2023 Artists

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council and the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS.

Jackie Venson

Jackie Venson is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter known far and wide for her complexly beautiful music and blazing guitar skills. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Jackie has traveled the world playing to massive crowds both as a headliner and as support for major acts such as Gary Clark Jr, Melissa Etheridge, Aloe Blacc, Citizen Cope to name a few. With the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cancellation of her entire tour schedule and the wave of social change sweeping across the country in 2020, Jackie committed herself to releasing more music than ever before, connecting with her fans directly and speaking up about the change she wanted to see in her city and country. Since then, Jackie has released 2 studio albums, 2 live albums under her name and several electronic albums under her side project titled jackie the robot. During the pandemic, Jackie Venson also made her National TV Performance Debut on Austin City Limits 46th season, a huge honor for the native Austinite. Venson’s most recent release, Love Transcends, Venson firmly established herself as a sonic force to be reckoned with out of Austin, Texas.


The Commonheart

“This band is therapy for me to bring myself back to being a better person, and I hope people come along with me,” says powerhouse singer Clinton Clegg of The Commonheart. The testimonial begins on August 16th when the 9-piece band issues its most potent and purposeful dose of grittily redemptive rock n’ soul, its sophomore album, Pressure (Jullian Records).

Clinton didn’t grow up in a Baptist church, and his soul machine of a band isn’t pushing religion. Live and in the studio, the Pittsburgh-based collective is offering feel-good positivity, Golden Rule messaging, and sweat-soaked performances that nimbly ease through blues, vintage soul, and rock.

The nonet is bonded by familial-like ties and a desire to foster spiritual uplift. Among its ranks are female backup singers, drums, bass, guitar, a horn section, and keyboards. Out front is Clinton, a lightning bolt charismatic front man with dynamically expressive pipes that effortlessly traverse bluesy pleading, and honeyed balladeering. Onstage and in the studio, Clinton evokes B.B. King, Al Green, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke.

The Commonheart is known to have transformative powers. Case in point is the band’s own singer. During one gig, while singing “Do Right” from Pressure, Clinton experienced a revelation.

“Seeing the audience’s reaction to the positivity in that song made me feel like I was giving them something they may need.” He pauses thoughtfully, and then continues: “You know blues music is sad as hell, but it makes you feel good. I thought maybe my bad stories could make people feel good, and I could bring a little bit of love to the show.”

Previously, Clinton was in an eclectic indie band searching for some semblance of artistic focus. He had grown up loving B.B. King and soul music, and recognized the strength of his raspy emotive voice. After some soul searching, he and that band’s drummer decided to do a back-to-basics band centered around Clinton’s singing and a vintage R&B-informed aesthetic. At first the band’s name was a casual variant of The Commonwealth, as in “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” but the moniker later accrued significance as the band began to explore the pent-emotionality inherent in its gospel-tinged tunes.

The Commonheart’s latest album, Pressure, is an album by a band on a mission. “We are willing to take risks and to go at any lengths for this band,” Clinton says affirmatively. “We are ready to spread positivity and make a stretch of this thing.”


Myron Elkins

Myron Elkins didn’t set out to become a full-time musician. After graduating from high school, the then 17-year-old instead became a welder in his hometown of Otsego, Michigan and had every intention of making that his career. However, fate had other plans. Three years ago, a relative signed him up for a battle of the bands at a local venue, despite the fact Elkins’ only prior experience with live music was playing at church and a few bars in the small Michigan town where he grew up. With just three weeks’ notice, Elkins put a band together featuring three of his cousins and a friend. Although the group didn’t win (they came in second), the experience opened Elkins’ eyes to a very different career path.

Now, at 21 years old, he’s poised to become one of music’s most intriguing new artists with the release of his Dave Cobb-produced debut album, Factories, Farms & Amphetamines, via Elektra/Low Country Sound. Across the album’s ten tracks, Elkins crafts sharp observations informed by his working-class upbringing, infusing his music with rich personal experience. 

“I’m interested in stories. I’m writing about where I come from. Things I’ve seen and things I’ve heard. I had only been out of Michigan one time—to Graceland—before I started the band, so that little part of Michigan is all I really knew when writing this album.”

Musically, Factories, Farms & Amphetamines reflects the gritty mix of classic rock, country and the blues Elkins heard growing up, putting the album squarely in the league of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bob Seger, and the Allman Brothers. Fittingly, Elkins also boasts a wise-beyond-his-years voice with a broad range. 

Growing up, Elkins learned about classic country artists such as George Jones and Waylon Jennings via his grandfather (or “PAPAW”), who taught him how to pick guitars on the porch. Like many kids, he learned to sing in church on Sundays, and developed a deep, gravelly singing voice. When he was around 14 or 15, Elkins also started writing original music, inspired by stories he heard from family members about living in West Virginia coal camps.

Being able to chart his own destiny made a big impression on him. “When I first started, I was just trying to be like everything that I was listening to,” Elkins says, while noting other early favorites included Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. “I guess most people probably do that when they first start out. But once I realized that I could have my own sound, I started writing my own stuff. I figured that if I messed something up or changed it, at least people wouldn’t know I did, right?”

Recording in a studio was a big step forward for the nascent group. Luckily, Elkins and his band were already fans of Dave Cobb’s live-band production style before signing with Elektra/Low Country Sound, and so they relished the chance to record with him at his studio, Nashville RCA Studio A. “We always used to joke about how we were going to get Dave Cobb to do our first album,” Elkins says. “All the time. Then one day, I was on a call with him. It was real strange, but in a good way.” Elkins was admittedly a little intimidated to record in the same studio as Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton. However, he was especially thrilled to work with Cobb, who produced some of Elkin’s most formative albums, the ones he listened to constantly as a teenager as he developed his own musical tastes: Jason Isbell’s Southeastern, Chris Stapleton’s Traveller, Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.

Elkins walked away from recording with Cobb already looking forward to making his next album. “Now when I’m writing songs, I have all these Dave-isms in my head—like, ‘Oh, yeah, there we go. All right, throw this here.’ Before we recorded Factories, Farms & Amphetamines, I thought maybe you had to be a superhero to make a record. Next time, it’s going be a little easier.” This confidence, combined with touring that’s allowing them to see far-flung places—Elkins has joined Marcus King, Blackberry Smoke, Lucero and Kaleo on the road—has broadened his horizons and expectations.

“I love how this album turned out,” Elkins reflects,” but I’m real curious to know what people think of it. Hopefully they can at least respect it. But I’m more curious as to where this whole thing could go — where it might take me.”


Kat Wright

“There’s soul flowing in and out of her rock ‘n’ roll with a serpentine seduction. Some of soul music’s sweet, grand dames belt, shout, seethe, and succumb, while Wright sings gently like a heartache’s apology. It’s funky in spots and beautiful all over. And it hurts a little … like it should”.

After touring for the last decade as a 7–9-piece soul band, Wright & her cohorts have recently come to enjoy writing & touring in a stripped down formation, mostly trio or quartet, described as “a young Bonnie Raitt meets Amy Winehouse”. This paired down line up makes music more intentional, more distilled, more potent – a direct balm for the trying times we face today. The scenario of “less is more” – allows Wright’s voice to take center stage.

A quote from the folk publication Red Line Roots from November ‘21 sums it up best: “The first time I saw Kat Wright live was a festival gig where the band’s horn section alone was comprised of 3 people. Wright has that special balance of power and grace in her voice that can shimmer and float to the top of a big band setting, I don’t think anyone who has witnessed her perform could deny that. But the intimacy and vulnerability that she and collaborators Bob Wagner and Josh Weinstein has crafted with their newly formed outfit is something truly magnificent.

Kat has shared the stage with: Kacey Musgraves, Grace Potter, The Wood Brothers, Lawrence, Marco Benevento, Rubblebucket, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Leftover Salmon, Ryan Montbleau, Amy Helm, Soulive, The Motet & more, and has been a guest vocalist with: The Wood Brothers, Lawrence, Leftover Salmon, Twiddle, moe., Rubblebucket, Grace Potter, Amy Helm, Marco Benevento, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Voodoo Dead, Steve Kimock & Friends, Ryan Montbleau & more.


The Slocan Ramblers

The Slocan Ramblers (2020 IBMA Momentum Band of the Year Award Winner & 2019 Juno Award Nominee) are Canada’s bluegrass band to watch. Rooted in tradition, fearlessly creative and possessing a bold, dynamic sound, The Slocans have become a leading light of today’s acoustic music scene. With a reputation for energetic live shows, impeccable musicianship and an uncanny ability to convert anyone within earshot into a lifelong fan, The Slocans have been winning over audiences from Merlefest to RockyGrass and everywhere in between.

On their new album Up the Hill and Through the Fog, the all-star Canadian roots ensemble channels the past two years of loss into a surprisingly joyous collection of songs intended to uplift and help make sense of the world. Bluegrass music is nothing short of catharsis for The Slocan Ramblers.

Though the past few years have brought the group accolades, that same momentum was abruptly halted by the pandemic’s brutal impact on live music. Over the next year, bandmates Adrian Gross and Darryl Poulsen both lost close family members and their bassist decided to step back to spend more time at home. They channeled these tumultuous changes into some of their most honest and direct compositions yet. This is roots music without pretension, art powerful enough to cut through the fog of the past two years and chart a more hopeful course forward.

Over this past weekend, the band was named Ensemble of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Vancouver. The award was given with reference to their current album, Up the Hill and Through the Fog.

“I love it – smokin’ bluegrass!” — BBC RADIO

“The Slocan Ramblers put on one of the most vibrant shows of acoustic music I’ve seen in some time. It’s rare for Canadians (especially young Canadians) to play this music with such authority, passion and yet ability for experimentation. Chops galore, and a handsome bunch of fellas.” — Tom Power – Host of CBC’s “q”

“Effortlessly pushing bluegrass back to its earlier roots in Appalachian traditions, while steering old sounds in fascinating new directions.” — No Depression


Seth Walker

Seth Walker is often cited as one of the most prolific contemporary Americana artists on the scene today. He’s a multi-dimensional talent who combines a gift for melody and lyric alongside a rich, Gospel-drenched, Southern- inflected voice with a true blue knack for getting around on the guitar. His new studio album, I Hope I Know, produced by Jano Rix of The Wood Brothers, and a string of singles, including “We Got This,” “Spirits Moving” and a cover of Van Morrison’s classic “Warm Love” further build upon this reputation.

In 2021, Walker added published author to his oeuvre with his first memoir, ‘Your Van Is On Fire.’ A riotous and charming melange of a touring musician’s life, the book is comprised of many short essays, poems and paintings he’d accumulated over a near 30-year career. Written during the pandemic lockdown, Walker offers a first-hand account of an artist in perpetual motion who’s dedicated his life to chasing the muse wherever it may lead.

Growing up on a commune in rural North Carolina, the son of classically trained musicians, Seth Walker played cello long before discovering the guitar in his 20s. When his introduction to the blues came via his Uncle Landon Walker, who was both a musician and disc jockey, his fate was forever sealed. Instantaneously, Seth was looking to artists like T-Bone Walker, Snooks Eaglin, and B.B. King as a wellspring of endless inspiration. The rest is history. He’s released ten albums, broken into the Top 20 of the Americana Radio Charts, reached No. 2 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart and received praise from NPR, American Songwriter, No Depression and Relix, among others. In addition to extensive recording and songwriting pursuits, Seth is consistently touring and performing at venues and festivals around the world. Along with headline shows, he’s been invited to open for The Mavericks, The Wood Brothers, Raul Malo, Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster, among others.

Country Standard Time said: “If you subscribe to the Big Tent theory of Americana, then Seth Walker –with his blend of blues, gospel, pop, R&B, rock, and a dash country—just might be your poster boy.”

“…an accomplished guitarist and an even better singer, distilling the soul of Ray Charles, the Southern boy roots charm of Delbert McClinton, and an uptown blues turn of phrase (à la Percy Mayfield) into his own distinct voice.” — The Vinyl District

“Walker’s brilliantly nuanced vocals are as natural, clear, sharp, and as effortlessly elegant as his guitar playing…” — All Music

“It’s a welcome thing that Seth Walker’s chosen to pitch his tent in Americana…Walker has a way with smooth and swinging phrasing and makes classically accessible up-front pleas.” — Nashville Scene


H.C. McEntire

If naming is a form of claiming, of being claimed, how is one tethered to both the physical landscape that surrounds us, as well as our own internal emotional landscape—at times calm, at times turbulent, and ever changing? H.C. McEntire’s new album Every Acre grapples with those themes—themes that encompass grief, loss, and links to land and loved ones. And naming—claiming land, claiming self, being claimed by ancestry and heritage—permeates the hauntingly beautiful landscape that is this poignant collection of songs. The songs straddle the line between music and poetry, often weaving back and forth between each realm. 

Every Acre is aptly named. Gracious (and graceful) with its lilting melodies and lush harmonies, the album explores the acres of our physical and emotional homes. These songs are not just lyrics; they are more than lyric, reaching for the kind of home that we all seek: one where we can rest and lay down (or tuck away) our burdens of loss. And maybe, moving through every acre of a world that often tries to tear our sense of identity and heritage down, McEntire sheds light on what it is to be human in this life—both stingy and gracious, both hurtful and kind.


The Way Down Wanderers

The Way Down Wanderers sing like angels but write songs with guts that are unmistakably earthbound: a soon-to-be dad, excited but scared, fighting for self-growth; someone recovering from alcohol dependency, devoted to healing but with a confession to make—there are no fairytales here. And yet, the music begs an unapologetically Pollyanna question, like a big-hearted dare: Can a song help save you?

“I think when we strive to be the best versions of ourselves, and to accept other people that we don’t understand, that all works toward creating a culture we strive for,” says Collin Krause, one of The Way Down Wanderers’ two lead songwriters and vocalists. “Part of that process really is working on yourself—and self-forgiveness. At the end of the day, we’re not going to be perfect. The idea is to recognize that, and to try to forgive yourself if you can––and to try to move on and make progress.”

More Like Tomorrow, the Way Down Wanderers’ third full-length release, is the anticipated follow-up to their 2019 breakthrough album Illusions, which earned praise from Rolling Stone Country, No Depression, Relix, and more. The band’s gorgeous harmonies and string-band virtuosity still anchor the new album, but the sonic borders the Way Down Wanderers once flirted with crossing have been beautifully breached. Their lyricism has also evolved, giving way to true stories that cut deep. “I think more so on this record than ever, the songs are just more direct, with acute meanings in our own situations,” says Austin. “Each’s song’s story is less broad. I think, at least for me, writing is definitely growing more and more personal.”

With More Like Tomorrow, the five-piece band from Peoria, Illinois, has emerged not just as quirky bluegrass kids with a habit of experimentation, but as confident purveyors of some of the most sophisticated roots-pop anywhere.

Working in that sweet spot where self-acceptance and rejection of the status-quo collide, the Way Down Wanderers hope listeners can find their own personal applications and understandings of the new songs. “Connection, release, relatability––maybe hope, or confidence, or reassurance,” Austin says. “I hope that people kind of weave these messages into their lives in their own positive way.”


Charlie Parr

Charlie Parr is an incorruptible outsider who writes novelistic, multi-layered stories that shine a kaleidoscopic light on defiant, unseen characters thriving in the shadows all around us. Parr has a new record with only his name on it, and it isn’t shiny and perfect and commercial and catchy. It’s him. It’s pure Charlie Parr and that’s enough. He hasn’t moved to LA or Nashville; he’s stayed in the cold grey north of Minnesota, because that’s his home.


Gabe Stillman Band

The Gabe Stillman Band hits the stage in high gear and only goes higher as they embrace all corners of American Roots Music with their impromptu selection of original gems and carefully chosen covers.

Since landing in the final 8 of the 35th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN, and further honored as the recipient of the esteemed Gibson Guitar Award, Gabe and his band have been focused on expanding their footprint on a national and international level.

Based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Gabe formed the band in 2015, shortly after graduating from Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

Gabe’s first self-produced release The Grind received wide acclaim. Gabe’s 2nd release, Flying’ High is backed by the legendary Nighthawks. Gabe’s most current project, his first full-length release with 15 tracks and 13 originals, is on the Boston-based, Vizztone Record Label. This robust project was guided by famed musician and producer Anson Funderburgh.

 Just Say the Word reached #5 on the Roots Music Radio chart along with three charted singles. Fan support is evident with Just Say the Word debuting at #10 on the Billboard Blues Chart. Release reviews are strong as evident and consistent with this recent review from Jim Hynes and Making A Scene… “[Just Say The Word], is a brilliant, auspicious debut from one who has the complete package. Gabe Stillman’s future is bright.” — Jim Hynes, Making a Scene.

Industry professionals have taken notice as evident by Gabe’s invitation to support ZZ Top at the famed Key West Amphitheater, as a Blues Music Award nominee in the Best New Emerging Artist Album category, and in March The Gabe Stillman Band was further honored by the 3rd Annual Central PA Music Awards, selected as the “Best Blues Band”.



Humbird (Siri Undlin) is a Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter, poet, and storyteller inspired by the crystalline chill of her home state’s northern winters. Undlin twines experimental folk, environmental Americana, and orchestral compositions to forge an explorative embodiment of the narrative folk song and balladry tradition. Released in September 2019, her debut full length album, Pharmakon, engineered by Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens) and produced by Shane Leonard (Field Report), has been received with remarkable critical acclaim and has amassed nearly 20 million streams since its release. Folk Alley listed Pharmakon as one of their favorite songs of 2019 and at the end of week one, the album ranked #19 on the top NACC music charts and by week two was at #1 on the Folk charts — one of only two self-released albums to chart. Most recently she won the 2021 Kerrville Folk Festival’s song-writing competition and was able to perform a set at the 49th annual festival this fall. Humbird is currently touring her third studio album, Still Life — released in 2021. Keep your eye out for the next release due in 2024!

A Humbird live performance is intimate and earthy, literal and metaphorical. The band nimbly prances around the lilt of Undlin’s unfaltering fervent and haunting voice — the focal point. Although the songs and stories hold their own, the embellishments the band supply add the perfect splash of timbre and color to deliver a dynamic and engaging performance.

Humbird performs solo and as a trio (drums/percussion and double bass/electric bass).


Buffalo Galaxy

Deep Space, Light Speed, Bluegrass!

Dust from the years of performing has coalesced to form Buffalo Galaxy.

Each member brings with them a tradition of Bluegrass and American music as their launchpad, creating moments of energy and intensity generated by light-speed bluegrass, while exploring the deep-space between emotions.

In their three years as a band, Buffalo Galaxy has played over 200 shows around the greater midwest and Rocky Mountains. They have shared the stage with the Kitchen Dwellers, Dead Horses, and Daniel Donato. The band has brought their signature style to some of the regions finest festivals like Blue Ox, Boats and Bluegrass and many more. Buffalo Galaxy released their debut album New Escape during 2020 and their follow up will be out in early 2023.

Buffalo Galaxy is ready to burn bright in the bluegrass universe!

Plus 34 additional performances in the Busking Barn & our Chalet Stage featuring Trevor McSpadden & Mary Cutrufello and The Bathtub Mothers.

Chalet Stage Headliners

Trevor McSpadden & Mary Cutrufello

Trevor McSpadden and Mary Cutrufello have walked wildly different musical paths. But both have been guided by their time honky-tonking in Texas in the early 90s. For Trevor, it was as a kid on the dance floor, mystified by a good band keeping the two-steppers spinning. For Mary, it was as a guitar-slinging, fire-spitting bandleader, catapulted to nationwide acclaim. Serendipitously, their two paths have converged in St. Paul, where they make a potent combo of roots rock and country crooning.




Bathtub Mothers

Pat Wynes and John Norland started the Bathtub Mothers in 2008 as kind of a gritty folk/blues/alt country thing. John Norland grew up in Evanston, IL listening to WLS out of Chicago. At the age of ten, his social studies teacher started him on guitar and the first song he learned was Tom Dooley, which chartered his course. In the ‘80s, John did a couple of albums with the power pop band Private Joy at The Shoes’ studio, Short Order Recorder, in Zion, IL, and then found himself in Los Angeles finishing college and before working for Enigma Records. He taught writing at a small college in Janesville, WI for 23 years. John met Pat in August of 1997. He had been teaching science at the college for about five years and he introduced John to Fred Eaglesmith’s songs, and the rest was history. They played for about 10 years with Phil Redman, an upright bass player who has moved on to other projects. Seth Bonte joined the band in the spring of 2022 and has provided a welcome new dimension. Seth grew up in a small town in Iowa and he tunes pianos for a living…describedby John as having “a brain wired for music”. The band’s direction has changed a little, which will be obvious from their new EP. The Bathtub Mothers have previously played at the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival in 2010 & 2011. The Bathtub Mothers have released two CDs.

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