2011 FESTIVAL ARCHIVE - Return to main > site.

August 26, 27 & 28, 2011

2011 Artists

Rita Hosking and Cousin Jack - Kitchen tables, springs, loss, miners, mountains, culture clash, trailers, stray dogs, loggers, hope, forest fires—Rita Hosking’s country-folk music is this and more, and always fierce and lovely. Rita’s songs have been lauded for story and sense of place, and her performances praised for capturing the audience. A descendant of Cornish miners who sang in the mines, Rita grew up with deep regard for folk music and the power of the voice.

Rita was named winner of Best Country Album (Vox Pop) in the 2010 Independent Music Awards. Come Sunrise, a collection of 11 original songs and Rita's third album, was released in June of 2009. Recorded in Austin, Texas with producer and guitarist Rich Brotherton (Robert Earl Keen, Caroline Herring,) Come Sunrise launched Rita onto the international Americana scene. Rita’s band, Cousin Jack, features Sean Feder on banjo, dobro, bass and guitar, Andy Lentz on fiddle, and Bill Dakin on bass and guitar.

Mountain Heart - Mountain Heart is the band that has been fearlessly revolutionizing the way acoustic music can be presented and played. The band’s name has been synonymous with cutting-edge excellence in acoustic music circles since the group’s creation in 1999. Widely known throughout the music industry for continually redefining the boundaries of acoustic music, the band has gained legions of loyal fans both as a result of their superlative musicianship, and more notably, their incomparably exciting live performances.

As one of the most highly awarded ensembles ever assembled, Mountain Heart, or members of the band, have either won or been nominated for Grammy’s, ACM, CMA, and multiple IBMA Awards. They have appeared on the revered stage of the Grand Ole Opry in excess of 125 times and have shared the stage with acts ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Montgomery Gentry, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Brad Paisley to Alison Krauss, Tony Rice, The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain Stringband, Levon Helm, John Fogerty and Patty Loveless.

Guy Mendilow Band - Led by Israeli performer Guy Mendilow, the quintet makes this ancient music relevant to today’s audiences by recasting it through the lens of modern migrations. Drawn from the places Mendilow and his musicians have called home, from Israel and Brazil to Japan and the United States, the resulting music is a blend of haunting Sephardi, driven with Brazilian street beats and tempered with blues. It is vibrant musical storytelling awash with warm vocal harmonies, intricate textures and spellbinding rhythms. For Guy Mendilow, the music cannot be separated from the message. From his first touring experience as a boy, swapping songs with Ladysmith Black Mambazo as a vocalist with the American Boychoir; to currently thrilling the audiences at venues such as the Chicago World Music Festival or New York’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center; to building cross-cultural understanding through facilitating musical workshops with government education ministers from Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon; Mendilow and the Guy Mendilow Band continue to journey beyond musical boundaries, blending antiquity and modernity, and bringing an ancient music to new audiences.

The Ragbirds - Ask the Ragbirds how to describe their hard-to-define Folk Rock and World fusion and theyll tell you its infectious global groove. Led by fiery front-woman Erin Zindle (called “Highly Impressive” by USA TODAY), they put on a show that is designed to engage the audience on many levels - to get people thinking, listening and dancing. The musical roots of The Ragbirds sound are complex - with Gypsy, Middle-Eastern, Americana, Rock, and Latin influences, all stirred with a Celtic fiddlers bow. In live performances the band incorporates variations on traditional African drum pieces, each member trading their instrument for a hand drum. The songs carry a positive message that appeals to listeners of all ages. For all the intensity of their live show, this is a band that is not afraid to show their softer side with acoustic tunes that are anything but typical folk. Described as Astounding International Eclecticism! by Reveal Arts Magazine, The Ragbirds have become one of the most popular touring bands in their home state of Michigan, and can also be seen performing all over the Mid-West and beyond, growing a loyal fan base in regions throughout the country. The Ragbirds have played between 120-150 shows per year for the past few years, and have no intention of slowing down. In 2009 they went abroad to tour Japan and perform on the main stage at the Green Room Festival in Yokohama. The Ragbirds have been featured at some of the Mid-Wests largest music festivals, including Rothbury, 10,000 Lakes, Summercamp, Hookahville, and more.

The Pines - Meeting in a Mexican barrio in Arizona, fellow Iowans David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey began playing music together, forming The Pines. Committing to a musical career, they returned to their Midwestern roots and settled in Minneapolis. The son of Greg Brown’s producer and sideman Bo Ramsey, Benson was surrounded by folk and blues music and continues to let those influences shine, even on louder electric songs. David also has a deep love for traditional music, and together the two of them craft music that evokes the ancient while incorporating newer rock and pop grooves. In 2004 The Pines released their debut self-titled album on the Iowa-based Trailer Records, establishing themselves as an emerging force in the roots music world with their haunting blend of indie-rock, folk, and blues with intelligent lyrics. In 2007 The Pines released Sparrows in the Bell on the world renowned acoustic/roots label Red House Records. The album had critics buzzing and was named one of the top roots releases of 2007 by Q Magazine. With the release of Tremolo, their second release on Red House, The Pines continue to show their growth as artists as well as an unparalleled wisdom in their songwriting and musicianship. Steadily touring around the country, The Pines have shared the stage with some of the biggest names in music including Bon Iver, The Holmes Brothers, Jolie Holland, The Arcade Fire, and Spider John Koerner.

Alison Scott - Minneapolis based Alison Scott and her band are on a mission to write, play, and sing music with soul. They have recently opened for Bon Jovi, Boz Scaggs, Marc Cohn, Chris Isaak, and Nanci Griffith and have been regularly selling out venues like The Varsity, The Fine Line, The Guthrie, and the Dakota Jazz Club. Alison has studied and played music her entire life; first piano, and then opera, music theater, and jazz. Her third record, "Chinese Whispers," was released September, 11, 2010 and recently was picked up by the Best Buy chain. Alison’s band includes triple platinum writer/producer/guitarist Kevin Bowe (Paul Westerberg, Etta James, Johnny Lang), as well as drummer Peter Anderson (Polara, Honeydogs), and bassist Steve Price (Rex Daisy).

Canon Ball - Central Wisconsin based band Canon Ball, (formerly known as Dangergrass), has been described as is a multi-talented genre-crossing variety show. They play original good-timey gypsy music, roots rock, bluegrass, sea songs & shanties, children’s music, Broadway-style musicals, and have even written jingles for non-profits and businesses.

A highly versatile and dynamic group, each show brings new surprises from onstage theatrics, big sound, or psychedelic jams to a simple string band quintet. Their Seafaring Set, as they sometimes perform it, has at times even included a puppet show choreographed to the music!

Hoots and Hellmouth - Philadelphia-based Hoots & Hellmouth blaze a trail forward in the name of progressive revival. Blending the twisted roots of American music in a fierce and fiery alchemy, this ragtag bunch seeks a revival of spirit. Soulful three-part harmonies co-mingle with acoustic guitars, a mandolin, an upright bass and foot stomps building a synergy that bursts from both stage and speaker with aural aplomb. "It's about bleeding, sweating, crying, rejoicing," the band’s Sean Hoots says of their work. "It’s alive!" The band also hopes to further unite their passion for music with an aim toward radical localism. Hoots & Hellmouth see every show as an opportunity to help strengthen a sense of local community among their audiences. Each stop along the trail garners new converts for the band as word continues to spread of their undeniably compelling performances. In the words of Hoots, "this music is at once a celebration and a mourning – championing the human potential to feel deeply and come together as a unified whole, while bemoaning the fact that much in modern life seems to work against just that. We strive to provide catharsis for damaged 21st Century humans and their environs...this is new music for old souls."

The Red Sea Pedestrians - The Red Sea Pedestrians are a one-of-a-kind, full-blown, instrument-swapping fusion between tradition and the here-and-now. We’re talkin’ high-energy world-beat grooves, hypnotic laments from the earth, songs of celebration and wonder, all filtered through the band’s original vision. The band is a melting pot of six distinct singer/songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, exploring a warped and beautiful blend of Klezmer, Greek, Gypsy, Celtic, Jazz and American Roots.

Ray Bonneville - Ray Bonneville is a roaming blues poet, inspired by the road and the many other places he has called home—New Orleans, Colorado, Arkansas, Alaska, Boston, Seattle, Paris, France, Montreal and Austin Texas. Born in Canada and raised in the United States, Bonneville has lived all over. No place, however, has been more influential than New Orleans. Honing his craft for the last 30 years, Bonneville’s gritty storytelling and deep-grooving blues style has won him much critical attention. In 1999, Ray won the prestigious Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for his third album Gust of Wind. His fourth release, Rough Luck, was also nominated for the coveted award. With his 2004 Red House debut Roll It Down, Ray made himself a name in blues and roots music circles, garnering rave reviews from DownBeat and No Depression. He has toured all over the world, sharing the bill with such blues legends as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, J.J. Cale and Robert Cray and in 2007 wowed the music industry with his bring-down-the-house performances at the South By Southwest and Folk Alliance conference. A world-class guitarist, harmonica player and hard-hitting songwriter, it is no wonder that Ray has received rave reviews from blues, jazz and roots critics alike and can count among his fans such artists as Chris Smither and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Sista Otis - Sista Otis the “Original Good Time Girl,” is in the building, up on the stage and out on the wire, spreading the Gospel Of Rock ’N Roll 24/7. A song writer’s song writer and a performer-extraordinaire. The grit of her sound comes from her blue collar Motown roots, Detroit Rock ’N Roll, the Memphis’ sounds on Sun Records which lead her to the sounds of the south. She followed in the foot steps of her literary and musical heroes hitting the road with nothing but a back pack, a few bucks, and a six string. She began crisscrossing and couch surfing her way from coast to coast singin’ for her supper on the sidewalks of America financing her tuition for The School Of Rock ’N Roll Hard Knocks playing street music. She had to learn how to put on a show that would make people want to stop out on the side walk and put money in her hat. That then dominoed into open mics, then into gigs and now Sista Otis is a national touring artist with international recognition. This is the makings of the artist we know today with the stage presence of a Rock ’n Roll Tina Turner meets the American songwriter. Song structures crafted on the concrete, pulling from American roots music, referencing classic sounds and tones making them modern pop classics.

Seth Bernard and May Erlewine (singer-songwriter duo) - Two Michigan favorites, Seth Bernard and May Erlewine, are well-known to audiences as single acts. Seth grew up surrounded by gardens, goats and stringed instruments just outside Lake City. He traveled around as a storyteller, point guard, sax player or singer/guitar player in bands with names like "Freesoil", "King Lear and the Gothic Monks" or "the Pagoda Trees". Seth recorded his first album at his guitar teacher's home studio. Born into a family of musicians, May Erlewine has been playing music all her life. She paid her singer-songwriter dues in her late teens with several years of hitchhiking back and forth across the U.S., always writing and playing her music. Now with four CDs to her name, May works a variety of venues, focusing on the Midwest and her home state of Michigan. Her inspired lyrics and powerful voice have a sweetness that delights audiences. In 2006 Seth and May released their first duo album, recorded in the historic Calumet Theater. April of 2007, the duo placed third in A Prairie Home Companion People In (their) Twenties Talent Show, out of 740 entries.

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.

Bathtub Mothers - Bathtub Mothers are John Norland (guitar), Pat Wynes (mandolin), and Phil Redman (upright bass). Each member of the Madison, Wisconsin area band brings a love of blues, country, rock, and acoustic music to create a blend that is unique to the Mothers. They have just completed their self-titled debut CD.

D.B. Rielly - Singer/songwriter, banjo/guitar player D.B. Rielly conjures up the various textures of the American landscape. It's American Roots Music.

“Rootsy, frequently very funny, witty and cynical, literate and often extremely dark, yet highly enjoyable, Rielly is definitely someone to watch out for..” — Country Music People magazine.

Roma di Luna - Roma di Luna’s debut was on the street corners of Minneapolis in 2005, playing for pocket change and vegetables. Alexei and Channy Moon Casselle had a guitar, a violin and some bells for Channy’s ankles. They played fiddle songs, Appalachian ballads & Lead Belly’s favorites. Since their bare beginnings, Roma di Luna has toured throughout America and France, written up in Rolling Stone for top selling record at the Electric Fetus (Rolling Stone, October, 2010), made 4 highly-successful,self-released records and awarded best folk group and best female vocalist of the year by the City Pages (4/20/2011). The busking duo on the corner has turned into a full band with captivating performances and passionate music-making that is uniquely Roma di Luna. All art comes from influences that continue to live in the artist but hopefully evolve into a unique interpretation of the origin. This is the story of Roma di Luna; rooted down in traditional black & white American music while exploring electric & ambient aesthetics and the possibilities of the new American song.

Kevin Bowe + The Okemah Prophets - Kevin Bowe is a singer/songwriter/producer/guitarist from Minneapolis; the early ’80s Replacements/Husker Du scene forged his musical sensibilities, or lack thereof. He has earned 3 platinums with artists like Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Meat Puppets, Paul Westerberg, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Three Dog Night and wrote four songs on Etta James’ Grammy winning “Let's Roll” album.

Kevin rarely performs with his own band “The Okemah Prophets” but when they do it's usually for a good reason. They have released two albums “Restoration” and “Love Songs and Murder Ballads”; a third “Natchez Trace” is due this summer.

KAIVAMA - Finnish-American musicians Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman of the folk duo KAIVAMA grew up in Northwoods cultures of long winters, lakeside saunas, rugged terrain, and solitude. Alternately ancient and modern Finnish influences reveal themselves in KAIVAMA’s sound: danceable rhythms, joyous melodies, icy whispers, sleek construction, primal drones, and poppy hooks all interplay as Pajunen and Rundman explore the music of their ancestors. Word of the young Minneapolis-based neo-traditionalists reverberated throughout Finnish communities in America and the band began receiving invitations to perform nationwide. The duo had tapped into an unforeseen demand for fresh, energetic music rooted in the Finnish-American experience. KAIVAMA was born out of necessity when the duo accepted a short-notice plea from a talent booker at a Finnish festival in South Dakota. Barely acquainted at the band’s launch, KAIVAMA made up for this lack of personal history with a wealth of musicianship. Sara Pajunen’s skills as a violinist have earned her degrees from the University of Minnesota and the Helsinki Conservatory in Finland. Multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rundman has toured the US and Europe as a troubadour songwriter, collecting raves from publications such as Paste, Billboard, and The New York Times. The band’s name reflects this spirit of excavation. “Kaivama” is a Finnish word stemming from kaivaa: to delve or dig.

Conga Se Menne - The 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. Derrel Syria’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.

The Back Room Boys - The Back Room Boys is a collection of long-time Copper Country musicians whose musical journeys have carried them into an eclectic mix of genres ranging from folk and blues to dixie, gypsy and jazz. Its members, who have played together in a variety of configurations for more than a decade, include Oren Tikkanen, on banjo, guitar and vocals; novelty percussionist Randy Seppala; Bob Norden, on trombone and vocals; and John Munson, on clarinet and sax.

Black River John - The deep woods of the U.P. hold big secrets. Who would guess the rippling waters of the Black River would be counterpoint to some of the most exciting Blues piano one will hear?

Witness one powerhouse performance by the man they call Black River John, and be awed. If he only played piano, it would surely be enough. When he starts blowing harp to accompany his rockin’, syncopated piano thumpin’...the air gets thick and the house comes down.

Johnny has been playing piano since twelve and has been perfecting his hot one man style since 1973. Plenty of clubbing in New England and Chicago honed is act sharp. His gutsy singing voice suits his homegrown material to a tee.

Very obviously, John is a careful and respectful listener. His over 300 original compositions reveal a great love for the history of Blues and Stride and a deep understanding of counterpoint in the best Ragtime tradition. Traditional, but not frozen in time, his music holds a crowd in rapt, swinging, attention.

Rory Miller & Dale C. Miller - Florida-based Rory Miller plays an original high energy acoustic guitar style. Her voice is powerful and emotive, her lyrics surreal and evocative. Her songs are guaranteed to yank you from your daydreams and find out who is making that beautiful exciting sound. Ontonagon-based Dale C. Miller is a prolific songwriter who plays the guitar as if it were part of him. His songs range from the wacky to the personal, populated by quirky characters and images from daily life. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see this far-flung musical family united on stage.

Doris & the Day Dreams - Doris & the Day Dreams is a musical trio from the Chicago area that was originally formed in 2008. The group is comprised of former members of Buster’s Dream, a quartet that began playing together in the late 90s and released an independent album in 2005. Each member of Doris & the Day Dreams has been influenced by their own unique musical influences, and together they offer an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary folk music, blues, jazz, swing and original compositions. The band members include Kathleen Ehrlich, who provides the vocal talent, as well as playing the concertina and various rhythm instruments. Linda Garrett plays acoustic guitar, banjo and sings backup vocals. Brad Fagala plays electric bass and acoustic guitar.

Yvonne Blake - Yvonne Blake of Ontonagon, Michigan, is a popular performer at various local events. She will sing soul gospel in a Sunday morning performance.

The Children of the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival - Each year the children attending the festival cap their experience with a Sunday afternoon performance on the Peace Hill Stage. The children are the future of music...enjoy and encourage their exuberant festival celebration. The seeds we plant today, may come to fruition on festival stages years from now.