‘Make Music Philly’ involves whole city in harmony of performers, venues

The are plenty of music festivals and celebrations in Philadelphia, particularly in the summer. What sets “Make Music Philly” apart is its largely decentralized organization.

More than 130 musicians and bands will play for free in Philadelphia on Friday, at venues both professional and slap-dash. There will be a range of talent to match.

“A key ingredient in all this … was a matchmaking software. In essence, a kind of dating service,” said Roger LaMay, general manager of WXPN and chief instigator of Make Music Philly. “Venues, locations, parks — whatever wanted to have music on this day — could go to the site, and any artist of any ability and any type of music could go to the site, and find each other.”

The idea of a national day of music took hold in France decades ago and is only now being tried out in a handful of American cities. Chicago, New York, Denver, Madison, and Philadelphia are sharing software that takes much of the coordination out of the hands of the main organizers.

“It’s really meant to be more of a ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ kind of activity, as opposed to setting criteria,” said LaMay. “You want to be respectful of people, but other than that, as few rules and requirements as possible.”

Musicians include up-and-coming pop R&B singer Joy Ike, at Fleischer Art Memorial; finger-picking guitar virtuoso David Falcone, at the National Constitution Center; indie alt-county trio Sherman playing original songs inspired by the Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman, at Headhouse Square; and classical improvisers Murmuration performing songs literally ripped from the day’s headlines outside of the Kimmel Center.

For complete listing of venues and artists, visit MakeMusicPhilly.org.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.