Smile Politely

Central Illinois set to sound off at Solshine Reverie

John Summit by S. Camelot

When the Solshine Reverie Festival, formerly Summer Camp, (read about my experience there last year) makes it debut at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe May 24th through the 26th, music fans will be treated to an impressive array of talent from Central Illinois. From headliners like DJ/producer John Summit to up-and-coming acts, the region’s vibrant music scene will be well represented at the inaugural music festival. 

John Summit, a Summer Camp alumnus, has become one of the biggest names in house music since his days attending the University of Illinois. The Chicago-born artist, who initially pursued accounting before his musical passion took over, absorbed the vibrant college scene during his time in Champaign-Urbana. It served as a formative experience that laid the groundwork for his future as a renowned DJ and producer.

During his college years, Summit was not just a student but also a budding artist, laying the groundwork for what would become a booming career in house music. This period was crucial for his development, as he balanced his studies with DJing, gradually building a reputation for his unique sound and compelling performances (DJ Life Magazine).

This photo shows a man playing an acoustic guitar on a stage. He is wearing a blue plaid shirt and a straw hat. The guitar is light in color with a dark neck. The man is singing into a microphone on a stand. The background is a black stage with metal scaffolding.
Derrick Philips

While the world of electronic dance music may feel far removed from the region’s traditional folk and Americana roots, central Illinois has cultivated a beautifully diverse tapestry of sounds. Acts like Chicago Farmer (the stage name of Cody Diekhoff) have made their mark channeling the spirit of heartland storytellers.

Diekhoff, a native of the tiny town of Delavan, Ill., draws inspiration from his rural, working-class upbringing to craft poignant folk narratives akin to his hero, the late John Prine. Chicago Farmer’s performances are renowned for their authenticity and emotional resonance with rural life.

Three individuals are positioned against a textured, red brick wall. The person on the left is attired in a black suit and holds a clarinet. The central figure is in a yellow dress, cradling a guitar. The individual on the right sports a brown shirt and grasps a double bass. The lighting is dim, casting a somber mood over the scene.
Carrie Sue and the Woodburners on Facebook

Another local group adept at capturing the regional experience through music is Urbana’s Carrie Sue and The Woodburners. Blending folk, bluegrass, country, and Americana influences, the band has honed a rich, harmony-driven sound steeped in skilled musicianship and compelling storytelling. Their songcraft hits that elusive sweet spot of feeling both novel and warmly familiar.

While the festival’s roots lie in genres like jam, funk, and Americana, the lineup stretches across a wide spectrum of modern sound. One compelling under-the-radar act to catch is Mickman, the project of Peoria-based bass music producer Cameron Ingraham. An outlier in the internet-driven bass scene for his rural Illinois roots and under-the-radar vibe, Mickman makes a unique ambient/dubstep hybrid not found anywhere else on the loaded Solshine bill.

Moving over to the rock realm, Brainchild has been an enduring force as one of central Illinois’ most ambitious groups. Fusing stellar musicianship and adventurous compositions that pull from jazz, soul, funk and more, the Peoria-based band has found their niche through a powerful, unpredictable live show. As noted of one of their gigs, “The musicianship was phenomenal, and the improvisation spread across all musical genres.”

For those seeking the wild, off-kilter live energy of a great jam band, look no further than Canton’s Formerly the Fox. This psychedelic funk collective has become a staple on the regional festival circuit thanks to their improvisational prowess and locked-in groove. Making their third consecutive festival appearance, they continue building a following beyond their central Illinois home base.

Steady Flow on Facebook

While Formerly the Fox pumps out trippy, high-energy exploratory jams, fellow Peorians Steady Flow channel the raw power of classic funk and soul. With brothers Tanner and Ky Brown anchoring the lineup, the six-piece ensemble has earned a reputation as one of the region’s most electrifying live acts by seamlessly bridging traditional and modern funk styles.

The Champaign-Urbana scene will be represented by groups making a splash on the local level like Sun Stereo. Blending electronic textures, lively horn arrangements, and vocals reminiscent of the Beatles, the band has cultivated a uniquely energetic, genre-defying style from their roots in the University of Illinois’ jazz program.

A rapper with a black hat with yellow flowers, a black t-shirt with a mouse logo with the word "mousepad" is performing onstage while a D.J. works the music on his computer in the background.
Derrick Philips

The Champaign-Urbana hip-hop scene is set to shine brightly at this year’s Solshine Festival, with local favorites Trouble Chasin’ and the incredibly talented hip-hop collective Half House securing spots for the second consecutive year in the lineup. These acts bring a dynamic blend of lyrical prowess and vibrant beats, showcasing the rich, diverse talent brewing in the local hip-hop community. Festivalgoers can anticipate energetic performances that not only highlight individual artistry but also underscore the collaborative spirit that defines the Champaign-Urbana music scene. Their inclusion in Solshine Festival is a nod to the growing influence and innovation of local hip-hop, promising attendees an unforgettable experience of raw, powerful storytelling set to compelling rhythms.

A musician is captured in the spotlight, engrossed in playing a white electric guitar. Dressed in a black outfit, the musician stands before a microphone, ready to serenade the audience. The stage is awash with a hazy, purple hue, punctuated by the glow of blue stage lights.
Jack Hsiao-Wecksler

Newer faces on the local scene like pop singer-songwriter Emily How, who channels a mix of folk and psychedelia into her intimate indie rock, and Urbana indie soul/R&B duo Sitrus Sol will also hit the Solshine stages. Both acts exemplify the incredible diversity constantly flowing out of the region’s colleges and underground scenes.

In many ways, the lineup for this year’s Solshine Reverie Festival encompasses the beautiful, uncontainable spirit of artistic expression found throughout Central Illinois. From longstanding icons to the artists just beginning to etch their names into the local consciousness, the region’s creative spark shines as bright as ever.

Whether they were weaned on the rural folk traditions of the family farm or came of age in the diverse cultural nexus of Champaign-Urbana’s campus community, these musicians all share an unbreakable personal connection to the region’s heritage. When they take the stage at Three Sisters Park during the first-ever Solshine Reverie, they’ll reveal the full kaleidoscopic range of what the local scene has to offer. If you’re looking to indulge your senses in music, art, and reverie this Memorial Day weekend, get your tickets for Solshine Reverie as soon as possible.

Solshine Reverie
Three Sisters Park
17189 IL Rt 29
Friday May 24th through Sunday, May 26th (pre-party on Thursday, May 23rd)
$199.50 GA Passes to $999.50 Ticket Packages

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