While the origins of Folk ‘n’ Blues can be debated, this fall marks the 45th time that Beloit has held a campus music festival organized by students.
Stemming from an old school Beloit tradition known as a “convocation cluster” that included a lecture on urban blues, a panel discussion, a workshop, and two performances in 1968, to a festival originally billed as the Wisconsin Delta Blues Festival in 1970, Folk ‘n’ Blues in all its forms has continued to draw students outside for at least two nights of moving and grooving.
On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10, students and locals will fill up the tent outside Pearsons once again. For a festival that once hosted such greats of the Chicago blues scene as Hound Dog Taylor, Willie Dixon, and groups like the Indigo Girls, it promises more delightful musical diversion this year. Kicking off the first night will be Boo Bradley, self-described as a “two-man Hokum junk and jive orchestra,” hailing from Madison and combining such instruments as kazoos, guitars, and a washboard. Following the duo will be The Rascal Theory, a five-piece group from Baraboo, Wis., mixing rock and blues music. Finishing out the night will be The Kinsey Report, a trio of brothers from Indiana who combine funk, blues, and gospel for lively, soulful tunes.
Saturday night opens with Birthrates, a duo of Beloit alumni--Linden Holt’16 and Kirby Jayes’16--now based out of Pittsburgh. Getting the rest of the evening going will be Amelia Eisenhauer and the Eisenhauer Band, an acoustic pop-blended collective often categorized under the elusive name “Americana.” The headlining band of the evening will be The Morningsiders, a high-energy ensemble generating pop/folk songs from New York City.
Since 1970, when Leroy Jodie Pierson’70 convinced the social board to spend its budget on a weekend of festivities instead of one night with one band, students have been taking control of Folk ‘n’ Blues. This year’s organizers, April Apfelbaum’17 and Grace Berchtold’19, are new to the leadership role of planning the event and have been working tirelessly to make sure everything runs smoothly. This year’s festival will include snacks catered by Bon Appétit as well as refreshments from Buffalo Wild Wings.
Rising out of a desire to explore the burgeoning world of Chicago blues in the 1970s, Folk ‘n’ Blues has since traversed musical styles including country rock, reggae, folk, funk, and zydeco. Continually hailed as one of the best-attended campus events of the year, the festival promises to live on as it grows and changes along with the ever-evolving Beloit student body.