PREVIEW: Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival

For its third and quite possibly biggest year yet, Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival is returning this upcoming Friday June 16 and Saturday June 17. The festival boasts an almost surreal setting within the forest along the Chippewa River in the heart of good ol’ Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Curated by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and his close pal Aaron Dessner of The National, Eaux Claires offers a fresh take within the world of music festivals today, as it brings together both local and international musicians and artists to showcase their talents. Creative Director Michael Brown also shines a light on interactive art installations and mixed media throughout the festival, which brings a certain curiosity and wonder to festival-goers as they explore the grounds.

The past two years of Eaux Claires have brought surprise collaborations between artists on multiple, and some even secret, stages. On Friday, Bon Iver will be honoring and playing with John Prine, as they present a one-of-a-kind set by Prine titled “The American Songbook.” Saturday will see an exciting musical collaboration from the great Paul Simon with chamber ensemble yMusic and Big Red Machine, the side project of festival curators Vernon and Dessner. Local Chicago hero and 2017 Grammy’s Best New Artist Chance the Rapper will also return this year as a headliner (as we just experienced thanks to Boston Calling), instead of just a surprise cameo that ended last year’s festival on a very high note. Francis and the Lights and Sylvan Esso will both return again this year, as well as a rare performance by folk trio Mountain Man headed by Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath. Their first gig in five years!

Other notable bands playing the festival include Wilco, Feist, s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e, Velvet Negroni, Danny Brown, Perfume Genius, Spank Rock, Tweedy, Julieta Venegas, Cup, and many more.

So, if you’re still on the fence on whether or not to buy tickets to this rather dope festival and hop a plane, let me just remind you that Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland so the cheese curds will be plentiful. (My sincere apologies to all my dairy-free friends, maybe this isn’t your thing.) Come join us on this very Midwestern adventure.

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