Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 12:16 AM
I HOPE BY praising Mayor Nutter and his team that selects the acts for the July Fourth celebration on the Ben Franklin Parkway will not come as a surprise. In past years, I've been criticizing the big signature event for a variety of reasons.
Last year it was clear to any reasonable individual that this was not a family event, unless your family is the F-bomb family. Victor Fiorillo, in his column at PhillyMag.com, said Jennifer Hudson was a class act but the other acts could not stop themselves from dropping the F-bomb.
He also wrote, "But that was nothing compared to Nicki Minaj, whose buxom getup no doubt inspired some wishes for a wardrobe malfunction. Minaj managed to fit 'bitch,' the 's-word' and 'm-fer' into her set many times over."
This year's female in the lineup is Jennifer Nettles, who is known principally as the lead voice of the country-pop duo Sugarland. There is almost no chance of Nettles doing anything that is remotely close to last year's profanity-laced concert.
In addition to Nettles, Miguel, the other performer, has not had a history of profanity and raunch. It's also interesting that, in addition to the Roots, these are the only other announced performers.
So could it be that Mayor Nutter has installed a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with safe acts that will not disrespect Wawa, 6ABC and parents? If so, good for him and good for them. Could it be that there was pressure based on last year's embarrassment? Could it be that city officials realized that this nonsense went too far?
If this is what has happened, it's a good start to a better Fourth of July in Philadelphia and a chance to truly back up Mayor Nutter's claim that "Philadelphia owns the Fourth of July." The festivities that go into the Welcome America! celebration are diverse and patriotic. Shouldn't the signature event reflect more of this rather than a Vegas-style production? Boston and Washington have lavish shows that are celebrations of our nation's birthday. Now is an opportunity for Philadelphia to incorporate more of that vibe into the Parkway event.
I'd love to hear suggestions from you on singers and bands that might provide the connection to July Fourth that Philadelphia is sorely missing. A group that comes to mind to me is Gary Sinise's band. This article is from wwwphilly.comSinise is a film and TV star and his role in Forrest Gump as Lt. Dan lead to naming his band the Lt. Dan Band. Their band motto is "Honor, Gratitude, Rock and Roll." Sinise, in his support of the military, would be a great addition to the Parkway.
I also like the band Madison Rising. They are a very patriotic rock band and they have had a big hit with their rock renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful." Hearing "America the Beautiful" on the Parkway on July Fourth would be a great fit.
The bottom line is that Philadelphia appears to be cleaning up its act this July Fourth and it will be interesting to see the reaction to this year's concert. There is a tension between the profanity on the Parkway fans and me. I hope they still draw a big crowd. However, owning July Fourth is not about setting records for crowd size. It's about reflecting to the nation the values that were enunciated from America's most historic blocks. For too many years, Philadelphia didn't "own" the Fourth of July; it felt like we were simply leasing it to shock-acts determined to offend instead of entertain on the nation's birthday.
My radio station last August moved from suburban Bala Cynwyd to 4th and Market streets. Every day when I go to get my car from the parking lot, I see hordes of school kids and visitors from foreign countries touring the historic sites. It reaffirms why Philadelphia was so important in the founding and nurturing of the country. This history should be more of the main course at our biggest celebration.
Mayor Nutter and your team, nice work on good start at cleaning up the party. Now let's move the message of history and patriotism from second-class citizenship status onto the main stage.
Teacher-turned-talk-show-host Dom Giordano is heard on the New Talk Radio 1210 WPHT Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.