Thursday, Dec. 11th, 2014

Photographic proof that Bon Iver is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Photos courtesy Patrick Erickson, shown here, pointing out the jams.
Photos courtesy Patrick Erickson, shown here, pointing out the jams.

Yes, you read that right: Bon Iver is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not as an inductee, mind you – Justin Vernon’s Grammy-winning band will have to wait until 2032 before it’s eligible to be officially enshrined with legends ranging from ABBA to ZZ Top. But Eau Claire’s most well known musical export does make a couple of appearances in the Hall of Fame’s museum in Cleveland. Back in June, Eau Clairians Patrick and Meg Erickson were visiting the museum when they were surprised to spot a couple of pieces of memorabilia from back home in a display about music from the Midwest. The first was an appropriately woodsy poster touting Bon Iver’s December 2008 gig at Eau Claire’s State Theatre (squint and you’ll even see the logo of a certain biweekly mag in the corner). The other is a rare copy of the album A Decade With Duke, a 2010 collaboration between Vernon and Eau Claire Memorial High School’s Jazz I ensemble. The Chippewa Valley also makes a couple of other cameos at the temple of rock ’n’ roll: Bon Iver’s Eau Claire roots are mentioned on a poster describing the Midwest exhibit (that’s Meg Erickson helpfully pointing it out above), while our own Rock Fest is name checked on a poster listing festivals nationwide. 

Keep reading to see more photos ...

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Wednesday, Dec. 10th, 2014

Supermoon-inspired S. Carey EP to release in February

During last August's supermoon – the astronomical phenomenon where every dozen or so full moons is extra big – most people took to their telescopes to see it, their backyards to revel in it, or their social media feeds to not shut up about it.

But not Sean Carey, man! Instead, the singer-songwriter and Bon Iver multi-instrumentalist used the extra pressure shift in the Earth's lunar axis (I literally have no idea what I'm talking about) as inspiration and took to the studio to record his just-announced Supermoon EP to release on Feb. 17, 2015.

The EP includes a brand new track called "Supermoon," a Radiohead cover, and two re-worked versions of songs from each of his LPs (2010's All We Grow and this year's Range Of Light).

"The longer you spend with a song, the more you can see it in its pure form," Carey said in the EP's press materials.

"You can hear Carey's breath between words and the pat of his fingers on the keys; you can hear the living room in which his family's baby grand piano sits," the presser reads. "These songs are beautiful, intimate and so potently personal."

Carey will head out to tour the album through a series of intimate living room shows this February around the south and West Coast. Sadly, the closest dates to the Chippewa Valley are Feb. 5 in Des Moines, Feb. 6 in St. Louis, and Feb. 7 in Kansas City.

Hear the alternative version of Range track, "Neverending Fountain" below, courtesy of Jagjaguwar. You can pre-order the EP on iTunes or via Secretly Canadian Distribution, and when you do, you can grab an instant grat download of the song.

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Friday, Nov. 7th, 2014

Country Fans Go Nuts: Big festival lineups announced

Blake Shelton at Country Fest 2014
Blake Shelton at Country Fest 2014.

Unless Johnny Cash starts touring again as a hologram to do duets with Taylor Swift, next summer’s lineups at Country Fest and Country Jam could hardly get bigger. Both Chippewa Valley music festivals unveiled their lineups in the past week, and they’re chock full of country stars:

Above: Cat-loving Country Fest attendee (2014).
Above: Feline enthusiast/Country Fest attendee (2014).

Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, and Rascal Flatts will headline a dude-heavy lineup at Country Fest, which will be June 25-28 on the fest grounds outside Cadott. All four hitmakers have played the Fest before, but for a few of them, it’s been a while; Rascall Flatts last performed there back in 2006. The just-announced mainstage lineup includes Rascal Flatts, Brett Eldredge (who was named Best New Artist at the Country Music Association Awards this week), and The Voice winner Danielle Bradbery on June 25; Tim McGraw, Billy Currington, and Neal McCoy on June 26; Keith Urban, Lee Brice, and the Swon Brothers on June 27; and Toby Keith and Thomas Rhett on June 28. The party is only seven months away, so go to countryfest.com for the full lineup and ticket information.

A few weeks later, another hot crop of chart-toppers will hit the stage at Country Jam just outside Eau Claire. While headliners Blake Shelton and Eric Church had previously been announced, the big news is that Lady Antebellum will close out the opening night of the festival on Thursday, July 23. The chart-topping trio will be joined July 23 by up-and-comers Hunter Hayes and Sam Hunt. Shelton – a guy even non-country fans know from his hosting gig on NBC’s The Voice – will perform Friday, July 24, topping a bill featuring Kip Moore, Cassadee Pope, and LoCash Cowboys. Church will close out Jam on Saturday, July 25, topping a day that will include Jerrod Niemann and three TBA performers. Tickets are already on sale, so go to countryjamwi.com for more info.

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Wednesday, Nov. 5th, 2014

An inside look at Justin Vernon's April Base recording studio

The Staves recording at Justin Vernon's April Base studios outside of Eau Claire.
Two-thirds of The Staves recording at Justin Vernon's April Base studios outside of Eau Claire.

“I think this is my favorite place to be to make music,” says one of the three members of the British folk group The Staves in a video documenting the recording of their new album at April Base Studios (watch it below). The mini-documentary provides not only an in-depth look at the making of the trio’s upcoming Justin Vernon-produced record If I Was, but also an intimate glimpse into the local musical legend’s home base.

Nestled just outside of Eau Claire, April Base has been the main recording venue for Vernon’s musical endeavors since its creation in 2008. Over the years, the studio has also become a major attraction for musicians from around the globe.

So far, Vernon fanatics have only been able to catch a few glorious glimpses into the studio; however, this documentary provides a more in-depth look inside the studio than has ever been seen before while also featuring other local musical treasures, like engineer Zach Hanson and musician Brad Cook, in their natural habitat. Local hangout and bar The Joynt also makes an appearance (of course, it does) in a segment showing Vernon, The Staves and the rest of the gang partaking in two sacred Wisconsin rituals: drinking beer and shooting pool. 

Watch the If I Was mini-documentary ...

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Monday, Aug. 11th, 2014

UPDATED: Preview the long awaited Bon Iver + Astronautalus + Ryan Olson collab

UPDATE 8/11/14: Pitchfork is steaming the album (http://pitchfork.com/advance/509-de-oro/) and has choice bits of the band's bizarro press release here.

A couple years ago there were rumors flying out of April Base – Justin Vernon's Fall Creek studio – about a collaboration between Vernon, Bon Iver bandmate S. Carey, and Minneapolis rapper Astronautalis, but nothing really came of it (besides a few kinda cool Instagrams). 

Until now. The Current has a short (and weird) teaser video and a couple more details. Former-Eau Clairian-turned-Minneapolis-superstar producer Ryan Olson has a hand in it (no surprise) and it's called Jason Feathers. Yes, Jason Feathers, everybody. That's what we've been waiting for.

Watch the teaser below and stay tuned for whatever comes next.

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