopia, Beyond the Bars, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, Live Connections, and Play on Philly. In addition to the donations directed to music programs for kids, PMF deployed over 330 micro-grants in 2020 and 2021 to local musicians and venue staff struggling as a result of COVID-19.
Evidencing the positive impact on local bands and the trajectory that bands have experienced after playing Philly Music Fest, Jill Ryan of Great Time recalls, “Philly Music Fest was the first music festival Great Time ever played and it felt good to participate in something that’s purpose was to uplift fellow up-and-coming acts as well as more established artists.” Great Time played PMF in 2018 and while they are not booked on the 2022 lineup, this year the band is playing Peach Fest as well as headlining Brooklyn Bowl, after playing WXPN’s XPoNential Festival in 2021. “I love that PMF donates proceeds to support local organizations that provide music lessons and opportunities to kids in the area. And the fact that these shows take place in independently owned venues around the city is awesome.”