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Eaux Claires: “[It’s] Not Like Any Other Festival”

A Review of the Third Annual Eaux Claires Music Festival

Eaux Claires, an annual music festival now in its third year, took place last weekend and brought a ton of amazing music to the city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin (population upwards of 65,000) and to the many who traveled in from all across the country (and abroad) to see the impressive lineup.

There were over 50 music and arts offerings at this year’s two-day festival, which featured some highly-anticipated musical performances from among others) Francis and the Lights, Chance the Rapper and Wilco, and included a premier collaboration from Paul Simon and the NYC-based chamber ensemble, yMusic.

Held “up in the woods”, Eaux Claires is located on Foster Farms, a family-owned patch of land that’s positioned along the banks of the Chippewa River. The city has recently become more well-known to the greater music community for hailing the acclaimed, grammy award-winning band Bon Iver, of which Justin Vernon is the frontman (and also an Eaux Claires Co-Curator).

The festival, Co-Curated also by The National’s Aaron Dessner, has itself become known for its unique mix of indie/rock and hip hop musical performances, combined with art installations in a great location that offers intimate, woodsy backdrops with its music. This year’s festival was no exception and offered its most diverse lineup yet in a setting that, despite the crowds, felt intimate and unique.

Chance the Rapper made note of the festival’s uniqueness, too, stating during his performance on Friday night that Eaux Claires is “not like any other festival”.

I’d have to agree. Of all the festivals I’ve been to, Eaux Claires is the most humble, refreshing and inclusive festival I’ve experienced. It’s a festival clearly meant for music fans who set out not only to enjoy, but to understand the meaning of music and the power of collaboration.

Year three of Eaux Claires made this collaborative approach towards performance a main theme of the festival, featuring “Artists-In-Residents”, a series of both announced and unannounced pop-up performances in which performers from the shows line up would perform with one another.

As noted on the 2017 Eaux Claires website: “In year three of Eaux Claires, we’re reconfiguring the grounds and reducing the amount of stages…. We’re doing this because it provides the ability to devote more attention to one-of-a-kind projects that make this festival unique. We’re refocusing in order to do even more to merge audience and artist. We’re reconfiguring to give individual performers the ability to interact throughout the duration and breadth of the festival.”

Read on for a full recap of the 2017 Eaux Claires music festival.

Day One

Day one of the 2017 Triox festival kicked off at noon, with performances from Music for the Long Emergency (a Polica and s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e collaboration), Happy Apple, Julieta Venegas, Tweedy, Mountain Man and more.

What seemed to be the most anticipated performance of the afternoon, Mountain Man, took place in one of the festival’s smaller bandshells in the woods, Oxbeaux. It was to be the first time the three female vocalists had performed together as Mountain Man for five years. The crowd filled and expanded the space, taking seats as they could and standing among the trees.

Other afternoon standouts were both Julieta Venegas (performing at Lake Eaux Lune) and Tweedy (performing at Flambeaux), who brought great energy to the crowds from the festival’s two main stages, one after the other. Venegas, a cutting-edge latin alternative artist, showcased her multi-instrument mastery and infectious vocals, while the father/son duo Tweedy gave the crowd reason to soak up the sun and not take things too seriously.

The Staves also put on an intimate performance in the woods at the Oxbeaux. The harmonizing sisters proved their worth, earning the shout-out, “we don’t deserve you” from an enthusiastic crowd member. Francis and the Lights (Francis Farewell Starlite), known for his catchy pop tunes, impressive dance moves and showmanship, delivered both to a large crowd at The Creek at 6:30 p.m.

There’s something magical about the sunset at the end of a warm, festival day. With it comes some cooler air and a communal regrouping. By the time the sun had set, most attendees had taken the time to wander the festival grounds, visit the booths and even grab some food. Attendees begin to gather together at the festival’s main stages for the most anticipated performances of the day.

Friday evening’s lineup began with a curated set by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) of John Prine songs with the man himself. Many of the festival’s performers joined for covers of Prine’s top songs, and Prine hopped on stage at the end to join in.

Then, Sylvan Esso, an electric dance-pop duo, put on the most energetic set of the festival. S. Carey and Glen Kotche followed, opening their set with a dramatic drum battle. Carey (of Bon Iver) added his vocals and piano melodies to Kotche (of Wilco) on percussion in a way that in many moments felt adventurous and unplanned, in free-form instrumentation. Dissonant notes were welcomed as a part of the beauty of the experimentation.

Finally, Chance the Rapper took the stage at 10:15, performing to an engaged crowd of what felt like the highest attended performance of the festival.

Day 2

After arrival on day two, I gathered with a crowd already formed at The Creek, my favorite stage at the festival, with its wooden elements and rainbow colored backdrop. Justin Vernon was set to join the stage as a part of Big Red Machine, along with Aaron Dessner (co-Founder of the Eaux Claires Festival and member of The National) and special guests from Mouse on Mars and s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e. It seems rare to see Justin perform in anything other than a breezy, white button down and flat-brimmed baseball cap and this day was no exception.

The Big Red Machine performance was not short on experimentation. In watching, I was brought back to the performance by S. Carey and Glen Kotche the night before, but while Vernon similarly experimented with his musical comrades for the Big Red Machine set, it seemed more coordinated and strategic. With hands up and cheers after each ballad, we recognized Justin’s raw talent in the only way we knew how.

While Jenny Lewis and Mountain Man performed out in the woods, I opted for what felt like a theatrical performance from Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas) at Lake Eaux Lune. Known for his raw, vulnerable ballads and artistic expression, Perfume Genius came on stage in unique fashion with an equally unique vocal range and a performance that dropped jaws and stopped attendees in their tracks.

Impending storms led to an announcement by festival organizers that the schedule would be moved up. Back-to-back performances were set for the remainder of the night and the shows at the bandshells in the woods were canceled “until further notice”. (We’d soon find out many of the performers would perform instead at the Lismore Hotel in Downtown Eau Claire after Wilco’s set).

Feist was up next at Flambeaux. It was a strongly-anticipated, and well-attended performance. The Canadian singer-songwriter donned a vintage pink dress and sunglasses to take the crowd through a full tour of her new album, “Pleasure” (her first time doing so live), explaining the songs and their place on the album as she went along and jamming on her guitar like a true rockstar. A favorite: “Young Up”.

After Feist came Danny Brown, an aggressively non-conformist rapper from Detroit who came off raw and uncensored, and seemed energized by the stage and surroundings.

Midway through Brown’s set came the clouds, and then, the downpour. Attendees ran to their campsites, or took shelter where they could: under art fixtures, food tents, in festival vans and in The Local Store. The festival’s crew members rushed to clear the stage of the rainwater, test the systems and get all set up.

Those brave enough to face the cold rain began gathering for the most anticipated show of the festival; the legendary Paul Simon would soon take the stage for a premiere performance with yMusic, to deliver a catalog of songs that combined some of Simon’s hits with yMusic’s classical arrangements.

With a bit of a delay, Simon came on at about 8:15 and the crowd was better off because of it. It was a performance that evoked both nostalgia and at times tears from audience members. At the end of the performance, Simon and yMusic bowed to shouts and cheers that lasted minutes.

Wilco wrapped up the festival with a brilliant, hour-plus long set. With moody tunes and lots of energy, the band brought the festival to a close and sent the crowd home wishing to do the festival all over again.

Eaux Claires is a festival that gives musicians the power and asks for music without an agenda. Through not only the musical performances, but also the artistic immersions and installations, the festival gives attendees the sense of what can come from pushing musical boundaries.

During their set, Wilco’s frontman Jeff Tweedy asked the audience to “keep showing up for each other”, and I believe we’ll all do just that. Rain or shine, we’ll keep showing up for Eaux Claires – and for each other.

___

Jenna Marie is an independent music marketing and promotions consultant for new and up-and-coming musicians in Minnesota with over 6 years of marketing experience and music industry insight. Thoughts written here are her own. Need tips on building your brand or help with promoting your music? Contact Jenna Marie at info@jennamariepr.com.

 

Be Sure to Catch These June Midwest Music Events

What I love about Minnesota is its appreciation for both music and art – and the events that celebrate both are some of my favorite events of the year! June is filled with these types of events, some of which are highlighted below.

What are the can’t miss events coming up?

Check out some of the great events happening in June:

The Current Presents: Cloud Cult (TONIGHT)

  • June 9th at 8 p.m. at The Carlson Family Stage
  • $30-$40

Duluth’s indie rock band fronted by singer/songwriter Craig Minowa will be in Minneapolis this weekend to perform the full score to their award-winning film, The Seeker. Cloud Cult is known for their mix of visual arts and music and the event details note Cloud Cult will play while The Seeker plays on screen, followed by a second set of fan favorites.

More information about tonight’s performance can be found here.

23rd Annual Stone Arch Bridge Festival

  • June 16th – 18th at Water Power Park/Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis
  • Free

One of the best free summer music events the Twin Cities puts on each year is happening next weekend. Featuring 200+ artists, with live music on three stages, Minneapolis’ beautiful Saint Anthony Main area will host three days of music events.

See the full list of activities and shows here.

Eaux Claires Music Festival

  • June 16th – 17th in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • $90-$350

Eaux Claires is one of the best music festivals of its kind and happens to take place just an hour and a half from the Twin Cities! In its third year, the festival was created and is managed by Bon Iver’s frontman, Justin Vernon and offers an impressive lineup on a clean campground in the woods of Wisconsin. This year’s performers include S. Carey, Feist, Paul Simon, Wilco and Chance the Rapper.

Full details of the lineup and tickets remain on the festival’s website.

Seu Jorge David Bowie Tribute Series

·         June 17th at The Cedar Cultural Center

·         $42 – $62 SOLD OUT (But check back!)

Seu Jorge, a Brazilian musician, singer/songwriter and actor, will be performing a special tribute concert in commemoration of David Bowie’s passing at The Cedar Cultural Center on June 17th. Jorge is known for his role in the movie, ‘A Life Acquatic’ and will recreate the set to the film and perform some of his Portuguese versions of Bowie’s songs.

Check out more details on The Cedar Cultural Center’s website.

50th Annual Summerfest 2017

  • June 28th – July 9th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • $ Varies

The world’s largest music festival, spanning 11 days and hosting over 800 acts and 1,000 performances on 11 stages, kicks off at the end of the month!

The festival celebrates its 50th anniversary and is one of the longest-running music festivals in the world. And for good reason, too. The festival hosts some of the nation’s biggest stars and offers multiple performances at many stages daily, many of which overlook (and bring in the breeze from) Lake Michigan and Lakeshore State Park.

What’s more, the festival is run by the non-profit organization Milwaukee World Festival Inc. and brings in an annual $187M of economic benefit to the local economy.

For more information about the festival, click here.


Are there others I’m missing? Share your event with me at jenna@jennamariepr.com.

 

Jenna Marie is an independent music marketing and promotions consultant for new and up-and-coming musicians in Minnesota with over 6 years of music industry and marketing experience. Thoughts written here are her own. Need tips on building your brand or help with promoting your music? Contact Jenna Marie at info@jennamariepr.com.

 

Ten Things You’re Doing Wrong: Advice for Minnesota Artists and Musicians

It’s been over one week since the Minnesota Music Coalition’s Annual Summit in the beautiful city of St. Paul and I’m still reveling over all the great workshops, panels, conversations and evening events that took place during the 3-day festival!

The MMC’s annual event is like no other for artists and music industry professionals to come together for learning and networking.

In one of my favorite sessions of Minnesota music event, Artist Jonatha Brooke, Tom Loftus of Modern Radio Record Label and Ellen Stanley, Executive Director of the MN Music Coalition, each gave insight on what they believe keeps artists from achieving music industry success and how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Here are their ten:

  1. “Don’t be a dick”. Respect is extremely important in the music industry. Especially in the Minnesota music industry, it’s so important to make connections and network. But when schedules get busy, artists and musicians often forget to be gracious. This advice comes in two parts: first, forgive someone if they’ve made a bad first impression. Think, how does this person genuinely (overall) act? And if it was you that was in the wrong, apologize. “If you respect [the person you are working with], they will respect you… have some self-awareness of where you may have said or done wrong and simply say ‘sorry’.”
  2. “Communication, communication”. This one bares repeating twice, as “being creative does not typically relate well with being good at responding to emails and working with human beings.” First, with each new partnership established, be direct about what you are looking for. Then, as the partnership progresses, use tools to keep yourself accountable. Use a Google calendar or phone app to set reminders to follow up. And remember that everyone is different and has their own communication style and preferences. “While digital tools are helpful, be aware of the multiple avenues to communicating with someone [who may be a bit] overwhelmed. Find ways to interact with people that are not the norm.”
  3. “Understand people’s position”. There are so many facets and roles within the music industry. Musicians don’t often have a concrete idea as to what each new person they come in contact along their music journey does on a day-to-day basis within their role. With each new person you begin working with, try to understand exactly what they are bringing to the table and also, what their limitations are, so you don’t over-ask or over-expect. Take the time to ask questions and gain clarity.
  4. “Plan and research”. Each time you delve into a new project, release a new album, book a new venue, or work with someone new, do your due diligence and research. If it’s a new project you are working on, take the time up front to determine what your overall time commitment to the project might be and any roadblocks you may hit along the way. Before releasing a new album or booking a new venue, assess whether your target audience has changed and consider how you could adapt your merchandising strategy and performance style to build your fan base. “A little research goes a long way.”
  5. “Be generous”. All panelists agreed: there is simply not enough credit given within the music industry. In such a collaborative industry, it’s essential to be as generous and gracious as you can. If you’re a seasoned musician, be a mentor to new musicians who may be just getting on their feet. If you’re newer to the craft, jump in and help those you meet, whenever you can. And don’t forget to say “thank you” when someone helps you out. Perhaps a good old “thank you” card?
  6. “Take advantage of opportunities”. Network, network, network! In the Minnesota music industry, it’s all about who you know. Become a member of great organizations like the Mn Music Coalition and volunteer, wherever you can. Nonprofit Minnesota music venues like The Warming House and The Cedar Cultural Center are great places to volunteer your time. You’ll meet people along the way. And when opportunities arise within organizations or groups you belong to, or at venues that you are an active part of, your name will come to mind first.
  7. “Don’t spend too much money”. What is a mistake the panelists said they see far too often? New musicians spending too much money, on the wrong things and at the wrong times. What does that really mean? “Know what you have and what you can reasonably spend and do [the project] as cheap as you can without ruining what you have … people don’t care how much money has been spent on something when they’re listening to it.” Make sure you know your brand and what you’re going for when building your marketing plan as a musician.
  8. “Don’t forget about self-care”. While productivity and commitment is important as you’re building your career as an independent musician, you are setting yourself up for burnout when you don’t give yourself time to rest and recuperate. After all, “everybody needs sleep.” Know why you are agreeing to be involved in each opportunity you commit to and be sure it aligns with your music goals. For each new opportunity that presents itself, ask yourself, why am I saying ‘yes’ or why am I saying ‘no’? “It’s not sustainable if you are not enjoying it.”
  9. “Don’t expect others to do the work”. The idea that someone else will do the work for you is a general myth within the music industry. Whether you need help with music publicity and promotions, resources for a music video or studio project, or something else, don’t expect that paying someone to help you will take all of the work off your plate. “Even if you are paying the money, you are often still doing the work.” Remain communicative and be available to provide feedback and input along the way. You are paying someone for help, not a handout. If you want to be successful in the music industry, you have to be committed to doing the work.
  10. “Limit fear”. Last but by far not least, to be successful in the the music industry you have got to be confident in your work. As one panelist stated: “don’t worry so much about the level of perfectionism in your work that it limits you from putting stuff out there… it’s never a be-all end-all [and] if you’re not willing to share it… then you’re not in the conversation of music.”

And there you have it! Follow these ten tips from Minnesota’s music industry experts and you’ll be well on your way to success!

More music marketing tips can be found in the articles below:

 

With over 6 years of music industry and marketing experience, Jenna Marie is an independent music marketing and promotions consultant for new and up-and-coming musicians in Minnesota.

Need tips on developing your personal brand for your music career or help with promoting your music? Contact her at info@jennamariepr.com for more information.

My Philosopy, Building Your Marketing Plan as a Musician

By: Jenna Marie

My experience in both music and marketing, throughout my career, has led me to have extensive knowledge on the inner-workings of music reporting and event execution.

Since 2009, I’ve written countless articles about the local music and arts scene of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and more recently, the Twin Cities – interviewing up-and-coming musicians and reviewing local shows, venues and music-related events.

I’ve watched numerous musicians move up the ladder of success and have, over time, learned the importance of building a personal brand and using that brand to stand out in the industry and make your music known to the world.

Since 2012, I’ve dabbled in nearly every aspect of marketing, from conducting market research and developing strategic marketing strategies, to product communications, promotion and distribution. I’ve carried out countless lead generation campaigns to varied and targeted markets through social media and e-marketing and I’ve helped to promote events, big and small.

I’ve worked with a team to built up a brand that I’m proud to represent – from start-up to nationally known – and have learned how to apply my journalistic writing and reporting style to brand marketing and promotions, to give a company and product personality – and to stand out and be known.

My passion for music and comprehensive marketing experience has led me to where I am today. I know that, while the music industry is a fun place to be, without a plan in place it can often feel like you are just moving along with no clear direction.

Having a strategic marketing plan in place that showcases your unique brand and offerings is the key to your success in the music industry. It’s my philosophy – and my goal as an independent music marketing and promotions consultant is to help aspiring and up-and-coming musicians get there.

The industry is filled with passionate musicians looking to live out their dreams, but not sure how best to get there – and I love being a part of that journey!

Are you ready to get started on building out YOUR unique brand music brand and marketing strategy? I am accepting new clients beginning this May and am offering a free, 60-minute consultation to determine if we are a fit and to get things started.

Contact me at info@jennamariepr.com to set up your free consultation!

Need tips on building your brand or help with promoting your music? Jenna Marie is an independent music marketing and promotions consultant and can work with you on your specific needs. Contact her at info@jennamariepr.com.

 

Grab a Coffee and Discuss Your Music Goals With Jenna Marie PR

I’m excited to announce I will be accepting new clients beginning this May!

I offer a free, 60-minute coffee shop consultation to musicians looking to discuss career goals, current needs and what I can offer. During this consultation, we will address things like…

  • Strategies to building your personal brand to represent your music offerings
  • How to build a presence and better promote your music on social media
  • How to develop a marketing strategy to reach your target audience
  • How to catch the attention of reporters and publicists at your shows and events
  • Building an effective online presence that best showcases your work
  • How to use e-marketing and collateral distribution to effectively gain recognition

And so much more! Each new client consultation is different as I work to create a plan specific to each person’s unique career goals and needs.

Want to meet to determine if we are a good fit and to get things started? Reach out to me at info@jennamariepr.com to set up your consultation.

 

Need tips on building your brand or help with promoting your music? Jenna Marie is an independent music marketing and promotions consultant and can work with you on your specific needs. Contact her at info@jennamariepr.com.