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Musical bliss

WXPN general manager Roger LaMay said listeners who like the station’s diverse blend of music will love the 18th annual XPoNential Music Festival.

There’s local talent, including David Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket, featuring members of the Hooters. The festival is the first stop on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s latest tour and the band’s first Philadelphia show since 2007. Booker T. boasts induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And, 12-time Grammy Award winner Emmylou Harris will appear at the festival for the first time as the closing act.

“It’s got something for everybody,” LaMay said.

LaMay has been at WXPN (88.5 FM) for eight years. Previously, he was general manager of Fox 29.

The festival had been held on the concrete of Penn’s Landing for more than a decade until LaMay moved it to its present site, Wiggins Park, on the Camden waterfront.

“It’s been a great home for us,” he said. “It’s on grass. People can spread out. It’s a great location along the river, and you have a great view of Philadelphia.”

WXPN is the non-commercial, member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. The station bills itself as a leader of adult album alternative music. Rock, blues and folk music are the staples.

At the festival, there will be two stages. The natural amphitheater, LaMay said, makes for great sound.

Ticket sales are brisk, and more than 15,000 people are expected to attend, thanks to a combination of marketing from the station and the bands. Some of the acts have very loyal followings.

LaMay describes the crowds as mellow and family-friendly.

Since WXPN doesn’t go crazy outbidding other festivals for acts, it can keep tickets moderately priced. There are discounts for station members.

Bad weather won’t dampen the spirits.

“We go rain or shine,” he said. “We’ve had pretty good weather over the years.”

The general manager and his team start meeting weekly and booking acts each January.

LaMay believes every festival has been a good one, and fans seem excited for the upcoming weekend of entertainment.

“It comes together over a six-month period, and every year it kind of works,” he said. “We’ve gotten great feedback for this year’s lineup.”

The lineup includes South Philadelphia’s Kuf Knotz, who will make his second appearance. He played at the 2008 festival as part of a band called The Hustle.

Knotz blends hip-hop, soul, blues, jazz and rock. His debut album, Boombox Logic, was released last October, and he’s recording a second album. He hosts monthly BoomBox Collective concerts at World Café Live.

“I’m very excited,” said Knotz, who will perform Sunday at 1 p.m. “I’m on the main stage, and it’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend.”

The lineups and stage placements are designed to guarantee good entertainment all day long, for three days.

Knotz professes to be a big fan of Ben Folds. He likes the sounds of Ra Ra Riot. And he’s friendly with Kingsfoil, a Central Pennsylvania band discovered by radio veteran Helen Leicht.

In all, there will be more than 30 bands. One-quarter to one-third of the performers are local.

“That’s part of what XPN is all about,” LaMay said of giving local acts an opportunity.

What the festival has been all about, at least in some years, is helping to launch some careers. Among those who’ve gone on to bigger and better things after performing at the festival are Amos Lee, Ingrid Michaelson, Grace Potter and Dr. Dog.

LaMay guarantees that fans will see their old favorites and discover new favorites.

“There are bands and artists that are clearly in our sweet spot, our core,” he said. “And there are bands with other audiences. One thing I promise just about everybody is that you’ll see somebody else that you’ll go away talking about.” ••

Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215–354–3034 or twaring@bsmphilly.com

Fine tuning . . .

WXPN (88.5 FM) will hold its annual XPoNential Music Festival from July 22 to 24 at Wiggins Park on the Camden waterfront. The park is located between Adventure Aquarium and the Susquehanna Bank Center.

Gates open at 5 p.m. on July 22 and noon on July 23–24. The music starts a half-hour later.

Kathy O’Connell will host a Kids Corner Area from noon to 6 p.m. on July 23–24. Activities include crafts, exhibits, amusement rides, themed gardens and nature walks.

Early-bird tickets are available through Friday at a cost of $25 per day or $50 for a three-day pass. Children ages 2 to 12 pay $5.

For tickets, a list of performers or more information, call 215–222–1400 or visit http://www.xpn.org

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