Music Events

Road to Blue Ox: Annual Music Festival Kicks Off Pre-Festival Season

Pert Near Sandstone slated to host, perform, and curate festival – and they will tour Midwest this summer

Rebecca Mennecke, photos by Mike O'Brien |

BACK IN BLUE. The Blue Ox Music Festival will return this summer, and there
HANGING OUT AT THE SHOW. The Blue Ox Music Festival will return this summer, and there are some pre-fest events coming up.

Blue Ox Music Festival – a three-day music and camping festival in Eau Claire featuring bluegrass, roots, and Americana music – has announced it is back on for 2021, running Aug. 19-21 with artists including Them Coulee Boys, Pert Near Sandstone, Molly Tuttle, Charlie Parr, Pit Wagon, and way (way!) more.

In anticipation of the festival, The Potter’s Shed in Shell Lake will host the annual “Road to Blue Ox” pre-festival event, which is slated in person on June 5, featuring Pert Near Sandstone – an American string band that meshes old-timey bluegrass with high-energy, modern vibes and will host and curate this year’s festival. If that’s not enough to scratch your bluegrass itch, join Pert Near Sandstone in their Road to Blue Ox 2021 Tour through the Midwest, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. Check out the dates and locations of that tour here.

Looking for a new way to get involved with the music scene? Bluegrass, Americana, and folk bands are invited to enter Blue Ox’s Virtual Band Competition, which allows area musicians to compete for a slot to perform at Blue Ox. Create a video of your band performing 2-3 original songs, upload it to YouTube, and submit it to the Blue Ox website (found here) by the end of the day on Thursday, May 6, to perform live on the Backwoods Stage this August! Voting for best musician opens on May 14 and closes on May 28.

And, if you’re just too hyped for Blue Ox to wait (We know: waiting is the hardest, especially after the past year!), check out the new The Road to Blue Ox Podcast, hosted by Pert Near Sandstone’s Nate Sipe and Justin Bruhn. This podcast series – which already has three episodes out! – features interviews with Blue Ox Music Festival artists, plays tunes from this year’s lineup, and discusses cool features of the three-day festival, which takes place annually at The Pines Music Park in Eau Claire.

For more information about Blue Ox Music Festival or any upcoming events, visit