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Feature Thu Aug 07 2008

Southwest Folk Fest II: Ride Your Bike and Bring a Dish

For several years now the summer months have been filled with music festivals and traveling tours. In Chicago alone, this past weekend, we had both Lollapalooza and the Warped Tour. There is no way the average fan (or any fan) could attend every festival that comes to town in a given summer. So what might set one fest apart from the other, the bands? The venue? The vendors? Cost? All of those are factors, but there is a festival taking place in Western Springs this weekend that has done something unique, and it is not as much of a move to drawn a crowd, as it is a decision to benefit everyone involved.

Local musician/promoter Toby Foster and fellow musician Patrick LaBahn have gathered 35 local and touring musicians for what they are calling the Southwest Folk Festival II. Starting on Friday, August 8th, and ending on the 9th, the fest costs only $7 each day. Half of this goes to the touring bands, and the other half is going to the Working Bikes Coop. The Working Bikes Coop will also be taking donations of used or unwanted bikes, so if you have one (or several) of those that you want to donate, bring them to the fest. They are also encouraging everyone to ride their bikes to the fest. In addition, there will be various workshops and discussion groups on topics such as animal rights, gender issues, a presentation from Working Bikes Coop and more. Attendees are also encouraged to bring a vegan dish to pass.

Beside all of these, what truly sets this event apart is it DIY attitude, and lack of corporate nonsense that has really polluted and diluted the bigger festivals. Recently, organizer and participating musician Toby Foster was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.


Gapers Block (GB): Southwest Folk Fest II takes place 8/8 & 8/9, what can you tell us about the origin of the festival?

Toby Foster (TF): Last year, the fest was sort of an accident, I guess. I do a fair amount of touring, as do a lot of my friends, and it just so happened that 7 different touring bands asked me for a show on the same day. It was a Monday, but I decided to turn it into a fest anyway, and starting asking more of my friends to play. In total, last year, we had 12 touring bands and nine local bands. It was a really, really awesome day, so we decided to do it again this year, but with two days this time.

GB: How did you select which bands would be playing this year? Are there any bands that you were hoping could play, but will not be appearing?

TF: Patrick, the guy helping me with the fest, and I started by asking a lot of the same people who played last year, and the people that we have known the longest and played several shows with across the country. That would be bands like Jenny is a Boy, Wabash, Dustin & the Furniture, and Super Famicom. We also have a friend, Eddie, who was helping with the booking, and he brought some people that we had not heard of before, which is kind of cool. We also asked a lot of our friends from around the Chicago area to play. Essentially, the Southwest Folk Fest is more so about building community and building relationships than it is about bands, and we tried to keep that in mind when deciding who should play. It is unfortunate that not everyone who wanted to, or who we wanted to, could play, but I guess that is sort of what happens with a festival this big. As for bands I was hoping could play: Real Live Tigers was supposed to play, but he is not going to be able make it after all. That is a bummer, because Real Live Tigers was probably my favorite set from last year.

GB: I love the idea of promoting Working Bikes Coop, and bike riding in general at the fest. How did you select this cause, and what was their response?

TF: We tried to donate some of the money to them last year, but there was some miscommunication. Our friend, Sarah, mentioned this year that she talked to someone from Working Bikes and they still needed the money, so we decided to do that again this year. I think it's a cause that most people can get behind, and will feel good about their money going to. Also, on a personal level, I try to ride my bike as much as possible, and to promote bike awareness. One thing about a fest that can be conflicting is that a lot of people are going to use a lot of gas to come here, so the bikes thing is an effort to try and keep that to a minimum, and encourage people to get to the fest in more environmentally-friendly ways.

GB: Are there any other vendors or sponsors involved with the fest?

TF: Not so much vendors or sponsors. There will, however, be some artists who will have their work on display, or for sale, and I think a small zine library. Also, on Saturday morning, starting at 10am, there will be some workshops and discussions on things like animal rights, gender issues, "DIY," and politics.

GB: The venue, Church of Rock, what do you like about holding your events in this location? Western Springs seems to be a where it is at for upcoming musicians. What are your thoughts on the Western Springs scene in general?

TF: The Church of Rock is nice because Dean, the pastor (it is a Methodist Church in real life), is really supportive of what we are doing. He is very willing to let us be in charge, and trusts us, I think, to not let things get out of control. We have done some pretty crazy shows there... As for the 'Western Springs scene,' I'm not too sure what to say. Patrick/Redbear. and Evan/Nice and Friendly were doing show there way before I was, and I'm really lucky that they started bringing touring bands like Captain Chaos, Paul Baribeau, and Christians and Lions to our area. Now, when I am home, I usually set up about two shows a month, and I'm lucky that there's a fair amount of kids who are interested in coming to shows and having a good time and dancing and singing. I think it's a really positive thing. I hope it is, at least.

GB: You are also in a band called Arkansas?, what is the latest with them and your music in general?

TF: Arkansas? hasn't been able to play since the beginning of June, since Patrick and I have both been doing solo tours, but we'll be playing a show at the Church of Rock on August 29th with Best Friends Forever, an awesome band from Minneapolis. I think once the school year starts (we are both starting a new colleges, and Victor is going to be a senior in high school) and things start to slow down, we will be able to play more. We are also putting out a CD on Sidejar Records sometime before the end of the year. In terms of my solo music, I have been on tour since June 18th, and am probably going to take some time off of that when I get home to focus on school and to focus on Arkansas?

Southwest Music Festival kicks for Friday August 8th at 4pm at the Church of Rock in Western Springs. For more information on both days events and a list of bands visit their website.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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