2018 Performers

Many More Performers to Come!

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Dead Horses

Raised on Bible Hymns by her preacher father, Dead Horses front woman Sarah Vos’s backstory sounds more like that of an old bluesman from the Mississippi Delta than a young folk singer from Wisconsin. But despite its youth, the Milwaukee-based Americana duo has crafted a timeless sound, informed as much by modern folk as it is by the classics. Vos’s gospel—living free and unapologetically—is supported with conviction by Daniel Wolff on double bass.
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Five Letter Word

Harmony-driven folk band from Portland, OR
Mix three singer-songwriters, several stringed instruments, and a variety of percussive techniques, and you get Five Letter Word. This Portland-based trio of powerful women includes Leigh Jones (guitar, percussion), Clara Baker (fiddle, guitar) and Audra Nemir (bass), blending their signature harmonies into songs from folk to bluegrass to blues and beyond.

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Laura Joy

The fest welcomes back our 2017 singer songwriter contest winner, Laura Joy. Laura is a Chicago-based artist known to quell dark, angry bars full of ornery old Irishmen. Drawing comparisons that range from Joni Mitchell to Neko Case, Laura’s percussive finger picking and buoyant voice have graced audiences from as far as the Sun Belt to the streets of Manhattan.

Recently, Brett Huus of the Grammy winning studio Sound Strations said, “I think is some of the freshest original music I’ve heard anywhere. Great choice!“

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Pert Near Sandstone

The fest welcomes back Pert Near Sandstone for a raucous Friday night kick-off concert. The Minneapolis based band earned performances everywhere from the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival to “A Prairie Home Companion,” and shared bills on the road with the likes of Trampled by Turtles, Del McCoury, and Yonder Mountain String Band. Their music has been described as a “Midwestern stamp on Appalachian” and “masterfully and jubilantly plucked.” Bring your dancing shoes.

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Peter Mulvey with Sista Strings and Nathan Killen

Get ready for a folk symphony of sound for our closing concert on Sunday. Peter Mulvey with his wit and wonderful story songs will be joined by Sista Strings and Nathan Killen on bass. The Irish Examiner writes that “Peter Mulvey is. . .utterly original. . .his intelligent and sometimes complex songs engage both hemispheres of the listener's brain. . .one of the finest, most complete entertainers. . .stunning.”

Milwaukee-based Sista Strings (actual sisters) use their classically trained gifts on cello and violin to create music for social change. Using voices and instruments, the dynamic pair riff on elements of classical and gospel music to create their passionate sound.

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Them Coulee Boys

Them Coulee Boys are back to open a Friday night of high energy and dancing. They have crafted a brand of Americana that blends punk, bluegrass, and rock ’n’ roll. And somewhere underneath the energy, the exuberance, the wit, and the passion lies a heart of sincerity, honesty, and the will to make our world a better place.

Soren Staff, Beau Janke, Jens Staff, and Neil Krause work together as a well-oiled alt-folk machine to craft songs and shows that have impressed audiences nationwide.

Willy Porter and Carmen Nickerson

Willy Porter and Carmen Nickerson

This year we’re welcoming fan favorite Willy Porter and his searing finger style guitar back to the fest for his first performance at our Riverside Park location. Willy will be joined by the unique songwriting and lush vocals of Carmen Nickerson. Porter and Nickerson have worked together since 2010 and released their first joint album in 2017, Bonfire to Ash. Together, Porter Nickerson is a powerful duo that embodies heart, grit and raw musicianship that transforms listeners into long-time fans.

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The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers

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.