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Trail Mix Concert Series will return with a ‘higher caliber’ of artists and as a year-round event, organizer says

Trail Mix Concert Series will return to Izaak Walton this year with a “higher caliber” of artists, according to event organizer Steve Ploum. The lineup includes a Grammy winner, an Emmy nominee and an NPR Tiny Desk Concert musician.

Ploum said he hopes Trail Mix can begin attracting concert goers far beyond the Homewood-Flossmoor area and that this will put Homewood on the map for traveling musicians.

Another change in 2022 and the years ahead is that Trail Mix Concert Series, formally known as Trail Mix Music Festival, will be sticking with the concert series model, Ploum said. Concert series events will extend far beyond the summer months and no longer will be exclusively outdoors, Ploum said.

Grammy winning, Emmy nominated bluegrass and folk musician Dom Flemons will be headlining Trail Mix on June 10 at 7 p.m. Ploum’s local band Butterfield Creek will open for Flemons.

“Genuine Negro Jig,” an album by Flemon’s band Carolina Chocolate Drops, won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2010. Flemons’ solo album “Black Cowboys” received a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album in 2019. Flemons also is a two-time Emmy nominee for “PBS Episode: Songcraft Presents Dom Flemons” and the song “Good Old Days” which he co-wrote.

“He definitely is a historian as much as he’s a master musician and storyteller,” Ploum said. “He has definitely understood the history of African American music through the Appalachians and the banjo.”

Sunny War, a folk-punk musician from Los Angeles, will be headlining the concert on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. War has about 120,000 monthly listeners on music streaming service Spotify, and she played NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert in 2019. Local band the Uh Ohs will open for War.

“She’s an amazing guitar player on top of being a singer-songwriter,” Ploum said. “She’s been compared to Tracy Chapman but with more skills and more invention on the guitar.”

Before it was a concert series, in what Ploum described as “the B.C – before COVID – period,” Trail Mix took place entirely in one day. This event was canceled in 2020.

“It was horrible to cancel a whole one-day event,” said Ploum. “So much work had already been put into it, and you can’t just pick up and redo a whole day event at another time. But with a concert series, when you have two or three acts, it’s a little easier to do that – should COVID rear its ugly head.”

When converting Trail Mix to a concert series in 2021, it still had roughly the same amount of music. However, instead of a day-long festival, the concerts were split into three evenings. While the format change originally was meant to be temporary, Ploum said organizers liked this new model so much that it became permanent.

“It allowed us to keep the brand alive for the entire summer and beyond,” said Ploum. “We had three events that we were promoting. We had three events that we were talking about.”

In years past, Trail Mix was outdoors in the summer months. Attendees listened to acoustic music while surrounded by trees and the sounds of nature. But this year, Ploum said one or two concerts will happen when the weather is colder – likely in the winter of 2022 and the early spring of 2023 – and they will be indoors at Izaak Walton’s senior hall.

“At least three [concerts] are set in stone, and it looks like four will very likely happen,” Ploum said. “Rather than having three concerts that are just during the summer months, we’re going to have basically a concert every quarter.”

Ploum said it’s still being finalized with Izaak Walton when the indoor concerts will happen. Trail Mix is still in the process of booking the musical guests, Ploum said.

“It’s still going to be mostly acoustic – not that we’re opposed to an electric guitar,” said Ploum. “But it’s going to be the type of music that you’re going to want to sit down and listen to the lyrics. Or you want to sit down and really listen to the subtleties, the nuance, of the music.”

Trail Mix is “turning the page” to the next chapter, Ploum said.

“What I hope happens is that we become on the map for artists that are coming to town,” said Ploum. “We would love to have this be something that people outside of our area come to. So that people from Chicago, people from Indiana, people from downstate come visit our town and come visit Izaak Walton.”

Ploum said concert goers can purchase “lawn seat” tickets the day of the event at Izaak Walton, but there will be 35 “premium seats” and 60 “general seats” available for pre-order while supplies last. The pre-ordered tickets will be closer to the stage and guarantee a concert goer a seat under the pavilion or in Senior Hall if it rains, Ploum said. Pre-ordered Trail Mix tickets are now available on its website.

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