2006 FESTIVAL ARCHIVE - Return to main site.

August 25, 26, 27 2006

2006 Artists


Rory Block - Heralded as a living landmark (Berkeley Express), a national treasure (Guitar Extra), and one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her life and her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences around the world. A traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, she wields a fiery and haunting guitar and vocal style that redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk. She brought home W.C. Handy Awards four years in a row - two for Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year (1997 & 1998), and two for Best Acoustic Blues Album of the Year ( When a Woman Gets the Blues in 1996 & Confessions of a Blues Singer in 1999). Rory was also inducted to the CAMA Hall of Fame in 1997. Her latest recording is From the Dust (2005)
Willy Porter - Hailing from the swamps of Milwaukee, WI, Willy Porter is a seasoned solo performer who honed his songs and his chops traveling across America and Europe playing to captive audiences everywhere. His songs are equal parts muscle and intimacy, and reveal a rarely achieved relationship between an artist and his craft. Porter has forged a connection to his fans from his earliest performing experiences that would continue to reverberate even when opening for the audiences of artists like Tori Amos and Paul Simon. Porter's latest release is titled High Wire Live.

Melissa Ferrick - Folk artist Melissa Ferrick is both a powerhouse vocalist and masterful guitarist with a constantly deepening catalog of songs. Ferrick emerged on the music scene in 1994 and began singing in coffeehouses. Her big break came one night when she replaced Morrissey's opening act less than an hour before showtime. Her performance impressed Morrissey and he invited her to open for him for the remainder of the tour where sure earned not only a cult following but also a contract with Atlantic Records. In 2000, Melissa launched her own label, Right On Records. Ferrick has released a total of 11 albums and her 12th release titled "Never give up" is forthcoming.

Special Guests

Ember Swift Due - Ember Swift is a Canadian artist and activist who performs alongside of the amazingly talented Lyndell Montgomery. Generally as a duo (and sometimes with additional players), they perform approximately 150 dates a year bringing their politically charged music to stages across Canada, the U.S. and Australia. They have just launched their tenth release entitled "The Dirty Pulse" [Few'll Ignite Sound, 2006.] Their music (performed in both English & French) sounds like: "The bilingual love child of Paul Simon and Laurie Anderson who is being raised by Joan Jett."

Rachael Davis - Rachael Davis has been singing on-stage since she was two years old. Born in Lansing, Michigan, Rachael was constantly nurtured and encouraged by family, friends, and other respectable musicians. When Rachael was eight she was singing on second stage at Wheatland Music Festival. Rachael has spent most of her life involved with music in one way or another - whether as the lead in three of her high school's musicals, singing with her family-based group Lake Effect, or performing solo with a few friends as special guests. In lieu of her fourth year of high school, she attended Interlochen Arts Academy in Northern Michigan. Rachael contributed "Lonely When You're Gone" to the Respond II compilation, which also includes such luminaries as Joan Baez, Dolly Parton, Ani DiFranco, and Eryka Badu. Her influences range from the jazz stylings of Ella Fitzgerald to the soulful pop vocals of Patty Griffin -- with many more in between. She is a contemporary songwriter but is equally at home singing anything from traditional ballads to Cole Porter to Joe Henry.

Trina Hamlin - Trina Hamlin is an artist with a genuine soul who knowingly speaks for each of us who revel in both the joy and pain of longing. Her pure voice and unspoiled powerful presence have gained the singer-songwriter from Minneapolis a steady national following since she began playing solo shows on the downtown New York City club scene. Trina attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating with a degree in Professional Music. She then moved to New York City and began playing the club circuit in the band Blue Leaves, as she honed her songwriting skills and found her voice. Hamlin has played shows with notables such as Paula Cole, Duncan Sheik, Ricki Lee Jones and John Hiatt. She was chosen as one of the "Most Wanted New Artists" at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and as an alumnus of the Newport Folk Festival, performed to a sold out crowd along with Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams and the Indigo Girls. She has performed on The Late Show with Conan O' Brien with the "Suits" and her music has been heard in the CBS-TV movie "Friends at Last," starring Kathleen Turner as well as on the WB's "Dawson's Creek".

Hamell on Trial - New York, singer/songwriter, joke-telling Hamell On Trial defies all musical categories. "Punk acoustic" and "anti-folk" come close. On stage his raw, bold energy has Rolling Stone magazine calling him a "homicidal Otto Preminger." On more than one occasion, opening act Hamell On Trial sent the headliner band, with all its Marshall amplifiers and Les Paul guitars, running for cover. "I'm a rock and roll show. Period," Hamell says. Prior to a debilitating car accident in May 2000, Hamell On Trial toured consistently, impressing audiences from New York to Los Angeles, and logging more than 250 one-night performances each year. Now fully recovered from his head and spine injuries, Hamell is back on the road (albeit more judiciously) and recently completed a sold-out East Coast tour with Ani DiFranco. With his battered 1937 small-body Gibson, Hamell checks the pulse of the nation and gives it to us straight. And we're glad he does.

Conga Se Menne - he musical style of Marquette, Michigan's Conga Se Menne is impossible to pigeon hole, running the gamut of Blues, Funk, Latin, Reggae, Rock, Caribbean beats and ethnic Finnish sounds. Island beat percussion blends smoothly with mellifluos keyboards, sonorous horns and big shouldered guitar work - all mixing with an influence of traditional styles. While the lyrics are geared for fun, the quality of their sound is no laughing matter. DerrelSyria's original songs carry the flavor of Michigans Upper Peninsula in lyrical silliness and the spirit of its hearty residence in musical excellence. Conga Se Menne live and work along the chilly invigorating banks of Lake Superior and their mastery of melodic syncopation is second to none. Syria's soumalainnen background shows in his comedic themes, Finnish lyrics and the yooper-accented crooning so familiar to local fans. Most of the music tells of good times and an appreciation of the finer, intangible aspects of living life on it's own terms, of not taking themselves too seriously. While the message is light hearted and entertaining, the musical competence of these fine musicians cannot be disputed. In an era of media-controlled popular music, the music of Conga Se Menne is a refreshing respite for us all.
Cornbread Harris - James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris Sr. is a man who loves music. A Twin Cities musician for over 50 years. The supreme sound of "Cornbread" Harris and friends gives a perspicuous blend of jazz, blues, and ballads. Philosophical, a little salty and devoted to his craft, Harris represents a passing generation of blues and jazz musicians. They were born during the Great Depression, raised in an era of lawful segregation and were already approaching middle age by the time the civil rights movement hit its stride. Harris recently celebrated his 80th birthday as he continues to tour and perform the music he loves.
Everett Smithson Band - Minnesota's Everett Smithson Band delivers a solid helping of Blues, Zydeco and Roots which seems to travel all the way from one end of the Mississippi to the other. Everetts growling vocals and Kathleens clear expressive vocals are a great match for the tasteful riffs of Phil Schmid`s guitar and the solid & talented rhythm section of Bill Black and Jeremy Johnson. These veteran players move easily from traditional Blues to New Orleans funk and Zydeco.
Charlie Parr - Charlie Parr of Duluth, Minnesota plays original and traditional folk and Piedmont-style blues, accompanying himself on National resonator guitars, 12-string guitar and banjo. Parr was raised in Austin, Minn, in a household that prized traditional American folk music and his style bears the influence of hours spent listening to country blues records and Smithsonian/Folkways field recordings. Charlie has performed publicly since 1988 and he has shared stages and opened concerts for Haley Bonar, The Black-Eyed Snakes, Baby Grant Johnson, Dan Rumsey, Paul Metsa, Dakota Dave Hull, Cam Waters, Bob Brozman, Catfish Keith and Greg Brown.
Drew Nelson - Drew Nelson's first full-length album, "Immigrant Son,"is the culmination of Drew's unique artistic efforts, a balance of his worldliness and small-town-America sensibilities. As a kid, he quietly rebelled against the strict, religious confines of his home by secretly listening to rock radio. He overcame his band teacher's humbling criticism of his drumming skills by teaching himself to play guitar. He escaped the quiet quaintness of his modest, conservative West Michigan hometown by joining the Navy and traveling to far corners of the world with his guitar on his back. His songs made a mark in his home state and his focus and dedication to his art brought him to Alaska, through Texas, to the Kerrville Folk Festival, to 18,000 fans at the Muskegon Summer Celebration (opening for Melissa Etheridge), to the recognition of the New Folk Contest for Emerging Songwriters, where he was a finalist. It's rare to hear songs which cut through the noisy, distracting chaff of the day -- and therein lays the promise of "Immigrant Son." "The need for love, hope and acceptance are all interwoven into the fabric of our humanity," Drew explains. "I want to touch that secret place in my songs."
Manx - Hailing from Houghton Michigan, Manx is comprised of four seasoned musicians: Michael LaBeau, vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, Adam Johnson, drums and percussion, Brian Parmeter, bass and special guest Erik Koskinen, on lap and pedal steel & electric guitar. Manx bring their unique styles together to deliver an infectious blend of original folk rock and danceable groove oriented music.
Rusty Wright Duo - Hailing from Flint, Mi., the Rusty Wright Duo is a husband & wife team whose passion for performing shines through every time they hit the stage. Rusty Wright's guitar chops make people stop and stare, spellbound. Take a listen and you may ask the same question that Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd did after hearing Rusty play: Dude, where did you come from?" That was great. Wright's introduction to professional musicianship came at age 13 when he climbed aboard a tour bus and became the guitarist for a successful Southern Gospel recording act led by his mother. Wright and his blazing guitar have traveled to most points in the US and Europe and he is also a skilled television and film composer, audio engineer and in-demand studio guitarist. The other half of the"duo"is Rusty's wife, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Laurie LaCross-Wright, a compelling singer whose expressive vocal style stretches with ease from a breathy, crooned endearment to a two-octave slide that becomes a throaty affirmation of her ability to wail. The on-stage chemistry between Rusty and Laurie is playful as they exchange banter and share anecdotes about the songs, and their lives. 2006 marks the debut of the Rusty Wright Blues Band's debut CD "Ain't No Good Life".
White Water Family Stringband - Dean and Bette Premo and their children, Evan and Laurel, form the stringband called White Water. They perform at concerts, festivals, and dances all year round. The family lives in the town of Amasa in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where Premo family roots run several generations. White Water is known for its musicianship, four-part harmony vocals, and endearing stage presence. In addition to traditional and contemporary folk music, White Water has a large repertoire of dance music and teaches folk dancing to audience members of all ages. Dean and Bette's combined experience in education, nature, and the environment shows in their apt weaving of these themes into White Water performances. Their Michigan roots inspire historical reflections and stories about the people who settled and live in the Great Lakes area.
Cool Disposition - Old school with a whole lotta feeling is what you can expect from this Minneapolis / St. Paul combo. Infusing traditional R&B with northern soul, Cool Disposition borrows from the usual influences, while conveying their own voice and experience in the music. The band features guitarist Dan Schwalbe (George "Mojo" Buford, Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston), KFAI radio's Harold Tremblay on harp, and founder Mickey Bauer out front on vocals. Driving the grooves home are drummer Marty Bryduck (another Buford alum), and bassist Greg Beach. The band received airplay on the syndicated "Blues Deluxe" for 2003's live effort Rompin' At The Ribshack, and is scheduling a follow up studio release for 2006. Additionally, Cool Disposition qualified to represent Minnesota at the 2007 International Blues Challenge to be held in Memphis.
Sycamore Smith - Sycamore Smith of Marquette, Michigan is well-known for his clever lyrics, and wicked visual stage presence. Whether he's strumming his guitar until his pick disinigrates, blowing the kazoo, or spinning one of his witty tales, he remains in complete command of the audience's attention. Smith gained notariety as one half of the folk/punk duo, the Muldoons and since their break-up, he has continued as a solo act and has released 2 CDs, "Sycamore Smith and the Pendulum" and "m...some racy hits!".
Switched at Birth - Minnesota's Switched At Birth plays a unique blend of bluegrass, country, folk, and blues acoustic music. They feature banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and bass.
Tangled Roots - Tangled Roots is one of the most energetic and exciting bands to hit the bustling Minnesota Bluegrass music scene. They've been performing for over half a decade throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. With a broad spectrum of material ranging from songs and tunes by Bill Monroe and The Stanley Brothers to more recent tunes. Tangled Roots has become a favorite with bluegrass music fans. The members of Tangled Roots consist of some of the best known Bluegrass performers in the upper Midwest and combined, they bring to the stage over 100 years of musical experience.
Sleeper Car - This five-piece, folk/alt-country/rock-Americana band literally fills a room with music. A fusion of acoustic guitar and bass, violin, pedal steel, drums, and passionate drawling vocals, Sleeper Car lets each sound find its place in a rich tapestry of auditory stimulation. It's the kind of music that plays in the background during a cool summer boxcar ride from Detroit to Chicago to Okalahoma City. Assembled hodge-podge from a group of talented Chicago musicians, Sleeper Car gleans inspiration from Detroit Rock, Chicago Jazz, and a love of the American Folk tradition.
Buster's Dream - Chicago's Buster's Dream has a mountain folk sound with hints of Woody Guthrie and Rev. Blind Gary Davis. They feature acoustic guitars, mandolin, bass guitar, and mountain harmonies. Buster's Dream's songs run the gamut from the surreal and dark tale of a dying Civil War soldier to a comically romantic ode to Hot Dogs.
The Rory Miller Band - Hailing from Chicago, Rory plays an (almost) all original high energy acoustic guitar style. Her voice is powerful and emotive. Her songs are guaranteed to yank you from your daydreams and pay attention who is making that beautiful exciting sound. Her lyrics are sometimes surreal and always poignantly and aesthetically beautiful. If you're a guitar wonk looking for variety, she's one of the few musicians that you're likely to meet who plays with a partial capo and as many alternate tunings as she has songs.
Fiddlehead - A blend of eclectic folk-rock with a touch of Irish flavor. Fiddlehead is a local favorite from the Keweenaw peninsula featuring mandolin, guitar, flute, fiddle, banjo, and fretless bass are guaranteed to get your feet moving.

Sunday Gospel Breakfast

The Ontonagon Christian Community Center presents Sunday Gospel Breakfast featuring Michigan bluegrass and soul gospel performers.

Larsen Family
Yvonne Blake