La Crosse, Wisconsin
It’s all about the music.
The Mid West Music Fest started in Winona, Minn., seven years ago when an AmeriCorps volunteer decided to organize a music festival and ended up with more than 70 bands and musical acts performing in Winona, Minn., which is about 30 miles northwest from La Crosse.
The all-ages, multiple-genre, volunteer-driven two-day music festival was held on 13 stages that first summer, but has since been moved to the month of April to better include the area‘s many college students. It continues as a three-day event in 2017 with more than 100 musical acts scheduled, and this year’s dates are: April 14-15 in La Crosse; and April 28-29 in Winona.
If you want to listen to the music, please keep the following in mind:
1. That’s The Way I Like It.
Heatbox is a one-man beatbox band featuring Aaron Heaton of Minnesota, and he is one of the event headliners. While some may roll their eyes when they hear about people who make music with their mouth, tongue, lips and voice, don’t judge Heaton until you’ve seen him. He’s been performing since age 10, has won some music awards and incorporates humor into his act, which organizers say is geared to all ages. I enjoyed his tribute to “That’s The Way I Like It,” by KC & The Sunshine Band on the event website. There is talent here. And fun. And that’s the way, aha, aha, I like it, aha, aha.
2. Energy without caffeine.
Milwaukee electro-indie pop band GGOOLLDD will headline, too. This band’s bio says the members formed on whim, played their first show as an excuse to host a party and forged their own path in the music industry by playing shows instead of following the “record deal” path. “Undercovers,” is their new single and it was just added to the Young & Free playlist on Spotify, according to the band’s Facebook page.
3. Thank you for your service, Sonny.
Sonny Knight and his 7-piece band, The Lakers, are described as a combination of “Gospel, country and blues,” and will be another headliner during this festival. Knight is a 68-year-old retired truck driver who is also a Vietnam veteran, and apparently the band figured out their most popular material and latest release, Sooner Or Later, by performing for audiences on the road night-after-night. If a retired truck driver who also served in Vietnam doesn’t have something interesting to sing about, I don’t know who does?
4. Early event announced.
Traditionally, the festival also announces special events as they happen earlier in the year, and this continues. In February, the Cavalier Theater & Lounge in downtown La Crosse will feature The Band of Heathens from Austin, Texas, and the Denver, Colo., band Great American Taxi (which also features La Crosse native Chad Shaehly). Check the festival’s ever-evolving Web page for other music announcements.
5. Sounds Like School.
The festival has become a non-profit entity with its own Education Committee that includes representatives from area colleges and local schools who help develop a “Comprehensive Educational Plan” for Mid West Music Fest. The resulting initiative, called Sounds Like School, co-sponsors activities that expose students to live performances, connects them with musicians and helps them foster a general appreciation for music. The group reports that during its first year more than 4,000 people attended concerts, participated in workshops and/or tried out instruments for the first time. Sounds like this is good for the future of music, too.