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Alumni unite for memorable performances

| Shari Lau

Be prepared to see a handful of familiar faces at the inaugural Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival on July 17-18 as University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumni gather to help make the inaugural event one to remember. 

Led by the creative vision of Justin Vernon, a 2004 graduate, this lineup of Blugold talent is sure to impress.

Justin Vernon '04, comparative studies in religion  

A successful music career laid in wait for Justin Vernon as he earned a degree in religious studies at UW-Eau Claire. Vernon had early beginnings in music and formed his first band, Mount Vernon, while a student at Eau Claire's Memorial High School. He went on to form DeYarmond Edison in 2002 and gained international prominence with indie rock band Bon Iver, founded in 2007. Bon Iver received two 2012 Grammy Awards in the categories of best new artist and best alternative music album for "Bon Iver, Bon Iver." 

Vernon also is a part of other musical groups, including Volcano Choir and Gayngs, and has collaborated on many artists' songs and albums. He is the creative mind behind the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival and will be performing once again with Bon Iver.

Sean Carey '08, music 

Sean Carey's life is rooted in music. After graduating from UW-Eau Claire with a performance degree in classical percussion, he joined with indie rock band Bon Iver as a drummer and vocalist. Carey has since launched a successful solo career releasing his first album, "All We Grow," in 2010 under the moniker S. Carey. He went on to release "Hoyas EP" in 2012, "Range of Light" in 2014 and "Supermoon EP" in 2015. 

For a special treat at this year's Eaux Claires festival, S. Carey will perform with UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I. Carey played as a percussionist with the ensemble during his time as a Blugold. Together, the groups will perform big-band arrangements of music from Carey's solo albums.  

Chris Porterfield '06, journalism 

When Chris Porterfield graduated from college in 2006, he thought his musical career had come to an end. But he couldn't shake off the music bug he acquired playing with DeYarmond Edison from 2003-05. Porterfield moved to Milwaukee after graduation and began playing local open-mic nights under the name Conrad Plymouth. In 2011 Porterfield made his vision for Field Report a reality. 

Field Report released its first self-titled album in 2012 followed by a successful sophomore album titled "Marigolden" in 2014. Porterfield now brings his lead vocal talents to the inaugural Eaux Claires festival when Field Report takes the stage. 

Shane Leonard '07, English 

After college, Shane Leonard embarked on a journey to explore his musical passion and has been performing successfully as a solo artist under the name Kalispell, releasing two EPs and a full-length album titled "Westbound" in 2012. In 2013 Leonard joined Field Report as a multi-instrumentalist on drums, strings and vocals. He is set to release a second album, "Printer's Son," in 2015. 

Leonard joins with his Field Report bandmates for this year's Eaux Claires festival. 

Phil Cook '05, music 

After graduating from UW-Eau Claire, Phil Cook headed east to North Carolina as member of DeYarmond Edison — a band led by Justin Vernon — and immersed himself in the musical culture of the South. It was there that he picked up the banjo and found inspiration in Southern gospel music. During his career, Cook also played with groups Megafaun and Shouting Matches. 

Cook released his first solo album, "Hungry Mother Blues," in 2011 and has another solo album, "Southland Mission," due to release in September. He is set to bring his solo talents to the Eaux Claires festival stage. 

Michael Perry '87, nursing 

Michael Perry may have graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a nursing degree, but a creative writing class sparked the writer inside of him. He is now a New York Times best-selling author, humorist and radio show host who resides in the Eau Claire area. The well-known author serves on the local volunteer fire and rescue, holds a valid nursing license and tours with his band the Long Beds. 

Just coming off of a new book launch tour for "The Jesus Cow," Perry joined forces with Justin Vernon to work on the Eaux Claires Field Journal, writing band bios and a history of the local area. He will also serve as the narrator for the festival.  

Davy Sumner '13, music 

Recent graduate Davy Sumner is making a name for himself in interactive musical art. The composer, percussionist and sound artist is currently studying experimental sound practices at the California Institute of the Arts while embracing the Los Angeles music scene.

Sumner is ready to showcase his art at this year's Eaux Claires festival with PiBines. He describes this piece as an installation that uses credit card-sized Raspberry Pi computers, homemade turbines and tiny sensors to detect local wind speeds. Each PiBine harnesses computer code to sonify the wind's movements into lonely, wandering drones emitted from a speaker in each turbine. When the air is still, the PiBines burble in a stasis until a breeze ushers forth wildly cascading glissandos and strange tone clusters.