Revisiting the Music Capital of the North

Nick Meyer

We’re now entering that final twilight of summer, and around here summer means many things – not the least of which, is music. This coming weekend (Aug 12-13) will see the last two major summer music events wrap up another season full of major outdoor concerts in the valley. That’s when Ashley for the Arts is held in Arcadia as the juggernaut Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival occurs just outside Eau Claire. Last weekend (Aug 5-7) featured Blues on the Chippewa in Durand, and the several weeks before that saw Country Jam, Rock Fest, Country Fest, and the Blue Ox Music Festival all take place in the Chippewa Valley. Roughly 100,000 people attended these events, and they’re only part of why last summer we declared our neck of the woods the “Music Capital of the North” – which you can read more about at VolumeOne.org/MusicCapital. (Since then, even TIME magazine caught on when in July it profiled Eau Claire, exploring our music scene and growing downtown.) But summer’s not done yet. Thankfully there are plenty of opportunities to catch a few community outdoor gigs before a chill arrives in the air. There’s no shortage of spots to pull up a yard chair or a blanket on the grass alongside lakes, rivers, parks, and plazas in towns all over the valley. You can be in a crowd of a couple of thousand or just a few dozen. In either one you’ll find jazz, blues, folk, rock, electronic, hip-hop, big band, reggae… the list goes on. So with these few remaining weeks to enjoy it all in the open air, be sure to build your summer bucket list and get to it. Squeeze every last drop from that classic Wisconsin summer. Because soon the last notes played will float up over the hills, that summer twilight will go dark, and we’ll be left only to look forward.

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