Philfest moved to Norris ground floor due to cold weather

Christina Salter

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The environment was the biggest problem for the Students for Ecological and Environmental Development on Sunday.

Philfest, SEED’s annual benefit concert, was moved indoors from the Norris University Center’s East Lawn to the ground floor of Norris due to poor weather.

Despite the relocation, the bluegrass and jam band concert went on from 3:30 to 8 p.m. with performances by three bands.

Philfest is held in honor of former Northwestern student Phil Semmer, a SEED member and environmental activist who died in 2000 while studying abroad in Australia.Bluegrass-style bands are chosen each year because it was Semmer’s favorite style of music. The concert opened with student band Orkis, a bluegrass/funk band. Next up was co-headliner Family Groove Company, a Chicago-based four-piece band. The final performance was by Greensky Bluegrass with special guest Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth. Greensky Bluegrass, the Michigan-based band won the 2006 Telluride Bluegrass Festival competition.

The free event was sponsored using the Student Activities Fee, and SEED solicited donations from the audience. Proceeds will go to the Rocky Mountain Institute under Semmer’s name. RMI is an environmental think tank Semmer had hoped to work for in the future. Last year’s Philfest raised about $150 for RMI, though past years raised as much as $800, former SEED co-Chairwoman Rachel Patten said. Philfest will not count donations from this year until Monday.

Last year’s Philfest was held outside with big success, hosting crowds of about 200 throughout the five hours. Attendance was down this year, with about 50 people at the beginning of the event, but grew to about 80 by the time Greensky Bluegrass took the stage.

SEED’s Philfest chairwoman, Stephanie Jarzemsky, said she was “really disappointed” the event had to be inside.

“This type of thing is much more fun when its outside,” the Weinberg junior said.

Jarzemsky said concertgoers are “definitely a different crowd than the usual at NU concerts.” This year’s audience included some NU students and many adults.

Annemarie Klaepel was one of a few people standing during the concert and dancing to the music. The Evanston resident said she is a fan of Family Groove Company and found out a little more about the cause behind Philfest once she came.

“It’s good music for a good cause,” Klaepel said. “I wish more people were here.”

Patten said many students missed out on the concert because of the indoor location. The SESP senior helped run Philfest last year and assisted this year. But despite the weather, Patten said she was excited about the event’s cause.

“I really think that if Phil were around, this is what he would have wanted,” Patten said. “Our goal is really to honor his memory and have a good time while we’re doing it.”