The above band, Low Cut Connie, is a local product, but the festival has acts from around the world. LCC has been active for about a decade but is getting bigger, and they’re a very entertaining band. We’ve already bought tickets for a show around Christmas at Union Transfer. We like that venue and it should be an excellent show.
This was the third year in a row that we’ve attended the Xponential Music Festival in Camden with our friends Diane and Geoff. They are now living in Richmond, VA., but they make the trip up for what the shows. The event has been sponsored by local radio station WXPN for over 25 years, the last 15 staged at Wiggins Park in Camden, with the headliner acts at the nearby BB&T Pavilion. There are two stages at Wiggins, the larger of the two being the River Stage seen in the LCC shot. Sound quality at the outdoor venues was actually quite good; it sucks at BB&T. That venue, operated by the concert promoter Live Nation, might be one of the worst in the region. And because it’s Live Nation, also among the most expensive. As in $18 beers and $10 pizza slices.
Other highlights included Caroline Rose, an engaging young talent who really knows how to work the crowd. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is a blues guitarist from Lousiana who was quite amazing on Friday. Hard to believe he’s only 19. On the other end of the scale age-wise was Bettye LaVette. She cut her first record at 16 but didn’t attain the fame of her Motown-era peers. She’s now 73 but still a powerful singer. (She referred to herself as the Susan Lucci of R&B in reference to the daytime drama actress often passed over for awards.) On the mainstage Saturday was Blondie, fronted by the now 75-year-old Debbie Harry. Hard to believe she’s that age.
Blondie sounded good but the audio for headliner Elvis Costello was horrible. We aren’t sure, but the volume may have been too loud. It seemed distorted, with lyrics to even his best known songs difficult to understand. Friday night’s headliner was the Irish rocker Hozier. His audience was mostly young women and with his long flowing mane, the attraction is obvious. (Pat and Diane also appreciated the long flowing mane on Blondie’s lead guitarist, the only band member who didn’t appear to be around in Blondie’s heydey.) Hozier is a decent act but we aren’t the target demographic. We stayed for an hour then headed for the ferry. One of the warmup acts was another Philadelphia product, Japanese Breakfast. Heard enough that we would try and catch them again around town if we could.