The last time we heard from 30amp Circuit’s Andy Hurwitz, he was yelling to me about a local music telethon the very first week that COVID-19 shut everything down – an in-studio festival where a live band and a handful of hosts would sally forth, and do their thing on-line and live streaming-ly, and everybody would send money. Except that the viewing audience freaked out due to the initial fear of a bunch of people in one room not so-socially distanced from each other. Bang. End of festival. End of telethon.
What a difference seven weeks, some common sense and the contribution of Philly artists such as John Oates, Kurt Vile, G. Love, Lauren Hart, The War on Drugs, Schoolly D and more raising money for the Philadelphia arts and entertainment community impacted by this pandemic.
That’s Love From Philly which starts in several hours – May 1 through May 3 – and streamed live.
30amp Circuit, Hurwitz’s Philadelphia-based non-profit promoting health and wellness for working musicians and producing partners Craig Kaplan of Hashtag Multimedia and Our People Entertainment, have created three virtual stages on which musicians, singers and hosts will appear from home. In conjunction with Nugs.net, Hurwtiz, Kaplan and friends will feature a “who’s who of Philadelphia’s music and arts community” including performances by Kurt Vile, G. Love, Eric Bazilian, Schoolly D, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ursula Rucker, Res, Bahamadia, Dice Raw, The Districts, and many more. All festival proceeds will be distributed through grants issued by 30amp Circuit to benefit Philadelphia entertainment professionals suffering from medical and social ills.
Here’s a brief description of how things are broken into three days.
Friday, May 1 – Busking On Broad
Busking on Broad will serve as a platform for the working-class Philly musicians devastated by COVID-19. These people are comprised of music teachers and session musicians. Performances will highlight the gritty working-class fabric of the local music community playing short and sweet improv sets and representing mediums ranging from Classical to Folk and everything in between.
Saturday, May 2 – Philadelphia @ Home Jazz Festival
Philadelphia @ Home Jazz Festival will remind viewers that the city’s jazz history is second to none. Celebrate Philly’s rich heritage with great music, dance and educational programming featuring collaborations and performances by some of Philly’s jazz heroes.
Sunday, May 3 – Sounds of Philadelphia
Love From Philly will culminate with an eclectic melting pot of musicians spanning the sonic spectrum of Philly’s most well- known and respected talent.
In case, you like me really like me, I – A.D. Amorosi – will be hosting throughout the Sunday event from my home. All of the performers here will be doing likewise – performing from their home, and not mine. With that, I want to see some real money spent on my day.
“The goal for Love From Philly is to bring help, hope, inspiration and resources to our entertainment and arts community who’ve been hit particularly hard in these difficult times,” said Kaplan in a prepared statement. “One hundred percent of all proceeds will go directly to individuals and families that need it the most. Equally important, the event will provide a platform for our artists to be seen and heard at a time when our city needs them the most.”
“Our independent contractors and freelancers are the lifeblood of our company,” says OPE Founders Joe Esposito and Will Horrocks. “Our virtual streaming studio allows us to social distance in production while bringing Love From Philly into people’s homes and aid to our friends and colleagues who need it most.”
Day of show, Hurwitz was nervously pacing around, revved by the energy of the show day. Now, for Love From Philly, he’s psyched, but in a different way. “Usually I would be hugging artists, laughing with venue staff, schmoozing with friends,” he said. “Today feels different though. I think I’m going to drive to Belmont Plateau and watch it in my car really loud.”
At the very last minute, Hurwtiz sent this – a true glorious word vomit of delight as to what his Love from Philly fest will be…
1. It’s amazing that it’s even happening. With Version 1 being shut down we were all a bit demoralized and tail between our legs – despite the enormity of doing the only live telethon for musicians this city has ever seen. It just seemed like we put so much into the concept that getting shut down by Governor Wolf’s first quarantine and the reality of this impending gloom just cast a dark shadow over what we were trying to accomplish. We were not trying to do a new version anytime soon. But what we weren’t anticipating was the steady flow of emails to 30amp.org from Philly musicians asking for help, sheepishly, and with such tragic stories that we were motivated for this Version 2.0.
2. Equally amazing that we were the ones to produce this – the largest gathering of Philly musicians ever and the most diverse Philly festival (ever?) and the largest live festival of 2020 by far nationally (albeit virtual)! Like, none of us are concert promoters. While AEG and Live Nation claim to own Philly and we love them for what they do – those guys were too busy trying to handle the collapse of their businesses while we little people were quick to the streets sensing an opportunity for this new way of connecting artists and musicians and honestly I am shocked how easy and seamless it was considering that there isn’t a concert promoter (or agent, or manager, or talent buyer) on our team.
3. It has to be noted how amazing quickly this was all built. I mean, six weeks max from idea to debut? Putting together a team of producers and artists and sponsors and, all the above in less than 2 months? I was lucky enough to be a part of the team that created the GroundUP Fest in Miami and that’s a very small micro-festival run by one band (Snarky Puppy) and it took us about 3 plus years from idea to birth and that thing lost money in its first year (now making tons). Here, because the talent was all free, they all did it for the cause. And there was no venue, insurance, staff… I mean, my company covered maybe $2500 worth of expenses – art, website, miscellaneous shit. And Our People Entertainment kept their whole company working during this time with no work and applied all those human resources. But man, we were making money from the second we started and we walk into this fest with 30K of funds already being distributed all over the city from venue workers all over town. Not just the obvious spots man. We’re talking the DJ from Chickie and Pete’s, the Opera singer from Kensington, the Mural Artist from North Philly… We opened the fund to all art forms and venue workers. Anyway, we did all this shit and made money like in the time it takes most companies to agree on a color scheme.
4. It is amazing how diverse and eclectic this line-up is. Just read it top-down and but really how fucking incredible Philly is. We could have done this for 7 days and still have an all-Philly fucking blowout. We can be totally self-sustaining musically if this pandemic ramps up. We don’t need no stinking New Yorkers or anybody! We got it all right here and can go toe-to-toe in any genre.
5. It is amazing how nice Philadelphians are and how much love they really have. True brotherly love and sisterly affection that even Ben Franklin and his homies didn’t have. But you only see this when it’s some Philly on Philly shit. We take care of our own like no other town, yet we are so misunderstood. Jason Kelce’s classic quote “No one likes us, we don’t care!” Yes, me and my team put this together but everybody across the board was so incredibly supportive and made this all so easy that we were able to accomplish what I was saying in #3 with ease and grace. No bullshit music biz, no attitudes, no squabbles, or nothing. And not just musicians and industry peeps.
6. It is amazing that so many people have contributed – and this is important, man – specifically to help music and art. As the director of a music and art non-profit, I can tell you that most of the time, most folks don’t care to contribute to these causes – there are too many other problems in the world, and it’s the reason why arts funding is constantly being cut and slashed on every level. But for this, we’re seeing incredible donations. And it’s not just the big ones (and there are big ones!) but the dozens and dozens and dozens of regular folks just sending like 10 bucks! It’s all super encouraging when we think of the long term affect this is all gonna have. Because, yo! Our little $330 micro-grants are a huge help today but what about tomorrow? That’s what we gotta think about next because things are gonna get worse before they get better, for most artists.
7. It is amazing how talented Low Cut Connie is. I never really wrapped my head around that dude before. And Zeke Fucking Burse and St. James & the Apostles, Ali Awan and… We just have more talent in this city than we ever did.
– Andy Hurwitz