Editorial: Throwing Shade on Shadow Fest

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Last week the Carbondale City Council contracted with Saint Louis promoter American Bands Entertainm
Chris Wissmann

Last week the Carbondale City Council contracted with Saint Louis promoter American Bands Entertainment to organize the free Shadow Fest in conjunction with the August 21 total eclipse.

The city’s press release promises “six vibrant performances,” but Nightlife immediately heard complaints from indignant local musicians who rightly declared the lineup of tribute and cover bands lame and overpaid.

Unquestionably, Carbondale has considerably greater talent than the city plans to import for the festival, but critics should consider several factors.

First, the city’s greatest priority isn’t entertaining the fifty-thousand people expected to flood in for the eclipse— housing, policing, and feeding them are much more important considerations. After Danny Zelisco Presents, the first promoter with whom the city contracted, failed to land a major act— and as mayor Mike Henry admitted at the June 6 city council meeting, city government waited about a month too long while hoping Zelisco could do so— the council felt it ran out of time and needed to make solid plans with a reliable festival promoter so it could tackle health and safety objectives.

Second, great though it is, people aren’t coming to Carbondale for our music scene— they’re coming for the eclipse. Sadly, such audiences might just find a Fleetwood Mac tribute band more to their liking than homegrown original music.

Even so, however, local musicians will get tons of opportunities during the eclipse to show off Carbondale’s incredible artistic vibrancy. Other festivals are planned at the Old National Bank parking lot, which will feature local and alumni musicians, and on several stages on the SIU campus. Nightclubs, restaurants, and wineries throughout the region will feature local musicians— some have already booked their eclipse dates, and local musicians will dominate those events. The Varsity Center will showcase theatrical performances and readings by local authors.


Take heart, then: Those who want authentic tastes of local and regional culture won’t lack for options. On the contrary, the far bigger problem these admirably adventurous souls will have: Getting their fill of everything from the amazing artistic smorgasbord Carbondale and the rest of Southern Illinois will lay before them.