Tall Tree Lake Music Fest | Illinois | Review

Words by: Matthew McGuire | Images by: Molly Young

Tall Tree Lake Music and Camping Festival :: 09.24.10-09.25.10 :: Tall Tree Lake :: Goreville, Illinois

Tall Tree Lake by Molly Young
The Tall Tree Lake Music and Camping Festival is held in the scenic and beautiful hillsides of Southern Illinois. Surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest and only a stone's throw away from some of the region's finest parks and wildlife preserves, Tall Tree Lake features over 250 acres of privately owned land. Dotted with native oaks and evergreens spread out over rolling vistas, Tall Tree Lake brings many beloved bands and artists together in an intimate, natural setting.

The 2nd annual Tall Tree Lake Music Festival l exhibited growth from the first year. This year Team B added two stages and doubled the size of the crowd. Schlafly Brewing Company sponsored the event and held a free tasting of their locally crafted beer for the thirsty Tall Tree Lake fans. After a pre-party Thursday, the festival started with a bang on Friday afternoon. It was mind-blowing watching the campgrounds fill up with over a 1000 people. I rested and watched Ballhog! on the outside deck of the Bluegrass Barn Stage. They played traditional bluegrass instruments while keeping the lyrics very modern and humorous.

The festival photographer needed to be picked up in a nearby city, and as I was leaving the festival one of the organizers asked me to also pick up a musician by the name Gift of Gab from the hip-hop group Blackalicious. Molly Y. was ready to hit the road and capture some amazing photographs over the beautiful fall weekend. The fall foliage creates a palette of gorgeous colors that mixed together harmoniously with the bright festival crowd. The Gift of Gab was also ready to get out to the festival grounds and indoctrinate the young crowd of music lovers.

Gift of Gab @TTL '10
By Molly Young
Matt: Did you know you are going to be the first real hip-hop act to perform at the Tall Tree Lake Music Festival?

Gab: No, that's cool though. It's an honor to perform music for any kind of crowd.

Matt: The set you are about to perform reminds me of the set Jurassic 5 threw down at the first Bonnaroo. Do you know any of the members of Jurassic 5?

Gab: Oh Yeah, I know all of them. I live out in Oakland most of the time, and they also live in California. Yeah, I love the Wild West. Traveling all over the world helps me respect and appreciate my home life.

Matt: A sound guy and I were talking about sampling earlier today. What do you think about how sampling has evolved in hip-hop over the past twenty years?

Gab: [Laughs] Sampling is an art form. It is still very useful in hip-hop if it is executed properly. When hip-hop first started sampling was one of the only ways to create beats. Today hip-hop artists have the ability to easily create beats on live instruments. Hip-hop is powerful in the way that it bridges the gap for artists and musicians who normally would not pick up an instrument.

Later on Friday Mathien performed on the main stage. They play modern rock with rhythm and blues overtones. Gab and I talked with Mathien a little bit after his set about how sampling music can get you into trouble if misused. Gab hit the main stage next with his creative wordplay in an up-tempo, action packed, get up, get smashed and dance-inducing set. After his set, Gab hung out and talked about adding some hip-hop flavor to bluegrass music. He was almost ready to go freestyle on top of a fast paced bluegrass beat.

Emmitt-Nershi Band @TTL '10 | By Molly Young
After I got him back to the hotel, I drove back to the festival for some wicked bluegrass in the barn. The Emmitt-Nershi Band was performing one of their two nights in the small packed barn when I arrived back. The barn is as solid as a rock, but the entire second floor had a wild crowd giving the flooring structure a good run for its money.

After some steamy bluegrass in the barn, I made my way over to the main stage to watch my first Big Gigantic set. The due from Colorado has been making some big waves in the music industry recently. They just dropped a new album that can be downloaded for free off their websitehere. Their set was non-stop fun; I was smiling from ear to ear for most of the entire set. It was such a relief to dance and relax during the chill set from Big Gigantic.

On Saturday the music started at 11:00 a.m. on the Cicada Stage and main stage. Small Time London Thug replaced The Moon Buggy Kids midday Saturday. Each of the bands is a local favorite and performs a modern style of punk music. The Sam West Trio, which also consists of local artists from the Carbondale, IL area, mixed it up on the Cicada Stage around sunset on Saturday.

Spread, a local jam band with a following of devoted music lovers, rocked the main stage and grew their following a bit at this fest. Spread recently won a Battle of the Bands at Tres Hombres for a spot on the Summer Camp Music Festival's lineup. The Floozies from Lawrence, KS coin their style of music "funk for aliens." They performed on the side stage just before the Family Groove Company took the main stage around dusk.

Tall Tree Lake by Molly Young
The Family Groove Company's music was recently played on WDBX radio and one of the first time listeners said it reminded them of Umphrey's McGee. It does make sense since both bands are based out of the Chicago area. The Family Groove Company electrified their adoring fans at Tall Tree Lake with jazz, rock, soul and hardcore funk. This was my eight Family Groove set, and I was pumped to hear some new music from the quartet.

The Emmitt-Nershi Band followed Family Groove, and their headlining set was a little more relaxing then their set in the barn. The cool breeze was a huge relief while I danced and celebrated an amazing set. After their set, Ana Sia kicked off the late night portion of the music. Portland, OR's Emancipator also threw down a mix of downtempo beats after Ana finished on the main stage. Mouth knocked out a great late night set on the Cicada Stage.

The festival was an incredible success this year mainly due to the hard working people who put it all together. The weather was a cool 77-degrees during the day, and there was little rain. It was a weekend filled with music, friendship, selflessness, respect, tradition, adventure and camping.

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[Published on: 10/25/10]

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