Music Issue Festivals

The Blues, Brews, and BBQ festival

The Blues Brews and BBQ festival is one of the musical highlights during the summer in Urbana.
“We’re getting national attention. We’ve got a lot of great people playing. We’re really excited about this year’s line-up,” said Jeff Grant, co-owner of Food Events.
Grant and partner Perry Davidson have spent the year prepping for the festival. As summer quickly approaches, it’s getting close to crunch time.
The festival has grown extensively over the past fews years. Grant said that numbers have gone from 3,000 to 15,000 people in attendance at the two-day fest.
This year it’s all about the future of blues. Grant said this year’s performers include the kids and grandkids of big names like B.B. King.
In addition to a good line-up the festival is for all ages.
“We try to be as family friendly as possible. We have a very big mix of young people performing on the future stars stage,” he said.
Last year the festival gave away 100 harmonicas and taught the audience how to play them.
“We try to get kids and families into the mix. We trying to be interactive, and as diverse as possible,” he said.
This year the Blues, Brews and BBQ fest runs on Fri. June 25 and Sat. June 26. Admission is free, go to for more information. —Em-J Staples

Ellnora Guitar Festival at Krannert

by Kelsey Rankin
This past fall, the Krannert Center hosted their third biennial guitar festival. Named after Ellnora Krannert, founder of the Center and patron of the arts, this five stage festival ran from September 10 – 12 2009, and featured a multitude of world-class talent performing styles from the Peruvian-influenced psychedelic pop of Chicha Libre, to the country soul sounds of Junior Brown. Ben Juday from Analog Outfitters in Champaign, an equipment rental and restoration company that provided around 60 pieces of equipment for Ellnora had only good things to say. “The festival was well attended, well organized and Krannert did a really good job of providing free events, and not just the low budget stuff. They had some of the best acts perform for free in the lobby, and made it so if you didn’t want to pay $25 -$40 for a ticket, you could still enjoy the fantastic talent.” —Kelsey Rankin

The Champaign-Urbana Folk And Roots Festival

The Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots festival was first envisioned in the spring of 2008, and came to action this past September. The event is to be hosted each year in downtown Urbana. According to its website, the festival is organized to “combine performances, street-dances, jam sessions, and workshops with national, regional, and local artists in a variety of genres such as Cajun, bluegrass, blues, old-time, Mexican conjunto, salsa, and jazz, among others.
The Festival will also include street performances, storytellers, and art-making in special locations.” In addition to scheduled performances, attendees are encouraged to bring their own instruments and jam out with other festival attenders. Street musicians playing for money, also known as buskers are welcome to check-in and set up in designated areas as well.
An all-event wristband costs 15 dollars for those 12 and over, and free for the little ones. Additionally, many events are free of charge.

Pygmalion Music Festival

As summer fades into fall and students get settled into classes, the sixth annual Pygmalion Music Festival will kick off the school year with a rip-roaring independent music scene.
“The focus is on the music itself, celebrating all different venues,” said Bridget Lee-Calsas, public information director of Krannert Center.
Krannert was one of mulitple theaters playing host to the fest last September.
“It’s so popular. We always sell out performances. It’s very well programmed,” she said.
Last year’s favorites included Iron and Wine, Lucero, RJD2 and Ra Ra Riot.
“It’s a unique mix of locally and nationally known artists,” said Lee-Calsas.
The music heard at this festival defines the crowds in attendance.
“It’s a great mixed crowd. There’s a low-key relaxed vibe. The artist selection represents that,” she said.
Early bird tickets go on sale May 3 for the fest next September 22 – 25. To get revved up for the fest, there are multiple pre-party concerts this spring.
Check out the website for more information,—Em-J Staples

Urbana Sweetcorn Festival

Urbana’s Sweetcorn Festival occurs at the end of August annually. This year, downtown Urbana will experience its 35th Sweetcorn Festival on August 27 and 28, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday night and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.
Susan Toalson, executive director of the Urbana Business Association, said this is the Association’s biggest fundraiser, and people should “expect the unexpected” this year.
“We’re working with a out a dozen different groups that are working with us to provide these spontaneous acts of entertainment,” she said.
She commented on how much she and others enjoy planning these acts.
“I’m not sure who enjoys it more — the people who come to the festival or those of us who are involved in planning it,” she said.
In terms of music, Toalson said they are still working on the headliner for Saturday night. But on Friday night, The Boat Drunk, a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, will be playing as well as the Feuding Hillbillies.
“The Feuding Hillbillies” will be straight up singing country music, but he also does top 40. … they’re a really entertaining band,” said Toalson. “[It’s] really kind of a tribute to our local roots. I’d love to bring a local favorite out on Saturday night.” —Danielle Perlin

About WPGU Music Staff

We're a gang of music lovers.

View all posts by WPGU Music Staff →

Leave a Reply