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A musical tribute to Steve Weiss

They bang the drum in memory of Steve Weiss.

In August, percussionists from around the world will gather in Philadelphia for a three-day festival and pay homage to Steve Weiss, who helped grow the local drumming community.

Weiss is remembered as the founder of the Willow Grove-based percussion retail business that bore his name. Weiss died in 2014 after a long courageous battle with prostate cancer.

The second annual Steve Weiss Mallet Festival will kick off with workshops beginning on Aug. 1, leading up to a free concert at the Settlement Music School at 416 Queen St. in South Philly on Aug. 5. It will include some of the top percussionists in the world performing on mallet instruments. Many were musicians who were helped by Weiss along the way.

The aim of the festival will be to shine a light on percussionists while keeping Weiss’ memory alive.

It will feature acts such as Warren Wolf, Leigh Stevens, Nancy Zeltsman, Andrea Venet, Jon Singer, Jay Hoggard, David Friedman, Tony Miceli, Behn Gillece, Joe Doubleday and the Temple University Mallet Ensemble.

“The goal of the festival is to bring these instruments usually found in the back of the orchestra to the front of the stage, into the spotlight and performed on by the best players in the world,” said Tony Miceli, founder and curator of the festival.

Weiss started his business shortly after high school by renting out percussion instruments. He transitioned into a career as an authorized dealer of Ludwig/Musser and Slingerland/Deagan, which were known as two major manufacturers. He moved his growing business to Willow Grove in 1998, settling in a 13,500-square-foot store and an accompanying 22,000-square-foot warehouse that was added a few years later. After Weiss’ death, Dan Sullivan took over the business and kept Weiss’ name on the building.

Weiss was well known for helping spread the joy of percussion to student drummers everywhere. It’s one of the reasons one of the concerts in the festival will be aimed toward children.

“It is the goal of this festival to present these instruments to a Philadelphia audience that includes children,” Miceli said. “Owner Dan Sullivan insists that one concert be a children’s concert.”

The first concert, at 7 p.m. on Aug. 5 (Marie Louise Curtis Settlement Music School at 416 Queen St.) will be an intimate concert featuring Leigh Smith, Nancy Zeltzman, Andrea Venet, David Friedman, Jon Singer, Tony Miceli and the Temple University Jazz Mallet Ensemble. 

For more info, visit www.tonymiceli.com.

On Aug. 6, at 8 p.m. at Chris’ Jazz Cafe at 1421 Sansom St., there will be an All-Star Vibraphone Jam Session featuring Warren Wolf, David Friedman, Tony Miceli, Behn Gillece and Joe Doubleday, Tom Lawton, Lee Smith and Byron Landham. Tickets at https://www.chrisjazzcafe.com.

Aug. 7 at noon will be a children’s concert at the Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, featuring David Friedman, Nancy Zeltsman, Andrea Venet, Joe Doubleday, Temple University Jazz Mallet Ensemble, Madison Rast and Dan Monaghan. For more information, visit https://www.barnesfoundation.org.

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