Driftless Music Festival
July 9, 2016. Eckhart Park, Viroqua
Viroqua will again be alive with the sound of great music when the Driftless Music Festival celebrates its 5th anniversary on Saturday, July 9. Gates open at noon and music plays from 1 to 10 p.m. in Eckhart Park.
Dedicated to the proposition that great cities have great music festivals, the DMF will, as usual, feature a diverse array of musical genres, all by some of the finest talent across the Midwest region and beyond. And there is no admission fee to the Festival.
“Word has gotten around about the quality of the Festival and its family-friendly atmosphere, so we’re expecting attendance to easily exceed the 2000 mark this year,” said Charlie Knower, the Fest’s founder. “And we’ve assembled an outstanding line-up of performers for this event.”
Kicking off the festivities at 1 p.m. is the smooth and gentle Caribbean sound of singer/songwriter Todd Donnelly, a master of the steel pans and percussion, who has explored their melodic and rhythmic possibilities for over 35 years.
The nationally-acclaimed local Polka/Variety band Gary’s Ridgeland Dutchmen are next up around 2:45 p.m. Twice named Band of the Year by the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame, the Cashton-based Dutchmen have been delighting audiences for 25 years with every style of polka imaginable, as well as country, big band, swing and 50s and 60s music.
Stepping up to the stage at 4:30 is the Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound. Synthesizing rhythms and music spanning the country and the world, Cebar’s ensemble generates a broad range of eminently danceable music, including mixtures of R&B, Caribbean and New Orleans style.
And speaking of New Orleans style, the aptly-named Revelers, a Big Easy-based band, will ramp up the rhythms and the tempo at 6:30 p.m. with their roof-raising blend of Cajun, zydeco and 50s-style swamp rock. The six-member group, which has appeared on national television and has a Grammy nomination under its belt, is touring the U.S. this summer, and is making Viroqua one of its stops.
Closing out the Festival at 8:30 p.m. is the Driftless area’s own jazz Crooner Christie Knapp with the Michael James Trio. Knapp’s deliciously smooth vocals are reminiscent of the style of Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee and Anita O’Day, and will provide a mellow exclamation point to the end of a rich musical day.
Food vendors at this year’s Fest will provide a delicious variety of options, including pizza, crepes, hot dogs and brats, hamburgers, and tacos, as well as strawberry shortcake, smoothies and other tasty desserts. All vendors utilize local and regional sources as much as possible for their offerings.
More than 70 sponsors and donors from the region underwrite the cost of the Driftless Music Festival so that its fine musical offerings can be heard for free. More information about the Festival, or about becoming a donor to support the event, is available at driftlessmusicfestival.com.