|Although Jordan Kroeger (bass) and Ryan Ogburn (mandolin) began their musical relationship in the Wisconsin jamband scene, Chicken Wire Empire began as a 4 piece traditional bluegrass band in Milwaukee, WI. The band honed its traditional sound, encapsulating it in 2014 with their debut album Chicken Wire Empire. With half of the group rooted in bluegrass, and the other half steeped in jamband music, a change occurred when CWE performed an Old & In The Way tribute show. With the addition of Jon Peik (banjo), Ernest Brusubardis IV (fiddle), and Greg Brundage (guitar), a new sound was found in Milwaukee, and Chicken Wire Empire joined the roster of high energy jamgrass. |
This journey from traditional to progressive was documented by director Ross Monagle in the film All It Takes, and premiered in 2016 at the Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee. Featuring interviews with each band member, (and a surprise visit from one of the band member’s alter ego) the film follows the band around Wisconsin, playing in several clubs, and includes performances of 4 originals and a fiddle tune in Milwaukee’s historic Riverside Theatre, recorded and mixed by sound engineer Sam Donoghue.
Exhausted from video editing, the band returned to the studio, recording their sophomore album What Moves Mountains. Featuring a mixture of originals and some reimagined covers, What Moves Mountains was recorded at Axis Recording by Vinny Millevolte, and mastered by Justin Perkins. With support from their family and friends, What Moves Mountains was released January 1st of 2019.
“The new Chicken Wire Empire record is a technically proficient, well-crafted mixture of modern original songwriting and time earned classics. They seem to have taken on some wonderfully exciting elements of modern progressive bluegrass while also retaining their original character, born of their greater Milwaukee town roots.” – Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Chicken Wire Empire has been blessed with opportunities to share the stage with renowned musicians (Yonder Mountain String Band, 30db, The Travelin’ McCourys, The Big Wu, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades) and performing in many regional festivals (Blue Ox and Boats & Bluegrass). With support from their local scene, friends, and families, Chicken Wire Empire looks to the future, with a goal to strengthen Wisconsin’s bluegrass scene, and further the appreciation of acoustic music.
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Square of the Roots
Square of the Roots is an Americana band featuring the Father Son duo Brian Steinhauer and his father The Rev. Michael E. Steinhauer. Zigzagging their way through the lexicon of American music styles including Blues, Folk, Honky-Tonk and Bluegrass, they have been playing music together for over 20 years. Family harmonies resonate through every show accompanied by Mandolin, Dobro, Harmonica their paired down acoustic sound is rounded out by the acoustic guitar upright string bass and a subtle percussionist. An evening with these Squares will find you engaged with the music; whether clapping, tapping your toe or through the storytelling about the songs and the sometimes crazy circumstances which created them, we hope you will come away with the feeling that righteousness is on your side! Want a preview?
Every now and then, a song, a voice, a lyric, splits your soul right in two and then proceeds to feed both sides. Raw yet refined, mournful yet optimistic, heartbroken yet inspiring… such is the dichotomy, the paradox, and the musical delivery of Joshua Reilly. Born, raised, and marinated on the cornfield-lined country roads of central Illinois, and then cultivated, ripened, and baked on the beaches and concrete swamps of Florida, Reilly understands hard times, he knows redemption, and this unfiltered honesty pours out through his music. It’s a slice of life served clever and real.
Reilly has performed around the country, including a national tour in support of his 2017 album Mercy on the Strange. He has opened for acts such as Billy Joe Shaver, Robbie Fulks, and Slaid Cleaves. And while deepening his roots as a family man in Florida, Reilly has become one of the most respected and beloved musical acts in the Tampa Bay area. Maybe it’s just Joshua and his guitar, or perhaps he is playing with any number of friends he refers to as “Corn-Fed Locals”… either way, his real, genuine, heartfelt energy is admired by young and old.
Reilly’s style and message are all his own. “What I want people to get from listening to my music is, yes… there is hope in these hard times,” says Reilly. His lyrics and music convey the poignant truth that life can be brutal or grand as we navigate the road ahead and face up to the road behind. As New York Times best selling author Tom Robbins wrote, “Vocally and instrumentally, Joshua Reilly has a delivery like the last train out of Real Town before the android invasion. Clear the tracks!”
Peaches & Bacon
Peaches and Bacon is the moniker for the old-time musical partnership of Elizabeth Buchta, banjoist, and William Wilkie, fiddler. He learned mandolin, fiddle, and banjo in Chicago from multi-instrumentalist Jim Becker, who taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music; she picked up the banjo in St. Louis from Dave Landreth, former Springfield resident, who taught at the Folk School. The pair connected in South Bend, IN in 2010 at an old-time jam held in an Irish pub. They play dance music because they love it. Their old-time repertoire represents influences from Africa and Europe that blended in the Appalachians and then spread across America, and now across the globe. They currently reside in Petersburg, IL.