Trail Mix to feature Joe Pug in June as concert series draws attention outside the South Suburbs, organizer says

Joe Pug, a folk-rock musician who’s been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine and has more than 160,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, will play a Trail Mix concert at Thornton Distilling Co. in Thornton on the evening of Sunday, June 16. 

The Heavy Hors D’oeuvres, a three-piece folk band started last year by Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate Andrew Robert Palmer, will open for him. 

“He’s been compared to John Prine, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits,” Trail Mix event director Steve Ploum said of Pug. “He’s an amazing performer and songwriter.”

Joe Pug (Provided photo)

Describing the Heavy Hors D’oeuvres, Palmer said: “We’re doing my rock songs but in a lighter kind of way, because it’s all acoustic.” 

In March, Trail Mix was where the Heavy Hors D’oeuvres performed their first concert. Palmer, a folk musician with notable punk rock influences, said that since then, they’ve added a third member – a fiddle player who’s more “classically trained” than the other members. Meaning, she’s good at reading music and has a music degree.

“I figured we’d often be the opening act – which we are for Trail Mix,” Palmer said, explaining the band name. “We’re kind of like the snack you have before you have something more substantial.” 

Trail Mix, which hosts concerts at Izaak Walton Preserve in Homewood and Thornton Distilling, is getting more noticed by national musicians and music fans from all around the Chicago area, Ploum said. 

The shows are generally a fraction of the cost of a comparable show in Chicago and are in a more intimate setting with free parking. Ploum said concertgoers have traveled to Trail Mix from the north suburbs, west of Joliet, Northwest Indiana and Kankakee County.

Trail Mix’s first show was in 2016, and since then it has hosted 93 acts and 171 musicians, according to figures provided by Ploum. 

After evolving from a day-long acoustic music festival into a year-long “concert series,” Trail Mix went from exclusively featuring local musicians to booking national acts. Trail Mix Productions became a designated nonprofit organization in early 2023 which has helped them secure renowned, traveling musicians several months in advance.

“Word is getting out about Trail Mix being a legitimate venue. I’ve been getting a number of managers and booking agents that contact us,” Ploum said. “It’s really exciting to see people catching onto the idea that the South Suburbs can get these world-class musicians.”

Ploum said a group of Nellie McKay “super fans” who’ve followed her to five different states attended Trail Mix on April 26. They were within 20 feet of the stage and got to meet McKay after the show, Ploum said. They probably wouldn’t have been able to do this at a larger venue.

“I love live music in small venues and it’s especially meaningful to enjoy it with neighbors and friends,” regular Trail Mix attendee Julie Van Til said. “If a musician with a bigger following wants to play to a smaller crowd like ours, we promise to be a great audience.”

Trail Mix still plans on hosting shows in the warmer months outside among the trees at Izaak Walton. However, due to the noise of the cicadas, the upcoming show will be the third at Thornton Distilling.

Tickets can be purchased on trailmixmusic.org. The doors are set to open at 5 p.m., and the concert is set to start at 6 p.m.

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