“The train being right there was one of the things that sold me on the spot,” continues Dilworth. “I wish we had a station outside the Electric Factory.”
Despite being, you know, the suburbs, the Main Line’s musical history can’t be ignored. Besides the 23 East Cabaret—whose roster also included Buddy Guy, Joan Osborne and John Hiatt—and, of course, the storied Main Point a few miles down the road, where everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Tom Waits to James Taylor stopped through, there’s a more recent history that’s almost as storied. That was the handiwork of Kardon and his business partner, Jesse Lundy. From 1998 to 2005 Kardon and Lundy ran The Point in Bryn Mawr, just steps from where the original Main Point was. For seven heady years, The Point was an intimate coffeehouse that hosted acts who would go on to become much, much larger: Norah Jones, Tegan and Sara, Howie Day, Matt Nathanson, Vanessa Carlton.
“The Point was a pretty important place out there,” says Dilworth. “Ever since it closed, there’s been a void of places that present original music on a regular basis.” Which is why, he says, “people are psyched. I’ve had more people come talk to me about this than anything I’ve done in a long time.”
“There’s no question that there’s a hole in the market,” concurs Kardon. “Up until the announcement [that we were opening the Ardmore Music Hall], I’d regularly get calls and emails: ‘When are you opening up a new venue?’ The desire and the need is here.”
But don’t come to the Music Hall looking for The Point amplified. Kardon explains that since the city has exploded with venues in recent years, the booking approach has become very different in the suburbs.
“Johnny Brenda’s, which is my favorite venue in the city, is very specific on the type of shows they will and won’t do,” he says. “But when you’re in town with so many options, I think it’s good to brand yourself like that. Out here, because there’s such a scarcity of venues where people can go see live music, I think you have to be diverse.”
And so, diverse they will be. The initial lineup includes everyone from bluegrass gods the Steep Canyon Rangers, who recently backed up Steve Martin at the Kimmel Center, to the 17-piece MarchFourth Marching Band, complete with jugglers, flame-throwers and stilt-walkers, to, um, Uncle Kracker. And even a throwback to the ‘90s: Just last week, they announced, all on one bill, Soul Asylum, Fountains of Wayne and the Lemonheads’ Evan Dando.
Then, of course, there’s the Hooters. Because when you follow a circle all the way around, you’re bound to end up back home.
PW's Music Issue 2014