What was previously known as the Trail Mix Music Fest returns to Izaak Walton Nature Preserve on June 18, the first event in what is now the Trail Mix acoustic concert series.
In years past, Trail Mix took place entirely in one day. This year, instead of a more traditional music festival, it was rebranded as a “concert series” with the event split into three evenings – June 18, August 13 and October 1.
“In the past, it was a one-day, all-day, 8-10 hour music festival with 10 or 11 acts. And we had food vendors and people exhibiting art, ”said event organizer Steve Ploum.
This year there will be three concerts with three acts each day, Ploum said. He said the change from a one-day event was made so that it could “be a little easier to cancel or postpone.”
“The last thing we wanted to do was have another big event – and it takes a lot of work to put on a full day event – and then have to cancel everything,” Ploum said.
There won’t be any art vendors at the Trail Mix this year, but Kim Nolen of the Red Bird Café will be serving concessions, Ploum said. The Homewood Public Library will maintain a table and the musicians will also sell their wares.
The doors will open at 6:00 p.m. The music will start at 6:30 p.m. and continue until around 9:30 p.m., Ploum said.
From 2016 to 2019, the Trail Mix music festival was held annually at Izaak Walton. In 2020, the event was canceled due to the pandemic. Instead, nine groups affiliated with Trail Mix recorded songs for a compilation album called Trail Mix Pandemic Recordings. The album is sold digitally and on vinyl with sleeve notes.
“We recorded a song by nine different local artists who played after the Trail Mix or would have played the Trail Mix,” Ploum said. “We registered them at the Izaak Walton reserve.”
Hosted Trail Mix several virtual events in 2020 and October, Trail Mix hosted a smaller, socially-distanced in-person concert with three groups under the Izaak Walton pavilion. It was very similar to what each of the three “concert series” events will be in 2021.
Rather than being a free event, attendees purchased tickets. The sales allowed organizers to “maintain some control over the number of people who showed up,” Ploum said.
“It went really well in October. So that’s what prompted us to do what we did this year, that is to say only three, ”said Ploum. “We never really counted [the number of people] in the past. But in the future, the plan is that we are going to make about 50 people that we can place socially distant under the flag. And then we will also have garden seats available. “
Ploum said spectators will be able to reserve tables for up to six people and attendees will have the option of bringing their own lawn chairs. Groups of people seated and enjoying the live music will be six feet apart from other groups, Ploum said.
“Masks will be needed under the pavilion,” Ploum said. “It’s always outside. We will always maintain social distancing. But we want to go beyond that. Because people are careless (as they should be).
Ploum said 2021 will be the first year that all musicians will be paid, including local artists and traveling musicians. And this will be the first year his band, Butterfield Creek, won’t play.
“We are doing this with the support of the Village of Homewood, and our sponsors, so far, are the Melody Mart, the Jay Heiferman family and the aforementioned Homewood Public Library and the Wexler Group,” Ploum said.
According to Ploum, the vibe of listening to live music in a nature reserve is a big part of what makes the Trail Mix what it is.
“It’s such a nice environment,” Ploum said. “People are sort of sitting among the trees. There is a little clearing but there are trees. And that’s a really cool thing.
“We have acoustic music, and it can vary wherever we want to go with it,” Ploum said. “Some of our acts are local acts that occur professionally, record and, in some cases, tour internationally. Others are primarily based in Chicago.
The June 18 lineup includes The Teflons which Ploum described as “an old-fashioned string group with vocal harmonies”. It also includes Andrew Robert Palmer who, in his Facebook bio, describes himself as, “Pretty much just me… rockin ‘out. I really miss Blink 182. And finally, he presents Barry from the group Barry and the Fountains. In Barry J. Fontenot’s Facebook biography, he describes himself as a “soul musician born in Louisiana and based in Chicago with a love for pushing the limits and a flair for the dramatic.”
On August 13, the lineup includes Nigel Mack, a Chicago-based acoustic blues and harmonica musician who the House of Blues describes as an artist who “fuses blues classics with the punch of the original contemporary blues.” It also features Kelly Campos, a soul musician from Homewood. The third will be announced later.
On October 1, it will be the jazz evening with four artists instead of three. Kenya McGuire Johnson is expected to play. Ploum describes her as an “R&B and soul musician who has toured Europe and made charts in the US and UK”. Andy Pratt, the JC Duo and In Time are also set to perform that night.
Ploum said if you want to listen to these musicians before the events, many of their CDs are available at the Homewood Public Library.