The annual live music and junk food spectacle in Milwaukee that is Summerfest is always a good opportunity to catch shows by bands both new and classic as they visit Wisconsin. The festival also provides a major venue for Madison performers, too, and a growing contingent of acts from Madison are on the bill at the 11-day celebration starting this Thursday.
Some 15 groups with Madison roots performed at Summerfest 2007, a number that increases to 19 this year and includes several of the city's biggest-drawing and beloved acts. Leading the way is not a band, though, but the juggling juggernaut known as Truly Remarkable Loon, who will offer a quartet of shows on the children's stage starting this Friday. Additionally, two Madison-born groups are making multiple appearances at the festival. We the Living -- the Los Angeles-based successors to college favorites The Profits -- take the stage during its first weekend, while the children's hip-hop mentorship act The Figureheads will be performing before their new hometown crowd next week.
Several Madison-connected bands are making a repeat appearance following performances there last year, including Reason for Leaving, The Box Social, Westside Andy, Baghdad Scuba Review, 20 Reasons Taken, and Madison County. Groups like Cherry Pie, The Sharp and Harkins Band, Muzzy Luctin, Time Since Western, Sleeping in the Aviary, and Madisalsa are making their first trips or are returning after a hiatus.
This year's Launchpad contest champion Alton Kelly won a gig there, too, and will help open up the festivities on Independence Day.
There's not a day of the Summerfest schedule without a Madison act taking the stage. The city will take its biggest bow on the final day of the festival, though, with a trio of local bands commandeering a single stage for the afternoon. This Sunday hurrah starts with a set by 2008 MAMAs winners The Rowdy Prairie Dogs, followed by longtime favorites The Gomers and capped by a performance from the acclaimed Blueheels. It's a veritable Madtown all-star show.
And, as was the case last year, the Madison hard rock radio station WJJO is cosponsoring the Zippo Rock Stage with Miller Lite and the active rock station WIIL in Kenosha.
A list of current (and a couple of former) Madison-based bands performing at Summerfest 2008 follows:
- June 26:
- 20 Reasons Taken (Zippo Rock Stage at 4:30 p.m.)
- June 27:
- June 28:
- The Sharp and Harkins Band (U.S. Cellular Connection Stage at 12:30 p.m.)
- Truly Remarkable Loon (Children's Hosp. of Wis. and Northwestern Mut. Children's Theater at 3:15 p.m.)
- The Box Social (U.S. Cellular Connection Stage at 4:15 p.m.)
- We the Living (Chipotle Rhythm Kitchen at 5:30 p.m.)
- Madison County (Miller Lite Oasis at 8:30 p.m.)
- June 29:
- June 30:
- Truly Remarkable Loon (Children's Hosp. of Wis. and Northwestern Mut. Children's Theater at 12:30 p.m.)
- July 1:
- July 2:
- Westside Andy (Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage & Pavilion at 3:30 p.m.)
- July 3:
- The Figureheads (Children's Hosp. of Wis. and Northwestern Mut. Children's Theater at 2:15 p.m.)
- July 4:
- July 5:
- Madisalsa (Harley-Davidson Roadhouse at 12 p.m.)
- July 6:
Of course, these bands with Madison connections barely scratch the surface of the offerings at Summerfest this summer, including the numerous major touring acts making their only Wisconsin stop of the year. Be sure to plan ahead.