Because of our quarter system, we’ve finally hauled through midterms, only to discover that friends from other universities are already done with school. Instead of living vicariously through them for the last few weeks, what better way to be mellow than to put on a tie-dye shirt, walk barefoot to the lakefill and relax to the hippie, psychedelic sounds of bluegrass music?
Students for Ecological and Environmental Development and A&O Productions are co-sponsoring the 9th annual PhilFest on Sunday, May 9th. Started by SEED, Philfest is a traditional bluegrass concert honoring Phil Semmer, a former Northwestern student and dedicated member of SEED, who passed away in a car accident.
While free, the event will collect donations for Phil’s favorite charity, the Rocky Mountain Institute, an organization whose mission is to drive the efficient and restorative use of sustainable resources and to promote the ideology of “natural capitalism.”
For A&O, PhilFest constitutes one of three main spring events for the organization, the other two being the spring comedian event and last week’s One Voice concert.
Carbon Leaf, a Celtic-influenced band with a mainstream, rock vibe to their music, headlines the concert. The Virginia based-quintet dates back to 1992 and has a strong fan base in bluegrass music lovers.
Philfest will also kick off with Tangleweed, an acoustic, Chicago-based, Americana band with a mix of bluegrass and folk sound in their music. One of Northwestern’s student bands, The Earth is a Man, which utilizes a more progressive instrumental rock sound, will be another attraction for PhilFest on Sunday, and should provide a nice contrast to Carbon Leaf and Tangleweed.
Sierra Tishgart, A&O Co-director of Promotions and Public Relations, acknowledges that Northwestern students are not generally exposed to bluegrass music. However, she also says that knowing the bands is not a prerequisite to enjoying PhilFest; it’s more about basking in the sun and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere.
“I went to PhilFest last year and I didn’t know the bands that were performing,” she said. “But with the kind of music, you don’t need to be able to sing along to [it]. It’s more just jamming along to and swaying to the music. I think the tone that the bands set for the day is what students will enjoy, whether they know the bands or not.”
She noted that last year’s PhilFest was a mellow, hippie day for Northwestern students, who “grooved out to the music with hookahs and had fun walking on tightropes.”
PhilFest will be held on Sunday May 9th from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. on the Lakefill.