Tall Tree Lake Music Fest 2011 | Illinois | Review

Words by: Matthew McGuire | Images by: Nic Hess

Tall Tree Lake Music Festival :: 09.23.11-09.24.11 :: Goreville, IL

Tall Tree Lake Festival 2011 by Nic Hess
Currently I am riding with my two friends to Goreville for a weekend of peace, love and music with Leftover Salmon. I want to give my review a live feeling, so I am capturing the weekend live as it happens.

It is 58 degrees with a scattered mist as we drive towards the festival grounds, the leaves on the trees remind me of vivid images of beautiful bluffs during fall in Southern Illinois.

Schlafly Brewing Co. is also returning to Tall Tree Lake this year to sponsor the event. Team B Productions and the festival organizers have expanded their schedule by adding live performances on Thursday evening. A local group, Souls in Camo, is set to perform as well as the group The Big Idea. Fresh Hops kicked off music on the Main Stage with a large stock of energy that got the crowd moving early Friday afternoon.

Tall Tree Lake Festival 2011 by Nic Hess
As the sun sank beyond the lake, Greensky Bluegrass wrapped up their set on the Main Stage. Greensky Bluegrass from Kalamazoo performs a unique style of northern bluegrass that moves audiences all over the country.

Florescent hula-hoops spun around stimulated patrons at dusk.

Conspirator’s headlining set on Friday started off around 9 pm with great energy. Just as the band started to find their sound, a large rainstorm hit and ended their set prematurely.



After the rain storm ended the chance for music on the Main Stage, I noticed the Conspirator crew sharing a cigarette outside of their tour bus. Aron Magner was talking things over with their lighting technician as I walked up. Magner is the keyboardist and a vocalist in Conspirator and The Disco Biscuits. It was still raining lightly as I introduced myself. Magner shared years of wisdom with me in just a few moments. Magner’s face looked stressed, and I wanted to make him laugh. I knew my timing was a little off, but I asked him, “Is there a quote that you can leave me with?” His response: “It’s a bad time for a quote. “ We both laughed, and went our separate ways. It was inspiring to watch Magner get back on the tour bus. After having his show cut short due to a rain storm, he still found the energy to keep going.


Tall Tree Lake Festival 2011 by Nic Hess
The Whistle Pigs were set to perform on the Showcase Stage, but alternated to the Barn Stage following Chicago Farmer’s set. Drenched by rain, I found a musical sanctuary known as the GRC Dome with the Grassroots Movement DJ’s. Kirsten Duncan, a promoter from Columbia, Mo. clued me in on GRiZ’s set.

My night ended around 3 a.m. While other staff members, like Kevin T. worked around the clock making sure the crowd was in good hands.

The New Old Cavalry continued the Tall Tree Lake Festival spirit by starting an impromptu jam session near the vending area. Stephan Cook, the violinist for Fresh Hops joined the group.

Jaik Willis and I sat down together for an interview after he joined the Herbert Wiser Band live on the Barn Stage.

Jaik Willis @ TTL 2011 by Nic Hess
Matt: You won the 2009 Bonnaroo Mustache and Bread Competition. Did you ever pick up a trophy for that event?

Jaik: [Laughing] No trophy, but they did hook me up with two free VIP tickets. I was out there in 2010, and they asked me to do a set at the last minute.

Matt: How many times did you guest with other bands at the Summer Camp Music Festival this year?

Jaik: I did 11 total performances, with a few solo sets mixed in throughout the four days.

Matt: Summer Camp and Bonnaroo have been around for a long time. Do you see the Tall Tree Lake Music Festival developing into one of these larger festivals?

Jaik: I think it will grow, it grew this year, and people still came out this weekend despite the forecast. The organizers are taking all the right steps, they are rolling with the punches, and I think they are doing a great job.

Vince Herman @ TTL 2011 by Nic Hess
After the interview with Jaik, I found my way around the lake to check out the situation on the Main Stage. The stage crew found a way to use the large tents near the stage, as a performance area for the late night DJ’s.

Denver-based The Congress handcrafted a few breakthrough moments on the alternative Main Stage. Steam was rising off the lake as I made it back to my campsite.

A scattered mist covered the festival grounds that evening. I knew that Ill-Esha’s set was about to begin, so I grabbed my camera and made my way to the Rogue Tent near the Main Stage. Ill-Esha is a well-known DJ artist from Vancouver. She creates beats before the show and manipulates them live during her performances. Joe Mousepad joined her from San Francisco during her set.

Tony Smith, a camera operator on the film team stayed up on Saturday evening with the action going on at the alternative Main Stage area. He mentioned that Spread did follow Leftover Salmon late Saturday night. He also added that the Bluetech set and the Spankalicious set was cut short due to the damp weather.

A torrential downpour, losing the Main Stage, and hunks of mud did not stop the music, Leftover Salmon or the Tall Tree Lake family from celebrating life for a weekend together in Southern Illinois.

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[Published on: 10/5/11]

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