Folk Music | WGLT

Folk Music

Pandemic Takes Emotional Toll On Musicians

May 1, 2020
Pokey on stage
Ashley Binkowski / WGLT

As the economic effects of the coronavirus ripple around the globe, the arts have been hit especially hard. The creative class is vulnerable to financial upheaval. Artists and performers are often independent contractors whose fluctuating incomes require sustained promotional efforts.

Put simply: To make it as an artist, you’ve got to hustle.

Jared Grabb plays Nightshop in Bloomington Thursday night
Rodger Hanlon

Peoria native Jared Grabb knew art would be a major part of his life from a young age. But once he arrived in college to study comic book art, he discovered his love of music trumped visual art.

Chicago Farmer plays the Castle Theatre Friday night
Bradley J Scott

Bloomington's Cody Diekhoff, known professionally as Chicago Farmer, digs deeper into America's widening economic divide on his new album "Flyover Country."

The Banjo's Roots May Be Further East Than Even Africa

Jan 31, 2020
two people with banjos
Jim McGuire / Bela Fleck

Bluegrass is what drew Béla Fleck to the banjo. He heard the theme song to “The Beverly Hillbillies” and the “Dueling Banjos” as a kid, and said he felt compelled to pick up the instrument. He never put it down, and today is considered one of the world’s foremost banjo players.

Them Coulee Boys play The Castle Theatre Wednesday night
Scotify

Them Coulee Boys frontman Soren Staff wanted the Eau Claire, Wis.-based band’s third album to hang together thematically. Like many bands, their first album was everything they had written prior to forming; their second was mainly leftovers.

Shawn Hoeft of Bloomington believes her son Zac would have celebrated his 29th birthday this year had the unknown gunman who killed him been exposed to conflict resolution.

Sherwood Forest's EP release party is Saturday night at the Coffeehouse in Normal
Cedric Wilder

The principal songwriter and lead vocalist for the Bloomington-Normal folk-rock quintet Sherwood Forest said the group's new EP digs into personal struggles both internal and with family, friends, and lovers.

Good Morning Bedlam plays Nightshop in Bloomington Thursday night.
Good Morning Bedlam

Good Morning Bedlam is another young string band more inspired by — than tethered to — traditional bluegrass.

Stephanie Jean and Chris Turpin are Ida Mae. They play the Peoria Blues and Heritage Festival Saturday night.
Dean Chalkley

Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean seemingly had it made by 2014. The English natives were half of the grunge/blues band Kill It Kid that was signed to Sire Records and had just released its third album.

National Park Radio plays the Hallowed Hall in downtown Bloomington Sunday night
National Park Radio

Stefan Szabo came to professional music at the relative late age of his later 30s.

The founder of the folk/Americana band National Park Radio says working full-time in IT after college, then getting married and having two kids at 19 and 21 kept him from pursuing his love of music, at least full time.

Matt Anderson, Edward David Anderson and Tim Kramp of Backyard Tire Fire
Edward David Anderson

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.

Dan Hubbard playing the keyboard
Troy Phillips

Bloomington singer-songwriter Dan Hubbard was so pleased with his 2016 self-titled album, he decided to put music aside. He even enrolled in seminary school.

Miles Nielsen is a homebody. Despite (or perhaps because of) heavy touring with his own band The Rusted Hearts and spending his youth traveling the world with his father's band Cheap Trick, he continues to make Rockford his home.

Daniel Watkins
Troy Phillips

Alt-folk and newgrass singer-songwriter Daniel Watkins felt somewhat isolated growing up in Henry, a town today of roughly 2,300 on the west side of the Illinois River about 45 minutes northeast of Peoria.

Sierra Hull
Sierra Hull

Sierra Hull fell in love with the mandolin almost immediately after her father taught her a few songs on the instrument.

The Twin City duo Stone & Snow performs their song "Love Is A Weapon" for the NPR Tiny Desk Concert.
YOUTUBE / STONE & SNOW

Karen Bridges and Clint Thomson of the Bloomington-Normal folk duo Stone & Snow are on a roll with their original song "Love is a Weapon."

Dave Simonett, at the piano, with Trampled By Turtles
David McClister

Dave Simonett of Duluth, Minnesota-based Trampled By Turtles is a talented musician, vocalist, and songwriter. He’s also got some game as a collector of vinyl.