Tuesday, Aug. 7th, 2018

5 of the Most Dangerous Animals in Wisconsin

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Brown Recluse Spider (Image: Lisa Zins, CC BY 2.0)

1. Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse – a one-third-inch-long spider with a violin-shaped marking near its head – recently made headlines for apparently biting some Chippewa Valley residents. While this bite can lead to swelling, pain, and even necrosis (tissue death), fortunately the species is rare in Wisconsin. It is one of only two venomous spiders in Wisconsin, the other being the northern black widow.

2. Rattlesnakes

Two species of rattlesnakes – the timber rattler and the eastern massasauga – are native to Wisconsin. Fortunately for you ophidiophobes, both critters are usually found only in southwestern Wisconsin and both are fairly rare: Massasaugas are actually an endangered species and Timber Rattlers are most frequently found playing minor league baseball in Appleton. And while they are venomous, they are rarely deadly: There’s been only one rattlesnake-related death in the state since 1900.

Massasauga Rattlesnake (Image: Tim Vicekrs)
Massasauga Rattlesnake (Image: Tim Vicekrs)

3. Ticks

When it comes to bites, you’re far more likely to be targeted by ticks than snakes. The worst is the tiny black-legged tick – a.k.a. the deer or bear tick – which often carries Lyme disease. About 40,000 cases of Lyme have been identified in Wisconsin since 1990. Ticks can carry other nasty infections, too, including babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and spotted fever rickettsiosis. If you’re headed into the underbrush, spray down with DEET, wear long pants and sleeves, and check your bodily nooks and crannies for the critters.

4. Mosquitoes

Fun fact: More than 50 mosquito species call Wisconsin home! Unfun fact: Their females are looking for their next "blood meal," and it could be you! Besides their annoying bites, mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis. In rare cases, both ailments can be deadly, which is all the more reason to generally avoid these bloodsuckers.

White-Tailed Deer (Image: USDA photo by Scott Bauer)
White-Tailed Deer (Image: USDA photo by Scott Bauer)

5. White-Tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer is actually one of Wisconsin’s deadliest animals. According to the Department of Transportation, there are at least 20,000 vehicle/deer crashes annually, 15 to 20 percent of which cause injury. In 2017 alone, nine people died as a result of these crashes.

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Thursday, Jul. 26th, 2018

CRAFTING A TRIBUTE: Theater-loving teen creates ‘Minecraft’ walk-though of State Theatre

One of the most unique tributes to the State Theatre was created with technology unimaginable during the days of vaudeville and silent film when the theater was built. Braedon Laundrie, a 19-year-old Eau Claire native and UW-Eau Claire sophomore, recently posted to Facebook a 2-minute, 30-second virtual walk-though of the theater built with the video game “Minecraft.”

Inspired “mostly just out of boredom,” Braedon decided three or four months ago to create a detailed model of a real-world location. He selected the State because he’s spent so much time there onstage, backstage, and in the orchestra pit. Braedon’s first State Theatre memory is from 2004, when he saw his father, Tony, perform in the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Braedon was soon acting himself – a personal highlight was flying over the stage in the ECCT’s “Peter Pan” in 2006 – and for the past few years has played drums in the orchestra for numerous ECCT and Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild productions.

Relying most on memory, Braedon used the world-building video game to create the walk-though, meticulously creating a three-dimensional rendering of the theater’s marquee, lobby, balcony, stage, orchestra pit, dressing rooms, and more. The hardest parts of the project, he says, were getting the scale correct and making the virtual lights work. (Within the walk-though, a player can raise and lower the house and stage lights.)

Braedon figured his creation would only interest a few theater friends, so he was surprised when it started gaining thousands of views on Facebook and grabbed the attention of local media outlets.

“It is sad that the State is closing, but with the Confluence opening it provides a lot of opportunities that might be more fun than the State,” he said.

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Monday, Jul. 23rd, 2018

Altoona, Meet your Market: River Prairie hosts new Monday farmers market

The very first Altoona farmers market opened for business Monday, July 23 at River Prairie Park. In an attempt to balance existing markets rather than compete with them, the new weekly event will take place in the evenings from 4-7pm. This will allow shoppers to grab locally grown groceries on the way home from work, just in time for supper. The market is scheduled to run every week through the end of October, with the exception of Labor Day.

Roy Atkinson, management analyst for the City of Altoona, is one of the market’s organizers, along with Debra Goldbach, recreation manager. The market idea has been thrown around for some time, according to Atkinson, but the supportive response to the vendor market of the June P10 festival indicated that people were excited about the idea. “It really put a hop in our step to get it going,” he said.

“I think it’s the perfect space to have a farmer’s market,” Atkinson said. Organizers expect 8-10 vendors at each market, featuring flowers, vegetables, meat, and baked goods. Local musician Jeff Fagen will be busking on-site, and the city aims to have food trucks offering good eats.

“We think it’s a really good compliment to the work day,” Atkinson said. “It promotes healthy living in a lot of ways.” Atkinson is “brimming with optimism” about the new Altoona market, and looking forward to its pilot run.

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Thursday, Jul. 19th, 2018

American Barnstormers Tour Lands in the Chippewa Valley

The Checkerboard (Image: Neil Hodorowski)
The Checkerboard (Image: Neil Hodorowski)

The American Barnstormers Tour is a breath of fresh air for those unenamored with aviation. A troupe of pilots and their aircraft landed in Eau Claire this week as part of their Midwestern travels. This year’s tour celebrates Travel Air biplanes, which are open-cockpit propeller planes with two sets of wings. Twelve of these planes total will be on-site, with five on display and five used to provide biplane rides. The three-day event opened to the public today (July 19), and runs through Saturday (July 21) from roughly 10am-6pm each day at the EAA Chapter 509 clubhouse at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, weather permitting.

Image: Lauren Fisher
Image: Lauren Fisher

Volume One Goes for a Ride

Volume One had a chance to get up in the air early Thursday morning – I took a ride in the sky with V1 staffer Neil Hodorowski and our pilot, who most refer to as “The Candy Man.” This nickname originated with jokes that David Mars, who has been flying for half a century, might be an heir to the Mars candy fortune. He and the other pilots were dressed to impress in 1920s costume. Mars explained that the first barnstormers wore ties to suggest respectability and reliability, reassuring their riders.

We stepped up onto the lower wing and boarded Checkerboard, a 220 horsepower 1929 Curtiss Travel Air 4000. It wasn’t until after the ride that I took proper stock of the craft, which sported a red-and-blue checkered pattern and a gorgeous wooden propeller. Mars bought the plane in the ‘90s in Michigan – he jokes that he has been “destoring” it ever since. Compared to some of the other biplanes, which shine with carefully maintained paint, Checkerboard is a little rough around the edges. From the front seat, we could watch a second and third plane prepare to lift off. Behind us, the Candy Man listened for instructions.

Image: Lauren Fisher
Image: Lauren Fisher

The trio filed down the airfield, propellers buzzing, and we watched our companions launch. The volume leapt from lawnmower level to an industrial roar and we lifted off. The noise was all but forgotten when we were high enough to look over the side of the plain at the verdant patchwork of the Chippewa Valley countryside.

Neil and I exercised our cell phone photography skills, grasping the devices tight so as not to lose them to the wind. We waved at the other planes’ passengers and watched them rise and then spiral dive through the air. Our stomachs dropped with Checkerboard when our pilot brought the nose down, then righted the biplane for a gentle cruise back to Earth.

Image: Lauren Fisher
Image: Lauren Fisher

Mars pilots dozens of biplane rides every day, helping others experience flying freely through the air for what might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance. “It’s about them, and I want to make the experience good for them,” he said. “I immerse myself in their enjoyment.”

Mars’ son, Charlie Mars, was ready with a step stool to help us out of the plane. Despite his full-time work as a prolific singer-songwriter, he has spent the month of the tour with his father, helping fuel the planes, guide people on and off the rides, and manage finances. In a soothing Mississippi drone, he poeticised the relationship between music and flying through the air:

“Barnstormers and troubadours are about a hiccup away from each other.”

V1 staffers Neil Hodorowski and Lauren Fisher
V1 staffers Neil Hodorowski and Lauren Fisher

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Monday, Jul. 16th, 2018

UPDATED: Gov. Walker Announces Foxconn Purchase in Downtown Eau Claire

The Haymarket Landing Building, downtown Eau Claire. (image: HayMarketLanding.com)
The Haymarket Landing Building downtown Eau Claire. Foxconn Technology Group will use space on the building’s ground floor for an innovation center to be part of a talent network. (Image: HayMarketLanding.com)

Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday morning that Foxconn Technology Group will obtain two properties in downtown Eau Claire. Foxconn has reached an agreement to purchase The Grand, a six-story office building located at 204 E. Grand Ave. The company will also buy or lease 15,000 square feet of the first floor of Haymarket Landing, 220 Eau Claire St. This represents just under half of the roughly 34,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor of the building.

The Grand, 204 E. Grand Ave., will be used will be used by Foxconn to house a laboratory for technological solutions.
The Grand, 204 E. Grand Ave., downtown Eau Claire, will be used by Foxconn to house a laboratory for technological solutions.

The Grand, formerly a Wells Fargo Bank, will be used to house a laboratory for technological solutions, while the Haymarket Landing space – which will overlook Eau Claire Street and Haymarket Plaza – will serve as an innovation center that will be part of a talent network, according to a Foxconn press release. The company expects to create 150 jobs to support these efforts.

Foxconn and Commonweal Development began discussion of the technology corporation's temporary occupation of Haymarket Landing last month, according to Commonweal President Stuart Schaefer. Further discussions will determine whether Foxconn will purchase or lease the space.

Finding tenants for the bottom floor of Haymarket Landing has been a challenge for Commonweal due to continuous construction in the area. “We always thought we’d be able to get sort of a large restaurant usage or many restaurants into that space, but that hasn’t happened yet,” Schaefer said. “Given a year or two, with the bridge and the plaza and the Confluence finished, we think that people and businesses will have the confidence to go into that space. ... As of yet, we haven’t found that, so we’re happy to make use of that space in the short term.”

JCap Real Estate, the company that owns The Grand, has been working with Foxconn for several months to arrange this purchase and prepare the building for its future tenants, JCap President Brian Johnson said.“I think it’s great!” he said of Foxconn’s move into downtown Eau Claire and the jobs it is expected to bring. “It’s going to add to this energy in downtown Eau Claire.”

“Eau Claire is a great place for Foxconn’s newest Innovation Center – and Haymarket Landing, one of many UW-Eau Claire innovative partnerships and student residences, provides a vibrant hub for students, faculty, and Foxconn employees to connect and create together,” UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James C. Schmidt said. “UW-Eau Claire has long been an economic driver for Western Wisconsin, providing talented graduates in everything from healthcare to high-tech. We are excited to be a partner with Foxconn in exploring together a ‘smart future’ for the Chippewa Valley and for Wisconsin.”

The Haymarket Landing building's commercial floor plan. Info: Commonweal Development
The Haymarket Landing building's commercial floor plan. Info: Commonweal Development

“Foxconn’s investment in the Chippewa Valley is great news for the region and the entire state as the company continues to demonstrate how its presence in Wisconsin will truly be transformational,” said Mark Hogan, Secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. “From the day Foxconn announced it had chosen Wisconsin as the site for its campus, we have talked about the ripple effect that decision would have throughout the state. Today we are again experiencing that ripple effect here in west-central Wisconsin.”

The move to invest in locations in Eau Claire is part of a multibillion-dollar project to establish a Foxconn production facility in the Racine County village  of Mount Pleasant in southeastern Wisconsin. Walker promised the company up to $4.5 billion in tax incentives to build the $10 billion factory and create a predicted 13,000 jobs in the state.

Many public officials and citizens disapprove of the plan, saying that the payoff to Wisconsin and its residents will be too little for such a large benefit to Foxconn.  Protesters waved signs that read “No Foxconn, No Walker,” at the announcement location in Phoenix Park.

Others, including Andrew Werthmann, acting president of the Eau Claire City Council, have reservations about Foxconn itself.

“Our community has a set of values, and we need to hold them accountable to it,” he said.“It can’t be lost in this discussion that (Foxconn has) a horrible human rights record, they have a horrible environmental record, they have a horrible labor record. And so, knowing all that, I think it’s on us both as community leaders and as a community to make sure that they are held accountable to the kinds of values that we hold dear.”

Foxconn plans to close on these properties later this year and open the spaces for operation in 2019.

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Thursday, Jul. 12th, 2018

5 Historical Nuggets From the New WPT Show About Eau Claire

daniel shaw lumber
Daniel Shaw Lumber Co,

1. Three Confluences

The city of Eau Claire grew up around the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers, but that’s not the only confluence that was vital to the community’s early history. The new Wisconsin Public TV documentary, Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Eau Claire, notes that the city was at the crossroads of two ecosystems: hardwood and pine forests to the north and east and buffalo- and elk-filled prairies to the south and west. It was also along the disputed border of lands inhabited by the Dakota and Ojibwe tribes.

2. Lots of Lumber

Eau Claire was ideally located to take advantage of all those trees. The Chippewa River was only navigable up to Eau Claire,which made it the logical place to build sawmills. At least one-sixth of the white pines in the United States were in the Chippewa Valley, and the river served as a superhighway to float those logs to the Mississippi River and beyond.

3. Living Relic

Old Abe was a bald eagle adopted by Eau Claire’s Company C, 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, when they marched off to the Civil War in 1861. the bird accompanied Company C in at least 34 battles before retiring from active duty. He was declared a war relic by Gov. James Lewis and was given a two-room apartment – complete with a swimming pool! – in the state Capitol’s basement.

4. Rolling Along

The Gillette Safety Tire Co. built its first tire in 1917, and was soon a major employer. At one time, the plant produced one-third of the tires for new General Motors cars and was the nation’s biggest maker of bicycle tires. Eventually owned by Uniroyal Goodrich, the plant closed in 1992.

5. Hammerin’ Hank

Baseball hall-of-famer and longtime major league home run king Henry Aaron famously played a season with the minor-league Eau Claire Bears in 1952. At the time, Eau Claire had about 36,000 residents, only about three of whom were African-American. Yet the 18-year-old from Alabama was embraced by the community and went on to be the league’s rookie of the year.


Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Eau Claire premieres on Wisconsin Public Television at 8pm Monday, July 16. Learn more at wpt.org. The DVD is available at The Local Store.

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Tuesday, Jul. 10th, 2018

4 Weekends, 4 Big Music Festivals

Country Jame 2017 (Image: Caitlyn Berlin)
Country Jam 2017 (Image: Caitlyn Berlin)

ROCK FEST

25th Anniversary Rock Fest • July 12-14 • 24447 County HWY S, Cadott • Tickets $89-$500 • www.rock-fest.com • Rock n’ roll fans from around the world will gather Thursday, July 12 through Saturday, July 14 for some head-banging, crowd-surfing, beer-drinking kind of fun at Rock Fest. The festival is the US’s largest rock music and camping event, and it’s located right in Cadott. This will be the 25th anniversary of the iconic festival, which has hosted legendary performers such as Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Fleetwood Mac and many more. This year, attendees will rock to featured headliners such as Disturbed, Incubus, and Godsmack, with many other performances throughout the weekend. While the music is enough to make for a great weekend, Rock Fest offers a wide variety of different experiences and exhibitions. Most notable will be the zombie crawl, where attendees dress up in their best zombie costumes for a chance to win a meet and greet and pit passes for the rest of the weekend. Other experiences include a tattoo parlor to get ink to commemorate the weekend, giant games, and a hammock haven with free massages. Rock Fest also offers helicopter rides and a chapel of love for attendees to get married or renew their vows. All that rocking will leave attendees hungry and thirsty, so thankfully there will be plenty of food vendors and bars at the event. Rock Fest is a place where rock music still matters; it’s a true rock experience that shouldn’t be missed. –Raquel Dorf

COUNTRY JAM

Country Jam • July 19-21 • Whispering Pines Campground, Eau Claire • Ticket prices vary (children 4 and younger free) • Parking $15/day or $40 for the festival • Camping available • countryjamwi.comDust off your cowboy boots and cutoffs: Country Jam Wisconsin is returning to the Chippewa Valley July 19-21. Three days of camping, top-notch country performers, and a non-stop good time await those coming to see the performances. For those who haven’t been to Country Jam, the VIP section offers reserved seating up close to the main stage and access to a variety of food, including a buffet, a variety of beers on tap, and flush toilets. There is also a Party Pit next to the stage, a Country Club which allows access to artist interviews, a SkyBox, and an Ultimate VIP experience for those looking for an even more exciting, up-close-and-personal experience. The general admission section offers seating (bring your own chair) on a first-come, first-served basis, and access to vendors selling food and drinks around the grounds. Both options offer access to the main stage and big-name country artists, including Blake Shelton, Alabama, Billy Currington, Justin Moore, Dustin Lynch, and Craig Morgan to name a few. There are two side stages featuring up-and-coming acts and classic acts, including Alter Ego, Lorrie Morgan, Hillbilly Vegas, and Maggie Rose. New this year is the fact Country Jam is cashless – wristbands are equipped with RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) and Cashless Payment Technology – so you will use the same wristband to get in and pay for items throughout the grounds this year. Vendors are not accepting payments by means other than a wristband. –Haley Wright

Blues on the Chippewa 2017 (Image: Marcie Pannell)
Blues on the Chippewa 2017 (Image: Marcie Pannell)

ONE FEST

OneFest • July 28-29 • Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, Chippewa Falls • Ticket prices vary (children 4 and younger free) • Parking $5 on Saturday, free Sunday • Camping available at fairgrounds • one-fest.com • (715) 379-3742 • Beginning Saturday, July 28, and rolling in to the 29th, the Chippewa Valley will see its first large-scale Christian music festival at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. OneFest will provide a truly wholesome experience with live music in the great outdoors. The event’s motto – “One God, One Song, One Voice” – truly encapsulates the purpose of the weekend. Performers include Tenth Avenue North, Mandisa, Citizen Way, Love the Outcome, Sanctus Real, and Cloverton on the main stage and Light45, 513Free, Brayton Meyer, Brady Luke, Sparrows Rising, and CollECtive Choir on the side stage. This event also offers family-friendly fun such as outdoor sports, activities for younger kiddos, indoor activities, and a bounce house. There will also be a worship service at 10am Sunday with Pastor Ryan Fontenot and special guest performers We Are Leo. There will be food and beverage vendors all over the fairgrounds as well as merchandise, non-profit, and ministry vendors. This event is totally accessible with handicap parking and paved pathways. You can buy tickets online or in person at Calvary Baptist Church in Eau Claire, Mathison Chiropractic in Cadott, My Life Chiropractic in Lake Hallie, and Kings Way Bible and Gift in Rice Lake. Ticket prices vary, but group orders of 20 or more will receive discounted prices. The main stage has standing room as well as seating options available. –Julia Van Allen

BLUES ON THE CHIPPEWA

Blues on the Chippewa • Aug. 3-5 • Memorial Park, Second Avenue East, Durand • FREE • bluesonthechippewa.com Blues lovers unite, there’s a festival for you! Of course, anyone can attend, but if you’ve been craving some blues music this summer, you’re in luck. On the weekend of Aug. 3-5, Blues on the Chippewa is taking over Memorial Park in Durand, just a half-hour drive from Eau Claire. This year they’ve added a second stage, giving attendees even more entertainment options – and they’re free! Fifteen acts will be spread out throughout the three days. Left Wing Bourbon, which provides a blend of soul, blues, and getting your boogie on will kick off the fest at 5pm Friday with Ghost Town Blues Band closing out the evening. The Avey/Grouws Band will get your body moving and ready for the Saturday lineup starting at noon, while Hamilton Loomis, a blues, rock and soul musician born and raised in Galveston, Texas, will cap off the second night. More fabulous acts to follow on Sunday: Three-time Grammy nominee Ellen Whyte will open up the final day with the Whyte-Orfield Band at 11am. With 35 years of experience fronting bands, Ellen is known for her breathtaking vocals, mixing blues, jazz, funk, and ballad stylings into her music. As the festival comes to an end, David Bromberg will grace the stage, closing out Blues on the Chippewa wit a set starting at 5:45pm. Known as “The Godfather of Americana,” he has performed on hundreds of records by artists such as Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, and more. His background in various styles will make for the perfect end to a blues-filled weekend! –Measha Vieth

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Monday, Jul. 9th, 2018

Eaux Claires IV: Recapped

The Flambeaux stage. (Image: Branden Nall)
The Flambeaux stage. (Image: Branden Nall)

“Fly or fall on feeling.” That was at the core of Eaux Claires’ no-lineup philosophy for 2018. Feeling. And there’s a lot of feelings out there at the moment. 

Seemed like a lot of fest-goers were really quick to shout out their distaste with the lineup – which didn’t feature a so-called “big name,” but did feature a lot of really, really good ones. The lineup argument is obviously a matter of perspective (mostly). And I also think we’re all tired of hearing about it, and you’ve probably already got your mind made up about it anyway, so I don’t need to wax about it here. Instead I’d rather be honest and say I don’t really care. I had a good time.

IV certainly felt loose in a way it hasn’t before. No-lineup thing aside, there were some logistical oil slicks out there like long bathroom/beer lines, long food lines, schedule flips, and whatnot … garden variety music festival stuff that could’ve been tightened up quite a bit. I still had a good time.

It’s pretty simple really. The music was great, the mosquitos were terrible, they had beer for sale, the weather was as perfect as it’s ever gonna be. It’s a good music festival and I had a good time. Dreaming up something bigger and getting angry when it’s not that just seems like a waste of time to me. But you do you.

I walked in Friday afternoon, and while everyone was riffing their flaming hot lineup takes, I was listening to the sweet sounds of Wye Oak, who pounded out a terrifically dreamy early set. Following that up on the Lake Eaux Lune stage with Julien Baker’s heart-wrenching songs was a cathartic kind of chill – and we got to see Baker’s powers pop up for different performances no less than half a dozen times throughout the weekend, which was a true blessing in and of itself. Julien Baker gets the MVP.

Julien Baker (Image: Luong Huynh)
Julien Baker (Image: Luong Huynh)

Serpentwithfeet was a stunner on Friday, swirling his one-of-a-kind voice up to otherworldly levels for big anthems about the complexities of queer love at the House of IV – the Vans stage that had some absolute knock-outs all weekend. Later on, Serengeti had a super fun set, and after midnight, Marijuana Deathsquads did their thing 'til close night one, seemingly scraping every sound in the universe together and letting it blast at full capacity.

The Flambeaux stage was transformed into a stage in the round for IV, and while it had few drawbacks, it was home to some pretty cool stuff. Big Red Machine – a new project from Eaux Claires co-curators Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner – performed there Friday night under a stunning, sky-high light show. Earlier, the brothers Dessner scored a killer performance by TU Dance on satellite platforms surrounding Flambeaux out in the crowd. And at one point, Francis Starlite sang a few songs karaoke-style. And he straight up just played Kanye West’s “Lift Yourself” – a capital-G Good song, by the way – with all the “whoopty scoopty poops” and none of the actual Ye. Ah well, there’s always next year … 

The woods were pretty fantastic this year if you knew where to look. There were hushed concerts at a solo pedal-affected piano, the wooded Oxbeaux stage, a giant house structure where everything you touched was an instrument, and a Player Fence. Artists like Gordi, S. Carey, and Baker made good use of the experimental stages by daylight, and by night they came alive with electricity. The Oxbeaux stage was draped in screens – one of them with some Super Smash Bros. being played live – for Psymun’s cool late night set where the Twin Cities producer’s reverb-drenched hip hop beats were paired with vocal contributions from Corbin, Dua, Spank Rock, and Velvet Negroni. Down the wooded path and behind a mural at a stage called The Hunting Blind, super secret raves happened both nights. Because, I’m sorry, you can’t always shake your booty to The National, ya know?

The National with Phoebe Bridgers (Image: Brendan Nall)
The National with Phoebe Bridgers (Image: Branden Nall)

Saturday heightened the music, and was stacked with most of the best stuff. Kevin Morby and Phoebe Bridgers had awesome afternoon sets, which were followed up with a breathtaking Moses Sumney performance at Lake Eaux Lune. Watching Sumney kill with his slot two years ago at Eaux Claires before anybody knew who he was, then seeing him return this year to blow the doors off the main stage with a master class in what a gifted vocalist is capable of – it felt amazing.

I loved getting to see Noname bring the bounce with soulful beats and boundless raps; it was fun as all get out and she is fantastic. And later at the stage in the round, I really loved Sharon Van Etten’s minimal performance. Where her records are typically layered productions with a bunch of instruments, she kept it synthy and bass-heavy and let her voice and gut-wrenching words do to the heavy lifting. For a rare set after a long hiatus, I am definitely here for it.

Pussy Riot (Image: Luong Huynh)
Pussy Riot (Image: Luong Huynh)

And we need to talk about Pussy Riot. The buzzy Russian feminist protest artists brought irrepressible energy to their rare American performance. With spastic visuals full of fiery slogans and lyrics laced with anti-corruption, anti-sexism, and anti-hate messages along with thick, heavy dance beats – it’s a performance that you could never dream of seeing in Eau Claire, and we’re lucky for it. I feel lucky, at least. Crowds were sleepy on the whole, but during Pussy Riot, it seemed to come alive like no other. For sure, one of the most truly unique performances this festival has ever had.

So I feel good about IV, and you can feel whatever you feel about it. Let me just say, before you puke your guts out, consider how lucky we are that every summer, this kinda thing can happen here in the Chippewa Valley. Consider the breadth of artists that came here for Eaux Claires and came a couple days earlier for Prex Claires. Think about five years ago before all this stuff started happening. 

And now breathe. 

And now let us know what you think.

(Image: Brendan Nall)
Flambeaux (Image: Branden Nall)

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Thursday, Jul. 5th, 2018

PHOTOS: Eaux Claires Fans at Peak Eaux Claires

Eaux Claires fans wisp about like dandelion wishes.
Eaux Claires fans wisp about the festival grounds like dandelion wishes.

We've taken many a photograph at past Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festivals, as all kinds of fantastic people converge upon the Chippewa Valley from around the world. Enjoy a handful of music fans who seem extra-at-home at Eaux Claires.


Eaux Claires fans like to reflect upon the journey.

Eaux Claires fans like to reflect upon the journey.

Sometimes it's hard to contain their excitement.

Music is serious business.
Music is serious business.

They paint with all the colors of the humid Wisconsin wind.

#FlowerCrownLife

At music festivals across America, a hero appears whenever we need him most.

To be fair, this noble hero appears at all music festivals everywhere.

Some of the fans have their own bands.

Sweaty scruff and Pepsi, y'all. 

#FlowerCrownLife

Eaux Claires was made for romance.

Their strength and balance are second to none.

They had the time of their life.
They had the time of their life. They never felt this way before.

They stay true to their roots.

When representing Wisconsin, no punches are pulled.

Hush and be still. The Eaux Claires Spirit Animal quietly steps from behind a birch tree and welcomes you to the merch tent.

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Tuesday, Jul. 3rd, 2018

LISTEN: Justin Vernon Talks to V1 about the City, the Festival, and His Creative World

The coming week is a big one for the culture of Eau Claire. Thousands of people from around the world will descend into the valley soon for not only the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival on July 6-7, but for a whole array of related events and happenings in the days before and after.

With that on the horizon, a while back I got a text from Justin saying he wanted to talk and had some things on his mind he wanted to share with not only me, but perhaps with the city too. He was fresh off his two intimate Lock-Inn shows at The Oxbow Hotel in downtown Eau Claire and the debut of his revelatory collaboration with TU Dance. So we set up a recorder and had a little talk at Volume One a few weeks ago.

And now if you’re interested — and you can handle a few inside jokes, unfamiliar references, and unexplained name-drops — you can listen in.

We of course covered Eaux Claires and the “no-lineup lineup” and what it means to him and the city, as well as the economics and future of the festival. He also elaborates on the plan for “scoring the fireworks” with Aaron Dessner of The National at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire on the 4th of July.

We also talk about just how good I felt the TU Dance collaboration was in St. Paul (and its possible future at the Pablo Center here in Eau Claire). We also touch on the ambitious Bon Iver schedule this year and what it took emotionally for him to get back in the game.

But in true form for a couple of old locals, we talked about where the Eau Claire community has been and where it’s going, what he thinks about all the attention the city has been getting, and about how he experiences this place.

The audio comes in at about 45 minutes long, has been edited for length, and contains minor adult language.

Here are a few random excerpts:

On Eau Claire…

“The character or type of person that lives here is a very good one, very good people. But I also feel like we just don’t step out or something. We don’t take that chance. Or we don’t do the thing we’re not supposed to and that’s what kinda keeps us pulled back.”

On the Pablo Center…

“I’m just happy that’s it happening. It just seems like all of the rowboating to the truth, to the final stages of this thing has gotten a good team in place. I think Jason Jon has become a really close not only friend but like — I told him: 'This town needs you.' I just personally feel great that I feel like I can call Jason … and just be like 'Hey, can I do something there and can we work this out and can I stretch my artistic wings, like a local artist at this place?'”

On Eaux Claires…

“We plan on being around 20 years. We made money the first year. We lost a lot of money the last the couple years. But we’re not gonna give up. And we’re gonna keep trying to figure out what this thing is without trying to be like financially guided, other than just trying not to lose our asses … 20 years we hope to be doing this thing, if not longer. I foresee giving up very few times between then and now.”

On the TU Dance Performance…

“I was proud because I felt like a really new kind of reward after it because of the hard work. Because it was new and it was different. I got a chance to express myself. All I had was an opportunity to do something new, and it felt like just as exciting as like making the first album.”

 

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