Trail Mix, an acoustic concert series known for bringing together local and national musicians at Izaak Walton preserve in Homewood, will return on Friday, Oct. 13. Donna Herula, a Chicago blues musician, will open for The Wildwoods, a three-piece Americana band from Lincoln, Nebraska.
Herula won Best Traditional Blues Artist and Best Acoustic Blues Album for her album “Bang at the Door” at the 2022 Independent Blues Awards.
The Wildwoods consists of the husband-wife team of Noah Gose on guitar and Chloe Gose on violin. Andrew Vaggalis is on bass.
“Their harmonies are so smooth and creamy if that makes sense. They sing amazingly together, and they write some beautiful music,” organizer Steve Ploum said of the Wildwoods.
In the colder months, Trail Mix is held inside at Senior Hall but in the warmer months, it’s outside among the wildlife and trees at the preserve. Many attendees bring blankets, picnic tables, lawn chairs, food and drinks. Some arrive hours before the music starts.
The upcoming Trail Mix will be outside and the first to feature bonfires to keep attendees warm, Ploum said.
Trail Mix used to be a day-long festival exclusively showcasing local musicians in and around the Chicago area. But since transitioning to a year-round event in the spring of 2022, these local musicians have shared the stage with national musicians.
Trail Mix board member and GoodSpeed Cycles events director Steve Buchtel described this transition as “hit[ting] another gear.”
Homewood resident and regular Trail Mix attendee Julie Mueller said she’s brought with her friends from the city and other parts of Chicagoland beyond the South Suburbs. When the event is held outside, she said she usually brings jar lights that provide a kind of candlelight atmosphere.
“Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, it still has that intimate setting – that kind of listening room vibe that really caters to true music lovers,” Mueller said. “People are there for the music but also the setting and sharing that with each other.”
Mueller said she’s enjoyed seeing local talents such as Six of Spades and Andrew Robert Palmer at Trail Mix but has also discovered national acts such as Don Flemon, Phoebe Hunt, Sunny War and Tommy Womack. She said she’s been following these bigger-name artists since seeing them perform at Trail Mix.
Buchtel said he’s “astonished” at the level of acts that Ploum has been able to book – such as Grammy winners and musicians with late-night television appearances.
“I’m really impressed with Trail Mix’s ability to make that transition – from the showcase of local talent, of which there is a lot, to showcasing great musicians from wherever,” Buchtel said. “We have to have a green room now. When it was just local musicians, we didn’t have to have a green room and have it stocked with food and stuff like that. But Trail Mix does that now.”
Buchtel said Homewood is a “sophisticated community” that “longs to have some of the stuff that you might expect to have in the city” and this is part of why Trail Mix has flourished.