Craig S. Kaplan’s love of Philly music may be in his genes.
His father, Shelly Kaplan, was one of the original partners of Electric Factory Concerts (now owned by Live Nation Entertainment) and the Atlantic City Pop Festival.
Today, Kaplan—who spent the early part of his career at Comcast developing projects with MTV and VH1 and was Schoolly D’s manager in the early aughts—attends up to 50 concerts a year when he’s not busy running his company, Hashtag Multimedia, which focuses on organizing events for nonprofits.
So as the blow of the pandemic began to hit Philly, Kaplan’s thoughts immediately turned to the music community here—the performers, yes, but also those who toil at the venues around the region that, for some of us, are more hallowed and spiritual than religious houses of worship.
“What’s going to happen to all the music venue workers, the people behind the scenes—the ticket takers and hostesses, the people who sweep the floor, the bartenders and stagehands? What’s going to happen to them?” Kaplan wondered.
So he started to dream up an all-day, virtual music event to raise funds for them.
Philly being Philly, with its everyone-knows-everyone-ness, his conversations with musicians pointed him to Andy Blackman Hurwitz, another Philadelphian who’s spent his career in the music industry at companies like Studio 1200 and GroundUP Music Group.
The two got to talking, and landed on the idea of a three-day virtual music festival to be streamed, free of charge, on Nugs.net with the help of Our People Entertainment, both of which are local companies.
Proceeds—which will come from corporate sponsors as well as viewer donations—will go to musicians and music venue workers, and be distributed through the 501c3 30amp Circuit.
Dubbing it Love From Philly and kicking off on Friday, May 1st, day one will be called “Busking on Broad,” and feature music teachers, session musicians and “sidemen,” our working-class Philly musicians.
Day two will be the “Philly @ Home Jazz Festival,” with jazz musicians performing from their homes, plus original dance performances.
Day three, “Sounds of Philadelphia,” will spotlight an eclectic mix of Philly’s most well-known talent.
“Any way that I can be a part of the community and of service makes me feel the connection that we all need right about now,” Bazilian says.
So far, the confirmed lineup includes hometown heroes like John Oates, G. Love, Kurt Vile, Mondo Cozmo, Nick Bockrath of Cage the Elephant, Eric Slick of Dr. Dog, Schoolly D, Dice Raw, Eric Bazilian of The Hooters, Tom Hamilton, Lauren Hart, Marc Brownstein of The Disco Biscuits, Sean Hoots of Hoots and Hellmouth, and many more.
And Kaplan and Hurwitz are still casting their net.
Workers from World Cafe Live, Ardmore Music Hall, and MilkBoy will all be on the receiving end of funding, with additional venues to be confirmed in the coming days.
The Hooters’ Bazilian is, as he says, “riding out the [pandemic] storm” over in Sweden, which has him feeling especially compelled to help with the effort back here at home. “I feel a tremendous homeward pull to Philadelphia,” he says. “Any way that I can be a part of the community and of service makes me feel the connection that we all need right about now.”
Kaplan sees Love From Philly as a blueprint that other cities and communities can follow. And he invites anyone to join Love From Philly’s social media efforts, like singing along with this catchy jingle from G. Love, and spelling out “Love From Philly” using materials that speak to you—just as he did with his own collection of guitar picks.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if we got people from all walks of life and neighborhoods to sing along with the jingle or take and post their picture—maybe you write “Love From Philly” in buttons, or maybe you write it in beans, or rice or go out on the street and write it in chalk or have your three-year-old do a crayon drawing,” Kaplan says wistfully. “I hope that over three three-day period, everybody’s tuned into this and at 7 o’clock they yell out the window love from Philly!”