Whalen makes most of festival tripPublished 6:01pm Saturday, December 7, 2013
Not long ago, singer-songwriter Joshua Whalen got a chance to further evolve his audience when he was accepted to play the Chillfest 2013 in the Wicker Park Bucktown area of Chicago, Ill on Nov. 16.
The experience allowed Whalen to open up to a broader audience and play in a new scene.
“It was a really great experience,” Whalen said. “It was a completely different world.”
Though Whalen has played as far away as the Twin Cities, playing at a festival this big was a different scene all together. Musicians — both solo acts and groups — played in different storefronts in Wicker Park Bucktown as people moved from one performance to another. During his hour set at MGO Fashion Salon, Whalen had plenty of new ears float by, an experience you can’t turn down.
“This pulls thousands of people out,” Whalen said. “To get so much exposure and networking … in fact there was a networking event at the end with record label executives. There were radio personalities, bands and business owners. It does seem surprising to travel and play a festival, but you get so much out it. It’s such a good investment.”
For Whalen it was worth it.
“I definitely made some good connections in the Chicago scene,” Whalen said. “I’ve made some friendships with bands higher up in the scene and got to meet different venue owners. It was a great opportunity to break into the Chicago scene.”
But as a musician, perhaps the best feeling was the feedback.
“The reaction, I think, was great,” he said. “I had people buying CDs and taking pictures. There are people who are venue hopping, and after a performance they would applaud and talk for awhile. That was a neat experience.”
The performance at Chillfest was another notch in a year where Whalen has seen quite a bit happen. Playing something this big was just another goal for Whalen.
“It’s a little overwhelming to think I was accepted to play with musicians of their caliber,” Whalen said of playing the festival. “As a musician ,you want to be successful enough to get out and play, and maybe support yourself financially, but it’s also about getting out and loving every second of it.
“You hit those points where you sit back and go, ‘Whoa, I’m here.’”
Whalen also released his first EP this year, in the five-song collection, “Sunflower Eyes,” available for digital download at www.joshuawhalen.com and by clicking on “Store.” He also has hard copies of the album at his live shows.
“It’s been received very well,” Whalen said. “I’ve sold a little over 100 copies. To say it out loud doesn’t seem like a lot, but listening to people who tell me they like the album and to say they like it, that’s been a blessing.”
To see people openly singing his songs has been surreal.
“At recent shows people in the audience starting to sing along to some of the songs,” Whalen said. “To see the audience mouthing the words, that’s a strange feeling, but very awesome.”
Whalen has just one show this month when he plays a two-hour show in Mankato at the Coffee Hag in Mankato. He’s taking some time off for the holidays before hitting it hard again in the new year. The show will be 8 to 10 p.m.
However, Whalen is open to house concerts. If anybody is interested they can contact him through his website.