Haddon Heights Preps for 7th Rhythm and Brews Festival Saturday


The annual street festival returns with three stages of live music, 15 breweries, 15 food trucks, and an all-out block party from 3 to 9 p.m. May 18.

By Matt Skoufalos | May 16, 2024

Rhythm and Brews 2019. Credit: RC HeliCam.

This weekend, the nonprofit business development group HIP, Inc. brings Rhythm & Brews, its spring music festival back to Station Avenue in Haddon Heights for a seventh year.

Over the better part of a decade, the show has become a mainstay of the borough calendar of events, with its showcase of local music, craft beverages, and food trucks.

Every year, organizers dedicate a portion of the proceeds from sales of reusable festival cups to a local cause. In previous years, these contributions have supported neighbors recovering from organ transplants, children battling pediatric illnesses, and victims of natural disasters.

For 2024, the cause is especially dear to festival organizers, with contributions set to benefit the family of the late Steve Poponi of Gradwell House Recording Studio.

Poponi was a sound engineer and partner in a business that has become a mainstay of downtown Haddon Heights since he and David Downham redeveloped the former Masonic Lodge on Station Avenue into one of the foremost recording studios in South Jersey.

Poponi died suddenly of a heart attack last fall while on tour with Grace Potter and her band. Tributes to his work and life have poured in from a broad community of musicians since. To celebrate Poponi’s contributions to the local music scene, HIP is dedicating this year’s Rhythm and Brews Festival to his efforts.


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“Choosing our charitable organization happens organically,” said HIP cofounder Joe Gentile. “Unfortunately, this year it happened to one of our closest friends and neighbors in the 500 block of Station Avenue.

“Steve knew what was good for music and sound, and he was our sound guy for years,” Gentile said. “He was tough, but he was super-accommodating all the time, no matter what. Somehow his vision would always shift your vision.

“It’s a huge, huge, huge loss to not just our festivals and our community, but of a friend and somebody who was a master in his industry.”

HIP cofounder Fabian Brown, who worked with Poponi for more than 20 years in different contexts, recalled the late sound engineer as a wit who could skewer any musician with a turn of phrase. Beneath it all was an interest in elevating the quality of their performances.

“Steve was always zipping around, making his one-liners; his jokes that were always pointed, but always correct,” Brown said. “He was a ball-buster, but he always just wanted the best for anyone that he’s connecting and collaborating with.”

Dave Downham (left) and Steve Poponi of Gradwell House in 2016. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Poponi could tell when something was out of place in a recording or a live performance, and “wasn’t shy about saying it,” Brown said. He would typically use humor to get his point across.

“It was very evident that the way Steve worked professionally bled into who he was as a person,” Brown said. “He sees something, he hears something, he has a vision, and he will call you out. He was a beautiful dude, with all the ball-busting included.”

The loss of Poponi and his vibrant personality surely will be felt at Rhythm and Brews. Helping the Poponi family through its loss is a way for the community to which Steve gave so much to acknowledge his support, Brown said.

“All the things we contribute to are really important, but this one really hits home,” Brown said. “Steve has been an integral part of Rhythm and Brews behind the scenes. He had a high level of expectation for making a quality show, and that’s where me and Steve got along.

“I would have kept rockin’ and rollin’ with Steve for every event that we’ve done,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful for the ones we did.”

Rhythm and Brews runs from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in the 500 and 600 blocks of Station Avenue in Haddon Heights. The borough downtown will be closed to vehicle traffic where Station intersects with the White Horse Pike and East and West Atlantic Avenues.

Event sponsors include Dry-At-Last Waterproofing, First Colonial Bank, Madden & Madden, P.A.; Rob Bunis Real Estate, and RJ Severance & Sons.


Gradwell House Recording Studio Stage

  • Desoto Jones
  • The Classic Brown
  • Perpetual Stew
  • Body Shop Hostage


Atlantic Avenue Stage

  • Wayside Shakeup
  • The Unstoppable Hack Beats
  • The Chronicles
  • The Warhawks


Borough Hall Stage

  • Jolly Jane
  • Frank Cervantes
  • Sean Daniels and the Law-Abiding Citizens


  • Briganti Wines
  • Double Nickel Brewing Company
  • Evil Genius Brewing Company
  • Hoop Tea Brewing
  • Kane Brewing Company – rare appearance
  • Kenwood Brewing Company
  • King’s Road Brewing Company
  • New Trail Brewing Company
  • Nutral Vodka Soda
  • Sea Isle Ice
  • Spellbound Brewing Company
  • Troegs Brewing Company
  • Von Trapp Brewing Company
  • Wander Back Brewing
  • Whims Brewing
  • Yards Brewing Company


  • Bake’n Bacon
  • Brotherly Love Cheesesteak Spring Roll Co.
  • Cabana Water Ice Company
  • The Crepe Truck Philly
  • Garners Craft Barbeque
  • Local Links
  • Lula’s Empanadas
  • Maui Ice
  • Mannino’s Cannoli Express
  • Mister Softee of the Haddons-Mt. Laurel Areas
  • Not Just Hot Dogs
  • Not Your Mama’s Tacos
  • OK Charley’s
  • Ralph’s Pizza
  • The Spirit of San Juan
  • Traveling Tomato

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