The folk music trio Birds in Flight, with Kristen Cowens, Kelly Cox and Chelsea Cornwell performed at the Community Thrift Shop in Red Hill which was one of the new venues this year.
The second annual Make Music Upper Perk music festival approached its second year with the hopes of engaging and gathering the local community in a celebration of music – and it didn't disappoint.
With nine venues, over 150 musicians, ranging from ages six to 80, Make Music Upper Perk strived to create an environment that enabled everyone to share their energy and talents. It was one of only 17 festivals in the entire country.
Started in France on June 21, 1982 as the International Fete de la Musique, the International Day of Music, the phenomenon has spread to six continents totaling over 500 festivals. The festival is always held on the 21st of June, no matter what day of the week it falls on.
This past Saturday's events revealed just how much talent the greater Upper Perkiomen region has, and how many people care and support the cultivation of these talents. Groups like the Weathered Machines, a guitar duo composed of Logan Freund and Matt Stevens from Quakertown, performed at Java Good Day Café in East Greenville.
Freund, who said he started playing guitar at eight after being forced by his mom, and Stevens, who wanted to learn the instrument after hearing it during a high school music class, joined the event to share their passion for playing guitar as well as songs they'd written themselves.
Freund describes their unique genre as "progressive indie rock," but their ability to take inspiration from everything around them allows them to explore everything from folk, to lounge, to even 1930s southern ballads.
Judy Lalinsky brought singing, musical instruments, puppetry, and dancing to her children's program at the Upper Perkiomen Valley Library. Starting off with some egg shakers, Lala led the children in high-energy dances and motions. After pulling bunks of colorful scarves out of her mystery bag, everyone played a game of Popcorn, where the scarves had to be swirled around and then thrown into the air, imitating popcorn popping in a kettle.
Musical books captured the children's attention with their bright colors and hilarious plot lines, and puppetry told the story of five monkeys and a vegetarian alligator. Lala's musical antics got not only the kids moving, but the adults as well; singing and dancing.
"The musical was wonderful, and [Judy Lalinsky] was great with children," said Liz Slifer, mother of Hannah Slifer, a first-time festival-goer. Hannah said her favorite parts were definitely the "alligator [puppet] and the guitar."
Later in the day, Staccato, a self-organized string trio from Upper Perkiomen Middle School, shared their love of modern movie music when they performed a "Pirates of the Caribbean" medley at the library. Kate Allebach accompanied by Jaime Maximuck, both graduates of the Upper Perkiomen High School, performed show tunes from well-known musicals at two different locations. The Red Hill Band played the end of festivities out in style at the porch of Pennsburg United Church of Christ. Events continued until past 11 p.m.
Susan Royer of East Greenville, co-coordinator of Make Music Upper Perk, expressed how the expectations for this year's festivities were exceeded on all levels. Royer shared how it's exciting for her "when a performer who has never sung in public before decides to finally make that first step. "[You hear them and go] 'wow, they're pretty good.'"
Sharing her sentiments was Cathy Sweeney, a co-coordinator of Make Music Upper Perk, who said she was updating the list of performers up till 11 o'clock the night before the event.
"So many people kept calling to find out if there was still an opening anywhere so that they could come and play," she explained.
Plans for next year are already underway. Royer explains the hope getting to "engage the churches since music is such an integral part of worship." June 21 will fall on a Sunday in 2015. The coordinators know that events in future years will have to be addressed differently, especially since many musicians may not be able to participate during the week. But hopes are still high.
Just knowing that Make Music Upper Perk is thriving and growing, the future looks bright for musicians and music lovers alike in the Valley.