Summer Road Trip to Eaux Claires?

April 6, 2015, 2:02 PM  |  Music

So imagine this: two main players from two of your favourite bands get together to curate an all-new summer festival in the hometown of one of them. Too good to be true, right? Wrong.

Justin Vernon, front man supplier of dreamy Bon Iver and Volcano Choir sounds, and Aaron Dessner, The National’s producer and emotive guitarist, have collaborated to realise their dream of what a festival should be.

Eaux Claires (“Clear Waters”) is set to sail for the first time between July 17 and 18 by the Chippewa River in the large, wooded grounds of Foster Farms in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The concept was so alluring that pre-sale tickets (including some affordable camping and all-you-can-drink beer options) were sold out before the line-up was even announced.


Eau Claires, Wisconsin (Clear Waters). Photo by Tim Abraham

“We were driven by the idea that our festival would encourage music-genre-walls to melt away,” explained Justin and Aaron. They are seeking to compile a multi-stage music and arts experience that blends acts like Spoon, Boys Noize, Sufjan Stevens, Poliça and The Tallest Man on Earth.

To top it all off, Bon Iver (for their first live show since 2012) and The National (with new single ‘Sunshine on my Back’ just released) will be taking to Eaux Claires’ stage. Justin envisages “the barriers between the stage and the audience altered, and expression and experience put above all.”


The National will be headlining the Eaux Claires Festival in Wisconsin. Image courtesy The National

Justin’s iconic song writing appears to stem from a strong connection to place. His album opener ‘Perth’ marks a bond with spaces visited while touring as Bon Iver. So it seems only natural that he should curate a musical experience in the place where he started playing in bands back when he was attending high school and college.

So what kind of place is Eaux Claires to be?

“We have put so much thought into who should collaborate at this festival, from musicians to actors, filmmakers to visual artists.,” said Justin. “We will all share and revel in this collision of artistic force while performing in the arms of our own Chippewa River Valley.”

Could it be the place to be this Summer?

By Jill Plant

Photo by Tim Abraham

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