Vernon’s Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival


Justin Vernon’s hauntingly beautiful voice first captured my attention when he released “For Emma Forever Ago” as Bon Iver in 2007. Not all albums need to be listened to with the understanding of a biographical background.  But Bon Iver’s music and past seem intricately intertwined.  The tracks on “For Emma Forever Ago” exude a strong sense of remoteness, a bittersweet symphony of emotion, which makes sense.  Vernon began the album when he isolated himself in his father’s hunting cabin deep in the Wisconsin Woods.  He had just split from his former band DeYarmond Edison, broken up with his girlfriend and was struck by a bad case of mono.  But from Justin Vernon’s pain sprang the beauty we know as “For Emma Forever Ago.”  His bare-boned tracks create an unparalleled ambient haze and acoustic intimacy.

“Re: Stacks”, off of Bon Iver’s first album, shows off Vernon’s potent falsetto and the acoustic strums that characterize his style.  Melancholy and fragile, this track epitomizes everything that I love about his music.  Even after 6 minutes and 41 seconds, a long song by today’s standards, I am not done listening.

Recently, Bon Iver released “Heavenly Father” on the Wish I Was Here soundtrack.  The title literally defines the “heavenliness” that is this song.  The new track has me yearning for more. But, for the time being, Vernon is working on a different project: the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival.

The festival, which aims to blend music, art, film and dance, will be held in Vernon’s hometown of Eau Claire Wisconsin from July 17th to 18th.   Eau Claire’s Foster Farm, the location of the Country Jam, is set to host the festival.  The vast, remote setting seems ideal based on Vernon’s past successes in the isolated Wisconsin woods.

For now, the set list is unknown.  But Vernon and Crashline Productions, a high profile New York concert promoter, are working together to organize, what I’m sure will be, a killer festival.  I’m hoping for a sort of indie-folk renaissance, drawing together Vernon’s kindred spirits like Fleet Foxes and Sufjan Stevens.  It would be great to see a folk flavored festival that stays in line with Vernon’s sound and the woodland setting of Eaux Claire.

Waiting for the set list to come out and saving up for a ticket will be a true test of my patience.  But, until more is released about the highly anticipated festival, keep listening to Bon Iver, and Vernon’s other collaborations with Anaïs Mitchell, Gayns, Volano Choir, and DeYarmond Edison.

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