The Shawano Folk Music Festival's 2023 Artists
Art Stevenson and High Water is our
“Honorary Director” for 2023. We welcome Art's experience and enthusiasm to our planning process. They preserve hard-driving bluegrass sound and bring in other musical styles at the same time. Their music comes from the bluegrass of Bill Monroe and
the Stanley Brothers, early country music, mountain songs, and new material. Guitarist, singer, and harmonicist Art Stevenson sings lead and plays rhythm guitar and harmonica. Dale Reichert, nominated for “Favorite Banjo Player” in 2000, sings baritone and bass and plays banjo and Dobro. Bruce King plays mandolin and sings lead, tenor, or baritone. Bruce Royal King (yes indeed, he’s the mandolin player’s son!) plays bass and sings lead and harmony. More at www.highwatermusic.com
The Cris Plata Trio is Art Stevenson's "Director's Choice." Cris Plata was born in South Texas, the son of migrant workers. Those early days following the harvest from region to region exposed Cris to a wide range of musical experiences. His Mexican heritage gives him Norteno (Northern Mexico border music), conjunto (elements of both European and Mexican music fused by early residents of South Texas), and ranchera (Mexican country) music. He listened to bands that pumped out
Tex-Mex polkas, country rockers, swing tunes and ballads. Following the harvest exposed him to reggae in Florida, bluegrass and folk in Indiana and the strong singer-songwriters that come from Texas. Cris Plata is the lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter. Ann Plata is the bass player and backing vocalist. She received her rhythm education on the stage, in “real time” while playing with the great drummer, Clyde Stubblefield. Tom Dehlinger shines on pedal steel, guitar and dobro. More at crisplata.com
Susan Werner slides between folk, jazz and pop, in songs delivered with sassy wit and classic Midwestern charm. She continues her reign as one of the most bold and creative forces on the acoustic music scene today. NPR dubbed her as “The Empress of the Unexpected.” Her albums cover the genres of folk, rock, pop, gospel, blues and Americana. The Washington Post says,
“Always an impressive songwriter, Werner continues to compose sharp, funny, compassionate lyrics, a gift rare enough to set her apart.” More at susanwerner.com
Matt Watroba is a singer, storyteller and songwriter who prefers to be known as a community singer, song leader and educator. He gets us singing songs we didn’t know we knew, in harmonies we didn’t think were possible. When Matt is on stage, we sing. That’s all there is to it. We sing with Matt. The Detroit Free Press says, “This is what folk should be.” Christine Lavin says, “Matt Watroba is one of those singers songwriters live for. He has …
the ability to not only perform beautifully, but to teach audiences the songs as he sings them.” Come sing with Matt Watroba. More at mattwatroba.net
The Rough & Tumble - songwriters and storytellers with an upbeat, commanding presence. Mallory Graham and Scott Tyler's sharp banter, earworm-inducing melodies and heartstring lyrics leave audiences laughing and crying, their voices fluctuating between power and delicacy, in close harmony. More at theroughandtumble.com
The Oak Apple Morris Dancers are coming to Shawano, so grab your bells and hankies and get ready! Morris dancing has been performed in Britain since the Middle Ages. It’s said that Morris is a direct descendant of pre-Christian fertility dances. Bells and sticks woke the fields and dancers
leapt to show the crops how high to grow. They ran circles around brides, blessing them with large families. Some scholars say this is a load of bunk, but it’s still a great story. Oak Apple Morris is Wisconsin’s only active Cotswold Morris team, dancing since 1981.
Copper Box is Danny Jerabek, Michelle LL, Dan Cable and Dave Chyla playing blues, zydeco, polka and lots more. At 9, Danny learned the Hohner Accordion, cornet, keys, harmonica, clarinet, sousaphone & the kitchen sink! In his 20’s, he was inspired by Steve (Esteban) Jordan, “the Jimi Hendrix of Tejano Accordion.” Michelle sang with her grandfather’s band at 10, learning saxophone,
guitar, flute & other instruments. She was WAMI’s “Reed Player of the Year” in 2017 and was the first woman named “Side Person of the Year” by the WI Polka Hall of Fame. Dan Cable provides percussion and Dave Chyla fills out the sound with bass guitar. More at copperboxband.com
John Stano is a singer and songwriter from Milwaukee with a blend of acoustic and slide guitar, harmonica and vocals, spiced with some mandolin, cigar box guitar & banjo. His music includes original songs and classics in a combination of folk, blues, and Americana.
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
Pat Wiley says he’s been playing and writing music for “50 years or so.” His bluegrass and old time roots shine through whether he’s singing, playing a fiddle, guitar or banjo, calling a dance or telling a story. He got the music genes from his family, a combo of West Virginians and folks here in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. In 1979, Pat was a performer at the first Shawano Folk Music Festival.
Since then he’s joined us on stage as a musician and an MC, doing both with humor and grace. More at facebook.com/pat.wiley.14473
The Rusty Nails Band brings the blues from Oshkosh to Shawano. They say their mission is to preserve and maintain the great American art form known as the Blues. Ben Lillge plays upright bass and harp while Steve Heiner plays acoustic guitar and bottleneck slide on a metal bodied National
Resonator guitar. Cindy Lillge fills it out with vocals. Together, they bring the sounds of Blind Blake, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Etta James, Willie Dixon and Sonny Terry. It’s their first performance in Shawano.
The Crystal River Trio has been together since 1982, singing the folk songs of the 50's and 60's we all know and love. And of course, when they ask us to join in we sing! Gary Arndt (guitar, mandolin, bou zouki, ukulele, banjo and harmonica), Peter
Bartman (bass, bodhran, penny whistle, fiddle and vocal harmonies) and Jay Smudde (guitar, banjo and mandolin) tie it all together into an evening of fun, laughter, education and great entertainment. Find more at crystalrivertrio.com
Zander Raymakers is an 11-year-old “concertina playing kid” from Pulaski, WI. He started bouncing to polka music when he was a baby. First, he used a slinkie to mimic a concertina. At 8, concertina lessons didn’t keep his interest, but a year later Zander picked up a full-size concertina and never put it down. He’s played with some of the best polka
bands around. He’s played at Pulaski’s Polka Days, and last year, at the Shawano Folk Music Festival. We’re happy to welcome him back.
Carry Across is a family band from Navarino featuring Hannah Marquette (lead singer and rhythm guitar) and Earl Beaumia, Hannah’s dad and lead guitarist. They’ve got a folk rock sound with original music that tells stories and promotes hope. Their musical roots go back many generations and they continue that family tradition.