It's easy to giggle at the Shitty Barn's name, but the Spring Green concert venue's May-through-October music lineup is more likely to elicit expressions of awe. Announced at a recent house show in Madison, the roster includes national touring acts such as dapper roots musician Pokey LaFarge (July 1) and no-nonsense Nashville country artist J.P. Harris (Aug. 27), plus talented local rockers like El Valiente and Icarus Himself (June 4). The season kicks off with an atmospheric performance by Minnesota's Low (May 7) and wraps up with Madison-made Appalachian pop from Count This Penny (Oct. 8). All 22 concerts take place at 7 p.m.
The Shitty Barn became a venue in June 2010, hosting a performance by local Americana artist Josh Harty. He'll play there for the fourth time on June 25. Soon after Harty's initial show, the barn's bookers started scheduling out-of-town bands such as Minneapolis' Communist Daughter. Minnesota continues to provide many Shitty Barn acts, including electronics wizard Dosh (May 14), country-blues notable Charlie Parr (May 21-22), drum-obsessed rockers the 4onthefloor (July 23) and soul-singing banjo player Chastity Brown (Aug. 6).
In the past, Eau Claire artists have also made a strong showing, with the Gentle Guest and the Daredevil Christopher Wright drawing enthusiastic crowds. Bon Iver drummer S. Carey (Sept. 17) will represent the central Wisconsin city this year. But Madison and Milwaukee are the primary suppliers of musicians, sending seasoned singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey (June 25), indie buzz band Collections of Colonies of Bees (June 18), award-winning folksinger Anna Vogelzang (Aug. 13) and several other performers.
Of course, live music is just part of what's made the Shitty Barn a success. Located near Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, the Spring Green General Store's foodie-friendly cafe, and Furthermore Beer, the barn offers a fitting conclusion to a day of eating, drinking and culture-consumption. An hour before show time, guests can grill a dinner of burgers or brats, and then kick back with a beer from the bar. With a concrete floor and no stage, the barn feels more like a basement than a traditional venue, which gives the concerts an intimate feel. And each performance is recorded and archived so folks unable to score tickets to popular acts like Spirit Family Reunion (July 16) and the Pines (Sept. 10-11) can enjoy the music, too.