Notes-Worthy: Bill Poss

Notes-Worthy: Bill Poss

C.U. Bands and Fans' Terry Brown chats with BILL POSS of Bill Poss and the Useful Tools, who is also organizer of the Moccasin Creek Festival, an annual music and arts event that takes place in Effingham in June, and its sister festival, Summer Sundown Festival, scheduled for Sept. 1-2.

When did the first Moccasin Creek Festival begin, and how many have you been involved with? Has it always been in Effingham at the same location?

After 20 years of playing music all over North America and abroad, I moved home to Effingham in 2013 and started planning the first Moccasin Creek Festival. I have a friend who owns a marina at Lake Sara and had built a stage there, surrounded by a free beach, a campground, a fisherman's motel and plenty of room for parking. It was a perfect match. I had a bunch of musician friends who could draw fans from all over, so it was easy in that regard. It was a bit more difficult to convince the locals to pay $50 for a weekend pass (it's now $85/95), but some came, and the same ones keep coming back. But over our five years, the numbers have gone up from bigger towns and cities like St. Louis, Peoria, Bloomington, Champaign, Springfield and Indy.

When do you begin planning and organizing such a large festival, and how do you feel about this year's turnout?

It's really pretty small by music festival standards, but it does require a lot of planning and plenty of time for that. I will start booking bands in August and sell tickets in September. There are no big changes planned, so mostly it's finding ways to do what we are doing better, and that is an ongoing process of being better at getting the word out.

This year's turnout was great, but not record-breaking. We had a terrible weather forecast up until the day before the festival, and I think a lot of people chose indoor activities instead. But we ended up with most amazing weather, and I think a lot of them regretted it.

Any particular year that you feel the festival was just firing on all cylinders and went as smooth can be?

Every year has had its special moments. My favorite lineup was in year three, with Hayes Carll, Corb Lund, Della Mae, Tom Russell, the Bottle Rockets, Chicago Farmer, Way Down Wanderers, Edward David Anderson, Chain Station, Greg Klyma. This year, the Steel Wheels really captured the crowd, Billy Strings blew everyone away, Greg Klyma brought his band and they were on fire to close out Saturday night. Plus, we had the best food and art vending we've ever had. So this year was probably my favorite overall. Of course, I loved having James McMurtry and Ray Wiley Hubbard last year. But in terms of functionality, it keeps getting easier each year.

In September, the Summer Sundown Festival begins; how is it different than the Moccasin Creek Fest?

It's more of a local/regional event featuring some of the best local original bands like Matt Poss Band, John Spicer and the Fighting Side, Taylor Steele and the Love Preachers, Fiona Kimble, BonezJugs, Jenny Johnson Band, Bill Poss & the Useful Tools ... and lots more. Plus, we'll have a couple of bigger name headliners, Steve Poltz and Southern Avenue. We are doing a "Farm to Fest" booth with locally raised and produced custom sausages, locally grown salads ... There will be a local/regional beer tasting featuring brewers from Central Illinois and the St. Louis area. There will be more in the way of arts and crafts, and there will be a light show. MCF is all about bringing in amazing music from all over North America and having a four-day concert. Summer Sundown will be a more traditional festival to mark the end of summer. Tickets and info are available at www.summersundownfest.com.

What are your hopes for this year's festival? And will Bill Poss and The Useful Tools be performing?

Yes! My band will be playing! Come to see us and lots more!

Where can we get more info on your band and performances as well as the upcoming Summer Sundown Festival?

Billpossmusic.com and on Facebook as Bill Poss and the Useful Tools.

Topics (1):Music