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The Shawano Folk Music Festival's 2024 Artists  

Check back often for new artist details as we grow our weekend line-up!

John Stano is the Festival’s 2024 Honorary Director. A singer and songwriter from Milwaukee, he serves up a distinctive blend of acoustic and slide guitar, harmonica, expressive vocals and insightful songwriting developed over many years of performance and study.  His music ranges from blues, folk and Americana to anything else that strikes his fancy, both original and classic. It’s spiced with a little mandolin, cigar box guitar and banjo. “Sing Out” compared him to an early Bob Dylan, and he reminded “Dirty Linen” of Country Joe McDonald. He’s also possibly the only Festival performer whose songs have been played on NPR’s “Car Talk.” We welcome John back to Shawano. More at johnstano.com 

Gaines and Wagoner is Mary Gaines (cello, guitar, bass, vocals) and Chris Wagoner (violin, mandolins, lap steel, ukulele, guitar, accordion, vocals). They play an eclectic mix of Americana—original and classic tunes ranging from folk to jazz, bluegrass to blues, honky-tonk and a little singer-songwriter on the side. They do it all – that’s why producer Mark Williams called them “… the Swiss Army Knives of string players” and why Andy Moore of Wisconsin Public Television’s “30 Minute Music Hour” said they’re “… masters of string swing music … equal parts Hawaiian luau and Parisian wedding party.”  Between songs, they insert folk-style storytelling and light-hearted riffing with the audience. Gaines and Wagoner is John Stano’s “Director’s Choice.” We think he chose well. More at gainesandwagoner.com   

Lil’ Rev is a singer, songwriter, storyteller, performer, music historian and teacher. He’s one of the most versatile performers you’ll find anywhere. Traditional old-time music, Stephen Foster minstrel songs, Delta holler blues, ragtime, blues, old standards, country, Yiddish theater music, Tin Pan Alley and original songs – Rev performs them all to perfection, accompanying himself on the ukulele, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, guitar and recorder. He’s a wizard on the ukulele and if he’s got a harmonica in his hands he’s nothing short of amazing. In 2003, Lil’ Rev was inducted into the Traditional Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame, and in 1996 he won the Hohner’s National Blues Harmonica Championship. Lil’ Rev never disappoints. More at lilrev.com 

Mark Dvorak is a modern day troubadour whose performances are more comfortable than an old shoe and more refreshing than a cool drink of water.  They’re journeys that bring traditional music to life and puts contemporary into a historical context and he invites all of us to join him on the musical travels. Mark makes the music look and sound easy – and always fresh. His concerts are a mix of the familiar and the new, traditional folk and standards from the American songbook. He plays authentic country blues guitar and picks great old-time banjo. When he sings, the audience can’t help but join in. Mark first appeared here in 1994. He’s become one of our favorite performers because he’s just that good. He sings for us, and he sings with us, and we sing with him and that’s the way we like it. That’s why we keep inviting him back. More at markdvorak.com 

Ken Lonnquist and the O’Darby Irish Pub Band is bound to be a good time for all of us.  The band plays traditional Irish Pub songs, ballads, improvisation and humor, along with original songs “in the tradition.” The band consists of Pete Burns (the sweet-voiced guitarist), Doug Brown (the fiddle, banjo and flute player), Ken Lonnquist (the boisterous singer and guitarist) and Espere Eckard-Lee (the engaging accordionist). No matter what they’re doing, it’s bound to be a foot-stomping good time. For more info: www.odarbyirishfolkband.com 

Heather Styka is a singer and songwriter from Chicago with strong family ties to Wisconsin’s north woods. She writes intricate stories into her songs and sings them with a voice that might make you think of Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday, but she describes herself as a cross between Leonard Cohen and Patsy Cline. Her songs and stories belong squarely in the folk and Americana traditions, but they’re also gritty country and catchy pop. Heather does it all and it’s a real good mix. Onstage, she’s energetic and intimate, quirky and funny. Help us welcome Heather to her first time on our Shawano festival stages. For more, go to heatherstyka.com 

Rusty Nails The Rusty Nails is a trio that sings the Blues. Steve Heiner (resonator & acoustic guitars), Ben Lillge (blues harp & upright bass), and Cindy Lillge (vocals) celebrate musicians like Blind Blake, Bessie Smith, & Big Bill Broonzy. Most of all they have fun reminding everyone what makes this music great. We enjoyed them so much last year that we invited them back. Learn more at ReverbNation.com/RustyNailsBlues 

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