Here's a contribution from Dancin' Dave about recent festivals in Wisconsin. Dave runs a camp setup service for people traveling long distance to festivals he supports. The next one is the MagnoliaFest Oct. 19-22 in Live Oak, Fla.
Hello fellow music lovers...I have been fortunate to have been able to take in two festivals in the fine state of Wisconsin in the last two weekends, and it's sooo sweet that the festival season rolls on....! (I'm also diggin' all the fine reports on the festivals goin' on across the land. We're spoiled in this country, musically...>g<)
Two weekends ago I traveled to Milwaukee for Irishfest with the sole purpose of seeing Richard Thompson! I've been waiting a couple of years now since I "discovered" the man and his music to see and hear a solo show. Of course, there were other attractions at a huge festival such as Irishfest....Milwaukee certainly knows how to throw big musical parties! There were lots of pretty girls in green, lots of good lookin' men in quilts (according to Lynn), and an almost non-ending amount of Irish and related music and dancin' goin' on on about 6 or 7 stages; it was amazing. This party had been goin' on for four days already....I really wanted a t-shirt I came across that read: "Milwaukee Irishfest 2006. Four days of dancing, drinking, laughing and telling stories. I wonder who died?" But alas, all they had left were "mediums".
And Richard blew me away...for most of the show I was either teary eyed or goosebumped or both. I never have witnessed so much music coming out of one guitar and all of it in such sweet order! His songwriting and his vocals are on an equal with his guitar playing in my eye and ear and I can't think of one show I've ever seen that I would call better. Of course, there was lots of beer drinkin' goin' on all day at an Irishfest; but the crowd must have been as spellbound as I was for it had the feeling of an indoor concert. Superb....
And last weekend I was able to take in Art Stevenson & Highwater's 7th annual Northland Bluegrass Festival, near Rosholt, Wisconsin. Art and his wife Stephanie are part of the Highwater bluegrass band that is a great example of hard-drivin' traditional bluegrass that features tight harmonies, fine songwriting, and hot pickin'. They would fit in nicely at any festival I've been to and they are fine folk to boot!
Other bands that I caught were Gerald Evans & Paradise; Tommy Brown & County Line Grass; Spare Time Bluegrass; and Sloppy Joe. These groups kept the crowd hoppin'...I gotta love a festival stage setting that keeps almost half of the front stage area for dancing....and this space was well used all night! Lots of fun... Another cool deal was the Band Scramble, where the musicians names were thrown in a hat and drawn out to form a band. The new bands had a little while to get an arrangement or two together and then hit the stage...it was a hoot.
There are a couple of small festivals in Wisconsin that serve as festival family reunions and I love it. Most of this family started out at the ol' Mole Lake Bluegrass Festival...some of us have been festival friends for 30 years now!