Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse

What the hell, let’s party.
Chris Wissmannr

The official numbers for Southeast Missouri State University, SIU’s regional rival, came last week, showing a small decline in enrollment at that school— SEMO lost a total of nine students from fall 2015.

SIU, meanwhile, lost a shameful 1,305 students during that same period.

But enough of that for this week. What the hell, let’s party.

That’s sort of the sentiment that Curtis Conley, the head of the Carbondale Music Coalition, expressed on his organization’s website a few weeks back. Conley and company will hold the CarbondaleRocks Revival music festival Friday and Saturday, September 30 and October 1.

Crime and falling enrollment have trapped Carbondale in a malaise, Conley wrote. Legendary for its parties, Carbondale, Conley argued, needs to throw an epic bash to clear its head, shake off its doldrums, and show its boundless capacity for resilience and excitement. This year Conley has planned the largest CarbondaleRocks Revival thus far, and maybe it’ll provide the necessary emotional lift.

A mix of established locals and up-and-coming national acts— G. Love and Special Sauce, Houndmouth, the Woodbox Gang, Southern Culture on the Skids, the Ben Miller Band, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Cornmeal, Aaron Kamm and the One Drops, Split Lip Rayfield, Davy Knowles, NIL8, the Funky Butt Brass Band, Buzzzard, the Number Nine Blacktops, the Swamp Tigers, and the Deep Hollow— are slated to perform on two stages on Washington Street by the Newell House. (This issue of Nightlife contains feature stories about many of the festival performers.)

But wait— there’s more.

Afterparties are planned in the city’s nightclubs and restaurants, to which festival tickets will gain free admission. Find out more, support the cause, and enjoy yourselves at the festival by purchasing tickets at <http://CarbondaleMusicCoalition.com>.

Are big, loud music festivals not your style? The Southern Illinois Irish Festival also takes place this weekend at the Varsity Center for the Arts and at Walker’s Bluff. Those venues will feature music, dance, art, and sports from the Celtic traditions and their progeny, especially American folk music and bluegrass. (This issue contains a feature story about the festival.)

The six-string razors sharpen up September 29 to October 1 at the SIU Guitar Festival. The events will present everything from performances to masterclasses to a seminar on guitar recording techniques. The fest will showcase classical musician Hermelindo Ruiz Mestre from Puerto Rico and Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist Frank Gambale (an alumnus of the Chick Corea Electrik Band), as well as SIU’s own guitar professor Isaac Lausell. Get the entire festival lineup from the link at <http://cola.siu.edu/music>.

Prefer the outdoors without loud music? The Breaking the Surface paddling festival will take place Saturday, October 1 at 1 p.m. on Little Grassy Lake at Touch of Nature Environmental Center. Touch will provide canoes, kayaks, life jackets, instruction, and paddles, as well as roundtrip transportation from the SIU Arena at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and returning at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Landlubbers can join interpretive hikes along Rocky Ledges Trail. Those who come should bring snacks, beverages, and appropriate footwear, plus insect repellent. Get more information at (618) 453-1121 or <http://ton.siu.edu>.

The Von Jakob Orchard Oktobeerfest arrives Saturday and Sunday, October 1 and 2. Polka and oompah bands will perform while the local microbrews will pour.

Head east Saturday, October 1 to the Saline Creek Pioneer Village and Museum in Harrisburg for the Saline County Bluegrass and Barbecue Festival. It’s free and open to the public, but those who attend should bring a few canned goods for donation to a local food pantry while enjoying the high, lonesome sounds of the Southern Illinois hills.

Prefer horror to music? Drench yourself in gore and head down Saturday, October 1 to the Arts Center in Anna for the zombie parade and party.

Two entire communities will celebrate this weekend. The Alto Pride Civic Group Fall Barbecue Cookoff and Alto Pass Business Association Great Downhill Derby will fire up the coals and get rolling Saturday, October 1. The DeSoto Daze Community Festival Friday through Sunday, September 30 through October 2.


This is an especially difficult time in Carbondale and Southern Illinois. Even now, however, those who feel as if there’s nothing worth doing here are blind.