Bands, Artists Featured This Weekend In Chesterhill

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The second installment of TRAYSH ISLAND (titled BURNING MANG) comes to 8550 OHIO this weekend, just outside the little Appalachian town of Chesterhill, Ohio.

It's one of the more interesting gatherings of artists and musicians I’ve attended, in the absolutely drop-jawed gorgeousness that only Southeast Ohio can provide.

With two days of live music and more, TRAYSH ISLAND features everyone from Aquabear-ites (and Ohio’s own) Weedghost, Sport Fishing USA and Speaking Suns to national acts like Kansas City’s Quadrigarum and Chicago’s Cooper Crain.

I had the chance to ask a few questions to 8550 OHIO’s Jason Ajemian, who filled us in on how a bunch of guys from various big cities ended up in the middle of Southeast Ohio.

Brian Koscho: How did TRAYSH ISLAND get started?

Jason Ajemian: TRAYSH ISLAND was initiated last spring at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Conrad Freiburg’s Woodshed, the first permanent sculpture at 8550 OHIO, where we have been holding artist residencies for nearly 10 years. More recently, we developed Traysh New York at the Knockdown Center in Queens, which will be an annual effort. We are also thinking of introducing a Chicago edition in 2015.

BK: How did 8550 get started? What brought the whole thing to Chesterhill?

JA: 8550 OHIO was born out of Harold Arts, a not-for-profit organization founded in Chicago by Jaimie Branch, Joe Jeffers and Nick Wylie. Joe Jeffers is the grandson of Harold and Elizabeth Jeffers, who raised a 3200-acre tree farm in Chesterhill. Jeffers and his team rented this property for a few months every summer in order to host a juried group of emerging and mid-career artists and musicians to gather in the hills for the purpose of interdisciplinary production. The organization became two organizations in 2010, with Wylie and others founding ACRE in Wisconsin, while Jeffers moved (literally) to 8550 OHIO (State Route 377), which continues to offer residencies for artists and musicians. 8550 OHIO is now run by me, Rebecca Beachy, Joe Jeffers and Frank Van Duerm, with a lot of help from the artists who visit us.

Woodshed by Conrad Freiburg (photo: Shannon Benine)

BK: How did you guys all start working together?

JA: Joe and I started working together in 2007. At that time I was working at Harold as a producer, making records for others and of course, developing my own projects. We met in Chicago at various places you might see experimental music.

BK: What kind of things are going on at 8550 year-round?

JA: Not much unfortunately, the property is available for rent.

BK: What are the plans for the future?

JA: Next year will be the tenth year we’ve hosted artists out here, so we are taking that pretty seriously. I dont want to say too much, but on the 8550 residency tip, we plan to return to working with cultural partners to produce thematic residencies. We’re also hoping that Kelly Kaczynski’s stage may be done in time for TRAYSH ISLAND III: THE LEGEND OF MOLD MANG.

BK: What band are you most excited for this weekend?

JA: Im most excited for Quadrigarum, a Kansas City-based group led by J. Ashley Miller, will be building a "chariot" for their performance, which is a medieval-looking device that strums two guitars with two captain’s wheels. It's probably the most spectacular thing on the menu.

BK: Anything else?

JA: TRAYSH ISLAND II: BURNING MANG is free for Civil War reenactors (listen a interview on clocktower.org).


Friday, Aug. 1

5 p.m.  Chesterhill Singers with Milton Robertson (Ohio)
6 p.m.  First Hand Experience (Los Angeles, Calif.)
7 p.m.  Rebecca Kressley (Chicago, Ill.)
8 p.m.  Jacob Kart (Chicago, Ill.)
9 p.m.  Sport Fishing USA (Yellow Springs, Ohio)
10 p.m.  Cooper Crain (Chicago, Ill.)
11 p.m.  Dialed Tones (Portland, Ore./Columbus, Ohio)
12 a.m.  Speaking Suns (Yellow Springs, Ohio)

Saturday, Aug. 2

1 p.m.  Flux Bikes (Chicago, Ill.)
3 p.m.  Jake Henry (New York, N.Y.)
5 p.m.  Weird Mirror (New York, N.Y.)
6 p.m.  Jentle Ben presents Shy Music (Hamburg/Chicago)
7 p.m.  Moon Brothers (Chicago, Ill.)
8 p.m.  Lane Ralyea (New York, N.Y.)
9 p.m.  Slut Castle (Athens, Ohio)
10 p.m.  Weedghost (Athens, Ohio)
10:30 p.m.  Exotic Dancer (Chicago, Ill./Los Angeles, Calif./Athens, Ohio)
11 p.m.  Set Self on Fire (Chicago, Ill.)
12 a.m.  Quadrigarum (Kansas City, Mo.)
1 a.m.  High, Lonesome and Broke: Campfire (New York, N.Y./Los Angeles, Calif./Chicago, Ill.)

TRAYSH ISLAND: BURNING MANG is located at 8550 Ohio State Route 377, just outside of Chesterhill, Ohio. Admission is $10 (cash only) with $20 per tent. Email 8550OHIO@gmail.com for more information.

Republished with permission from Aquabear Legion, an Athens-based organization of Ohio musicians and artists.