18+ Event standing room only WILLI CARLISLE is a poet and a folk singer for the people, but his extraordinary gift for turning a phrase isn’t about high falutin’ pontificatin’; it’s about looking out for one another and connecting through our shared human condition. Born and raised on the Midwestern plains, Carlisle is a product of the punk to folk music pipeline that’s long fueled frustrated young men looking to resist. After falling for the rich ballads and tunes of the Ozarks, where he now lives, he began examining the full spectrum of American musical history. This insatiable stylistic diversity is obvious in his wildly raucous live performances, where songs range from sardonic trucker-ballads like “Vanlife” to the heartbreaking queer waltz “Life on the Fence,” to an existential talkin’ blues about a panic attack in Walmart’s aisle five. With guitar, fiddle, button-box, banjo, harmonicas, rhythm-bones, and Willi’s booming baritone, this is bonafide populist folk music in the tradition of cowboys, frontier fiddlers, and tall-tale tellers. Carlisle recognizes that the only thing holding us back from greatness is each other. With a quick wit and big sing-alongs, these folksongs bring us a step closer to breaking down our divides.
This is a 18 and over event.Standing room only Formed out of love for traditional American Folk & Blues music, Steppin’ In It has been playingshows and packing dance floors for over 20 years. No stranger to Kalamazoo, the band hasplayed Bells countless times together and was one of the first bands to play the beer gardenyears ago.
This is a 21 and over event.Standing Room Only Arkansauce calls forth melodies of the Ozark Mountains’ rolling hills and raging rivers with their distinct blend of newgrass. This progressive string quartet features Tom Andersen on bass, guitarist Zac Archuleta, Ethan Bush on mandolin, and Adams Collins on banjo. Their music features improvisational string leads matched with complex melodies, intriguing rhythms, and deep thumping bass grooves. Each member sings lead and harmony parts as well as contributes to the lyrics, which offer authentic, intelligent songwriting with hard-hitting hooks. The band was founded in 2011 after Zac and Ethan, who had grown up across the street from one another in Johnson County, Arkansas, moved to Fayetteville. Tom and Adams were slowly introduced to them through the tight-knit Fayetteville music community. During a fateful gig at a Riverstomp Music Festival in 2014, the band was down a couple of members, and Adams and Tom filled in on the fly—magic was made on the stage that night, and the lineup was forever changed. Having played shows from California to Connecticut over the last several years in addition to two tours in Europe, the band is no stranger to the road. They supported Yonder Mountain String Band for a leg of their summer tour in 2019, played mainstage spots on festivals with bands (including but not limited to) Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Del McCoury Band, Billy Strings, Leftover Salmon, Tauk, The Wood Brothers, and shared the stage with the legendary Sam Bush as a guest. Fireside CollectiveA quintet who cheerfully disregard every kind of one-dimensional label that might be attached to their music, Fireside Collective has been on a roll since emerging from the fertile roots music scene of Asheville, North Carolina. In quick order, the progressive bluegrass group released its debut album, won the 2016 Band Contest at MerleFest, earned an International Bluegrass MusicAssociation Momentum Band of the Year nomination and embarked on an ambitious touring schedule that’s earned an enthusiastic reception from traditional bluegrass to wide-ranging, eclectic music festival audiences alike. Blending the characteristic interplay of bluegrass instrumentation and harmonies with strong original material and exuberant energy, Fireside Collective has drawn on folk, blues, funk and a wide variety of bluegrass sounds to create a distinctive body of work that’s all their own.
21 and over Multi-instrumentalist Rachael Davis is as renown for her expressive–and explosive–voice as she is for uniting the often desperate worlds of folk, blues, country, and pop.Davis grew up not only in a family of musicians, but in an extended village of remarkable musicians and songwriters who nurtured and mentored her from the time she was born. Beginning by jingling ankle bells in perfect time on her months old feet in the middle of old timey jams and song circles, to contributing newly minted songs to Music Sundays, Rachael has always found her own unique part in the music. Her clear tone and uncanny memory for just about every song she’s ever heard came early, and has served her well throughout her career. As a child Davis took to harmony, piano, and ukulele, and at 8, joined the family band Lake Effect, performing regularly at folk festivals throughout her home state of Michigan and around the U.S. By age 12, and continuing each year since, Rachael has brought the Wheatland Music Festival to its knees closing the Sunday morning gospel set with her stunning solo acapella version of Amazing Grace.“I was learning everything I could get my hands on and when I was 17, my father gave me his Bart Reiter banjo and taught me to play clawhammer style,” recalled Davis. “I like to joke that cursed me for life.”At 20, already a professional and deeply moved by traditional mountain music, blues, and ballads, Davis composed and recorded her debut album “Minor League Deities,” then with that, and a heart full of promise Rachael Davis headed to Boston the day after the 911 attack. There she began performing in city subways and the streets of Cambridge. Within months she had made her mark on the Boston music scene winning the prestigious Boston Music Award for Best New Singer/Songwriter.Davis often found sanctuary in the city’s basement level record stores as well as Boston’s premier acoustic music clubs where she made fans and friends of local stage veterans Vance Gilbert, Cheryl Wheeler, Josh Ritter, and indie rock’s parade float princess, Mary Lou Lord.“In a way, they’re all still with me today,” says Davis, “I was part of a real music community there. My story was just like theirs. We all knew we were on a path to find something and for that moment, we were all in the same place.”Because Davis has been swayed by so many different types of music, her style is difficult to file and will not languorously rest amid broader musical genres. “My slant on acoustic music can be explained by a mixed cassette tape that my father played during my early childhood while driving in our family’s Chevy Cavalier station wagon we nicknamed Iggy. On one side of the cassette was the soundtrack for the film The Big Chill. On the other was John Hartford’s “Areoplane”.” Today Davis describes her music as ‘Motown-Banjo’.Davis has lent her voice to countless recordings for friends, film soundtracks, and even video games, but it is her intuitive and empathetic understanding of folk music—“the music of folks” as she calls it, and her original and thoughtful songwriting voice that has earned her fans around the U.S.Recently she has collaborated in the critically acclaimed supergroup: The Sweetwater Warblers.Comprised of Rachael Davis, Lindsay Lou, and May Erliwine, all three premiere Michigan-grown songbirds.Rachael Davis now lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, critically acclaimed bassist Dominic John Davis with whom she performs as The Davis Duo. They have two children.
21 and over This is a seated performance Aaron James Wright is an independent singer-songwriter, special education teacher, environmental activist, husband, father and noted smart ass. During a 30 year career in music, Aaron has dabbled in alternative rock, classic rock, punk rock, butt rock, country, jazz, blues, and children’s music. Performing in bands such as “Slow Drag”, David Bowie tribute act “The Long Players”, and most recently “Aaron James Wright & The Ultralights”, as well as a solo act, Aaron has played venues from Detroit to Chicago, and from Alaska to Kentucky. His most recent solo album, “A Little Stronger”, was produced in Kalamazoo at Broadside Productions by studio wizard and guitar slinger Mike Roche. Aaron’s tunes have been heard on WYCE’s “Local Spins”out of Grand Rapids and on WMUK on “Grassroots” and “Let’s Hear It”. “Grassroots” host Darcy Wilkin calls him “the best songwriter you’ve never heard of”. Aaron is not sure if that is a compliment.