CONGRATS TO WILD HORSES
Congratulations to Wild Horses ! The Virtual band Competition winning artist.
You can catch Wild Horses at Blue Ox 2022 on the Backwoods Stage on Saturday, June 25th (Time TBA)
Hailing from the deep woods of northern Minnesota, Wild Horses is quickly becoming one of the regions hottest rising folk bands. With roots in the Minnesota bluegrass music community, frontman Jed LaPlant draws inspiration from the simple storytelling of traditional music, but offers a more dynamic and driving approach sonically. They’ve often been compared to bands like Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and Gregory Alan Isakov due to their ability to draw listeners in with both captivating melodies and a hard-hitting drive in the same live experience.
Wild Horses seeks to convey the unbridled heart of the Wild West in their music. Through time spent in its wide open spaces and often unforgiving nature, the band offers intimate knowledge of the need to move forward no matter what terrain lies ahead. Their debut record, Runaway, will be released in the summer of 2022.
*Thank you to all who submitted. All entries will be considered as a performing artist for the
Blue Ox 2023 festival.
2022 Virtual Band Competition Artists:
(Listed in alphabetical order).
Competition voting closes Wednesday April 27th at 11:59 PM CDT
Charlie Mellinger and Company – Springfield, MO
Up and coming singer/songwriter Charlie Mellinger is making waves in the Midwest. His newly formed band brings you a mix of progressive folk, bluegrass, Americana, and psychedelic jams. With his soaring vocals, thoughtful songwriting, and all-around musicianship.
Danny Frank & the Smoky Gold – Duluth, MN
After two decades of writing songs, years of performing as a solo artist, and the recent release of his debut album Smoky Gold, singer-songwriter Danny Frank has curated an all-star cast of seasoned musicians that fully compliments his skillfully-crafted works. Based in Duluth, MN, “The Smoky Gold” is comprised of banjo player Harrison Olk (Tin Can Gin, Cascade Crescendo, Kind Country Band), bassist Ian Kvale (Black River Revue), and fiddle savant Erin Aldridge (Concert Master – Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra). Danny Frank & The Smoky Gold’s unique sound blends soulful lead vocals with rich harmonies and virtuosic instrumentalism. Steeped in musical traditions of folk, bluegrass, country, classic rock, and blues, Danny Frank & The Smoky Gold offers a genre-blending Americana sound that is captivating, invigorating, and sure to get your toe tapping.
Gin Mill Hollow – Madison, WI
Over seven years, two studio albums, and almost 500 shows, the ever-evolving Americana outfit Gin Mill Hollow has been showcasing their unique approach to string-band music throughout the Midwest and beyond. Born as an acoustic duo at the Up North Bar in Madison, WI, the group found traction in the area after adding mandolin and eventually percussion to the mix.
Luke Callen – Minneapolis, MN
At the intersection of Harry Smith’s Old Weird America – the songs of heartworn highways – and the tumult of today you can find the music of Luke Callen. The songs – equal parts tragic comedy and hopeless reverie – paint a picture of the places and people that make up his earthly home. A poet – a player – a folk singer – Luke has traversed his country unraveling tall tales – short tunes and all that’s hidden underneath.
Originally from the river town of La Crosse, Wisconsin – the heart of the Driftless Region on the Mississippi River – and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota by way of Colorado Luke brings his humble sense of humor and humanity wherever he may go. His last two solo albums – below your knows (2019) and Hard Sardine (2021) – reach from the ethereal to the eternally real – whimsical walks in the out of doors to hopelessness and heartache and all the in betweens. He is currently working on his third album in Cleveland, MN – with producer Erik Koskinen.
Luke has played hundreds of shows spanning both coasts, the American west, south and heartland. He has had the opportunity to provide support for Dom Flemons, Shawn Colvin, Dead Horses, The Dustbowl Revival, Kacy & Clayton, James McMurtry, Whiskey Shivers, Charlie Parr, The Lowest Pair, The Last Revel, Lilly Hiatt, Chicago Farmer, and Robbie Fulks among others.
Nate & Hannah – Saint Paul, MN
Globetrotters at heart, Nate Case and Hannah Hendrickson have spent much of their early adulthoods exploring different countries, playing with different groups, and gathering unique experiences in pursuit of connection and adventure. While much of their original music was written as individuals before knowing each other, combining their ideas had an instant familiarity. Perhaps because of these separate, yet shared, experiences. Their music tows the line between sultry and sweet, with influences ranging from traditional folk music to Muscle Shoals era blues. Digging heavily into harmonies and progressions that feel like an old worn-in boot, they strive to create an atmosphere of home wherever they go.
Pony – Minneapolis, MN
The folk-rock duo Pony was formed in 2014 by long-time friends Clifton Nesseth (vocals, strings, guitars, keys, synthesizers) and Paul Sauey (vocals, strings, guitars, bass). Based out of Minneapolis, MN, the pair’s multi-instrumentalist abilities and vocal harmonies have carved them out a reputation of creating maximalist soundscapes that are defined by droning layers of guitars, strings, and synth textures – undergirding emotionally evocative lyrical imagery.
River Valley Rangers – Chicago, IL
Rolling plains, crackling campfires, and late night string sessions are just some of the scenes that float into one’s mind when absorbing one of Midwestern quartet River Valley Rangers’ forthright compositions. Throughout their 5 year tenure, the group has remained a steadfast contributor to the “newgrass” genre through their inventive, free-flowing flatpicking styles and arrangements, all the while paying omnipresent homage to the pioneers of the conventional bluegrass style. While the traditional instrumentation of their songs resounds with familiarity, the techniques they employ––rhythmic changes, melodic sequences, breakdowns, improvised jamming––yield an ever-evolving sonic landscape, rippled with nods to more orthodox offerings from within the realm.
The Rangers, comprised of Mark Messer (mandolin, vocals), Jesse Beilfuss (upright bass, vocals), Daniel Watkins (guitar, vocals), and Ben Zorn (fiddle, vocals), followed unique paths into the world of music-making, yet each exhibit an aptitude for harmonizing, songwriting, and audience interplay. They also share a willingness to experiment: one may find an array of heterogeneous tunes in any given live set, be it a jaunty number about the simplicities of rural living, an old-time standard, or a crowd-stirring alt rock cover––the band leans into musical diversity. This characteristic is the hallmark of a repertoire that runs deep and varied, much like the colorful river beds that etch themselves into the prairies of the group’s Illinois home.
SadBlackLab – Lexington, KY
SadBlackLab is an alternative folk trio based in central Kentucky. The arrangement, an amalgam of guitarist/vocalist Greg McIntosh, violinist/vocalist Emily Miller, and bassist Ellis Waddell, has been described as being very “non-derivative”. The sound consists of rhythmic finger-style guitar, dark and melodic vocals, bold colors and fluid delivery from violin strings, and uniquely stylized upright bass. The trio is capable of blending seamlessly between moments of beautiful chaos and syncopated intensity, inviting the listener into the narrative sound space that is SadBlackLab.
Soggy Prairie – Madison, WI
Soggy Prairie has the five-piece instrumentation of a traditional bluegrass band, but don’t call them traditional. With a mix of bluegrass standards, modern takes on country and Americana, and original music, Soggy Prairie puts on a show that demonstrates the versatility and broad appeal of string music.
Formed in 2002 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, the band has developed a confident, high-energy sound and an enthusiastic following. Starting out as high schoolers too young to go to bluegrass jams in bars, they came up with their own interpretations of bluegrass classics. Since then, they’ve become a mainstay of the southern Wisconsin bluegrass scene, playing close to a hundred shows per year at festivals, concerts, fairs and bars.
Superior Siren – Duluth, MN
Superior Siren is an eerie folk project from Duluth, Minnesota. The music is inspired by Lake Superior and Siren mythology, and combines alluring vocals with haunting melodies. Superior Siren is led by singer-songwriter and guitarist Laura Sellner. Sellner debuted the project in 2014 with the ethereal solo EP “Lotus in the Muck”. In 2016 she joined forces with cellist Rachel Gobin, bassist Nyssa Krause, and drummer Emma Deaner to craft a mesmerizing blend of strings and percussion. The all-female band released a full-length self-titled LP in 2018, followed by a tour of the Midwest. In 2021 Superior Siren released another solo EP of original material titled “Kill Your Darlings”. The collection spotlights Sellner’s captivating voice and poignant songwriting. Superior Siren has supported internationally recognized acts such as Bon Iver, Low, Trampled By Turtles, Charlie Parr, Danny Barnes, and HALEY, as well as a special performance with DeVotchKa on the main stage of First Avenue. They continue to perform as a solo or full-band act throughout the region, and are in preparation for the next full-length album.
The Driftless Revelers – Eau Claire, WI
The Driftless Revelers formed in the second spring of the first global pandemic of the 21st century, with one ear turned toward the shellac platters and Victrola virtuosos of the early to mid 20th century, and the other ear glued to the soundscapes of the 1960’s & 1970’s American freak-folk scene.
Featuring the original songwriting of Ben Nelson, Matthew R. Sayles, and Jerod Kaszynski, the Driftless Revelers will pleasure a crowd with plectral banjo tones, the mournful wailing of resophonic steel guitars, and the up-right bass bellows of an era that can’t quite be defined, but revels in the timeless ephemera of weird old-time American music. With influences as varied and eccentric as a proper musty smelling thrift store record collection, the band grooves merrily through early roots blues and jazz music, to hillbilly and string band howlers, all the way into the not-quite folk but not-quite psychedelic realms of their own creation.
The Muddy Souls – Eugene, OR
The Muddy Souls are a 5-piece, progressive bluegrass band formed in Eugene, Oregon in 2018. Their ever growing sound is a beautifully fresh take on an age old genre of music. Having four different songwriters and singers in the band, their sound encompasses a wide variety of influences. Traditional bluegrass, folk, jam and improvisational music, and jazz just to name a few. Their uniquely crafted songs and thought provoking lyrics are showcased on their recently released, third studio album, entitled “The Raven”. They are taking the Pacific Northwest bluegrass scene by storm, and they are currently working on material for a 4th studio album.
The Old Pine Road Band – Parrish, WI
Much like the mythical Hodag, the Old Pine Road Band has emerged from the woods of northern Wisconsin to mystify, captivate and entertain its many fine inhabitants. for nearly a decade, David Walters and the old pine road boys have been combining a crowd-pleasing blend of soulful funk-grass with a taste of twang and jam-band experimentation that’s sure to leave you entertained.
The Wildwoods – Lincoln, NE
The Wildwoods are an enchanting Folk/Americana duo based in Lincoln, Nebraska, whose flowing songwriting tandem has been praised by Paste Magazine as “focused and charmingly human”. The Wildwoods’ delicate melodies and descriptive lyrics come from nature, love, experiences from the road, and growing up in Nebraska.
The Wildwoods consist of husband and wife duo, Noah and Chloe Gose, who share a wide range of influences from the styles of Watchhouse, The Decemberists, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Joni Mitchell, and Gregory Alan Isakov. The duo formed in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2012 when they were each just 14 years old. After meeting in middle school, Chloe and Noah began writing and performing together and quickly gained popularity in their local music scene. Fast forward to today, and the now married couple can be found consistently performing all across the country. The group has supported touring acts such as Elephant Revival, The Hunts, The Accidentals, The Way Down Wanderers, and Jamie Wyatt. Along with performing several Sofar concerts in cities such as London, Brooklyn, and St. Louis, as well as a European tour in 2019, the pair has also performed at several festivals including: Summerfest, The Nebraska Folk and Roots Festival, Wakarusa, and the Flatwater Music Festival. In 2022, The Wildwoods were chosen as “Best Band” by the Lincoln Choice Awards. In 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021 The Wildwoods were nominated by the Omaha Arts and Entertainment Awards as a top Americana/Folk artist in Nebraska.
Uncle Muskrat- Minneapolis, MN
Modern Sounds in Mountain Music. Uncle Muskrat is pure fun in a five-piece ensemble that is on a mission to keep the music of the past alive and in the ears of many all while having a pretty damn good amount of fun while doing it! You most likely have heard the five-part harmonies over a few beers at a local brewery, or stuck around for a song between roller coaster rides at Valley Scare, or maybe even strolled past on a beautiful night while crossing the Stone Arch Bridge. However, if you are one of the LUCKY folks that have yet to enjoy an evening with the gentlemen of Uncle Muskrat… well, let me tell you.. it will be a night you never forget!
Wild Horses – Grand Rapids, MN
Hailing from the deep woods of northern Minnesota, Wild Horses is quickly becoming one of the regions hottest rising folk bands. With roots in the Minnesota bluegrass music community, frontman Jed LaPlant draws inspiration from the simple storytelling of traditional music, but offers a more dynamic and driving approach sonically. They’ve often been compared to bands like Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and Gregory Alan Isakov due to their ability to draw listeners in with both captivating melodies and a hard-hitting drive in the same live experience. Wild Horses seeks to convey the unbridled heart of the Wild West in their music. Through time spent in its wide open spaces and often unforgiving nature, the band offers intimate knowledge of the need to move forward no matter what terrain lies ahead. Their debut record, Runaway, will be released in the summer of 2022.
Wild Horses’ core consists of Jed LaPlant (vocals, guitar), Ariana LaPlant (vocals, keys, fiddle), McKeon Hugh Roberts (bass), and JJ Snell (drums).