People’s Light is singing their way through the summer season

Bryan Sheffield

The summer season is here and outdoor concerts are now a regular occurrence around the greater Philadelphia area, much in part to one of Pennsylvania’s largest professional nonprofit theaters, People’s Light. 

The creative organization located in Malvern recently announced the return of a fan-favorite activity—their drive-in concerts with shows spanning from July to September. With COVID-19 easing up in restrictions, safety is not in the back of anyone’s head, including the theater, so People’s Light has also found a few ways to keep the tradition of inventiveness going through some digital platforms as well. 

But for now, those who wish to venture to their outdoor series can do so beginning this Friday, June 25. 

The concerts span in genres and are ticketed by vehicle at $75 per car for up to 5 passengers. Each vehicle gets a parking spot and an adjacent “Home Space” for setting up lawn chairs and enjoying summer fare and refreshing beverages, which can be pre-ordered from The Farmhouse at People’s Light right next door. The menu at the restaurant spans from handheld sandwiches (like their short rib grilled cheese and salmon burger) to salads, to apps (think oven-roasted wings, roasted Brussel sprouts and more) to their entrees which vary in dishes to include pasta primavera to red wine braised short rib and beyond. Spirits, soft drinks and many offerings from the bar can also be ordered while setting up shop at the concert series this summer season. 

Al fresco dining at The Farmhouse at People’s Light. Eve Trojanov

For the main event, the shows, Philadelphians also have a sampling to choose from in the form of what they wish to feast their ears on. 

At 6:30 p.m. on June 25, Erin McKeown will be hitting the stage. The songstress is a familiar presence on NPR and known internationally for her “prolific disregard of stylistic boundaries.” Next up, on July 9, is “The Philly rocker you should be listening to right now” – according to the Inquirer, Ali Awan with another performance with The John Byrne Band following closely on July 16. The Byrne Band will be presenting the music of Irish folk-punk legends Shane MacGowan & The Pogues on that night.

Later in the month of July will be People’s Light’s first-ever Folk Weekend for their outdoor drive-in concert series on July 24 and 25. According to the release, Folk Weekend will feature the “Genre-stretching string popping alterna-folk” music of Patty Larkin; the Tennessee-bred, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who was recently named June’s Artist to Watch by WXPN, Amythyst Kiah; the internationally renowned, alternative folk singer-songwriter and musician, Sean Rowe; and The Dirty Grass Players—who are known for having one toe-tappin’ foot in traditional bluegrass while pushing boundaries with their blazing musicianship.

For Folk Weekend, each day kicks off with an afternoon drive-in concert in the back parking lot, followed by a more intimate performance in The Glen, home to the Theatre’s new outdoor stage with lawn seating. All-day passes are $175 per day, per vehicle up to 5 passengers, and get you access to Saturday or Sunday’s full lineup. 

Following folk weekend, audiences will then be transported back in time to the music of the 30s and 40s with The Hot Club of Philadelphia who will also bring their own take and influences on the classic tunes on the 31st of July, followed by the Chilean Jazz Vocalist who has thrived at the cusp of jazz and Latin American music, Claudia Acuña on the same date. The following day, Philly-raised Jazz pianist and Grammy Award nominee Orrin Evans will be singing his own tunes on the People’s Light stage. 

Patty Larkin. Provided

Later in the summer, those who are hungry for the arts can also check out an award-winning singer-songwriter whose 1990s hits include “Supermodel” and the original “I Kissed a Girl,” Jill Sobule on Aug. 13 and 14, while gearing up for a doubleheader featuring LA-based street singer, guitarist, and roots music revolutionary Sunny War and David Sickmen of the legendary Americana band Hackensaw Boys on Sept. 10. 

For those who are still a bit hesitant in heading out to crowds, Jill Sobule fans can not only catch Jill in Malvern as part of the People’s Light Drive-In Concert Series, but also in her virtual concert ‘F*ck7thGrade,’ presented by Pittsburgh’s City Theatre, which streams through June 30. In this world premiere concert film, the award-winning singer-songwriter takes audiences through a Rock’n’Roll celebration of coming of age and coming out. 

For more information on People’s Light’s Concert Series, visit peopleslight.org

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