2023 Festival Line-up
Good Morning Bedlam | Feed the Dog | Joseph Huber | Dig Deep
The Milbillies| Barefoot Bluegrass | Black River Revue | Brotherhood of Birds | Pick’n Buds
Johnson Brothers | Foxgloves 5 | Gin Mill Hollow | Danny Frank Band |Side String Band | Old Soul Society
Potluck String Band | Sugar Bush | Wise Jennings | Crooked Willow | The Thirsty River
Everett Band + Clinic | Chris Silver |Lou Shields | Chris Snyder | Mountain Fern
Good Morning Bedlam
Feed the Dog
Black River Revue
Brotherhood of Birds
Old Soul Society
Gin Mill Hollow
Danny Frank Band
Side String Band
Potluck String Band
The Thirsty River
Everett Band + Clinic
High & Rising
“We are beyond thrilled to share that we have been adopted as the Band Host for the River Falls Bluegrass, Bourbon & Brews Festival April 22-24! We have teamed up with the River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Tattersall Distilling and are going to throw the best bluegrass festival this town has ever seen! As the host, High & Rising will play Friday & Saturday nights of the fest, and we can’t wait to show River Falls what all our bluegrass friends can do!!”
Out of the north midwest and the banks of the mighty Mississippi River grew this “Groovy Grass” band of music makers. High & Rising most often plays as a quartet, with a unique combination of instruments that bring a fresh groovy sound to the Bluegrass & Folk American scene.
The quartet, led by Laura Farley (upright bass/vocals) and supported by Jym Farley (acoustic guitar), Ben Rohde (percussion) and Harrison Olk (Banjo) have quickly made a name for themselves through their prolific songwriting and performances along-side many notable musicians in the upper midwest music scene.
High & Rising recently released their critically-acclaimed debut album HOWL, featuring artists: Adam Greuel & Davey Lynch of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades; Chris Castino of The Big Wu; Ernest Brusubardis IV & Ryan Ogburn of Chicken Wire Empire; Augie Dougherty of Armchair Boogie; Craig Baumann of The People Brothers Band; Rick Krueuziger of The Pat Watters Band; Leo Albertoni of Old Soul Society; and Kenny Leiser of Joseph Huber.
The Last Revel
The Last Revel utilizes their multi-instrumental abilities to bring the full spectrum of modern Americana to life with lush arrangements of three-part vocal harmonies, acoustic and electric guitars, upright bass, fiddle, and 5-string banjo to consistently support impassioned performances of their honest and heartfelt songwriting.
In February 2022, The Last Revel recorded at RiverRock Studios in Minneapolis, MN with longtime friend and producer/engineer Kevin Israel. There was an energy present in the studio that was overwhelming and genuinely emotional. They carved out five new songs that will be released as an EP by May 2022. The intensity of their joyous reunion shines through each song with new textures and thunderous rejoice. The time spent apart led to some incredible personal growth and speaks through their music more honestly than ever before. They describe this latest chapter as a testament to friendship, forgiveness, and celebration with a grateful nod to the struggles we all work through together.
In the spring of 2018 Armchair Boogie moved to Madison, WI and released their first album. During this time they began touring around Wisconsin, the Midwest, and across America. Their journeys on the road have led them to stages such as Blue Ox, Northwest String Summit, John Hartford Memorial Festival, Summer Camp, and Live on King Street. They’ve had the honor to share the stage with The Infamous Stringdusters, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, The Dead South, Kitchen Dwellers, Pert Near Sandstone, Trout Steak Revival, and have jammed with many more.
With the help of a loving and dedicated following, the group was able to successfully crowdfund their album, “What Does Time Care?”, which was released on October 11, 2019.
Be warned: if you’re looking to listen to the Boogie Boys, drink some water, eat a banana, do some stretches, and be ready to boogie the night away.
The Lowest Pair
After each releasing solo albums via Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records in 2018, Winter and Lee began working on The Lowest Pair’s forthcoming 10- song set, The Perfect Plan. As a songwriting team, the duo tends to see artistic sparks all around them — in poems, people, ideas, experiences – and throughout the process of writing these new songs, they felt the need to push their creative limits. They turned to producer Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes who took them to ARC Studios in Omaha, Nebraska, and set them in a soundscape backed by a slate of session players that lifts the album from simple folk into spirited Americana and beyond. Clawhammer banjo and acoustic guitar still hold the heart of The Lowest Pair, but the fleshed-out sound of The Perfect Plan leans gently into Winter’s punk past, as well as the sonic playground of her mind, to set the band down a new path on their musical journey.
Chicken Wire Empire
“The new Chicken Wire Empire record is a technically proficient, well-crafted mixture of modern original songwriting and time earned classics. They seem to have taken on some wonderfully exciting elements of modern progressive bluegrass while also retaining their original character, born of their greater Milwaukee town roots.” – Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
In November of 2019, Chicken Wire Empire toured Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as part of the 9th annual Bluegrass Jamboree, hosted by Rainier Zellner. While the band fell in love with Christmas markets, the European audiences were enamored with the CWE sound. Arriving back in America, the band sifted through recordings of all 24 shows. With the help of their engineer Daniel Machnik, the tour was encapsulated in two live 2021 releases, ”Live from Deutschland Vol. 1 & 2.”
“The new Chicken Wire Empire live recordings rock! What a great show they put on! The flow of the recordings makes one feel like you are sitting in the audience in the auditorium for the live performance. I especially enjoyed their unique take on some of the traditional songs found in the bluegrass repertoire – made them truly sound like their own. The somewhat non-traditional grass tracks are what might be considered “progressive traditional” bluegrass, where they stretch out a bit while keeping the traditional feel. I thoroughly enjoyed these “funkytrad” recordings by Chicken Wire Empire!” – Greg Cahill (Special Consensus)
In 2020, as live shows were drying up, the band turned to live-streaming, and were featured showcase artists in virtual renditions of the IBMA and Folk Alliance International conferences. The band used their time to arrange and record an album with Minnesota songsmith Chris Castino (The Big Wu) at NeonBrown with Ryan Young (Trampled by Turtles) engineering. The album features guests Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Andy Hall, Tim O’Brien, and Nick Forester. Entitled “Fresh Pickles,” it was released in February 2022.
”Fresh Pickles aims to satisfy your cravings and is just the beginning of Castino’s heartfelt and fulfilling voyage into bluegrass. Always true to the tradition and authentic in presentation, Fresh Pickles is packed with great music.” – (Gratefulweb.com)
Chicken Wire Empire has been blessed to share the stage with renowned musicians Yonder Mountain String Band, 30db, The Big Wu, Peter Rowan, The Travelin’ McCourys, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and more. With love from their local scene, friends, and families, Chicken Wire Empire looks to the future, with a goal to strengthen Wisconsin’s bluegrass scene, and further the appreciation of acoustic music.
Good Morning Bedlam
Feed The Dog
The band started in July of 2015 and has been relentlessly playing festivals, theaters, and clubs alongside regional and national touring acts.
“Ding Dang” the band’s third full length album released September 2021, out now.
With a body of work that showcases their vision, craft, heart, and clout as songwriters and instrumentalists, Dig Deep has earned a reputation for their well-honed and hard-edged sound that goes far beyond bluegrass, as well as their blistering and boisterous live performances that give audiences much more than a string band show.
Black River Revue
Brotherhood of Birds
After hatching in January 2021, the group released 2 EPs entitled “Caged Vol. 1 & 2”. In the same year they played the historic First Avenue Main Room, Blue Ox Music Festival, Shangri-La Music Festival, and were featured in Bluegrass Standard magazine as well as on 88.5 Bluegrass Saturday Morning. In 2022 they were spotted on on the lineup for Revival, Pickin On Picknic, Boats & Bluegrass, MBOTMAs August Fest, Galactic Get Down, Sioux River Folk Fest, & Palisade Bluegrass Bash to name a few. The bands tag team style line up makes every show unique while show casing some of the premier players in the genre that the twin cities has to offer.
The Foxgloves 5
Gin Mill Hollow
Danny Frank & the Smoky Gold
Danny Frank has curated an all-star cast of seasoned musicians that fully compliments his skillfully-crafted songs. Based in Duluth, MN, “The Smoky Gold” is comprised of banjo player Harrison Olk (Tin Can Gin, Cascade Crescendo, Kind Country Band), bassist Joe Scarpellino (Smokin’ Joe, Dead Larry), and fiddle savant Erin Aldridge (Concert Master – Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra). Danny Frank & The Smoky Gold’s unique sound blends soulful lead vocals with rich harmonies and virtuosic instrumentalism. Steeped in musical traditions of folk, bluegrass, country, classic rock, and blues, Danny Frank & The Smoky Gold offers a genre-blending Americana sound that is captivating, invigorating, and sure to get your toe tapping.
Side String Band
Side String Band is Harrison Olk (Tin Can Gin, Kind Country, Cascade Crescendo) on banjo and vocals; Nate Hynum (Black River Revue) on mandolin and vocals; Clancy Ward (Sugar on the Roof, Dickel Brothers) on fiddle and vocals; and Adam Staupe (Feeding Leroy) on the double bass and guitar. Often, as is tradition in the bluegrass and old-time music scene, Side String Band invites fellow musicians to join them on stage as they enjoy performing amongst a large community of musicians from all over the country. Side String Band is dedicated to making working people’s music; whether raw and fast or slow and sweet, the music tells the story and the members of Side String Band are the messengers. From toe tapping fiddle tunes to instant classic originals their roots are evident throughout each unique performance.
Potluck String Band
Watching Wise Jennings perform is a really captivating experience. Melissa plays the drums, harmonica, and sings. Jeff sings, plays a unique guitar setup and a custom foot-pedal bass rig that he plays with his…feet. Two people on stage but sounds like a four piece band and looks like a choreographed circus.
Crooked Willow formed in 2013 when Tim Waller and Elisi Smith-Waller approached their musical friends to share their love of music. The original members of Crooked Willow included Tim Waller, Elisi Smith-Waller, Erik Hanson, and Dan Driesen. Over the years, there have been changes to several of the members, but the friendships and love of music have never changed. Some of the other members through the years have included, Kari Brown, Kara White, Sylva Hanson, Kari Gallagher, Danny Driesen, and Tim Foss. As past members of the band, they will always be a part of the Crooked Willow family.
Everett Smithson Band
In 2006 Everett’s wife Kathy Smithson hopped on board with her accordions and added a creole sound while mixing it up with tunes by Wanda Jackson, Lavern Baker, Memphis Minnie and the list goes on. In 2018 Milwaukee native Victor Span – alumni of Bryan Lee, Nick Moss, Reverend Raven, among many others – added his talents on drums and Jeremy Johnson added his guitar skills to bring the band where they are today! Everett, Phil and Kathleen have added many originals to the set list over the years, which can be heard on any of their five CDs, including 2018s “Tall Tales”.
Lou grew up in Chicago, living downtown or in the South Suburbs his entire life. While downtown he owned an art gallery in Pilsen at 18th and Halsted. Lou often creates his art from experiences on the road. He will take a picture of an old home in Mississippi and then draw it later or he takes inspiration from people and scenes in his wife’s early 20th century photo collection. He exhibits his art in Gallery shows or sells prints out of his merch box or at his wife’s vintage clothing store — Driftless Artifacts in Viroqua WI. He often blends his art and music by creating album art and show posters for himself and other musicians. In addition to being an artist, Lou is also a Professor of Art at a college in the Chicago-area. He enjoys teaching young students about art appreciation and art history a few days a week.
In 2015, Lou purchased land and a salvaged wood cabin in the Driftless Region of Southwest Wisconsin (near Viroqua) where he is setting up an off-grid homestead. Lou loves working with wood and reclaimed materials due to his deep connection to the past. The homestead is filled with antiques he found on the road from stopping at roadside estate sales and thrift stores. In addition to the cabin, Lou has built a screen porch, tiny house, an amazing reclaimed shed and other antique-styled outbuildings. Lou hired the Amish to build a barn on his homestead for woodworking and for community music gatherings. He also completed a log cabin in 2020 that was built on the high bluff with views of the Kickapoo River. Lou enjoys playing his banjo on the front porch of his Kickapoo River Valley Homestead.
In addition to living in the Chicago-area and Kickapoo Township, Wisconsin he also lives in Madison with his Wife, Stacey Roou who resides and works in the area as a Marketing Manager. Lou has no problem splitting his time between three areas – after all they are not that far apart and it gives him a balance of city and country life. Lou’s heart is on the road and he loves the ability to spend his time in different areas.
Old Soul Society
Old Soul Society’s focus on the craft of songwriting is displayed in the rich, textured musical layers they create to underscore the emotionally raw delivery of their introspective and heartfelt lyrics. These details combine into a powerfully stirring live performance that has been winning over audiences everywhere.
The star is burning bright for Old Soul Society and only appears to be getting brighter with the release of their debut album “The Farmhouse Sessions” pre-Covid, the official bootleg release of “A Live One” in early 2022 and their follow up studio album that is scheduled for release in the summer of 2023.
The Thirsty River
Having been self-taught and playing music since the age of 7, Snyder’s music has taken him around the world including Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovakia, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, France, The Vatican City (performing or the late Pope on his birthday), Venezuela, and throughout the United States and Canada. The MN music circuit is one of many communities across the country where Chris has built a loyal fan base. Any city he plays music in, is the city he calls home. No matter where the road takes him, he always holds true to himself and his strong Alaskan roots.
Review the line-up for a detailed listing of the bands performing throughout this foot stompin’ music weekend!
River Falls is located just 30 minutes east of St. Paul, Minnesota and about 45 minutes from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Enjoy a stroll along historic Main Street as you visit each participating venue. Several unique lodging opportunities are available to meet your needs!