Smile Politely

A short trek for Merchant Street Music Fest

A neighbor to the north is curating a festival that is worth your attention, and at a short drive of an hour, you’ll find yourself there in no time for Merchant Street Music Festival. Sure, it’s not in C-U, but it definitely caught our eye when we were approached a few months ago with the information on the festival. As many festivals in C-U have done, Merchant Street Music Fest will combine arts, music, food and drink, alongside activities for kids to create a family friendly event this weekend.

The festival takes place this weekend, Friday, July 25th and Saturday, July 26th, and there are a few dozen artists performing on three stages in Depot Park, located at 199 S. East Avenue in Kankakee. Not to mention — all of this music and entertainment is free of charge. Yeah — you’re going to most likely dig a handful of these bands that are performing throughout the weekend, so it makes sense to build this into your weekend plans in some way, shape, or form. Three stages throughout the park is a good amount for a festival of this nature, as to not cram too many performers on one or two stages. Three feels good.

The festival has hosted some good talent in the past and continues to gain a following in the region, and by the looks of this year’s lineup, they’re looking to continue that run of success. Hell, if you can pull off a free festival with this type of talent, more power to you. The festival spreads itself out music-wise: Alt-rocker Matthew Sweet plays headliner, whom you might remember for his track “Girlfriend” from back in the day; Shock G is an experimental hip-hop emcee; Whysowhite is a Chicago funk rock outfit;  Jerry Lee & the JuJu Kids is a blues trio. Sometimes street festivals will stick to one type of music, which can steer patrons away if it isn’t for them. However, the variety should appeal to a wide audience.

Not only are those afforementioned artists performing (check out the full lineup below) — but a handful of Champaign-Urbana artists are featured at the festival this year, including the always terrific performers Sun Stereo, folk outfit Bones Jugs N Harmony, and local-ish rock crew Vaudevileins (they play here very frequently, although they are not from here).

Plenty of these artists come through C-U as well — Family Groove Company, Dan Hubbard & The Humadors, Animal Honestly and a few others have been through recently. If you’re looking for a chance to catch them (if you missed them here), this is your shot. Plus, the number of vendors and the brew that is available ain’t half bad. Check that out, as it would be something I would be interested to know if I was heading up to MSMF to catch some bands. Sure, PBR is present, but you’ve got to mix and match these things with the craft brews. No harm done.

In addition — some of your have kids. Yeah, we know you regret it sometimes (although you still love them), but you have them, and you have to bring them with you most of the time. No worries here — as there are a bunch of kid-friendly events planned throughout the weekend for you to check out as well.

Check out the full lineup and schedule below with set times and stage arrangement for the festival this weekend. 


Merchant Street Stage (Gold)

5 p.m. — Number One Sons
6:20 p.m. — Dan Hubbard & The Humadors
7:40 p.m. — Black Cadillac
9:10 p.m. — Shining Star
10:50 p.m. — Shock G of Digital Underground

Platform Stage (Red)

6 p.m. — Sharon Lewis
7:30 p.m. — Morry Sochat & The Special 20s
9:30 p.m. — Lionel Young Band

Hill Stage (Blue)

5 p.m. — Pilgrams
6:20 p.m. — Zak’s Tattoo
7:40 p.m. — The Art of Cool
9:20 p.m. — Family Groove Company


Merchant Street Stage (Gold)

2 p.m. — The Magnifiers
3 p.m. — The Ones Band
4:10 p.m. — Meds
5:20 p.m. — Midnight Sun Band
6:40 p.m. — Vaudevileins
8:20 p.m. — Lupe Carrol Band
10:10 p.m. — Matthew Sweet

Platform Stage (Red)

3:20 p.m. — TJ Sax Band
4:40 p.m. — The Brazilionaires
6 p.m. — Lil’ Daddy!
7:40 p.m. — Brent Johnson & The Callup
9:20 p.m. — Jerry Lee & The JuJu Kings

Hill Stage (Blue)

2:15 p.m. — ILL State
3:15 p.m. — Cooper’s Grove
4:20 p.m. — Vic & Gab
5:30 p.m. — Animal Honestly
6:40 p.m. — Bones Jugs N Harmony
8 p.m. — Sun Stereo
9:25 p.m. — Whysowhite

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