Bloomington Homecoming For Will Sheff, Okkervil River

Will Sheff wrote most of Okkervil River's "Black Sheep Boy" while living in Bloomington. The band returns to town this Friday but fans won't hear any new tunes.

okkervil river

Photo: Okkervil River (Facebook page)

Will Sheff (right) lives in Brooklyn while the other members of Okkervil River live in Austin, Texas.

Event Information

Hillbilly Haiku Americana Music Series

This outdoor concert is a fundraiser for the Sycamore Land Trust. Also featuring Barbecue James and White Lightning Boys.


Upland Brewing Company

Friday, August 31 at 6:00pm

$25 on the day of the show

Hillbilly Haiku (Upland Brewing Company)

Okkervil River

Sycamore Land Trust

Musical Traveling Salesman

Will Sheff has a lot on his plate.

His band Okkervil River is in the midst of a jam-packed week – seven concerts in seven states in seven days. He’s also in the process of writing new music for the band’s upcoming album.

On the afternoon before the band’s show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sheff admits to being overwhelmed by his calendar.

In fact, he would much rather spend his time writing and recording instead of being a “traveling salesman” for his music.

“You need a deliberate, small, quiet, attentive place to work from, and that place just does not exist when you’re traveling and constantly moving,” he says.

New Tunes On The Down-Low

Okkervil River’s mini-tour concludes in Bloomington, Indiana on Friday, August 31 when the band headlines the Hillbilly Haiku Americana Music Series at the Upland Brewing Company.

Fans won’t hear any new music on this tour. (Their last studio album I Am Very Far came out in May 2011.) That is, unless they sneak into the sound check. That’s when the band rehearses new material.

Sheff hopes that not including new tunes as part of their set list means the songs won’t be leaked on the blogosphere ahead of the album’s release sometime next year.

Homecoming (Of Sorts)

Bloomington is more than just another stop on the tour for Sheff. He wrote most of Okkervil River’s critically acclaimed album Black Sheep Boy over the several months he lived in Bloomington.

The band has performed in town several times before, and Sheff says each time has been special. Audiences in big cities, like his current home of New York, can exhibit an “Impress me” kind of attitude.

“When you’re in a place that’s not one of those flashpoint markets where everybody feels very entitled, there’s a deep sense of community that you can get among the audience,” he says. “You can often have some of your very best shows.”

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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