2017 Winter Wheat Performers

Madcat Midnight Blues JourneyK. Jones and the Benzie PlayboysMark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza!Drew Nelson and Highway-2Stella!CabildoOlivia MainvilleFauxgrassCostabella CloggersPalooka BrothersHawks and OwlsDan Seabolt's Music StudentsBluewater Ramblers

Madcat Midnight Blues Journey

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In 2012, The Madcat Midnight Blues Journey first appeared on the Michigan music scene. That is when Peter Madcat Ruth, Captain Midnight, Papa Schrock and Kid Shimmin first played music together as a quartet. Now, just three years later, they are one of the hottest Blues/Roots/Americana Bands in Michigan.

Conducted by harmonica wizard Peter Madcat Ruth, this eclectic electric quartet is fueled by the guitar and steel fireworks of Drew “Captain Midnight” Howard, and propelled by the mighty rhythm section of bassist Mark “Papa” Schrock and drummer Michael “Kid” Shimmin.

Veterans of the concert and festival stage, the recording studio, clubs, and listening rooms, the Madcat Midnight Blues Journey (aka MMBJ) brings seasoned stage presence and improvisational exuberance to standard and obscure blues tunes, folk and jazz melodies, and original music.

Expect a rocking journey through familiar blues destinations… but be ready to take a trip down the musical fork in the road with Madcat Midnight Blues Journey.

The Madcat Midnight Blues Journey is:
Peter Madcat Ruth – harmonica, electric ukulele and vocals Drew Howard (aka: Captain Midnight) – guitar, lap steel and vocals
Mark Schrock (aka: Papa Schrock) – bass and vocals
Michael Shimmin (aka: Kid Shimmin) – drums

Grammy award winning Peter Madcat Ruth has established an international reputation through his exhilarating, riveting virtuosity on the harmonica. His expertise on this instrument has amazed audiences world-wide. He is equally at home playing blues, folk, jazz, country, or rock and roll. Performance Magazine refers to him as “A harmonica virtuoso who is rapidly approaching legend status.”

Drew “Captain Midnight” Howard is a fixture on the Michigan roots music scene, fluent in all guitars, pedal and lap steel guitar, dobro, and all things with strings. He has played in “A THOUSAND” bands and ensembles over 30+ years”, recorded countless sessions, and was bestowed Detroit Music Awards Outstanding Country Instrumentalist in 2010. Drew is a proud member of the Earthworks Music Collective.

Bassist/multi-instrumentalist Mark “Papa” Schrock has been playing music with Madcat off and on since the late 1970’s. When not playing with MMBJ, Mark can be heard playing with Drew Nelson and Highway 2, Jive at Five, The Schrock Bros, and Jimmy Dillon. A veteran of the Michigan scene, Mark is also the music director and proprietor of Salt of the Earth, a popular farm to fork restaurant and roots music venue in Fennville, Michigan.

Michael “Kid” Shimmin is one of the most in-demand percussionists in the state of Michigan. Well versed in the styles of blues, jazz, world, folk, rock, funk and classical music, he continually proves to be a valuable asset to any musical project. Michael also plays with the olllam, Joshua Davis, Millish, Seth & May, and The Starlight Six. A graduate of Western Michigan University’s percussion program, Mike is everywhere.

All Aboard!

K. Jones and the Benzie Playboys


_I0C2655Cajun, Creole, Zydeco


K. JONES & THE BENZIE PLAYBOYS are bringing the roots sound of southwest Louisiana’s Creole, Cajun, and Zydeco scene to ya’ll up here in the Great Lakes area.  The Playboys are dedicated to keeping the Cajun/Creole music alive with live performances for two-steppin’, waltzing, and smoking red hot zydeco dancing.  Cajun/Creole/French lyrics are common in many of the tunes we sing in the tradition of Amede Ardoin, Bois Sec, Canray Fontenot, Boozoo Chavis, John Delafose, the Balfa Brothers, Iry LeJune, Dennis McGee and many others.  The 10 button diatonic accordion of K.Jones is the driving force of our music, with Jonah Powell on fiddle. Jamie Bernard is on the drums, and Doug Albright on bass. Mark Stoltz is our man on the scrubboard and tit’fer driving the beat…..Mark also gives dancing lessons parties and workshops.

Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza!


Roots / Folk / Bluegrass / Americana


Mark Lavengood is: a multi-instrumentalist / singer / songwriter / band leader / musical collaborator / businessman / human.

You’ve heard him play for the last 5 years primarily with award-winning, roots/americana band, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys. Or perhaps you’ve caught him sitting in with some of your favorite bands on dobro. Or maybe you saw him playing solo.

His most recent project is the Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza! Spawned from his second full length recording project, “No Part of Nothin'”, the Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza! is quickly gaining a reputation for fast paced, roots and bluegrass infused live performances!

Stay tuned for all things Mark Lavengood at www.marklavengood.com

Drew Nelson and Highway-2


Folk/Americana/ Roots


Michigan-born Navy veteran Drew Nelson is a storytelling songwriter and multiinstrumentalist. A fly fisherman and world traveler, he writes as a witness to the lives and journeys of those he has met along the way,mixing Americana and roots-rock with traditional folk styles.

Drew has toured across North America and Europe, performing solo and opening for popular rock artists like Melissa Etheridge and Edwin McCain as well as esteemed folk singers like Josh White Jr. and John Gorka.

He first met John Gorka in 2006, when Drew performed as part of Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s prestigious songwriting contest. John found him backstage after his performance and told him how much his songs moved him. Since then, Drew has shared the stage with John several times, including at such big events as the Kerrville Folk Festival. “Drew Nelson is one of my favorite new artists,” John Gorka says. “His songs soundlike the rest of us feel….dazed, angry, amazed and climbing.”

Drew garnered further attention in 2009, when he released Dusty Road to Beulah Land (Waterbug Records), and it topped the folk radio charts. It also caught the attention of the Grammy-winning indie label Red House Records, which just signed him.

“I love that Drew can rock out as well as write sensitive ballads,” Red House president Eric Peltoniemi says. “I admire his down-to-earth songwriting which portrays our world and ordinary people with such deep feeling and unflinching clarity. He has worked hard in life and hasn’t been afraid to get his hands dirty. He has 100% credibility in the subject matter he writes about, and I’m excited to get the chance to work with him.”


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American Roots


Stella! is a three-piece, all-women, American roots band from southeast Michigan and has been referred to as a singer-songwriter super group with three-part vocal harmonies and three songwriter voices. Stella! was first conceived of by singer-songwriter Jo Serrapere after a conversation with American music critic, Bruce Springsteen biographer, and Creem Magazine co-founder Dave Marsh. Jo was inspired to put together a new group to showcase country-roots songwriting. With the release of their debut album, “Sorry, Stella,” the girls were invited to join Michigan-based music collective Earthwork Music.

Eclectic writer Jo Serrapere credits songwriter Tom Waits, early blues, jazz, and old-time country as her strongest influences. She was the founding member of the old-time string band, Uncle Earl. Jo has had two appearances on National Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and three albums with her band, Jo Serrapere and the Willie Dunns, including her recent release, “Love Going South.” “Love Going South” held the #1 position for two months on the Freeform American Roots Chart in fall of 2009 and was listed in their top 10 albums of 2009. Jo’s new album, “Dollar Store Nation” will be released in early 2015.

Jo asked songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jen Sygit to join Stella! as another songwriting voice in the group. Jen’s voice adds deep blues tones to Stella! She plays acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, Dobro and Ukelele. Jen has three solo albums to her credit, including her new release, “So Long Pollyanna.” Her previous album, “Leaving Marshall Street” was nominated for a 2007 Detroit Music Award and charted at #9 on the Free Form American Roots Chart. Jen also performs solo and with the Americana band Lincoln County Process.

In the Fall of 2010 Stella! accquired singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Laura Ann Bates. University trained in vocal performance, piano and flute, Laura has now taken up the upright bass. By pursuing opera in the classroom by day, bluegrass and folk in the bars at night, hymns and choral pieces on Sunday morning, she has developed a very diverse musical pallet. In 2007 Laura released a CD with songwriter Brandon Foote called “Jubilee.” She and Jo also perform with the Lansing Vaudeville troupe “The Lil’ Darlins.”



Latin, folk, cumbia, ska, reggae, rock en español


Cabildo is a West Michigan based Latin music collective that delivers a unique blend of rock, folk, cumbia, ska, and other genres. The “Rock en Español” movement inspires many of their selections, consisting of original music and covers from several popular Latin American rock bands.

Cabildo literally means “Town Hall” in Spanish. Historically, cabildos were located throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and doubled as locations where African slaves were permitted to play traditional music. Chants and drum parts were passed on from generation to generation during Spanish colonization and continued to live on through modern music.

Affectionately dubbed by Founders Brewing Company as “the world’s greatest Latin folk rock dance collective”, Cabildo has performed at various festivals and venues throughout West Michigan including Tulipanes Festival, Hispanic Festival, Fiesta Mexicana, Eastown Street Fair, Muskegon Summer Celebration, MAJIC Concert Series, Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University, Wealthy Theater, Pyramid Scheme, The Intersection, HopCat, The Winchester, Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (UICA), Muskegon Art Museum, Red Hydrant Press, St. Cecilia Music Society, Grand Rapids Public Library, WYCE, and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

Olivia Mainville


Indie / Swing


     Of her own volition, Grand Rapids-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Mainville dove headfirst into the world of music as early as the fifth grade, when she had begun playing viola and upright bass in orchestra class. Following her first Wheatland Festival in 2012, Mainville fell in love with the idea of performing her own songs on stage, which eventually inspired her 2014 gypsy swing and baroque pop debut EP, Full Steam Ahead.

        Since the release of her first solo output, Olivia has forged a unique path within the Mitten scene, becoming known alongside her band, the Aquatic Troupe, for their energized, dynamic performances and their gargantuan musical talent. Olivia Mainville & the Aquatic Troupe’s debut album, Maybe the Saddest Thing, releases on December 10th, 2015. Comprised of consummate young talents Mainville, Andy Fettig, Bleu Quick, Libby DeCamp, and Ian Burke— and with a special guest appearance by none other than David Bowie’s bandleader and lead guitarist, Gerry Leonard —their multifarious, enthusiastic delivery is sure to be a hit with listeners everywhere.

        Throughout her career as a professional performing musician thus far, Olivia has toured with notable folk band Caravan of Thieves, and has collaborated with stellar Michigan artists like the Ragbirds, the Appleseed Collective, the Accidentals, and Jack and the Bear. She’s also made appearances at significant festivals and venues throughout the Mitten, such as Blissfest in Harbor Springs, the Majestic in Detroit, and the Ark in Ann Arbor. Between Olivia and her band mates, the Aquatic Troupe is capable of playing 11 instruments, ranging from guitar and violin to the trumpet, accordion, and omnichord – all of which encompass their collective sound.

    “I really love that we’re growing as a band,” says Olivia. “We are always exploring new styles and inviting other musicians into our live shows to lend their talents and expand our sound. That’s the most exciting thing. We’re not getting stale; we’re getting better all the time.”


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Progressive Bluegrass


The Fauxgrass approach to music, original and traditional, has quickly landed them a place in the progressive bluegrass community since their 2011 inception. With a fresh, playful, and heart-felt approach to structure Fauxgrass performances flow between genres with unique instrumental communication. The current members consist of Adam Balcer (guitar), Timothy McKay (bass), Alex Johnson (resonator guitar), Jason Wheeler (mandolin), and Jeffery Niemeier (fiddle). They have toured extensively through the mid-west, Colorado, and northeast coast, as well as establishing themselves as a regular presence in the Michigan music scene. They are continuing to build momentum as their unique songwriting and fun performances find enthusiastic reception around the region. Their creative approach to a familiar musical style is a breath of fresh air, and something worth experiencing for the acoustic music lover.

The Costabella Cloggers

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Team Clogging

1:20-2:20pm with The Palooka Brothers

In the early 1970’s, a group of fewer than a dozen young musicians and members of the Mount Pleasant Food Co-Op decided to hold a fundraiser for the co-op with music and dancing at the Rhode’s family farm in Remus, Michigan.  By the following year, this musical event had turned into the Wheatland Music Festival and moved to its current location on the 160-acre Wernette family farm.  A portion of the original festival organizers went on to form the Costabella Cloggers that same year after seeing performances by cloggers from around the country, such as Ira Bernstein, The Fiddle Puppets, and the Green Grass Cloggers.  The Costabella Cloggers purchased and renovated an old school bus and hit the road.  The group performed with boundless energy at festivals and camps throughout Michigan and in Virginia and Canada until 1985.
– Micah Ling

For their work and skill in preserving and disseminating team clogging in Michigan, Costabella Cloggers Ron “Red” and Marcia LeClear (2015 MTAAP master artists), Pamela “Peach” Burke, Jon Cotton, Chris Cooley Cotton, David Cotton, Dave Goodwin, and Kris Lukens were all awarded the 2016 Michigan Heritage Award by the Michigan Traditional Arts Program of Michigan State University.

Palooka Brothers

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Old Time String Band

1:20-2:20pm with The Costabella Cloggers

A State of the Art, Pre-modern “All-timey” String Band!

Hawks and Owls

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A band founded by Bruce Ling in 1997, “Hawk and Owls” performs for music festivals, dances, private parties, and corporate functions in styles from country blues, bluegrass, early swing, Appalachian fiddle, and ballads.

Dan Seabolt’s Music Students



Bluewater Ramblers

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1:00-2:20pm Open Jam

The Blue Water Ramblers sing extraordinary folk music- the folk song of Michigan, America and YOUR life. We perform wherever people want to celebrate: Folk festivals and concerts, paddle wheelers and lake ships, in cities and out in the woods, on stages and around campfires, at church gatherings and traditional dances. For a really good time, contact the Blue Water Ramblers for your next event!
The Blue Water Ramblers’ repertoire comes right out of our Michigan life experiences and the history of the Great Lakes region. It includes lake shanties, lumberman ballads, union rallying cries, farmers’ paeans, Michigan humor, ’60s civil rights and protest music, love songs, gospel music and children’s ditties. Everyone agrees that these combine into a versatile repertoire to the delight and entertainment of their audiences. “I think my hero, Woody Guthrie, would approve,” opined Banjo-Jim. “We’re singing the people’s songs about the people’s lives and they can join right in and sing along.”