45th Annual Folk and Blues Festival rocks Beloit
The 45th annual Folk and Blues Festival has come and gone, and many of us are a red t-shirt richer for it. On Friday and Saturday night, Beloit’s students gathered to awkwardly bask in the glorious sounds of both Blues and Folk, and to grimace in despair upon tasting the alarmingly bad free apples that were laid out in the back. Brave volunteers roamed through the crowd to keep any and all glass bottles out of the great white tent, and the townspeople judged our innocent revelry from afar in their quaint lawnchairs.
But enough about atmosphere. Let’s talk about the bands. Friday night’s setlist (so far as I could gather from a blown up image of the back of this year’s F and B shirt) consisted of Boo Bradley; The Rascal Theory; The Kinsey Report; Birthrates; Amelia Eisenhauer and the Eisenhauer Band, and Morningsiders.
The duo Boo Bradley, made up of Boo- and, wait for it…Bradley, kicked off the weekend with their self described brand of Hokum Junk and Jive. They were followed by The Rascal Theory, a lively rhythm and blues band hailing from Baraboo, Wis. Friday night’s last group was the compelling Indiana-based blues band The Kinsey Report.
Birthrates, composed of Beloit’s native sons Kirby Jayes‘16 and Linden Holt‘16, began Saturday evening playing to a long, snaking line of students looking for free apparel, but by the end of their set they’d gathered a following of admiring drunken scholars, some of whom had their hearts set on wearing Linden’s green baseball cap. A particularly touching moment came during their penultimate song, when Cheyenne Kern‘16 came on stage to sing with her former Opus Dog bandmates (Look here next week for a full profile of Kirby and Linden).
I must admit here, in the interest of journalistic integrity, that following the Birthrates set I had to address a particularly full bladder. I ran home, and did not return.
While I was tending to other matters, 2016’s Top 24 American Idol contestant Amelia Eisenhauer kept the music rolling with her violin and the Eisenhauer Band. Eisenhauer had to contend with a crowd treated to free Buffalo Wild Wings, but any crowd is better than the awkward offbeat claps so prevalent at American Idol performances.
The weekend came to a close with the pop-folk band MorningSiders. After a quick perusal of their Soundcloud, I’ve come to the conclusion that the voice of their lead singer, Magnus Ferguson, is both smoky and sensual, and I’m honestly upset I missed seeing them in person.
Overall impressions of the annual occasion varied immensely. Naomi Clear‘19 was a big fan, saying “Folk and Blues was one of the most fun events I have ever been to. The bands were incredible and since the music was very good and I was in a great mood I had a fantastic time. I need some water.” Zeke Polken‘19 was less impressed, saying “it was fine. I felt like the student turnout wasn’t as good as it could have been, but maybe I just went at the wrong time.” Katherine Johnson‘19 was left with more than musical memories, as her legs “are covered in mosquito bites” and she wants “to chop them off.”
While questions of an events quality are always up for debate, the quality of this year’s Folk and Blues t-shirts is not. The beautifully drawn bear colored in white and set off against a subtle red background is objectively delightful, and the whimsical font is infinitely better than last year’s brutal block letters. This year’s shirts will last long after the weekends well earned hangovers have passed, and for that we should all be grateful.