Organizers look to make Big Folkin’ Experiment event a city-wide draw

On a recent Thursday evening in West Mt. Airy, young couples, families and groups of friends gathered over candle light, flatbread pizzas and locally brewed beer to enjoy a low-key acoustic performance.

In the warm atmosphere of Earth Bread + Brewery on Germantown Avenue, neighborhood musicians and regulars came together to participate in The Big Folkin’ Experiment, held every other Thursday night at the local eatery.

Liam Gallagher, who co-hosts the series, started off the evening with a Bob Dylan cover. He’s been organizing the event for nearly three years, starting about a year-and-a-half after the restaurant opened its doors.

“It’s a chance to play music in a neighborhood setting,” said Gallagher, who plays guitar and sings. “One of the things we really like to do is pull people out of the crowd and share instruments.”

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The first hour of the night featured a rotating cast of musicians, including a violinist, trumpeter and mandolin player. The musicians and crowd interacted like a large group of friends.

Gallagher attributes the success of the event, in part, to the environment that Earth Bread + Brewery’s owners, Peggy and Tom Zwerzer, have cultivated at the establishment.

“It’s all about local,” he said. ” Local food, local brews, local music and they have local art all over the place.”

While the neighborhood has enjoyed the laid back acoustic nights for years, Gallagher hopes to bring in more musicians and folk lovers from other parts of the city.

That’s where The Big Folkin’ Experiment’s new co-host, Rosa Diaz, comes in. When the singer-songwriter isn’t recording her new album, she’s spreading the word about what she calls a “laid-back neighborhood jam.”

“We’re trying to get more people, more acts. I’m trying to make it more city-wide, inviting friends from Northern Liberties and Fishtown,” said Diaz, who formerly hosted a female singer-songwriter night at the restaurant. “We’re trying to open it up a little.”

The hosts have made getting involved in the “experiment” as easy as possible for musicians who want to play: simply show up with an instrument, grab a beer and join in the fun.

The Big Folkin’ Experiment happens every other Thursday from 9 p.m to 12 a.m. in the upstairs of Earth Bread + Brewery, located at 7136 Germantown Ave.

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