It is that time of year where we have the final festival of summer here in Madison, you put away all your indoor toys, tvs and computers and you come out to get, as the Chicago Tribune says, a “hip dose of Madison,” parades like none other, foods stands that can’t be beat, groovy stands to buy stuff ‘cuz you deserve to splurge on yourself and of course, cold beer and MUSIC!
The folk stage will again kick off Willy Street Fair (WSF) this year. We welcome a newcomer to our stage, Kendra Swanson. Kendra is an independent roots music performer and songwriter. With strong, expressive vocals and energetic instrumentation on banjo, guitar, and fiddle, she applies a timeless sound to original compositions written from (and about) the American heartland. She has shared bills with the likes of Charlie Parr, Ralph Stanley, The Waydown Wanderers, Eric Lambert, The Howlin’ Brothers, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. She is going to be a fine addition to the WSF family of musicians.
Macyn Taylor is no stranger to WSF, she has graced our stage twice before and is always a joy to see and watch how much she has grown since appearing on the stage before she was even 18. Macyn is an accomplished guitar player and singer. She is 20 years old and has recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Masters in Music Performance degree. Macyn’s guitar playing has been heard around the world through YouTube, with her YouTube site having nearly 2 million views. She has competed in many guitar competitions and has won many, including the 2013 Wilson Center International Guitar Competition. Macyn was recently given an award for “Most Promising New Talent” by Acoustic Guitar Magazine. She was also named the 2013 WAMI Folk/Celtic performer of the year.
Moonhouse will be the closing set on our stage on Saturday. You may get to see them regulary if you’re a night owl and hang out at the UpNorth Bar. But for WSF we are again bringing these guys out for some daytime fun! They are a great group of musicians, they play some of their own music and they do a lot of wonderful covers, you’ll pull up a chair, grab a beer and song after song you’ll be saying, I love this song, and after a few beers, you’ll probably be singing along. You can describe Moonhouse as a folkadelic powerhouse from Madison. They combine elements of folk, rock, blues and jazz to create an intoxicating and uplifting sound. Beautiful vocal harmonies and solid improv chops round out this musical trip.
If you don’t know the name Bill Camplin, you should. Not only does he own and run (along with his wife Kitty) one of the best small music venues in the mid-west, which just happens to be in our neck of the woods – Ft Atkinson, WI – he is one fine musician. He has a great tenor voice and plays a guitar that keeps you asking for more. He has several CDs, and if you’re a Bob Dylan fan, you need to own his CD of Dylan covers to complete your collection. Come see him at WSF and purchase one of them. He will be joined on the stage this year by Randy Sabien, who is talented on so many instruments, although I bet in this duo show we’ll get to hear a lot of his violin and mandolin playing. So those of you in this music scene know this is going to be a great way to kick off WSF on Sunday morning right after the parade, it is a set not to be missed.
Kelley McRae will be making her debut on the WSF stage this year and we are excited as can be to have this international touring act make a stop in her schedule to play on our stage. Kelley called New York City home for many years, cutting her teeth in the vaunted singer/songwriter scene and honing her craft at legendary clubs like The Living Room, The Rockwood Music Hall and the Bowery Ballroom. In 2011 McRae teamed up with guitarist Matt Castelein, and the duo traded in their Brooklyn apartment for a VW camper van and hit the road full time. Kelley and Matt traveled extensively across America those first few years, performing hundreds of shows and finding inspiration for new songs along the way. The duo has since gone on to tour in eleven countries, including shows in London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin. They’ve taken the stage at renowned venues such as The Bluebird Café in Nashville and The Green Note in London, and they’ve performed at festivals like Riverbend in Chattanooga,TN, Rhythm and Blooms in Knoxville, TN and the Kerrville Folk Festival where they were named New Folk Finalists.
Tracy Comer one of the driving forces of this group has played our stage in many different arrangements of musicians over the years. We are excited to welcome her back with a fine group of supporting musicians. “From folk to swing and lots in between!” Common Chord combines the musical skills of Michael Bryant and Tracy Jane Comer (who between them play a stage full of stringed things), plus additional musicians Delores Jenison (vocals), Faye Bruggink (clarinet), and Alan Maslowski (percussion). Michael and Tracy were members of the former Madison-area trio Sticky Fingers from the early to mid-2000s and they have worked as a duo on occasion during the years since. They perform originals plus unique covers from the likes of Tom Waits, the Beatles, Robert Johnson, Cheryl Wheeler, and more, with flavors of folk, blues, swing, country, pop, and jazz.
We close our stage out on Sunday night with a local favorite Americana band of Brother Rye. Again, no stranger to this stage or many other stages in the Madison area. This band gets stronger every time I see them, and they bring out the fun in all of us, you’ll be tapping your toes and humming along and before you know it your singing and dancing, which is partly due to the great music and partly because it is the end of the day and we have been drinking beer. I only mention the beer as this whole festival is a fundraiser for the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center and some of the money raised comes from your support of purchasing the libations offered during the festival. We hope you have a fun weekend and we know it is guaranteed if you’re at the folk stage.
FOLK STAGE SCHEDULE
Saturday – September 17
2:00 – 2:45 – Kendra Swanson
3:00 – 4:00 Macyn Taylor
5:00 – 6:00 Moonhouse
Sunday, September 18
12:15 – 1:15 – Bill Camplin & Randy Sabien
2:00 – 3:00 – Kelley McRae
3:30 – 4:30 – Common Chord
5:00 – 6:00 Brother Rye