This past weekend Nick and I traveled to Bethlehem, PA for Musikfest 2008. This is the 25th anniversary of the festival, and each year, the event attracts larger and larger crowds. It recently reached over 1.2 million attendees! Musicians from every genre perform on one of 14 different stages across town. Speaking of the town, it’s beautiful! Bethlehem was founded in the 1700s by a small group of Moravians and exhibits a strong German influence to this day.
Nick and I arrived late Friday night, but not too late to head downtown with Uncle Steve and Aunt Brenda, Uncle Jim and Aunt Vicki. Main Street was a mess of teeny-boppers, but our destination (Volksplatz) was packed with middle-agers, families, and young folks such as ourselves who appreciate good ‘ole funk, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll. We filled our 22-oz. plastic mugs with lager from the closest beer truck and partied with the Philadelphia Funk Authority. They were incredible! We sang along to Billy Ocean, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown and formed a “love train” under the enormous white tent. (I wonder how much they charge for wedding receptions … )
Saturday morning Nick and I joined Steve and Brenda on a peaceful 8-mile bike ride along the Lehigh River into downtown Bethlehem. We parked our bikes by the library and strolled around town before heading to Tally-Ho Tavern for sandwiches and pitchers of beer. We then climbed back onto our bikes for the return ride. There was a killer hill just before we reached the neighborhood, but we successfully climbed it and rewarded ourselves with a dip in the pool. We ate burgers and dogs for dinner before going back to Musikfest. That night we were entertained by the sounds and shenanigans of the Trailer Park Troubadours — what a riot! Their genre is “rockin’ folkabilly,” and their comedic lyrics tell the stories of blue collar life in an American trailer park. One of our favorite songs was “Skinny Women Ain’t Hip.”
Before we left on Sunday we caught a few more acts featuring talented blues and folk musicians, acoustic guitars and a surf rock instrument called a “theremin.” The instrument’s pitch and volume is controlled by waving your hands around the antennas — wild! We also sampled a selection of tasty food scattered around town — bratwursts with sauerkraut, gyros, and spicy roasted corn.
What a fantastic weekend! The crowds were larger than I expected, the beer flowed more freely than I thought was legal, and the musicians were talented, engaging, and entertaining. I hope to return next year!
Philadelphia Funk Authority
Trailer Park Troubadours
Trailer Park Troubadours
“Skinny Women Ain’t Hip”