Bands talk Bands at Mid West Music Fest 5

Bands talk Bands at Mid West Music Fest 5

If you were not at the 5th annual Mid West Music Fest this last weekend then I feel for you. I really do. I’m sure you’ve heard by now from your friends on Facebook and Twitter about how cool it was and how great the bands were, and we know you’ve surfed the #MWMF5 hashtag on Instagram. But maybe you’re one of those unassured types. Maybe you’re that kind that had all the cool albums before they were cool and doesn’t trust the flawed opinions of the average music listener on social media who doesn’t even know Husker Du or what the relative minor of G major is. Well — then this review is definitely for you. It might also be for the unpretentiously inclined, as well though.  We thought it would be cool to see what bands and musicians from this year’s Mid West Music Fest had to say about their peers. We asked band members to give us their favorite shows of the weekend.

Here’s what they said:


Jack Norton and the Mullet River Boys @ The Eagles Club Saturday


The only performance I stayed for the entire time was Jack Norton and the Mullet River Boys. Jack and company put on a “show”. It wasn’t just music. There was tap dancing. Sing-a-longs. Jokes. He even incorporated a kindergartener’s request for a diarrhea song. They played at the Eagles Club, which added to the overall aura. The light guy even shone a blue light when Jack was singing a song about feeling blue. True entertainment from start to finish.

– Lucas Stangl from Coconut and The Duke (ukulele, melodica, guitar and vocals)


We Are The Willows at Ed's (no name) Bar during Mid West Music Fest 2014

photo by Megan Huizel


Ed’s (no name) Bar Saturday Night


Following our set at the Acoustic Café on Saturday night, Laura (GNGD singer & guitarist) and I crammed into Ed’s (no name) Bar and caught most of Farewell Milwaukee’s set. Their beautiful harmonies à la CSNY were especially stunning on their cover of Neil Young’s “Helpless.” Afterwards, We Are The Willows swept us back to the 1940s with a set of songs inspired by letters exchanged between frontman Peter Miller’s grandparents during World War II, and then whipped us forward to 1999 with a cover of “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child. Watching these bands was a wonderful end to an inspiring weekend.

– Colin Scharf from Good Night, Gold Dust (guitar and vocals)


Anonymous Choir @ The Winona Art Center Thursday


Anonymous Choir brought staggeringly lush harmonies and beautifully orchestrated ballads to Winona last Thursday. Lead singer Nona Invie plays piano and was backed by a choir of five (sometimes as high as fourteen). The Winona Arts Center, located in an old church, provided perfect acoustics and ambiance for the show. Anonymous Choir played songs by Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, and Neil Young. They perform cover songs exclusively, but I wouldn’t call them a “cover band” anymore than I would call Osmo Vänskä a “cover conductor.” And, let’s face it: every time you’ve left a live show disappointed, you’ve thought, “I just wish [whichever disappointing band] was a choir singing After the Gold Rush in an old church.”

– Matthew St. Francis/Matthew Francis Byrnes from The May North (banjo, guitar, fiddle, clogging, vocals)


Jeff Ray and Hurricane Harold @ Broken World Records Friday


I loved seeing Jeff Ray and Hurricane Harold play Friday night in the Broken World Records front room. Their playing was truly inspired and the crowd was having a blast. Jeff’s east/west raga influenced slide playing sits me right down every time, and Harold was channeling Little Walter only to turn on a dime and be uniquely Hurricane. It was amazing! Such a treat to see them here in Winona on such a supercharged night.

– mike munson (guitar, vocals)

General B and the Wiz @ Levee Park Stage Friday


I’ve known General B for over 2 years now, and watching them grow and evolve as musicians and friends over these past 2 years has truly been a thing to behold. After our set on Friday, our friends took the stage, and they owned it for over an hour. It’s weird watching your friends perform and captivate an audience, it creates this aura around them on stage and you think ‘I’ve partied with these dudes many times, hung out and shot the shit with them and there they are, larger than life!” I sang along to nearly every song, and I know I saw many other people in the audience doing the same. Not only are they wonderful performers, they also have the songs to back it up, and they proved it Friday. It was a very surreal night, to say the least.

– Dan Schiltz from Ruben (bass, guitar, vocals)

The Weathered Heads at Mid West Music Fest 2014

photo by Steinquist Shots

The Weathered Heads @ The Eagles Club Saturday


My favorite band was definitely The Weathered Heads. They played Saturday night at the Eagle’s Club and rocked the house. They had incredible original songs and were extremely crowd pleasing. They had a lot of talent and were great to watch. I also enjoyed watching General B & The Wiz. They were well rehearsed and had a very high energy level. The fest was great!

– Austin Weatherhead (guitar, vocals)

The People Brothers Band @ Levee Park Stage Saturday


I have to say that The People Brothers Band show at the levee was fantastic. Everyone on the stage knew exactly what they were doing and looked like they were having great fun with it. The artists that got up on stage with them and played made the whole experience amazing. They did absolutely everything right when it came to putting on a good show, and I’m excited to see them again in the future.

– Alex Miller from Category U (vocals)

The Cactus Blossoms at Broken World Records during Mid West Music Fest 2014
photo by Sydney Swanson

The Cactus Blossoms @ Broken World Records Friday


Immediately after our set on Friday night at the Levee Park stage, we wound up at Broken World Records to catch a beautiful set by the Cactus Blossoms. These guys have a sound that’s the perfect combo of old and new. Danceable, and enjoyable if you’re just wanting to sit back and sip a beer. A lot of talent on that stage!”
– Seth Duin from General B and The Wiz (guitar, vocals)

Cloud 9 Union (above Dib’s) Friday Night


Friday night’s line-up at Cloud 9 was rock ’n’ roll through and through. San Dimas and Porcupine killed it, as I knew they would, and the 757s were just as impressive as I’d been told. (Heavy guitars, catchy vocals, and just enough noise between hooks.) For a nightcap, the 757s graced the crowd with a too-vulgar-to-list Dead Kennedy’s cover. Louder and rowdier as their set went on, the 757s established a sound that is sage and sexy.

– Courtney Guenveur from The Ultrasounds (bass)


Emot at the Acoustic Café on Friday


My favorite show at Mid West Music Fest 5? That’s a tough one. I’m going to have to go with Emot at the Acoustic Café on Friday night. They have all kinds of awesome going on. The heartfelt vocals had a kind of vintage ’70s tone mixed with current day Dawes. The guitars had an intricate, washy delay that mesmerized. And the rhythm section was music for music’s sake. I couldn’t tell if beats and riffs had been perfected or were being woven in on the fly. Either way, I’d say with catchy melodies for the kids and the structure for music majors to analyze they definitely have a lot to offer. Great show.

– Jimmy Barnett from Sleeper and the Sleepless (drummer)


“Gyrate” at Black Horse Bar & Grill Friday


My absolute favorite performance of Mid West Music Fest was actually the dance party called “Gyrate” at Black Horse Bar & Grill on Friday night. GRRRL PRTY and Caroline Smith performed and there was also a burlesque show. What else could you ask for?! I had a huge fangirl moment by being so up close and personal with these talented ladies. We all shut the place down at bar close and it absolutely made my night. Cheers!

– Heidi Brink from Sleeper and the Sleepless (guitars, vocals)

The Fattenin’ Frogs @ Ed’s (no name) Bar Friday


My favorite performance at Mid West Music Fest 5 has to be The Fattenin’ Frogs at Ed’s (no name) Bar on Friday. We just happened to walk in and got totally blown away! I love the rockabilly sound and style. They had so much stage presence! I definitely can’t wait to see them play live again!

– Jess Nelson from Sleeper and the Sleepless (guitar, vocals)

Mark Mallman at Ed’s (no name) Bar Friday


After crossing the street from Broken World Records, I went into Ed’s to see what can only be described as a rocking mullet on a man wearing a denim cut off jacket and dark shades gripping the microphone giving everything he had in his body to one of the most inspiring show I have ever seen. I mean, this dude looked like he would have felt right at home on a ‘The Clash’ album cover. But man, was that beautiful.
– Andy Bauer from The Weathered Heads (bass)


Everything! @ the 5th annual Mid West Music Fest


I can’t really pick one show of the weekend that is the best.  What I liked about the weekend in general was the diversity and quality of the bands and the professionalism of the production.  Wow.
– Jamie Harper from Beet Root Stew (banjo)

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