The air along the Wilmington Riverfront this weekend will be filled with more than just the sounds of patrons dining al fresco and little ones running to and from the Delaware Children’s Museum. For the second consecutive year, the atmosphere will be bursting with the sounds of Grammy-nominated artists for David Bromberg’s Big Noise Festival.
Headlining the festival, of course, is local legend Bromberg, who is pleased to see a bill of bands that includes many friends and collaborators, as well as plenty of acts that dabble in everything from jazz and funk to Americana and alt-country.
The two-day festival begins with a kick-off party Friday night at Constitution Yards Beer Garden (which happens to be the host of a Dogfish Head tap takeover), starting at 7 p.m. On Saturday, the gates open at noon over at Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park, which will be the go-to spot for music fans over a 10-hour span.
“I think an outdoor music festival like this is good for the community, and I’m hoping people come out and enjoy themselves,” says Bromberg. “Looking at the bands we have, from Los Lobos to Amy Helm, I think we’re in great shape for a wide range of sound.”
Steve Berlin, keyboardist for Los Lobos and Philadelphia native, says he and the rest of the California group, which includes Bromberg friends David Hidalgo and Louie Perez, are really looking forward to seeing their old friend.
“We know him well and have worked David in the past. We love him, I can tell you that,” says Berlin. “I grew up seeing listening to [David’s] music in the ‘70s and still remember seeing him at the Philadelphia Folk Festival when I was 14. He’s one of the first people I remember listening to early on in my life and he was a big part of why I got into music.”
This will be the first time Los Lobos is playing Big Noise, despite it being the second annual show and third overall. The first took place back in 2009, but turned out to be more work than expected, albeit successful nonetheless.
“The first festival my wife, Nancy, helped pull together, and I think it was more work than she wanted to do,” says Bromberg. “When these guys came in with the idea of doing another one a couple years ago, and we knew they could handle it, we were willing to give it another shot.”
“These guys” include Matt Van Belle and Abe Pitts, of VPM Events. Van Belle was involved with the inaugural festival nearly a decade ago, then running the local events and promotion website, SUPWilmington.com. He recently got back into the events game and is directing the ship again.
“We went to Nancy and pitched the idea of bringing it back, and both she and David were confident in how we laid it out,” says Van Belle. “David’s legacy is such a part of the popularity of this area, and we knew that with him attached, we could bring in big names to support it.”
Those names include bands like Dumpstaphunk (playing Friday night), as well as Railroad Earth (4:45 p.m. Saturday), Amy Helm (2:30 p.m. Saturday) and David Wax Museum (1:30 p.m. Saturday). Van Belle says attendance reached close to 2,000 last year, and he hopes to eclipse that number in 2018, getting hopefully closer to 3,000 throughout the day Saturday.
“The park has a great vantage point and it’s somewhat intimate for an outdoor festival,” says Van Belle. “We’re also stepping things up this year, with an artisan craft market, a vinyl flea market, food trucks, plenty of beer and wine offerings, and a new area called ‘The Grove,’ which includes a second, smaller stage where local bands will play.”
Those bands include seven-piece funk outfit Universal Funk Order (Friday night), roots rockers Apache Trails, Newark indie-folk group Earth Radio, and Wilmington musician Levi Dylan. While Constitution Yards will feature Dogfish Head’s Firefly Ale (being tapped in advance of the upcoming festival in Dover) and other craft brews, the beer garden at Tubman-Garrett will include Blue Moon, Miller Lite, Terrapin Brewery beers, wine from Harvest Ridge in Marydel, and spirits from Painted Stave Distillery in Smyrna.
Tickets for the Friday night kick-off party are $28, while tickets for Saturday are $44. Concert goers can also buy two-day passes for $60 or VIP passes for $125 (with applicable fees for all tickets) at www.bignoisefestival.com. The festival will also feature Rolling Revolution food trucks on-site, to provide plenty of food options for the dancing masses.