SEED and A&O hold annual bluegrass festival

Stephanie Haines

The self-described Appalachian rock band Big Daddy Love brought Northwestern students to their feet at its first Chicago-area performance Sunday at Philfest, NU’s annual bluegrass concert.

Students danced and picnicked on the Norris East Lawn while they tie-dyed T-shirts in the sunshine. This was a stark contrast to last year’s Philfest, when the music was moved inside Norris Univeristy Center due to rain.

The band Paper Thick Walls and a student group, Maeve & Quinn, also performed.

Sponsored by A&O Productions and Students for Ecological and Environmental Development, the concert drew more than 100 people throughout the afternoon.

Brian Paul, the banjo player in Big Daddy Love, said this it was the band’s first time in Chicago.

“It has been an absolute blast,” Paul said. “We didn’t know what to expect coming here, but everyone has been so nice, and this place is so beautiful.”

Originally from North Carolina, Paul said the group normally plays in the Southeast and eastern part of the United States. He said he would describe the group as a combination of bluegrass and southern rock.

“If Led Zeppelin had grown up on a farm in Appalachia, that’s what I describe our music as,” Paul said.

Weinberg junior Ryan Lad said this is his third time attending the annual Philfest, and said he has always had an interest in bluegrass music. He said there is a bluegrass festival by his home in Maine that he likes to attend, and his brother and father have gone to fiddling camp.

Though he said he always has enjoyed Philfest, Lad said he wouldn’t describe Paper Thick Walls as bluegrass but “more like indie.”

“Bluegrass has a different chord progression, like a different tempo, and it has more finger picking as opposed to strumming chords,” Lad said.

Weinberg senior Maggie Birkel said this was her first time experiencing Philfest, and said she went to the concert because she wanted to be outside.

Vivek Sudarsan, the A&O co-director of promotions & public relations, said he did not expect students to set aside time for the entire concert, but was glad to see that students sitting in Norris often trickled out to watch the concert.

“NU culture is so fast-paced,” the Weinberg senior said. “But it’s nice that students can relax before finals outside in the good weather and see the student performers. This kind of concert depicts NU’s culture.”

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