In seven years, both Appleton and the summer music festival it hosts annually have evolved graciously in scope, logistics, venues and variety of talent.
At Mile 7 I saw excellent rock, soul, blue grass, country, folk and mariachi bands in places as vast as the Jones Park Amphitheater and as quaint as the tiny house stage on the Lawrence University green.
Thanks to tips from my sister Kathy and brother in-law Keith, I discovered some new favorite acts, including Lizzie No, B.Lilly and The Brothers Footman. On my own, I enjoyed the lively India Ramey, witty Chicago Farmer, lovely Bird of Chicago, sweet Emily Scott Robinson and fun Freddy and Francine among many others. (I relied heavily on the Mile of Music App, which also has evolved fantastically since Skyline Technologies first introduced it three years ago.)
In addition to finding all that new talent, which is always the joy of festivals like this, we also enjoyed our old favorites like Dan Rodriguez, Wild Adriatic and J-Council.
We sang along (when asked), danced along (I can’t help myself) and clapped along (My clapping muscles are sore). At one point, a dancing fan we did not know hooked arms with my startled sister and they ended up performing an impressive salsa together on a crowded The Bent Keg floor.
So well run has the festival become that when a storm whipped up late Saturday afternoon, we simply followed instructions to run to the safety and comfort of the new Conference Center a few yards away.
While I’ll always treasure the novelty of that first year, when Norah Jones strolled down College Avenue and Travis McNab played the drums on a silver napkin container at the Queen Bee Restaurant, I also appreciate how well the Festival has grown.
I love walking through downtown and seeing all the shops, restaurants and bars bustling. I like seeing musicians strolling with their giant instruments strapped to their backs, and grandparents consulting their apps, and young parents pushing strollers, and the tireless Music Education Team members threading their way through all of it to offer interesting lessons that just might spark the next MoM star.
Built as it is around Lawrence University and its renown music conservatory, Appleton has always been a music-focused town. Mile of Music expands that love and leaves in its wake a downtown teeming with energy and optimism.
So, here’s to you, Mile of Music! I can’t wait to see what next year brings.