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Festival Preview: Bandit County Fair Music Festival 2008
Preview by Matt Schwenke
While many a music fester will be heading to one of the biggest festeroos in all the land next weekend-- the four day, multi-stage monstrosity in the middle of Tennessee known as Bonnarroo-- a much humbler gathering of bands from the upper Midwest will take place well upstream on the Mighty Miss' for the first-ever Bandit County Fair Music Festival in Genoa, WI.
In what began as a series of informal, barn dance-style gatherings in the bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley that gathered up friends and musicians with ties to the greater musical crossroads area of La Crosse, WI (a college town nearly equidistant between Milwaukee and Minneapolis and home to the storied Dave's Guitar Shop), the friendly feeling has made its way down the bluffs and taken root in Romance Valley (just south of La Crosse) to offer up a tucked-away festival of 24 acts spread over two nights of music and three days of camping.
Event organizers and headliners Smokin' Bandits, a "Billy Grass n Roll" five-piece from La Crosse, have gathered up a diverse list of bands and musicians to offer bluegrass, blues, folk, funk, jam, reggae and good ol' rock, and the acts will be split between a main and an acoustic stage. Like the Bandits, a handful of the festival's higher-billed acts (Fat Maw Rooney, Down Lo and Stealin' Strings) have logged time on the ever-growing jam band festival circuit, including the 10,000 Lakes Festival. But, most are local favorites likely unheard of outside of their respective gas-up-the-van-and-go-touring ranges in the Midwest. With no major record label connection in sight, raw talent can be found throughout the bill, notably on the acoustic stage with La Crosse troubador Paulie, Smokin' Bandit guitarist Cheech with Luke Hombd, Duluth-based folksters Two Many Banjos, and traveling bluesman Jimmy Liggett.
Advance tickets at $25 per person or five for $100 are still available locally in La Crosse at Del's Bar, 229 N. 3rd Street, The Joint, 324 Jay Street, and Pearl Street Brewery.
Tickets at the gate are $35. Camping is included with admission. Food and beer will be available on-site from Totally Baked Pizza, Pearl Street Brewery and The Train Station BBQ.
For a complete schedule of band set times and other info, visit the Web page for the Bandit County Fair Music Festival at www.myspace.com/banditcountyfair.
Friday, June 13
Main Stage: Houses in Motion, Down Lo, Joe & Vicki Price, Confectionary Treats, Porcupine
Acoustic Stage: Paulie, Luke Hembd & Cheech, Ty Don, E-Rock
Saturday, June 14
Main Stage; Smokin' Bandits, Fat Maw Rooney, Shoeless Revolution, Stealin' Strings, T.U.G.G., Moon Boot Posse, Chuff, Bombay,
Acoustic Stage: Two Many Banjos, Clock, Bottom of the Barrel String Band, Earthbound, Jimmy Liggett, Stacy Hanson, Sahndo