April 21 – 23, 2023

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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

After a 5 year hiatus, The original trio has reunited to produce new music with a revitalized appreciation for camaraderie and creativity. Now living in three different cities across the US, these three independently talented singer-songwriters bring together the sounds of Nashville TN, Minneapolis MN, & Bozeman MT to create Front Porch Americana soundscapes that are equally original as they are timeless. Drawing influence from their salt of the earth Midwest ethos the band’s songs so naturally blend the genres of Folk, Old Time String-Band and Indie Rock to create a sound that echoes the current heartbeat of America.

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.

Armchair Boogie

Starting in 2015 from a front porch in the college town of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Armchair Boogie can be defined by their pickin’ skills and infectious grooves. Augie Dougherty (banjo, vocals) and Ben Majeska (guitar, vocals) began playing under the name before becoming complete with the addition of Eli Frieders (bass) and solidification of Denzel Connor (drums) as the driving rhythm section behind a bluegrass, up-tempo, jammin-funkgrass outfit.

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

Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee are two kindred spirits who first met on the banks of the Mississippi while touring the Midwest festival circuit. Born and raised in Arkansas, Winter found herself drawn to the evergreens and damp air of the Pacific Northwest, as well as the boundless music scene of Olympia, Washington. She released three solo records on Olympia-based indie label, K Records, and performed in ramblin’ folk bands and anarchic punk bands before serendipitously meeting Palmer T. Lee in 2013. Lee had built his first banjo when he was 19 from pieces he inherited and began cutting his teeth fronting Minneapolis string bands before convincing Winter that they should form a banjo duo. Now, as The Lowest Pair, they have recorded and released five albums together, relentlessly toured North America, and ventured to the UK twice, playing over 500 live shows over the past five years.

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

Born in Wisconsin, Chicken Wire Empire began as a traditional bluegrass band. The band honed its traditional sound in 2014 with their debut album Chicken Wire Empire. With half of the group rooted in bluegrass, and the other half steeped in jamband music, a change occurred when CWE performed an Old & In The Way tribute show. A new sound was found in Milwaukee, and Chicken Wire Empire joined the roster of high energy acoustic music happening across the nation. This journey from traditional to progressive was documented by director Ross Monagle in the film ”All It Takes,” premiering in 2016 at the Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee. Recorded and mixed by sound engineer Sam Donoghue, the film follows the band around Wisconsin and includes performances in Milwaukee’s historic Riverside Theatre. In 2018, the band returned to the studio, recording their sophomore album “What Moves Mountains” at Axis Recording Studios with engineer Vinny Millevolte and the mastering talents of Justin Perkins. With support from their family and friends, What Moves Mountains was released January 1st of 2019.

“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

Good Morning Bedlam has become a staying force in the folk genre with a 200 plus show tour in 2019 before the COVID-19 shutdown, claiming the first-place title at the John Hartford Memorial Festival Band Competition, and being finalists at the NWSS Band Competition. Their shows are known for their wild energy and stunning harmonies. GMB has played at festivals alongside artists such as Shakey Graves, Sam Bush, Jason Isbell, The Infamous Stringdusters, Trampled By Turtles and others. In 2021 GMB ran a successful Kickstarter in July of 2021 for their much anticipated third full-length record ‘Lulu’ where fans from around the world pledged a total of $34,000. GMB has been featured on Bluegrass Today, Relix Magazine, Glide Magazine, and Paste Magazine. Good Morning Bedlam is made up of Isaak Elker, Victoria Elker, Dawson Redenius and Kat Seeger. They are continuing to tour full-time in 2023 as they gear up to release an EP in late 2023.

Feed The Dog

Feed the Dog is an eclectic and action-packed, experimental jam-grass act. The midwest based 4-piece masterfully blends soul-pleasing songwriting rich in imagery and storytelling with a genre bending, shake-your-hips, instrumental flair. Their high energy performances are driven by the unique and progressive approach of each player: imaginative melodies with graceful ambiance skillfully crafted on the violin, tireless beats both dynamic and soulful confidently assembled on the drums, driving low end with finesse and intention forged on the bass guitar, and unique approach to playing the acoustic guitar blending fast picking bluegrass runs with the strength of blues and rock to evoke an emotional contrast between melancholy and hopeful.

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.

Joseph Huber

Joseph Huber hails from the state of Wisconsin, and seems to bring forth the varied voices of whatever it may be that lies dormant within either the fertile soil or the callous concrete of that world. It has been said, “You don’t just like Joseph Huber’s music. You feel it’s something that the rest of the world needs to hear, and how criminal it is that it isn’t spreading far and wide.” That sentiment could be related to the fact that the voices which Huber unearths are subtle and take more than a hurried listen to truly absorb. As the singer, songwriter, performer, recorder and producer of all of his own material, Huber has his hands full, but never seems to miss a beat. Huber continues moving onward and upward captivating folks with his sincere and well-crafted songs under his own name along with the impeccable musicianship of his fellow touring partners. Whether it’s irresistible, fiddle-driven, dancing tunes or honest, heart-wrenching “songwriter” songs, Huber’s songs and shows spans the spectrum of ‘Roots’ music while preferring not to stay within the boundaries of any strict genre classification.

Dig Deep

Formed in 2015 in the dead center of the thriving Midwest roots music scene in Stevens Point, WI, the four members of Dig Deep drew inspiration from their shared appreciation for traditional bluegrass and country music, their love of rock and roll, and their combined decades of hard gigging in the punk/metal scenes, local bars and roadhouses, and regional festivals. Three releases and 600+ shows later, they have firmly established themselves as an utterly unique and powerful force in the roots world.
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.

The MilBillies

WAMI nominated New Artist of the Year (2020), The MilBillies are a 5-piece string band that trades vocals like a fifth of bourbon and solos like a bull on a rope, slinging high-energy bluegrass stripped raw with Americana grit.

Barefoot Bluegrass

Harrison Olk (Cascade Crescendo, Tin Can Gin, Kind Country, High & Rising) and Jon Miller (Feed The Dog, Ginstrings, Kind Country) have joined forces to bring you a unique and enjoyable musical experience. Rooted in the genres of bluegrass and jam music, Harrison (banjo) and Jon (guitar) bring you modern renditions of classic bluegrass and folk songs, along with heartfelt originals that are sure to please your musical palate. Collectively, these two have many years of touring experience, performing for audiences around the country and sharing their musical influence with many.

Black River Revue

We are a group of friends from Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota who share a love for all different genres of music. Using a bluegrass instrumentation we have crafted our own sound made up of mostly original music which can be heard on our debut album “Garbage Pickin” (released in April of 2013). Our sophomore album “Spring Thaw” (released June 2014) adds another year of songwriting and live performance experience. With our sights held on the future we will continue to grow our catalog of original tunes for new albums and we will keep putting our twist on classic traditional songs and cover tunes that we love. We hope to see you out at shows and thank everyone for their continued support.

Brotherhood of Birds

Brotherhood of Birds (BoB) is a Twin Cities-based, Minnesota progressive acoustic string band whose original compositions bring together traditional and modern styles.

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.

Pickin’ Buds

John Miller from Feed the Dog and Ben Majestic from Armchair Boogie! Two outstanding, out of this world talented gents that blow the house away with their guitar skills. It’s a treat to have two amazing guys play and sing the night away.

The Foxgloves 5

The Foxgloves are an all-female band with songs you won’t be able to stop humming. Their engaging presence, rich instrumentation, compelling storytelling songwriting, four-part harmonies, and creatively reimagined covers render them a force to be reckoned with. This powerful band is making moves you’ll want to witness. A little bit of country, a little bit of folk, a little bit of classical, and a whole lot of heart — your toes will tap of their own accord.

Gin Mill Hollow

For more than eight years and 500+ shows the ever-evolving Americana outfit Gin Mill Hollow has been showcasing their unique approach to string-band music throughout the mid-west and beyond. Born as an acoustic duo at the Up North Bar in Madison, Wisconsin, the group found traction in the area after adding mandolin and eventually percussion to the mix. As a four-piece band, Gin Mill Hollow’s performances sound more like a rock show, often with electric guitar and effected mandolin solos soaring over driving rhythm and harmony. Blending bluegrass and folk with jazz and blues, the live experience is enhanced by an engaging lighting display, syncing the aural and visual senses. With two studio albums to their credit, the band continues to write new material with plans to record and release these works in various media formats.

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 formed out of a desire to make pure music true to the soul. Consisting of sidemen from various acoustic bands in the Midwest, Side String Band yearns to bring back the sound of old time bluegrass with progressive folk undertones. The band has collectively been influenced by this authentic American music over many collective years of performance. Each member contributes their craft and as a result, the sound is diverse and unified in its goal.

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

Potluck String Band is an organically grown Band of Festivarians that plays in bluegrass festival campgrounds and many different venues and events in the Midwest and Colorado. PSB creates a “Natural Habitat for Pickers” around their campfire at festivals, where musicians can meet new and old friends and pick til the sun comes up! Bring a Song, Bring a Log, Bring a Chair… See Ya There!

Sugar Bush

Members of Chicken Wire Empire, The MilBillies, and Beyond.

Wise Jennings

Wise Jennings has developed a reputation in the Milwaukee music scene for delivering powerful performances and developing their own unique musical genre. They are now being asked to play multiple music festivals every year and are on the cusp of something big.

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

Crooked Willow is comprised of Elisi Smith-Waller on vocals and banjo, Tim Waller on guitar and vocals, Jessie McDonald playing fiddle and adding harmonies, and Erik Hanson on the bass and vocal harmonies. We play a variety of music with roots in Americana, but we love to find new twists on old favorite styles like Pop, Jazz, and Old Time. “As a Folk/Americana/Roots string band formed in friendship and connected through music, they take audiences on a journey through reimagined covers and original works.” Lee Neves – Seven Magazine

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.

Chris Silver

Chris Silver plays roots music, but it doesn’t stop there. Chris’ music is transcendent and his originals travel a huge landscape of experience and place. He has created a new sound with traditional roots music at the core. As a musical risk taker, his focus has been on his original sound, adding layers not usually found in traditional music providing a rich texture to his music including slide guitar and intricate global rhythms. Chris is as comfortable with his Vintage Martin D-18 as he is with his Fender Tele. His eclectic approach in playing his original acoustic, blues, folk and jam band music has shaped Silver’s songs to the point that they could be compared to Ry Cooder’s early ’70s work. In a given set, you are as likely to hear a song by Lowell George, The Meters, Bill Monroe, and of course, his own compositions. Chris spent five years touring with the acclaimed bluegrass band Stoney Lonesome, and when Kate MacKenzie left the band in 1994, she asked Chris to tour with her. Chris and Kate toured coast-to-coast for three years playing major festivals including The World Expo in Japan, The Strawberry Music Festival in California, The Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival, and numerous appearances on National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. One thing is for sure, his energy is infectious and he’ll leave you wanting more.

Everett Smithson Band

The band was formed in 2005 and included Everett Smithson on harp and vocals, Phil Schmid on guitar, Jeremy Johnson on drums and Bill Black on stand up bass. The sidemen had played together for a long time and had toured with Big George Jackson, Gary Primich, RJ Mischo, Kim Wilson, Bo Diddley, the Senders and many others. They could lay down some tasteful grooves and their red hot instrumentals were always a crowd pleaser!

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 Shields

Lou Shields continues the tradition of American music with a solo-performance that pulls in styles of days-gone-by. Using his 1931 National Resonator Guitar or Banjo accompanied by a unique front porch style of foot percussion and harmonica, he uses his voice as an extension of the past. Lou carries a full sound during live performances while sharing stories, thoughts and experiences with the audience. He has toured throughout the United States and Europe for over 15 years and has released 8 full-length albums and 13 EP’s.

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.

Schedule

Review the line-up for a detailed listing of the bands performing throughout this foot stompin’ music weekend!

Stay & Play

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!

Beer, Wine & Bourbon Tastings

Don’t miss out on the tastings held throughout the weekend.  Sample the best beer, wine, cider, and bourbon in the area between live music sets.

Premier Sponsor

Tattersall Logo

River Falls Area
Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau
215 West Maple Street
River Falls, WI 54022
(715) 425-2533
info@rfchamber.com

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