This past weekend I had the privilege of playing the amazing Mile of Music Festival in Appleton, WI. I have a lot to say about this experience, so this is going to be a long post - hold on to your butts!
An Impromtu Meeting-
After an impromptu "calling singers to the stage" moment during Cory Chisel's & Jon Wheelock's set at The Sh*tty Barn in Spring Green, WI earlier this summer, Cory graciously invited me to play the festival... hell yes, I said!
ON THE GROUND-
The road to the fest was a little nontraditional. My band wasn't coming, but I was lucky enough to be linked with two great Wisconsin musicians Jason Bank (guitar) and Jay Spanbauer (drums). They learned my music in a very short window and next thing I knew, we were playing our first set.
Thursday evening at the Appleton Beer Factory we performed for the warmest, most generous audience! There was some serious magic in the room - granted, there were quite a few beers being consume. Felt like we were in for a great weekend together.
After that first set, we went on to play two lovely shows on Friday. Melissa and I also had a chance to catch performances by Hubby Jenkins and Keenan O'Meara, both of which thoroughly wowed and inspired us!
In addition to listening to great shows, we spent some time enjoying The Refuge where we stayed. Cozied up on 10 acres along the Fox River, The Refuge, a former monastery on Menominee land, now serves as a place for artists and travelers alike to rest, write and record. I can attest to the acoustics in the chapel - perfection!
Our last show was at the Lawrence Memorial Chapel and it was one for the books. Probably one of the most amazing places I've ever sang and listened - it's not bad on the eyes either! There was a spirit in the place that connected all of us. Jason, Jay and I received a standing ovation after our set and it almost brought me to tears!
IT's A WRAP-
Spent the rest of the evening at the bar with Keith and Ben who showed us a hell of a time! Miss you guys already. We packed our bags the next morning, said a prayer along the river, said our goodbyes to Cory and Kurt (another amazing fest founder) and hit the highway headed to Chicago.
Reflecting on this weekend, I think it was the highlight of our summer! Melissa and I entered into this adventure as teammates and we both worked so hard to make it a success. Her support, her talent (she made ALL the merch), her positivity, her honesty, her jokes, her spirit, I could go on forever. It was such an amazing lesson in partnership and friendship and I'm lucky to have done it with her.
To every organizer, performer, volunteer, festival attendee - you all were some of the most genuine and supportive folks I've ever encountered. Appleton and the larger Wisconsin community you thoroughly charmed me - to say the least - and I've taken that spirit back with me to NYC!
*all photos by Melissa Robles