4onthefloor By Brianna Klapperich
Gabriel Douglas, vocalist of the 4onthefloor, showed up for an interview wearing a plaid shirt and luscious full brown beard ready to talk of the latest happenings for the group.
Just ending a six-week west coast tour, the 4onthefloor is playing tonight in Winona before heading East to play the coast for the third time as a band.
The group spends much time on the road and Douglas says they even have a library on board to accomodate their reading habits.
A new hobby for the group while touring is thrifting movies for their VHS collection.
"It's a one-up-manship for the VHS collection," said Douglas, "not everything makes it into the VHS collection but we've got some really good ones."
Having never been to Winona, Douglas says he plans on seeing as much of MWMF as possible. the 4onthefloor shares some practice space with Caroline Smith and the Goodnight sleeps and knows many of the bands performing at the festival this weekend.
"We're going to be running around today with our heads cut of all day seeing our friends play music," said Douglas.
Be sure to catch the 4onthefloor tonight at 10:30 at Jefferson's for some hard stomping bluesy rock music!
Brahman Shaman By Jonelle Harren
Seats disappeared quickly as Brahman Shaman kicked off at Acoustic Café for his third Mid West Music Fest appearance. Multi tasking is clearly not an issue for this young man who plays drums and strums his acoustic guitar, all while belting out folk tunes.
Thirty-year-old Matt Olson, who will be celebrating his 31st birthday tomorrow has been playing guitar for 17 years and eventually picked up on the drums for fun. “Singing was boring for me to do,” he joked. “So I incorporate some rhythm.”
The warm aroma of soup and sandwiches from nearby tables complemented the comforting energy of his music. “I’m going to write a song about how delicious the sandwiches are here,” he commented.
The La Crosse native addressed his audience with a relaxed sense of familiarity, joking freely and even offering free CDs. Olson seems comfortable going it solo, as he performed in such a manner during his first MWMF experience, with a band last year, and returned this year as a one-man band once again.
Olson said the name Brahman Shaman arises from the music itself, more than it is his band name – Brahman referring to a Hindu word that means all encompassing the present and Shaman referring to the member of tribes who helps people access unseen energies “because in the creative process, you get ideas from the invisible.”
Coconut and the Duke By Jonelle Harren
Coconut and the Duke By Jonelle Harren
Ukulele, mandolin, “solar tree farm factory” t-shirts and blue jeans.
Coconut and the Duke bring a lighthearted nature to the world of music, attributing the name of their band to Joe Mauerr’s past coconut deliveries and Luke Stangl‘s habit of wearing straw boxes on his head, earning him the title “The Duke of Straw”.
The duo strums away on a guitar, mandolin and ukulele while belting out tunes about a “honey dipper” and a “fruit eater,” in a happy-go-lucky manner.
Mauerr and Stangl met each other at Northland College when they lived on separate floors of the same apartment building. Stangl heard Mauerr “jamming out”, Mauerr saw Stangl dancing, and the rest is history.
A limit of instruments is not existent for Coconut and the Duke who explore new sounds with not-so-common instruments in today’s music like the mandolin, as well as blowing into the microphone to mimic wind.
They said they like to challenge each other, so one day they decided to write a song using only five notes. Stangl initially wanted to call the product “Three-TwoBeer”, but Mauerr protested.
“He said that this song is too good to be three-two beer,” Stangl said. “So now it’s called ‘Sings a Bright Blue Bird’”.
And of course a band with a ukulele isn’t complete without a song fit for the beach. “You got a ukulele, you gotta play a song about Hawaii, right?”
Fairfax, AK By Amber Grace
“Theres a saying in Alaska, that if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes, and it will get worse,” said lead singer and guitarist, Pat Dougherty; but that’s not the case for Fairfax, AK.
Their radiohead and Wilco inspired tunes bring jump-out-of-your-shoes folk sounds to town tonight at the Winona Arts Center.
The band members were thrilled to be playing in an art gallery this evening and shared their excitement by pumping out tune and tune of pure originality with the crowd.
Jaybone Bell By Amber Grace
Singer, songwriter Jaybone Bell also known as Jason Ziebell is performing this evening at Blooming Grounds coffee house.
His homegrown beats bring a smooth rhythm to this quaint corner café.
As the coffee aroma swirls through the air the crowd is listening intently with open ears and eyes while he plays original songs and mixing in some influential Bob Dylan and Gillian Welch tunes.
He’s a mixed madness burned into the bold bumper of a woody wagon. So next time he’s playing around Ed’s or any other place in town check him out, he’s a rusty crust that’s a must see.
Hill County Destroyer By Stephanie Brost
Hill County Destroyer, a band that originated in Winona, kicked off the first performance of the second night of Midwest Music Fest at Jefferson’s Event Center in down town Winona. The swamp metal band attracted quite a large crowd.
This year is the band’s second year performing at Midwest Music Fest and the audience can tell it’s not their first time around the block.
“They keep letting us play,” said Josh Datta, the lead singer and guitarist.
The band looked relaxed and confident as they sang covers and original pieces that got the crowd up to the stage wanting more.
Datta, drummer Chad Wardwell and bassist/vocalist Dietz Parker said they enjoy being able to share their music with the community.
“We’re glad to see something happen with the music scene in Winona,” said Datta.
Midwest Dilemma By Samantha Luhmann
Tonight, Justin Lamoureux, of Midwest Dilemma, is performing solo.
Without his usual 7-man band, he steps on stage at the Winona Arts Center, checks his mic and tunes his guitar. It only takes a minute to get set up, and as soon as he’s ready, he immediately starts to play.
After introducing himself, Lamoureux makes conversation with the audience and engages them throughout the entire performance. Instead of following a set playlist, he improvises to suit the mood.
“Do you guys want a fast song or a slow, sad song?” he asks.
His easy-going personality creates a calm and relaxing feeling throughout the center as more and more listeners trickle in.
Lamoureux has been playing guitar for the last 20 years, and for the prior 10, he’s been doing so for Midwest Dilemma. The band is known for its “up-tempo folk ballads” consisting of a revolving cast of woodwind, brass, string and percussion instruments.
Midwest Dilemma has toured all across the, but Lamoureux said it’s his first time playing at the Mid West Music Fest. He considers himself honored.
“I’m just glad to be here,” he said.
Wearing a green plaid shirt, blue jeans and a Minnesota smile, the Omaha native feels right at home in Winona.
“A lot of people wear beards here,” he said, insinuating toward his own. “It’s my kind of town.”
May North By Samantha Luhmann
The Acoustic Café was scant before The May North came on stage.
At 9 p.m., the band began their set for this year’s Mid West Music Fest and it wasn’t long until almost every chair surrounding the stage was filled with excited listeners.
The musicians that compose The May North include Chris O’Brien, Matthew Byrnes, Justin Smith, Stephanie McCorkell and George McCorkell. The band’s variety of instruments flow effortlessly together, each contributing a sound of its own.
Following the rhythm, O’Brien kicks his foot to keep tempo as he plays his dobro on stage. Byrnes’ banjo adds the perfect twang to the band’s bluegrass sound.
Noah Hittner, a fellow Mid West Music Fest performer, said Acoustic Café has a nice and comfortable atmosphere that’s made it easy for him to stay and watch the other musicians.
“Look at it, it’s perfect,” he said.
The upbeat and tuneful melodies The May North play fill the area as the audience continues to grow. Listeners sit huddled close on the floor to watch and a large crowd stands off to the side. Their bodies bounce up and down along with the fast-paced melodies.
After spotlighting each instrument with impressive solos, George McCorkell pauses and looks out into the crowd.
“Does anyone know what time it is?” he asks
With five minutes left on the clock, he laughs.
“Good thing I asked,” he said. “We’d just play here all night.”
Primitive Blues Band By Dave Ferber
One of the 2012 Midwest Music Fest’s Friday evening performers delivered rudimentary blues style to an eager audience at Jefferson Riverside Center.
The Primitive Blues Band has played Winona venues “on and off” for the past five years, according to guitarist Eli Glor. Aaron Rykhus, percussion, and Glor play their music following in the footsteps of blues pioneers such as Son House, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Blind Willie McTell, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and local favorite Charlie Parr.
Glor had spent time in a rock band called The Primitives, and chose his current group’s name from that experience and from a Blues song he wrote called Primitive Blues. Glor’s playing style is pure and frenzied as he whirls and bobs on the stage immersed in blue and yellow parabolic stage lighting.
“This is something I’ve been looking forward to awhile so it’s kinda nice to let it go,” Glor said.
On stage, the eye is drawn to drummer Rykhus’ seat which is a painted white kitchen chair sitting next to the drum kit.
“I think it’s just one of those things where it broke and it kinda just stuck that we just ended up using the kitchen table chair,” said Glor, explaining that the original stool broke, and the group kept the atypical drummer’s seat for future performances.
As Glor and Ryhkus finish a sound check, a growing number of audience members moves forward, crowding the fence-like barriers that surround speakers and cables. It is 9:35 p.m. and the band makes final adjustments to equipment. With a few words of introduction a kick drum volley launches the group into their first tune, “Nobody.”
“You hear a lot of people saying that the blues are a dying art form, but I think it’s just changing,’ according to Glor at the conclusion of his set of songs
“You’ve got a lot more of a different angle coming out with bands like the White Stripes or the Black Keys over the last ten years that leads to stuff like me and Aaron…not direct descendants but part of that catalyst for a different perspective of the blues.
Rogue Valley By Samantha Luhman
As the night nears its end, Rogue Valley steps on stage in the Masonic Temple to perform their set for this year’s Mid West Music Fest.
The audience lounges on the wide-open floors around 10 p.m. Friday night as the band begins to play. The melodic sound Rogue Valley creates is fitting to the serene atmosphere. Their soothing vocals and soft harmonies create a genre all of its own.
Lead singer and songwriter Chris Koza interacts with the audience throughout the performance, making small talk and sharing the origins of their work.
The song “English Ivy,” he said, is about love and the ways in which it finds us.
“Love works its way into the woodwork of the building and the cracks of the payment,” he said.
Rogue Valley is comprised of five artists and is well known throughout the St. Paul/Minneapolis area where the band emerged.
In a single year, Rogue Valley produced four original albums. Each one, he said, correlates with the season in which it was created and all together, the albums total 46 songs.
Koza said he enjoys playing at festivals because it gives the band a chance to play some of their lesser-known songs.
But no matter what song they play, the audience remains loyal.
They sing along to familiar songs and applaud after each performance. At the end of the show, they stick around to meet the band and compliment their work.
“I’m a big fan,” Lynn Brown, a Mid West Music Fest supporter, said. “They’re just very top-notch.”
DJ Panther and MOE Lights By Sydney Swanson