Thank you Dave Willems et. al

My clapping hands are so tired I can hardly type, but my mother taught me to be prompt with my thank yous and this one needs to be said.

Thank you Dave Willems for navigating challenging elements and delivering us the best Mile of Music Festival yet. You and your staff, along with the artists you invited to our grateful little city, played through, around, and in a confounding weather pattern and never missed a beat.

So rich and diverse was the this year’s talent pool, that we had to split up to catch them all.

On Thursday, while I enjoyed the inspiring Elle Winston, Molly texted me from an awning outside, where she caught Corey Matthew Hart during a rainstorm.

“It started raining and he said, ‘run to the awning. I have more songs,'” she wrote.

We just love the but-wait-I-have-more-songs-to-share attitude of this songwriter’s festival.

It felt good to welcome back old friends like Swear and Shake, the Crane Wives, Kristin Diable, Boom Forest and Levi Parham. We also enjoyed meeting new favorites like the talented Sam Trump, Smooth Hound Smith, Christopher the Conquered, Porky’s Groove Machine and JC Brooks.

And hearing the native sons never gets old. We all met up in the Lawrence Chapel to listen to the soaring harmonies of Peridot and feel Hillary Reynold’s gorgeous voice fill that beautiful space. My daughter Katherine and her friend Emi walked home with me following J-Council’s epic set Saturday night and, though we had spent 12 hours down at the Mile, we were all pumped up by the music we’d heard.

After five years, it’s safe to say Mile of Music has profoundly affected Appleton. It feels like Nashville when you walk down College Avenue during the Mile, and hear live music drifting from every venue. That music ripples through the city throughout the year, too, thanks to local musicians and those drawn back to our city following their festival experience.

Live, original music is such a gift. Artists share their talents, their hearts and their deepest thoughts and every time I listen to a songwriter perform I admire both their talent and their transcendent courage.

We can’t even fathom the amount of organization it took to coordinate 900 live music sets and 70 venues. We tried to hit them all.

Thank you, again, to Festival Director Dave Willems, co-founder Cory Chisel, sponsors, venue managers, staff and all those talented musicians.

We can’t wait for Mile 6.


Christopher the Conquered asked me (and everyone else at his set) to sign his piano. I humbly obliged.
One of my favorite sets happened at McGinnis Pub with Jamie Kent and his talented band.
So great to see Swear and Shake back in the old city.
It looked like a heart surrounded Levi Parham as we crammed into the Ambassador to hear his Saturday night performance.
I loved Elle Winston’s soulful set and I tried to buy her new CD, but she ran out just as I handed her my money. She restocked before her next set and my sister Kathy scored an autographed copy, which has prompted some healthy taunting. Whatever. There’s always the Apple Music Store.
This is just some of our crew. Me, my mom, my nephew Michael, my daughter Katherine, her friend Emi, my brother in-law Keith, my sister Kathy and Vince’s cousin Ray, who brought a crew of his own from Chicago. Vince and his sister Donna, who rolled through all four days of the festival, were enjoying another venue when we took this picture, and Molly was at a third venue. So much to hear, so little time. So much fun!
Just a regular Saturday night in Appleton. That’s Wild Adriatic on stage.
Sunday afternoon, I caught Corey Kilgannon at Jim’s Place and I loved the way this chalk board message and the Spotted Cow sign framed him. This is a Wisconsin festival, dontcha know.

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