Black Dirt Music Festival founder Edward David Anderson says the outdoor July event next to the Castle Theatre is intended to celebrate the best features of Bloomington-Normal.
The fest includes a reunion of Anderson's Backyard Tire Fire, which disbanded in 2011.
Anderson said the all-local lineup of Backyard Tire Fire, Chicago Farmer, Edward David Anderson’s Black Dirt Revival, Matthew Curry and John Till was intentional.
“Especially for this first fest. We wanted it to represent this community. We want this fest to be a community thing and a family-friendly thing,” said Anderson.
He’s hoping to not only rally the vibrant local music scene, but perhaps those not part of the scene and/or who have little to no knowledge of the powerful music lineup.
“They’re still going to enjoy sitting outside listening to music in downtown Bloomington,” said Anderson.
A Backyard Tire Fire reunion is music to many fans still lamenting the band’s 2011 dissolution. Anderson said he hadn’t intended to rekindle BTF, as his solo career is going well, especially with the release of the 2018 critically acclaimed EDA album “Chasing Butterflies.”
“I had never made a Spotify playlist in my life, but as my wife was showing me how to do it, and I found a couple Backyard Tire Fire records on Spotify,” said Anderson. “So I made a Spotify playlist of some of my three solo records and a couple Tire Fire records mixed in.”
Nostalgia crept in hearing the songs next to each other.
“At the time, they (BTF songs) meant everything to me. They were and are the story of my life basically. I hadn’t played them for so long, but I got nostalgic and really wanted to play them again. So that’s how the whole thing started,” said Anderson.
The band will include longtime members Matt Anderson (EDA’s brother) and drummer Tim Kramp. Guitarist Scott Tipping will join the trio for the festival show.
Another special guest will be Bloomington-Normal’s Wildermore, who will back Chicago Farmer on his set.
“They’re such a good band, and they’re going to be great doing the Chicago Farmer material,” said Anderson. "They’re really good at learning other people’s stuff. I mean, my god, when they covered the Bowie or Who stuff (for the Toys for Tots Silver Ball at the Castle Theatre), how great were they? I know they have their own stuff, but they’re really accomplished guys who can play, so I’m really excited to hear what they can do behind Chicago Farmer.”
Anderson’s enthusiasm is normally infectious and is part of the reason Bloomington-Normal have come to form a bond. He’s especially psyched for the inaugural Black Dirt Music Festival, both for the bands on the bill, and kick-starting another music event the Twin Cities can rally around.
“I know for a fact people are driving in and flying in from all over the place because of this 'Tire Fire thing' because we haven’t played for a while. But next year, this festival is going to be bigger and there will probably be some bigger and more known acts happening on it as well,” said Anderson.
He said his goal for the festival is to not just have fun, but to make Bloomington-Normal a destination because of the music.
“I want this to help the local economy. I want this to be an annual event that grows into a regular music festival. One thing I’m excited about is that a portion of this year's proceeds are going to Habitat for Humanity McLean County,” said Anderson.
He said that idea ties into the community-based reason for initiating the festival.
“This is something that’s going to be a positive experience for everybody,” said Anderson. “Not just the musicians and music lovers that already go to The Castle. I think if we can get more people outside this little music community and the greater community involved, we can have something really special.”
The inaugural Black Dirt Music Festival begins at 5 p.m. July 27 in the Rock Lot of the Castle Theatre. You can view the music lineup here.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.