Jenny Johnson’s New Album and the Makanda Boardwalk Mini-event: Music and More in Makanda!

Jenny Johnson’s New Album and the Makanda Boardwalk Mini-event:  Music and More in Makanda!
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Fiddle Rick with the Big Dippers
Jenny Johnson
Tim Crosby and the Lightning Strikes

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Fiddle Rick

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Fiddle Rick Johnson

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Jenny Johnson

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Venues & Businesses
Makanda Springfest

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Tim Crosby and the Lightning Strikes: Resurrection Mule Farm


Who: Makanda Fest Events
What: Makanda Boardwalk Mini-event
Where:
When: 2017-05-06 - 2017-05-07
While an official Makanda Springfest will not take place this year, the Makanda Boardwalk Mini-event
Jennifer “Jay” Bull

While an official Makanda Springfest will not take place this year, the Makanda Boardwalk Mini-event will still bring musicians, vendors, and artists Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 to the historic railroad village. One of the featured performers, Jenny Johnson, even turned her master of fine arts thesis into a research project and music about Makanda.

Johnson and her band perform Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Rainmaker’s garden behind the Boardwalk.

“I’m not even sure if it’s an official Springfest or unofficial,” Johnson told Nightlife about her upcoming show. “It’s kind of the Makanda way— you just go with the flow.”

The unique outlook of Makanda drew Johnson to research the area and create her concept album, Ballads of Makanda.

“For my thesis,” Johnson said, “I decided I wanted to do an album where I wrote a bunch of songs about Makanda— the town in which I live— depicting their history and currents events and kind of this modern folklore, just depicting things like Lipe Orchards, and how people are prepping for the solar eclipse, and Giant City Park and the CCC that built it. How people deal with floods and natural disasters and things like that. It’s kind of this modern what’s-happening-in-society-today in our little town, essentially.”

Johnson unveiled her thesis project at an April performance on the boardwalk. Johnson estimated that about one-hundred people showed up to hear a live performance of the album and see an exhibit of the photos of the people, places, things, and dogs of Makanda she took during the last year.

Makanda wasn’t her first choice for an album, as Southern Illinois has much to inspire the imagination.

“When I started this, I was like, ‘I’m going to write a Southern Illinois album,’ but it was just too big,” Johnson said. “How do you get the essence of an entire region? It’s difficult. There’s so much cool stuff that’s happened, like the Cave-in-Rock pirates, there so many things to talk about. I decided to narrow the focus because I wanted to talk about how the people that are in your immediate environment shape who you are, and your neighbors have a lot to do with that. They help you when you are in need, they are the closest people that you talk to and see every day.

“There’s these local heroes that are in your neighborhood,” Johnson added. “Lipe Orchards just down the street are amazing women, and one of the few female-run farms in the state and really in the country. ‘There’s heroes next door,’ was my point in saying ‘Why Makanda?’ It’s a beautiful area that has a beautiful history, and your immediate environment shapes you.”

Johnson plans to play a few songs from the album in the Rainmaker’s garden, but due to the geography of the venue, performing the entire album isn’t possible: “I play piano on some of those songs,” Johnson explained, “and there’s no place for a piano in the Rainmaker’s Garden.”

Still, “We’re always happy to play there,” Johnson said. “It’s one of the those things that we look forward to— Springfest or Makandafest, whatever people call it. You never know if it’s going to happen, and it really hasn’t happened in a few years officially.

“I’m hoping,” Johnson continued, “that because of this climate that’s in Illinois— you know, the economic and political climate— I hope that people still find a way to celebrate each other and take these moments that we have to have live music and support each other by supporting local vendors and artists and people who are next door to you. Take the time to enjoy the good things that we have.”

As Johnson alluded, in recent years the Makanda Springfest was often cancelled because of flooding in the valley— that, incidentally, is the subject of “The Big One” from Ballads of Makanda— and construction on the bridge over Drury Creek. While the bridge is finished, the weather will determine if the Makanda Boardwalk Mini-event will take place this weekend.

If it does, parking is limited, so organizers suggest carpooling.

In addition to Johnson, Barry Cloyd and Fiddle Rick will play Saturday in the Rainmaker’s Garden. George McIntosh and Randy Hill will perform Sunday before Tim Crosby and the Lightning Strikes take the stage. Fine artists include Mary Patterson, Lindy Loyd, Silver Moon, Chris Gideon, Willow Bob, and Austin Bothwell, in addition to those whose work is on sale in Makanda shops.

Find out more at <http://VillageOfMakanda.com>.

who: Makanda Fest Events

what: Makanda Boardwalk Mini-event

where: Historic Makanda Boardwalk

 

when: Saturday and Sunday, May 6 and 7