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Ode to Billie Joe at the Philadelphia Folk Fest

Noon, Saturday, August 15 in the Cultural Tent
I'll never forget watching the great Taj Majal on the Main Stage at the Philadelphia Folk Fest, rushing rivers of sweat pouring down his face--and then how after he finished his set, an annoying-looking scrawny kid with fresh beeswax dreads and glow sticks immediately started bothering him for a photograph as I cringed in horror, wanting to stop it, this unholy collision. Taj didn't pay him any mind though. He just put his giant arm up like a wall, and kept walking until he vanished into the black night forevermore, as I remember it.
Levon. His big beautiful smile while bashing the drums, and how afterward he gave me one of those drum sticks and it is sitting next to my stereo. Lucinda, standing with her hip cocked like squaring off in a duel, ripping through Changed the Locks
And yes this is bragging but when Wanda Jackson missed her set because of traffic, I had a glass of white wine with her and her lovely husband, and Wanda showed me phone photos of their recent vacation at a Sandals resort and cracked jokes about not leaving the hotel room. 
I know. 
This year, the big headliner is Lyle Lovett and his Big Band on Saturday night.
I am hoping that Lyle will check out the program and see that I'll be leading a discussion on Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe in the Cultural Tent at noon, and come by. We'll laugh and joust witticisms, and then share a falafel sandwich & lemonade from one of the carts, and I'll ask him about that whole Julia Roberts episode and if he ever considered naming a record "Or Leave It." He'll pretend I'm the first person to make that joke, and I will appreciate that, and there may be an awkward moment we choose to ignore, together.
If the A/V works (you never know at these things), I'll be screening some footage of Bobbie Gentry performing in Las Vegas.
Also! Greg Johnson, Blues Curator and Associate Professor at Ole Miss, will be at Fest talking about the Kenneth A. Goldstein Folklore Collection. Goldstein was a folklorist, and is one of the founders of the Philadelphia Folk Festival. I met Johnson while in Mississippi this spring, and he is a wonderful guy and I plan to stop by Sunday. 

A bluegrass version of the Who's rock opera Tommy, a discussion on the cultural significance of Bobbie Gentry's groundbreaking "Ode to Billie Joe," and more live music than most people might hear in an entire year is all on tap at this weekend's Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Now in its 54th year, the Folk Festival draws thousands of music lovers to a musical mix of everything from traditional folk to electric blues, gospel, and zydeco.

"Friends and fans in the area have been begging us to play there for years," said Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. "It's like a dream come true to have been asked."

If you are living the dream at Fest this weekend & want to say hello, tweet me @taramurtha.