On Friday July 30th, I headed to Winona, MN for the inaugural Mid West Music Fest. What an inspiring day of music. Familiar and new faces abound, it was great to be back in Winona and surrounded by a palpable sense of excitement and enthusiasm. The MWMF Driftless Music Showcase w/ The Brilliant Beast, Brahman Shaman, and Michelle Lynn took place at the Acoustic Cafe was a smashing success. We ended up getting a lot of foot traffic--including lots of musicians performing that day like Dessa, Chris Koza, and Sean McPherson--for the Acoustic's wonderful sandwiches (hold the special sauce please).
Michelle was stellar as always and it was nice to hear her on a super powerful sound system again. Matt broke out his new "one man band" set, highlighting his musicality, technical skill, and commitment to continually challenge himself. Visual artist Maria Murray painted on stage during both Matt and Michelle's sets. Check out the videos below--Michelle crooning Old Soul Syndrome and Matt playing a new song, Reactions Inertia--and see the magic for yourself.
Then there was the Brilliant Beast, who graciously traveled down from Saint Paul. This was the first time I had seen them perform since I left the band and was replaced by Imaginary Jack bassist Mark Kartarik and I was definitely impressed. It was fulfilling to see them gelled as a group and to hear Mark expand upon my admittedly rudimentary fills. I like to take credit for turning singer-songwriter Jordan Porter onto the White Stripes and he frequently banters in between songs like Jack White (perhaps to frequently). This time Jordan joking called himself out and fictitiously proclaimed that "this next song is a White Stripes tune", with a wink in his eye.
Of course this humor was lost on some, namely Julie Schneider, the Mid West Music Fest Volunteer live blogging their set on Winona 360:
"The setting for this one is pretty sweet here at the Acoustic Café. A four-man band with a lead singer who is playing an acoustic guitar, bassist, Fiddler and a drummer from St. Paul with a brother-sister duo as far as the fiddle and lead singer go. They have a nice beat to their first song and the lead singer has a nice voice. They are upbeat with a spruce of folk to them. It is really easy to hear the lead singer, which is huge for their genre. There are about 30 people here and the crowd is into them. Good stage presence and good sense of humor.
They are playing a White Stripes song right now but it is a little more poppy, but they sound good with the fiddle and keep a good beat with each other. A little bit more on the venue though, the stage is alright. The band seems to be kind of tightly squeezed together, but they are going with it. They have a cool, laid back vibe and they just want the audience to enjoy some good music and if they can provide that then sweet! The fiddle adds a really cool twist to their groove because they sound more folky with it, but it is a nice twist. They sound good! They have this bluegrass sound to them too, with the brother and sister singing together. A broken acoustic guitar string moves the lead singer to use his electric guitar at this point in the show."
All in all, I had a great time and really enjoyed seeing Rogue Valley and Dessa perform later in the evening. Or as lead organizer Sam Brown told Winona 360 reporter Jen Holt “Given all the variables that were put in place, I think we did a great job...we’ve already hit the ground running, planning next year’s festival.” Winona 360 had HD video cameras and bloggers at all of the venues. Check out the MWMF section of their site HERE. Check out the videos below of Matt and Michelle too!