Homegrown festival in Lisle a foundation for growing music, arts community

  • Aaron Williams, the founder and organizer of the Homegrown Arts & Music Festival in Lisle, is also one of the performers.

    Aaron Williams, the founder and organizer of the Homegrown Arts & Music Festival in Lisle, is also one of the performers. Courtesy of Aaron Williams

Updated 7/27/2017 11:49 AM

Aaron Williams is on a quest to level up local music.

His objectives: Bring bands together. Bring fans together. And have fun.


Five years into his pet project, Williams, the Glen Ellyn native and founder of the Homegrown Arts & Music Festival, is excited about this year's potential.

"The momentum is definitely huge. The bands are pushing us really hard this year."

The festival, an annual celebration of suburban arts and music, is taking over Lisle's BaseCamp Pub & Eatery again this year on Saturday, July 29. BaseCamp's location in the Four Lakes community is ideal for the festival; it's off the beaten path, but easy to get to. Plus, there's room to grow.

At its base, the Homegrown Arts & Music Festival is about the music. The Homegrown Stage, the Harvest Stage and the Acoustic Stage will feature a combined 20 bands and a number of acoustic performers staggered throughout the day.

The mostly DuPage-centric lineup includes a hearty selection of Homegrown veterans -- Downers Groove, From the Start, North of Eight, Invisible Cartoons, The Threads, The Kings Rising and the Aaron Williams Band -- but there are also some exciting new acts chosen from the nearly 125 submissions Williams received this year.

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"It was very flattering," said Williams. "Every time any band, even if they're from two blocks away, applies I'm flattered just because it's awesome that they're interested to play this thing, that that kind of vibe is out there about the fest."

Williams hosts the Skyline Music shows at BaseCamp Pub, putting four or five local acts in front of crowds monthly. But Homegrown is his opportunity to truly foster relationships between musicians.

"That's the beauty of this whole thing," said Williams. "That's how a lot of connections have happened. It's been a great hub. ... Homegrown has surpassed my original idea and entered a beautiful new world of its own, and I love it."

Over the last five years, nearly 350 local musicians have graced the stages at Homegrown. And last year's fest drew just over 1,000 guests, up from roughly 800 the year before.


"This year I'm hoping 1,200 to 1,500 people come. But the point isn't about the numbers," said Williams. "We want 1,500 people there to experience the music. We want 1,500 people there to have a great time and to go off and spread the word about how much fun it was, how the vibe at Homegrown is amazing. We want 1,500 people to experience this thing so we can catapult this into the bigger thing we hope to make it next year."

While music may be the primary draw, Homegrown has other elements to appeal to festgoers. Weather permitting, the vendor section will be set up a little differently this year, with 15 art vendors -- including a cosmetic artist, a henna artist and artists selling paintings, jewelry, T-shirts and hand-painted glass, just to name a few -- spread out throughout the festival.

And don't forget the food: BaseCamp's full menu and bar service will be available inside and outside on the front and back patios with the Harvest and Acoustic Stages.

"One of the most exciting things about Homegrown this year for me is the documentary that's being made," said Williams.

The documentary, which chronicles all five years of the Homegrown fest through performance footage and band interviews, will be finished up after this year's festival. Williams plans to screen it later this fall, with an eye toward a DVD release and festival submissions soon after. But why end the documentary after five years?

"The film ends here because the grass-roots part of it, the underground part of it, ends here," said Williams. "The spiritual essence that's going to kick-start Homegrown into a bigger, more beautiful thing for everyone … It's been five years. This is the foundation of Homegrown."

Aaron Williams Band

Members: James Scott, Ryan Birkett, Peter Spero, Courtney Stone, Aaron Williams

Genre: rock, pop

Hometown: Glen Ellyn

Hear it: aaronwilliamsmusic.com

Black Bolts
Black Bolts -
Black Bolts

Members: Henry JBC, Dan Scherrer, Bob Redman

Genre: '60s/'70's-inspired rock, soul, garage rock

Hometown: Woodridge

Hear it: blackboltsband.com

Blameless Lake
Blameless Lake - Courtesy of Blameless Lake
Blameless Lake

Members: Matt Wilke, Ruth Gray Wilke, John Contreras, Kevin Jensen

Genre: power pop

Hometown: Lombard

Hear it: blamelesslake.bandcamp.com

Dear Dario
Dear Dario
Dear Dario

Members: Anthony Dario, CT Garcia, Eric Johnson

Genre: alternative rock

Hometown: Chicago

Hear it: deardario.com

Downers Groove
Downers Groove -
Downers Groove

Members: Danny Mazzarella, Johnny Hayes, Josh Izzo, Dima Larionov

Genre: rock, blues, jam

Hometown: Downers Grove

Hear it: downersgroove.com

Evening Glow
Evening Glow -
Evening Glow

Members: Aaron Cada, Vincent Tieri, River Snyder, Aidan Cada

Genre: indie rock

Hometown: Chicago and Batavia

Hear it: eveningglow.bandcamp.com

Fantastic Mammals
Fantastic Mammals -
Fantastic Mammals

Members: Fantastic MrMammal, Brad Bordyn, Jon Bode, Mike Fye

Genre: alt-rock, pop-punk

Hometown: Elmhurst

Hear it: fantasticmammals.com

The FeverTones
The FeverTones -
The FeverTones

Members: April Panichaya, Luis Alvarez, Sarah Snow, Oscar

Genre: indie rock

Hometown: Hinsdale

Hear it: thefevertones.com

From the Start
From the Start -
From the Start

Members: Brian Nauss, Andy Lechner, Jake Larson, Matthew Pieper

Genre: alternative rock

Hometown: Lisle

Hear it: fromthestart.bandcamp.com

Invisible Cartoons
Invisible Cartoons -
Invisible Cartoons

Members: Chris Shern, Justin Birchard, Jeff Goluszka, Ryan Worthy, Ryan James Caldwell

Genre: Smile rock, dance funk

Hometown: Aurora, North Aurora

Hear it: invisiblecartoons.com

Julianne Q and the Band
Julianne Q and the Band -
Julianne Q & the Band

Members: Julianne Q, Jimmy Provan, Ricky Hendrix and Jeff Mills

Genre: contemporary blues-pop

Hometown: North and Southwest suburbs

Hear it: julianneqmusic.com

The Kings Rising returns to BaseCamp Pub for the fifth annual Homegrown Arts & Music Festival Saturday, July 29.
The Kings Rising returns to BaseCamp Pub for the fifth annual Homegrown Arts & Music Festival Saturday, July 29. -
The Kings Rising

Members: Jarred Mason, James Lippert, Ryan Mason, Josh Fritschle

Genre: blues-influenced hard rock

Hometown: Woodridge

Hear it: tkrband.com

The Millennials
The Millennials -
The Millennials

Members: Michael Henehan, Lindsay Kent, Jonathan Tatooles, Ellie Guido, Victor Buccellato

Genre: classic rock, pop

Hometown: Hinsdale, Westmont, La Grange, Shorewood and Lockport

Hear it: millennials.band

Noah's Arcade
Noah's Arcade -
Noah's Arcade

Members: Noah Gabriel, Chad Watson, Justin O'Connell, Adam Gardner

Genre: roots rock

Hometown: Aurora

Hear it: noahgabriel.com

North of Eight
North of Eight -
North of Eight

Members: Steve Peterson, Ray Di Julio, Bob Koutek, Matt Psenicka, Max Meador

Genre: rock

Hometown: Downers Grove

Hear it: northofeight.com

Rebel Soul Revival
Rebel Soul Revival -
Rebel Soul Revival

Members: Matt Keen, Aaron Martinez, Drew Doepke, Kevin McMahon

Genre: rock/funk

Hometown: Warrenville

Hear it: soundcloud.com/rebelsoulrevival

Seven Corners
Seven Corners -
Seven Corners

Members: Eric Binder, Vijay Ramasami, Bill Karmia, J.J. Jung

Genre: alternative rock, progressive

Hometown: Hinsdale

Hear it: 7cornersmusic.com

She Rides Tigers
She Rides Tigers - Courtesy of Nathan Birkett
She Rides Tigers

Members: Joe O'Leary, James Scott, Ryan Birkett

Genre: psych-rock

Hometown: Wheaton

Hear it: sheridestigers.bandcamp.com

The Threads
The Threads
The Threads

Members: Sam Abboud, Nick Abboud, Justin Bell, Duke Hiatt

Genre: rock

Hometown: Lemont

Hear it: thethreadsband.com

Aaron Williams and Michael C Hayes

Members: James Scott, Matthew Nanke, Peter Spero, Michael C Hayes, Aaron Williams

Genre: Americana rock

Hometown: Glen Ellyn

Hear it: aaronwilliamsmusic.com

Acoustic acts

• Pete Jive

• Johnny Perona

• Bobby K and Steve

• Courtney Stone

• Allison, Bowman and Rodney

• Ryan Herrick

• Fredo Fosco

• Matthew Sulkin

• Teapot Fury

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