Joel Paterson provides the headline name for Joel Paterson and The Modern Sounds. The band is a Chicago based rhythm trio featuring Paterson on guitar, steel guitar and vocals, Beau Sample on string bass and vocals, and Alex Hall on drums and vocals. This big little band is dedicated to performing many styles of traditional American music, specializing in hot jazz, western swing, rockabilly, classic blues and everything in between. The Modern Sounds are on the cutting edge of the Atomic Age – bringing you the best of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. As a testament to their popularity and immense talent, Joel Paterson and The Modern Sounds have just won the Chicago Reader’s “Our Reader’s Choice” award for “Best Jazz Act” (Best of Chicago, 2009 Issue)Joel “Fats” Paterson hails from Madison, Wisconsin, and has lived in Chicago for many years, performing with various bands including Jimmy Sutton’s Four Charms, The Wabash Jug Band and Kelly Hogan’s Wooden Leg. He currently fronts The Modern Sounds and Joel Paterson’s Blues Roundup. He can also be seen playing pedal steel for the honky tonk band, The Western Elstons. Joel will be playing a rare solo set Saturday at the Sugar Maple Fest and also teaching a guitar workshop.
Mark Hembree, a Wisconsin native, was born in 1954. He’s been a notable fixture for many years, playing in some of the most prominent bands of the last three decades. Hembree began his career as a member of the second edition of the Monroe Doctrine, subsequently joining Bill Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys. Mark played bass and sang the bass parts with quartets, working with the “Big Mon” himself for almost five years, from 1979 – 1984. His solid bass playing can be heard on Bill Monroe’s classic instrumental album “Master of Bluegrass”.After leaving the Blue Grass Boys, he co-founded the popular Nashville Bluegrass Band. He played with them from 1984 through 1988, and recorded on their first three albums. Additionally, he has been the bassist for a variety of recording sessions, including the all star album band Dreadful Snakes, which included Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas. When he returned to Wisconsin, he was part of the popular Western Swing band, the Western Box Turtles. He often works with such talented singers and players as Jerry Wicentowski and Andy Statman. He is currently playing bluegrass with Madison’s Nob Hill Boys. At last year’s Sugar Maple Festival, Mark participated in special Blue Grass Boys reunion performance with Mike Compton, Bob Black and Tom Ewing. Whenever Mark is playing, you can be assured of a rock solid performance by a man who is always having a great time behind the bass. It is an honor to have Mark as our master of ceremonies for the entire festival!
Frogwater is Susan Jeske Dermody & John Nicholson. Susan has been playing violin since her classical music and Suzuki classes as a child. In 1989, she turned from classical violin to “fiddle” and joined the Milwaukee Celtic ensemble, the Glenghillies. The Ghillies, as they became known, developed a popular following among all age groups and backgrounds. They played pubs and festivals throughout the US and Canada. On occasion, they even shared a stage with the Ireland Chieftains.In 1995, John Nicholson returned to Milwaukee from California and joined the Ghillies, bringing banjo, guitar and vocals to the group. After the group dissolved in 1997, Susan and John continued playing together and co founded Frogwater. This new venture featured a cross pollination of musical genres; Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Blues. Their performances are particularly influenced by their love of Irish and Scottish music. As they add an emphasis on old-time American music, Frogwater frequently includes another Milwaukee musician, Li’l Rev, on harmonica, guitar and ukelele. For the past several years, Frogwater has performed regularly at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, Irish Fest, Bastille Days and Rainbow Summer. They also perform at numerous other fairs and contra dances across the state and Midwest. They received honors as best band in the Bluegrass and Country categories in WAMI (Wisconsin Are Music Industry) awards two years running, and are winners of other readers’ polls, as well. In addition to their performance schedule, John teaches guitar at UW-M Extension, and Frogwater has found time to write original material, and record two CDs. Frogwater kicks off this year’s Sugar Maple Fest Friday night at 5pm!
Robbie Fulks, although born in Pennsylvania and spent much of his childhood there and in Virginia and North Carolina, is a Chicago mainstay. The singer-songwriter moved to Chicago in 1983 and joined the bluegrass band, Special Consensus (a Sugar Maple concert series alum). He played guitar on their 1989 Grammy nominated album, Hole in my Heart. Bloodshot Records released Fulks’ solo debut, Country Love Songs, in 1996, followed by South Mouth in 1997. To many fans, it was this second album that cemented Fulks as an alternative country artist. In fact, Fulks is known for his disdain of mainstream modern country and the country music industry.As a songwriter Fulks is difficult to pigeonhole, which is part of his charm. Many of his compositions are silly, funny or satirical songs, while others are serious country songs. One album, 2001’s Couples in Trouble from his own company, Boondoggle Records (distributed by Bloodshot), comes off more as an experimental rock album than as country. He followed it up later that year with 13 Hillbilly Giants, a covers collection that spotlighted lesser-known songs from country’s earlier days. Most recently, Fulks’ recorded an innovative collection of fifty songs, 50-Vc Doberman, only available online as high-quality DRM free MP3 downloads. This will be Fulks’ second appearance at the Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival. His live performances feature improvised rearrangements of his original songs, off-the-cuff musical humor, and covers of songs by Michael Jackson and Cher, among others. This year, Nora O’Connor will join him on the main stage. Nora O’Connor, who sometimes went by the name Nora Black as a member of the Blacks, appeared on-stage and on record with Andrew Bird, the New Pornographers, the Aluminum Group, Chris Mills, Otis Clay, Jeff Tweedy, Neko Case, and Mavis Staples. As a first generation Irish-American born and raised on the South side of Chicago, O’Connor’s father began her love of music by teaching her a wealth of Irish traditional dance tunes. As O’Connor’s diverse interests indicate (not only is she a talented singer-songwriter and guitarist, but a doula, bartender, and ordained reverend as well), she would not be satisfied with performing only Irish traditional music. In 1994, O’Connor joined the Blacks, which brought her to the attention of the alternative country crowd. While taking a break from the band in 1996, O’Connor released her first solo album, Cerulean Blue. She rejoined the Blacks in 1998 to record their debut album, Dolly Horrorshow on Bloodshot Records. This coincided with the release of I Wanna Be Kate, a Chicago-based tribute album in honor of Kate Bush that featured O’Connor’s version of “The Saxophone Song.” By 2000, the Blacks disbanded, but O’Connor was in high demand as a guest vocalist, frequently performing with Andrew Bird. By 2004, O’Connor signed with Bloodshot Records as a solo artist and in August of that year released Til the Dawn. Nora O’Connor will be guest starring with the New Pornographers for a stint of their tour later this year. Robbie Fulks and Nora O’Connor have performed together on numerous occasions, as well as on several recordings, such as “Because You Can” and “Just Too Easy to Cry” off of Fulks’ 50-Vc. Doberman. We are lucky to have them on the same stage at this year’s Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival. We hope to see you there!
Robbie Fulks and the Flat Five (which includes Nora O’Connor) perform “Think About Your Troubles”. Robbie Fulks and Nora O’Connor cover Michael Jackson’s “The Girl is Mine” for the 25th Anniversary of Thriller.
Shotgun Party is a band out of Austin, TX that is a fabulous mix of swing, old country and hot jazz. This trio’s sound packs a wallop and includes some of the finer song-writing you’ll hear. The band features Jenny Parrott on Guitar and Vocals, Andrew Austin-Petersen (originally from Madison) on bass and vocals, and filling in for band member Katy Rose will be Korey Simeone (Asylum Street Spankers/Austin Lounge Lizards) on fiddle.You can have a listen to the band below from live recording from 2007 thanks to Kaos Radio on archive.org. Shotgun Party plays Saturday afternoon at the Sugar Maple Festival. You’ll be sorry if you miss ’em!