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Singer-Songwriter Weekend

Vance Lehmkuhl

"Real musical diversity" is 'XPN's latest mantra, and the lineup for this year's Singer-Songwriter Weekend (sponsored by Independence Blue Cross) sure fits the bill. While maintaining the core of folk-influenced, lyrically rich acoustic pop which is the weekend's claim to fame, the '98 edition casts a wider stylistic net. Philly's own Huffamoose - particularly with their hit single "Wait" - have a melodramatic craftiness more associated with power pop, but they're here. So is wry bluesman Olu Dara - you know, "your lips, your lips, your lips…"? - and twangy radio faves Southern Culture on the Skids (pictured). All three play Saturday night. The headliner is hardcore "singer-songwriter" Lucinda Williams, but she may be upstaged by a Friday night "intro" concert by special guest Bela Fleck, who is "real musical diversity" in the flesh. His banjo may provide a thread of commonality, as the instrument shows up in the latest work by both Southern Culture and Moxy Früvous (Sunday). What would "Michigan Militia" be, after all, without that funk-bluegrass electric banjo riff? Saturday will be capped with a performance by Marah, and Sunday will, other than Früvous, settle more into the traditional with Francis Dunnery's assured guitar, Patty Griffin's stripped-down stylings, as well as James McMurty and Mary Arden Collins. Those two are playing separately, though they make a nice complementary pair: Collins has a passionate, even ardent voice and basic lyrics, while McMurty has wildly complex lyrics delivered in a careless, deadpan style. He sounds something like what we might have expected David Byrne to evolve into, especially on the "Big Country" offshoot, "Levelland." Even the youngest fans will have a musical area and "Creation Station" hosted by Kid's Corner impresario Kathy O'Connell. Come along for your favorite bands and stay for the ones you never thought you'd go see; that's why they call it diversity!

WXPN Singer-Songwriter Weekend, Fri., July 10, 7-9 p.m.; Sat., July 11, 3-9 p.m.; and Sun., July 12, 3-9 p.m. at Penn's Landing. Info: 922-2FUN.

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