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Sunset over Philly at the 2021 Festival

WXPN's annual XPoNential Music Festival is a necessary part of my summer each year. I attended the festival for the first time in 2006, it's first year at Wiggins Park on the Camden waterfront. I returned in 2007, 2010, 2011, and every year since 2015. The folks at XPN always do a wonderful job of curating an eclectic lineup and each year I have been able to enjoy some of my favorite performers live while also discovering a host of new artists.

The XPoNential Music Festival was where I saw David Byrne's American Utopia for the first of four (so far) times. It's where I heard Grace Potter for the first time and finally saw Old Crow Medicine Show and the Preservation Hall Jazz band after years of waiting. I got to see Brittany Howard headline the 2016 festival from the lawn over at the E-Center with Alabama Shakes and then, two years later, see her with Bermuda Triangle up close on the Marina Stage. In 2007, my Dad and I danced to the Cat Empire in one of their few US appearances the same day we dodged a runaway van over by the Marina Stage. In 2011, we were absolutely blown away by Shemekia Copeland when she came to the apron of the River Stage and filled the park with her voice without the assistance of a microphone. We've seen legendary performers like Charles Bradley, Los Lobos, Mavis Staples, the Indigo Girls, and Bettye Lavette and familiar artists coming together to form new groups like case/lang/viers, Offa Rex, and Colvin & Earle. XPoNential is where I heard Brandi Carlile sing for the first time, where I discovered one of my favorites, Gabe Dixon, had joined the Tedeschi Trucks Band (a new favorite), and where I won tickets to a Belle & Sebastian concert that led to a gig at the Mann Music Center where, on my first day of work, I saw Aretha Franklin in one of her last performances.

With Sarah at the 2018 festival

Apart from the amazing music, this festival has become a family tradition. I have attended with over a dozen different friends and family members over the last fifteen years, with my Dad being my constant XPoNential companion. Even when things go awry, like the aforementioned van incident, Father John Misty's meltdown, or torrential downpours, we have never walked out of XPoNential with anything negative to say.

If Philly Love Notes were still around, I'd certainly submit a love letter to this festival. But instead, you can enjoy this playlist featuring artists from festivals past and songs that have been covered over the years at XPoNential over on Spotify.


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Verb. 1) Pertaining to the behavior of being a Wittwer. 2) Doing odd things that only Wittwers would do. 3) Catchall phrase for the thoughts and actions of Patrick Wittwer.

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