Named for grain-harvesting machinery, The Combine is a powerful driving string band built to fuel great dances. A combination of forces from two renowned Illinois bands, the Volo Bogtrotters and the Allen Street String band, The Combine features fiddlers Lynn “Chirps” Smith and Fred Campeau, Dave Landreth on banjo, and Steve Rosen on guitar. All are prizewinning old-time musicians and veterans of countless dance events and workshops. The Combine first joined forces to play for Seattle’s Wannadance Uptown, then moved cross country for Pinewoods American Dance Week. They are well loved throughout the Midwest and beyond: “mowing your wheat, mowing your clover — nine ways ‘til Sunday.”Lynn “Chirps” Smith started out playing old-time music on mandolin in the 1970’s with the venerable Indian Creek Delta Boys. Through extensive seeking out and field recording of older fiddlers in rural Illinois, the band preserved a vanishing repertoire of tunes from the pre-radio era. Chirps has continued to share this wealth of traditional dance tunes through his work with the Volo Bogtrotters, New Bad Habits and the myriad musicians of the Chicago Barn Dance Company, and aspiring fiddlers across the country. Fred Campeau has been a favorite performer of old-time, folk and blues music around Chicago since his early days hosting open mike sessions in the 1970s. He has played with the Chicago Barn Dance Company since its inception in 1978. Equally at home on all string band instruments, he played banjo with the CBDC’s touring band The Polecats. In 1985 he joined with Chirps in creating the double fiddle sound of the Volo Bogtrotters. With The Combine, Fred and Chirps continue to explore and expand the interplay of melody, harmonies and rhythm that make a tune exceptionally danceable. Dave Landreth has toured and taught old-time banjo for over two decades, as a solo performer and with the Allen Street String band, appearing at festivals, dances, workshops and venues of all sizes. Though based in St. Louis, MO (a long way from Chicago), Dave crossed paths with the Volos often, and the late night jam sessions were truly great. Drafted for The Combine, Dave speedily incorporated his masterful picking into the ensemble’s sound, providing a rolling momentum and lift to the dancing. Tim Foss will be playing the guitar though he is very well known as an outstanding fiddler. He is form Wisconsin and is a revered treasure. He also plays in New Bad Habits with Chirps and Dave. He is a multi instrumentalist as can be witnessed on his solo cd “The Cat Came Back” where he plays all of the instruments. The Combine play the Old-Time dance Friday night and at various workshops and jams on Saturday. Bring your dancin’ shoes, and instrument, or both!
Dave Landau is a guitar player with a twinkle in his eye, a song in his heart and a handle on the younger set, This former grade school teacher left the classroom and has devoted the past several years to performing music for kids in schools and theaters across the state. Dave teases and engages his young audience with a variety of stories and songs designed to appeal to the young and the young at heart.Make no mistake, this talented guitar player and singer has all it takes to keep everyone entertained. Dave writes original material of his own, but also draws on his experience as an original member of Madison’s wildly popular Cork ‘n’ Bottle String Band. He has a lengthy repertoire of songs to delight young and old. You won’t want to set aside Dave’s show as “just for the kids”. Believe me, there is something for everyone who wants to walk away with a smile. Kids under 12 get in FREE at the Sugar Maple Fest and Dave performs both days.
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!