Mitch Davis
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Mitch Davis

Charleston, Illinois, United States | SELF

Charleston, Illinois, United States | SELF
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"Square Fest provides stage for new music, new bands and new surroundings"

Spring is a season that brings a refreshing smell into the air as the trees begin to bud and the winter chills become dormant. It is a time for new life to see the wonders of Charleston. With new life comes new ambitions. New ambitions mean new music, and for Charleston that means new events.

A fresh take on the Charleston festival scene is exactly what Scott Chaplinski has been planning for nearly a year with the event Square Fest.

"I started thinking in February that it was about time to get it going with everything going on with Celebration, Woodchuck Music Festival, there's finals, there's Easter. I realized it was crunch time to get it going," Chaplinski said.

Square Fest will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday through 1 a.m. Sunday. The event will take place on Charleston's square at the bars Mother's, Friends & Co., Mac's Uptowner and Top of the Roc.

The event will cost $12 and allow patrons 21 and over admittance into any of the bars and performances.

Chaplinski said getting the bars involved was the first part of organizing the event, and after he explained the potential benefits they jumped on board.

"I kind of just threw it out there," Chaplinski said. "They've given me good ideas, and they appreciate the ideas that I have. They've been very helpful with everything I've been doing."

Chaplinski has been wanting to get the bars involved with a festival event for more than year and said he feels that now was the best time to bring it all together.

"We are hoping it brings a lot of business to the square," Chaplinski said. "We hope it is going to be a nicer day. It's a good window of a month and a half of good weather to show all these people, 'Hey there are all these other great bars in town, and not just the ones near Lincoln (Avenue.)."

Many of the featured acts will be Charleston based groups such as Mugwump Specific, Andy Van Slyke and Staff Blues Band while others such as DJ Illith, Poundcake and Ryan Arnold stem from locations throughout the state.

"I figure this was a great networking opportunity for a lot of bands," Chaplinski said. "We are pulling in bands from the Kankakee area, and some musicians from Champaign area. It's bands that I like, and I know that other people (like)."

Chaplinski said most of them are younger bands that have only been playing for a year or two and that many times a band that has been playing for four to five years need a guarantee that they are getting paid.

"Having never done anything like this before I didn't want to make promises to a bunch of people that I can't fulfill." Chaplinski said.

In fact, much of the money for producing the event was saved up by Chaplinski himself. He hopes that the $12 cover is enough to give some of the traveling bands money to cover their gas costs and without being too high to deter college students and community members from coming out.

One local musician, Mitch Davis, a senior management information systems major, saod he plans on showing the crowd some new tunes to commemorate the new event.

"I mainly like to get people dancing, but I also play some more chill stuff," Davis said. "I don't want people to get burnt out, so I'll make new songs before the shows. New shows get me motivated to make new songs. (Square Fest) is going to be so new. There's going to be so many different people playing at so many different bars. I don't really know what to expect. That's why I am expecting to play in front of a totally new crowd, so I really got to try to pump people up."

With a wide variety of performances including blues, rock, jam band, electronic and rap everyone is beginning to develop expectations for the new event and Chaplinski is no different.

"I want to be able to be out on the square, outside the bars and see people having a good time," Chaplinski said. "I want to hear, sort of over-hear, what they did like and what they didn't like. I just think there will be a lot of good vibes coming. Perfect conditions for me, is hearing that people had a great time."

Brad York can be reached at 581-7942 or - The Den News

"Woodchuck: Loose in Charleston"

Local bands revv up their enthusiasm for the possibilities the new school year brings, and Matt Schumake, member of Andy Van Slyke, sees no better way than kicking it off with a music festival.

"The Woodchuck Festival is all about the music," said Schumake, co-founder of the festival. "Its about getting people together. It's about boosting the music scene in Charleston."

The festival will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and run through Sunday afternoon. Tickets are $10 for a day pass and $15 for weekend admission.

There is also a $5 parking fee, which can be avoided if the free shuttle is taken.

The shuttle bus will run throughout the festival's entirety and will meet at Campus Liquor and the corner of 6th Street and Monroe, in the square. Parking space is limited.

The event takes place on grounds a quarter of a mile south of town on University Avenue. Signs will mark directions from the intersection of Fourth Street and University Avenue. It is off the first road on the left.

This is only the second installment of the festival, but it has come a long way in less than a year. All contributors are hoping this fall will be much bigger than last semester's festival.

"Last year we put together the festival in less than a week," Scott Clements, co-founder of the Woodchuck Festival said. "We had about 300 people show up. This year, we are reinstating the festival as a benefit. The proceeds will be going to three different charities that are local and global."

The charities Clements speaks of are the local chapter of HOPE Women's Shelter, which aids victims of domestic violence; St. Vincent DePaul, which helps out families that are suffering dramatically from the economy; and Youth With a Vision, which helps children that are suffering in Dennilton, South Africa.

"This summer I went on a study abroad trip to South Africa," Clements said. "While we were there we did some social work. It touched me, and now I want to help out more. If we could have an annual event that could help support local charities and promote the live music scene in Charleston, I don't see any better way of doing it other than a music festival to help support the arts."

The event will be sponsored by Lincoln Garden and Finishing Touch Ink which are both located on Lincoln Avenue, Sugar Mountain Farm located on 18th Street, Mad Hatters on Fourth Street, H&H Shuttle and Taxi Services Inc. on Old State Rd., and Indio Cigar Shop located on 7th Street in the square.

Despite heavy sponsorship, most of the finances have come out of pocket from the co-founders of the event.

There are more than 25 bands performing over the weekend including Little Boy Jr., Mugwump Specific, Staff Blues Band and Mitch Davis. The festival founders have also brought in performers from surrounding towns and big cities such as Chicago and St. Louis. There are a wide variety of performers from many genres including jam bands, rock, folk, electronica and hip-hop.

In addition to the live music, there will be a bags tournament and a frisbee golf tournament. Patrons can bring their own beverages, alcohol included, but no glass is allowed on the grounds.

This is an all-ages event. Identification must be presented with use of alcohol.

Brad York can be reached at 581-7942 or at - The Den News

"Campus Briefs: Pantherstock to showcase local musicians"

Pantherstock to showcase local musicians

Pantherstock, a concert showcase part of Celebration, will begin at 11:30 a.m. today in the Library and South Quads. The concert will go until 7 p.m.

The main stage performers will include The Staff Blues Band, Mugwump Specific, Andy Van Slyke, Mitch Davis and Little Boy Jr. Artists performing on the acoustic stage are Ian "I2K" Winston, Zach Wscislo and Charles Scott. The University Board is sponsoring the concert.

Lecture to discuss dark side of Illinois history

John Hallwas will give a lecture and presentation, "Small Town Heritage: Life in Illinois Communities," as part of the Academy of Lifetime Learning workshop series at 2 p.m. today at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site.

Hallwas will discuss the darker side of Illinois history, including frontier killers at Cave-In-Rock, horse thieves, bandits and murderers.

He will show slides based on lithographs and historic photographs, depicting some of the outlaws and locations associated with their activities.

The Lincoln Log Cabin is located at 402 S. Lincoln Highway Rd., Lerna. The lecture is free.

-Compiled by Associate News Editor
Sarah Jean Bresnahan - The Den News


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The style that I play and the way that I bring in the crowd is definitely a unique approach. I am influenced by my surroundings and the feelings around me. The reason why my fans tag "Experience" at the end of my name is because my shows are an experience, and is not similar to any other artist.