2018 Performers

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Performers A - Z. More Performers to Come!

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Andy Hughes

Hailing from the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, La Crosse-based singer-songwriter Andy Hughes has spent the last 20 years soaking up the music and culture around him to create his own words and music. For much of that time, Andy has been the front man and main songwriter for the successful Alternative Reggae/Ska band, TUGG. With this new country-folk sound, Andy looks forward to traveling and sharing music from his debut Heartland and Heartache, which was released in June of 2017. Read More.

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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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Jordan Tice

Jordan Tice

Jordan Tice is a fresh voice in the American roots music scene. Born into a bluegrass family in Maryland, Jordan started early, playing bluegrass and fiddle tunes with some of the best players in the fertile mid-Atlantic bluegrass scene. He released his first solo record of mostly original music at the age of 17, and then entered college, where he studied jazz, classical guitar, and musical composition.
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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 this is some of the freshest original music I’ve heard anywhere. Great choice!“
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Michael Scott

Michael Scott

Michael Scott, Storyteller and creator of La Crosse’s Old School Variety Show will host an Old School Variety Show, Jr. Edition, an open microphone and talent show for kids of all ages. Bring your kids to showcase their talents with our open microphone, talent, and variety show!

Ted and Catherine Parrish

The Parrish’s

Viroqua-based Ted and Catherine Parrish began performing as a duo in 2007. Performers of original music, they released their first CD, Live in the Studio Volume One, in 2017.

They are the owners of Parrish Music, a destination folk shop for musicians and fans in the Driftless region. An all-acoustic shop, it specializes in ukuleles and parlor guitars. The Parrishes teach at the store on multiple instruments.

Ted & Catherine Parrish are described by one of their store’s customers as: “warm, kind, knowledgeable” —good qualities to bring to performances as well as their music store.

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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 Kilen

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 Kilen on drums. 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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Sue Hulsether

Sue Hulsether

Sue Hulsether leads dances from American folk traditions guided by a passion for creating positive human connections. When Sue leads, she weaves dancing, singing and community into a joyful tapestry of music and movement. Under the spell of her energetic flair, warmth and clear instruction, groups of all sorts find themselves on their feet and eager to join in. Sue’s calm confidence manages groups large and small, stemming from years of calling dances and teaching people of all ages.

Since 2003, Sue has worked full-time as a dance caller and teaching artist, calling dances in barns, schools, community centers and parks around the Upper Midwest.

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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.
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Tom Draughon

Tom Draughon

Born in North Carolina and raised in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia, there is no finer performer of traditional Appalachian music. A consummate instrumentalist, Tom renders authentic fiddle tunes, banjo songs, flat and finger-picked guitar styles combined with clear vocals to bring the mountains to his audiences. Now living in Northern Wisconsin, Tom Draughon is the owner of and executive producer for Heartistry Music, a record label devoted to music and artists of the Lake Superior region.

Tom’s performances are a cool, brisk, refreshing breeze coming from Lake Superior.

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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Winona International Dancers

Since 1979, the Winona International Dancers have revived traditional folk dances from all over the world. Members come from Winona and the surrounding areas, such as Rochester and Houston, as well as Trempealeau, Ettrick and La Crosse. The organization actively promotes folk dance through workshops and performances at many community events, concerts, schools, and older adult residences.

The Winona International dancers meet weekly on Mondays from 7:30-9:30 PM at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, 1164 W. Howard St., Winona. They welcome newcomers with or without dance experience.

Yellow-Bellied Spasuckers

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.
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