2019 BONFIRE MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL ARTISTS
Music and escapism go hand-in-hand. A concert or an album can unlock another world, if you let it. The Motet respect and revere this time-honored phenomenon. Fusing fiery funk, simmering soul, and improvisational inventiveness, the Denver, CO seven-piece—Lyle Divinsky [vocals], Dave Watts [drums], Joey Porter [keyboards], Garrett Sayers [bass], Ryan Jalbert [guitar], Parris Fleming [trumpet], and Drew Sayers [saxophone]—have continually provided an escape for listeners over the course of seven full-length albums since 1998, including their latest release Totem and with an upcoming 2018 release. That extends to countless sold out shows and festivals everywhere from Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, and Summer Camp to All Good Music Festival and High Sierra Music Festival as well as 16 consecutive years of themed Halloween concerts. “When you’re listening to us, I want your mind to be taken away from wherever you are during the day and into some other place,” states Dave. “It’s all about that.” After quietly building a diehard and devoted following, 2016 represented a watershed year for the musicians. They welcomed Lyle and Drew into the fold and released Totem, which drew acclaim from Relix, AXS, 303 Magazine, and many others. For the first time, The Motet sold out the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater—the holy grail venue of their hometown—cataloged on Live at Red Rocks. Sell-outs followed everywhere from The Fillmore (San Francisco) and Tipitina’s (New Orleans) to Brooklyn Bowl (Brooklyn), Park West (Chicago), and Crystal Ballroom (Portland). The group locked into an unbreakable groove. “We’ve never been a band that just blew up overnight,” Dave goes on. “We’ve been very tenacious about our movement forward. We’ve been through many different iterations throughout the years. Right now, it feels like we’ve got the lineup that’s making an impression on our scene. Lyle is the perfect match for us. He’s got musicality and this raw energy we all resonate with. He ignited this spark to put work in and write inspiring music.” That spark lit again in 2017. Following Jam Cruise and a second Red Rocks gig, the band fired up the new single “Supernova.” Strutting between hypnotic horns and swaggering guitars, the track sees The Motet blast off to another galaxy. Quickly racking up over 150k Spotify streams in a month’s time, it instantly excited fans. “‘Supernova’ is the first song that I was involved with from start to finish,” explains Lyle. “Joey brought in the initial musical idea. We expanded upon it and worked everything out. The word ‘Supernova’ kept jumping out to me. We decided to roll with that and give it an interstellar romantic dance theme.” “Supernova” has kicked off a series of singles, so far including “Get It Right” and “That Dream”, that leads up to a new album coming in late 2018. However, everything comes back to the escape that The Motet deliver. “We want to take people on a journey,” Lyle leaves off. “In order to go on a journey, you have to participate. You can’t just simply let it happen around you. You have to give yourself into that journey. Everything is open. You’re free to be yourself. You’re free to go on that adventure and journey. We want to be the catalyst for listeners to understand themselves and the world around them.” “This is a family,” concludes Dave. “We’ve got each other’s backs. We’re doing this, because we love to be around each other and create together. We’re committed to working together because we appreciate and respect what we have to say and provide the music world and our community.”
Originally hailing out of Madison, Wisconsin, The People Brothers Band (PBB) are a staple of the Midwest’s vibrant music scene. Featuring some of the best vocalists and musicians in the region, the PBB have blossomed into a unique brand of Rhythm and Soul dedicated to uplifting the hearts and minds of its friends and fans. The PBB’s core mission is to bring people together by spreading love through music. Coupled with their energetic live shows and infectious stage presence, they are guaranteed to bring the party.
The son of a small town farming community, Cody Diekhoff logged plenty of highway and stage time under the name Chicago Farmer before settling in the city in 2003. Profoundly inspired by fellow midwesterner John Prine, he’s a working-class folk musician to his core. His small town roots, tilled with city streets mentality, are turning heads North and South of I-80. “I love the energy, music, and creativity of Chicago, but at the same time, the roots and hard work of my small town,” he shares. Growing up in Delavan, Illinois, with a population less than 2,000, Diekhoff’s grandparents were farmers, and their values have always provided the baseline of his songs. He writes music for “the kind of people that come to my shows. Whether in Chicago or Delavan, everyone has a story, and everyone puts in a long day and works hard the same way,” he says. “My generation may have been labeled as slackers, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t work hard - many people I know put in 50-60 hours a week and 12 hour days. That’s what keeps me playing. I don’t like anyone to be left out; my music is for everyone in big and very small towns.”
Kind music for kind people. Kind Country is a Minneapolis based band that plays American standards as well as their own brand of Cosmic American music. Since their formation in 2012, the band has focused on creating live performances with high levels of improvisation and energy gathering with a goal of creating a moment of musical bliss that can be shared by audience members and band alike.
Eric James Tessmer, actually named after guitar giants Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, is an extraordinary guitarist, musician, singer and songwriter hailing from Austin, TX. He is widely considered one of the most vibrant guitarists to follow in the footsteps of blues-rock legends such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and his namesake predecessors. His live shows have captured audiences' attention across the United States as power-packed sessions of wickedly fast and precise licks that can light the house on fire without the need for lighter fluid. Born and raised outside of the small town of Richland Center, Wisconsin, Tessmer began playing at a young age, inspired by his father and grandmother. In 2000, he moved to Austin at the age of 19 to play gigs with numerous musicians and bands, earning local credibility as he honed his craft of riffing with speed, power and control. He later formed his own power trio, the Eric Tessmer Band, in 2003. Through a battered '59 Fender Stratocaster producing vintage-correct tones, Eric kickstarts the engine left idling by guitar players of the past. Known as one of the hardest working musicians in the area, Tessmer continues to travel the U.S., Canada and Europe. Creating his own brand of ‘blues-rock soul-chedelic’ sound, he has electrified festivals such as Montreal Jazz Fest, Summerfest, and MusikFest with dialed-in precision and delivered polished performances at clubs, pubs and venues across the land. Sharing the stage with notable musicians such as Dick Dale, Anders Osborne, Tab Benoit, Monte Montgomery, Gary Clark Jr. and Chris Duarte; Tessmer has created a buzz among the blues-rock community that is quickly swarming with devoted disciples. -G. Lemen
WheelHouse is a nationally touring Americana and bluegrass band hailing from Madison, Wisconsin. As a full-time working band they perform over 220 shows per year and have garnered attention from national labels. Featuring three and four part harmonies, fiddle and guitar leads, and driving rhythm of the upright bass WheelHouse brings an energy and attitude unique to themselves. WheelHouse also owns their own brand of whiskey appropriately named WheelHouse Whiskey, which can be found throughout southwestern Wisconsin.
Armchair Boogie is a 4-piece Bluegrass/Folk band formed in the heart of Central Wisconsin. Conceived and brought to life by Ben Majeska (guitar/vocals) and Augie Dougherty (banjo/vocals) in the Fall of 2014. Their Main Street porch performances in Stevens Point, WI made up their first venue, and soon took on the name "Armchair Boogie". The only thing missing was a rhythm section to drive the genre-bending sound. Eli Frieders (bass) and Dan Waterman (drums) held down the beat until Denzel Connor took over behind the kit in Spring 2017.
Musically sprouted from the blend of American folk, country, rock-n-roll, and blues, Erik Koskinen and his top-shelf band realize a sound that is distinctive and fresh while familiar and classic. Koskinen’s albums are a lyrical and musical metaphor of American’s theaters of war, of history, of relationships, and of the reflections in the mirror. Knowing but not didactic, Koskinen channels the ways of Whitman and reverently enters the anthology of uniquely crafted wry songs with the likes of Woody Guthrie and Ry Cooder while speaking as plainly as your neighbor.
Feed the Dog is an eclectic and action-packed, high-energy, jam-rock-grass band. The Appleton based group features masterfully crafted fiddle, Kottke like finger pickin' acoustic six and twelve string guitar, funky bass lines, and percussive soul.
The Heavy Set is a Minneapolis rock band rooted in blues and alt-country, pushing Americana to its harder edges. The heart- felt songwriting of Jake Ilika gets a grindstone treatment in The Heavy Set with guitar-forward echoes of Crazy Horse and Ryan Adams. Their third record, “The Highway & The Moon”, drives their sound harder and into new expanses with a genre-bending collection of songs. less
Wisconsana - pop infused folk rock from Madison, WI
Born in Oconomowoc, WI in 1982. Raised in Dousman/Sullivan, WI. Learned to play guitar and drums when I was 8yrs old. It's been a good journey thus far with plenty of challenges, in music and life. My early music career involved getting to know the blues genre. You will hear it in everything I do. My grandfather is a vintage country player. You'll hear it in everything I do. I love the sweet soul grooves of Stax and Motown etc. You'll hear it in everything I do. I believe there are two kinds of music, good and bad. Genres are made to be broken. Every note is a word, every phrase a sentence, every song a chapter. Let me tell you a story.
Starting out as a few guys who just wanted to play some Flying Burrito Brothers tunes, the Driveway Thriftdwellers have emerged as a top original act in Wisconsin’s Country and Americana music scenes. Named 2017 WAMI Country Artist of the Year, the Thriftdwellers have toured the past year in support of their critically acclaimed debut album “Cutover Country,” named a top 10 Milwaukee area album of 2016 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Porky's Groove Machine is a licensed provider of environmentally sustainable nerd funk that is “ready to help you get on with your baddest self” (Maximum Ink Music Magazine, July 2017). Since forming in 2011, they’ve criss-crossed the Midwest and East Coast, bringing their mature musicality (but no so mature sense of humor) to audiences of all ages. With their tight playing, choreographed dance moves, and audience-engaging performances, they always bring a funky party that is sure to get crowds laughing, dancing, and singing!
"The music is steeped in the blues but rocks as hard as anything you’ve heard. There is no posturing with this band, they just plain deliver." – Rick Tvedt, Local Sounds Magazine
Hailing from Madison, WI, the The Family Business has garnered recognition both locally and beyond. In addition to securing opening slots for Rival Sons, Blues Traveler, J Roddy Walston and the Business, Cracker, SIMO, Black Stone Cherry, and Greta Van Fleet, the band has won a number of Madison Area Music Awards (MAMAs) and secured multiple nominations Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards (WAMIs). The band’s most recent release, 2015's Balls Pricey, brings the heavy guitar riffage of the 60s and 70s back into the 21st century. Says Rick Tvedt or Local Sounds Magazine, “They strip away all the excess of classic rock, polish it up – but not too much – and then unleash it to audiences that may not have heard such raw power in some time.” "This is the way that great rock and roll and great blues should always sound," adds Lou Lombardi of Blues Rock Review.
Feeding LeRoy came out of the collaboration of Sonja and Lee's original songs, blending into a unique project, with their songwriting and vocal harmonies as the focus of this bands sound. It's kind of a family affair now, with brother Luke stepping in on the harmonica and long time friend and bassist, Adam Staupe on the upright bass, both adding their vocal harmonies, creating somewhat of a gospel undertone that acts as it's own instrument in the band.
Gin Mill Hollow is a 3-piece Madison, Wisconsin-based semi-acoustic rock group. The band consists of Dan Plourde on electric guitar and uke-bass, Joshua "Juice" Giudice on the mandolin and Mark Norman playing acoustic guitar and upright bass. Vocal duties are shared by all three musicians, and their string-band approach is augmented by the use of Porchboard kick-drum emulators in lieu of a drummer for a little extra foot-stomping rhythm. Their sound incorporates elements of bluegrass, folk and Americana, and they draw from influences that include The Wood Brothers, Tom Petty, The Band, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan.
In a world where words like “legend” get thrown around entirely too lightly, it's good to know that there are a few people still worthy of the word's original intent. And when it comes to music in Iowa, Joe Price stands as one of the art's legendary practitioners. Joe and Vicki are both members of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame. Their 2009 album "Rain or Shine" won the Independent Music Award for best Blues CD of the year. Joe is also a member of the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was a finalist in the International Blues Challenge.
Singer/Songwriter/Multi-Instrumentalist Joseph Huber was a founding member of the .357 String Band--a group that, despite its abrupt break-up, still continues to gain popularity and is known as one of the most influential groups in the recent insurgent underground country and bluegrass movement. Having moved from .357, Huber has honed his songwriting abilities immensely and now continues moving onward and upward captivating folks with his sincere and well-crafted songs under his own name and with his backing band. Whether it's irresistible, fiddle-driven, dancing tunes or honest, heart-wrenching "songwriter" songs, Huber spans the spectrum of 'Roots' music while preferring not to stay within the boundaries of any strict genre classification.
Kendra Swanson is a song-writer and performer of lively, folksome music: frailing banjo, rigorous guitar, soulful strings, and hearty vocals to boot. Her music distinctly embodies a truly Americana sound from (and about) the heartland, with intimate reflections on its flora, fauna, and people. She has independently produced and released three all-original albums, “Kendra & Kin, Live in Rockford” (2013) , “Go Down to the Low Down” (2015), and "Without, Within" (2017). A troubadour and professional naturalist, she blends stories and ecology into one-of-a-kind performances of laughter and truth.
The Monsters of Grass is a six piece bluegrass band that consists of Jared Van Handel (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Lalonde (Mandolin), Teddy Vanesky (Banjo), Matt Kerkhoff (Guitar), Jeff Sachs (Upright Bass), and Ted (Violin). Together, they write and play completely original songs that are both energetic and emotionally satisfying to listen to. Be sure to check out their music (above) and videos (below) to learn more about their style, passion, and love for bluegrass music.
Originally making waves as a founding member and lead guitarist for longtime Midwest music scene staple, The Smokin' Bandits, Pat Ferguson has emerged as a renowned and nationally recognized solo performer, songwriter, and vocalist; his sound channeling Americana, bluegrass, and folk, deeply influenced by his Upper Mississippi River musical roots. Based in Madison, WI, Pat has announced the release of his first full-length solo effort, Light of Day / Dark of Night, due out 4/27/18 on LoHi Records. Produced by Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Light of Day / Dark of Night is a record that paints the picture of retrospect and builds an appreciation for what it means to ride the highest of highs or lowest of lows, while longing with admiration for the other. The album showcases a collection of original music that combines gorgeous instrumentation, stirring harmonies, and powerful songwriting rooted in his core influences.
Talking Heads Tribute Band from Minneapolis, MN
Stanton West songs are rootsy, feel-good, and groove driven. His songs are about hope, having fun, being who you are, and relishing the moment. He is an award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and world traveling troubadour spreading a message about the importance of family, community, nature, and positivity.
The Material Boys is a 7 piece American Roots Music band from Madison Wisconsin, formed in 2011. They blend their Blues, Jazz, & Bluegrass influences to form a unique Americana sound. The Material Boys take their name from performing Madonna covers with stringed acoustic instruments. What started off as a joke quickly took off as a serious venture. The Material Boys have performed around the Midwest and have recorded 2 albums of original music. They have a monthly residency at the Malt House, Madison, every 3rd Monday.
Wurk is an up-and-coming funk-fusion group from Madison, Wisconsin. Isthmus Magazine described the band as “summer-jam-perfect”. Wurk’s style encompasses several genres, with clear influences from bands like Snarky Puppy, Thundercat, Umphrey’s McGee, Tauk, The Motet, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, The Meters, and many more. Their sound seeks to employ a musically educated yet groovy “Big City” tone.
THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS perform original songs and tunes inspired by the classic hillbilly, country-duo, and old-time musical traditions--and also mines this same repertoire for forgotten gems that deserve to be heard again. Based in Soldiers Grove, WI, the Sapsuckers (Nikki Grossman, guitar, fiddle, and vocals; Joe Hart, guitar, mandolin, and vocals) perform frequent concerts, as well as square and contra dances, and they are known for the light touch and sense of humor they bring to their performance.
Although Jordan Kroeger (bass) and Ryan Ogburn (mandolin) began their musical relationship in the Wisconsin jamband scene, Chicken Wire Empire began as a 4 piece traditional bluegrass band. The band honed its traditional sound, encapsulating it in 2014 with their debut album Chicken Wire Empire. With half of the group rooted in bluegrass, and the other half steeped in jamband music, a change occurred when CWE performed an Old & In The Way tribute show. With the addition of Jon Peik (banjo), Ernest Brusubardis IV (fiddle), and Greg Brundage (guitar), a new sound was found in Milwaukee, and Chicken Wire Empire joined the roster of high energy jamgrass.
The Medicine Brothers are Shawn Neary, Jamie Waggoner, Sandler Waggoner, & Uncle Mike Richardson. The seeds of the Medicine Brothers were sown in Owen & Vigo County, Indiana. Jamie & Sandler grew up in Terre Haute within sight of the Wabash river a couple blocks off of Highway 41 and Highway 40. Half the family lived in the country and thats where Uncle Mike comes in. Between 6th St in Terre Haute and Rattlesnake Road in Owen County, the Richardson and Waggoner families would get together, circle up, and spend the weekend picking the tunes their parents picked, playing the songs they heard on the records of their grandparents, and writing a few of their own. They all discovered Viroqua and the Driftless in their own time, where their paths crossed with Shawn Neary, Iowa born, son of the middle west. Shawn's life long deep love and reverence for music led him to become proficient on more than a few instruments, but an upright bass sings in his hands. They began playing together in a second floor apartment, and shored up their songs in bars and bonfires throughout the Driftless Area & Vernon County Wisconsin. They are now a band of four- Uncle Mike on the mandolin, Jamie on acoustic, Sandler on Telecaster & acoustic, and Shawn on upright bass. They all sing, and they like to sing together when they can.
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