Midwest Music Fest: Feels like 2019 – live music, hugs and hope!

I have so much hope for the summer after attending a the Midwest Music Fest one-day, outdoor festival. We got tickets weeks ago knowing the pandemic rules. We signed up for masks and pod seating. Many (if not all) of us got a vaccinations with May 15 in mind. And then days ago, the CDC and the Governor made changes in everything. They opened the world up a bit. So the festival in Winona we attended was much more like what we knew before COVID. And it was amazing.

Here’s a quick take on the bands that Heather and I saw:

I have been an online fan of Freaque for a while. (I follow him on Patreon, where we get a nice mix of art and music.) But this was my first time seeing him live. His voice has the gravel of a Tom Waits. The music his haunting and ambient. He is a poet. The lyrics are striking. He talked about the need to be vulnerable to have intimacy.

Land At Last
Land at Last is a duo featuring Mike Munson and Jake Ilika. I have seen them each separately; this was the first time together. The music is folksy and easy. There’s a slide to their music that suits an outdoor festival to the ground.

Katy Vernon
Katy played with her full band, which was a special treat. I always enjoy seeing her. The ukulele sounded great – as did the horns and all of the instruments. She played a nice mix of original music and covers. I appreciated how many of her songs have a family connection. I don’t think I noticed that as much before pandemic but it felt just perfect.

Doug Boodle w/ Johnathon Blakk
This was an entirely new act to me. It’s heartfelt rap against an R&B back drop. They filled the small stage with the band and brought a strong message to the crowd. Their voices and different approaches played well together.

The Von Tramps
The Von Tramps were the first band on the night stage. That means people moving to new locations (within the field). It’s dinner time. It’s a little bit like a fresh start with an old crowd. No one could rock it better than Jenna Enemy and The Von Tramps. They had the crowd shouting, dancing, playing with beach balls. That is the first time I have truly danced since the pandemic.

Queen Drea
Back to the back stage with Queen Drea. My kid and her friends (and I) are big fans after we all saw her perform at Northern Spark. It’s electronica soundscapes with looping and synth. It was the perfect, interesting breather between loud dance bands.

Nur-D used to be my seventh favorite hip hop artist. (That was his moniker.) But he’s easily number one now! He brings the energy, the joy and the love – starting with contagious body-positivity and self love. We spoke to him last summer about his involvement in Justice Frontline Aid, which offers medic support at protests. In fact, it was doubly amazing to see him on stage after a year of seeing him at the protests.

The Ultrasounds
The Ulatrsounds are always a nod to the punk bands I loved going to see in the 1980s. Pure fun to bounce around to the drums and strong forward sounds. And always a special treat to have a female lead in the punk band – who better to get that full range?

The Immaculate Beings
We had heard good things about The Immaculate Beings from Mae Simpson so we went in with high expectation. We were not disappointed! The sound is great. They experience is even better. More self love from the stage and sexual openness dressed in floral printer and summer pantsuits. It’s psychedelic dance off.

People Brothers Band
This was another new band for us. They are like a rhythm and blues jam band. They had everyone swaying and dancing and feeling the glam. Listening to the sound of a full production, old school show band at the end of the night felt like you think SNL ends once the camera is turned off.

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