A Look at the Winnetka Music Festival


By Laura Hine
Photography by Katrina Wittkamp

Can’t wait for Lolla? Check out Winnetka’s first-ever music fest this June.

When the town of Winnetka started to think about hosting a summer music festival, organizer Scott Myers knew whom to call for the most important element: the music. Val Haller started Valslist in 2007, so she had 10 years of experience connecting adults with new music through her website, app and, more recently, salon concerts held in her living room, backyard and area country clubs.

“Scott is the visionary,” says Haller. “He wanted to model this festival on the Appleton, Wis., Mile of Music, where the bands are playing throughout the town.” But Haller didn’t immediately sign on. “I said I’d only get involved if we could bring in national touring bands.” Her point was that local park districts program a lot of summer music featuring dad bands and cover bands, which are great fun but not what Haller wanted to promote. “My dream was to book bands that would pull in the 30- to 40-year-old parents who miss live music,” she says. Through generous local donations and sponsors, the free Winnetka Music Festival will have a kickoff concert the evening of Friday, June 23, with Michigan band The Accidentals and then nine bands playing Saturday on two stages. Plus, the fest will have all of the fun amenities one expects from an outdoor summer concert venue, including food trucks, craft beer, a kids stage and activities, and even local musicians (mostly high school students) busking throughout the town.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to curate a music festival,” says Haller. “So when the village came to me, it was such a compliment, and now I’m just so excited to see it all coming together.”

The Winnetka Music Festival will welcome musicians from a variety of genres—from rock to singer-songwriter to country music—at its inaugural fest June 23 to 24. One act that talent coordinator Val Haller booked with great excitement for Saturday is Logan Brill. The Knoxville, Tenn., native and her band of four tour nationally, appearing at festivals like California’s Stagecoach. Internationally, her schedule includes the 2017 C2C Festival in England. Brill has also appeared onstage with Vince Gill at the Grand Ole Opry and has played sold-out shows with contemporary artists including The Band Perry and Lee Brice. “Logan Brill was one of my first choices for this fest because she epitomizes the talented emerging artist who’s poised to skyrocket fast. And she’s doing just that,” says Haller. When Brill came through Chicago in early 2017, she wowed crowds at a series of private concerts Haller arranged, including one at brand agency SCC, where Brill and her band easily moved from their original songs (check out her album Shuteye) to covers of classics like “Jolene.” Her voice has a crystal-clear authenticity, but it’s her songwriting and stage presence that sets her apart from other young artists. Catch this crowd-pleaser and rising star—right in Winnetka.

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