2018 Winter Wheat


The Ninth Annual Winter Wheat

1pm Sat, Jan. 13th – 1am Sun, Jan. 14th
The Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI.

Winter Wheat celebrates local Michigan talent through music and dance.

Enjoy nearly twelve hours of music on two stages at The Intersection!  With roots running deep in Wheatland Music Festival traditions, Winter Wheat welcomes all to come in out of the cold to warm up with the best traditional music that Michigan has to offer.  See you there!

Photos courtesy Anthony Norkus Photography

Have you ever wished that the wonderful Wheatland feeling could last all year long?  Have you ever wanted to share in Wheatland camaraderie, dance, and music during the winter doldrums?  Have you ever wanted an excuse to delay your winter chores and cure your cabin fever?

If so, please mark your calendars for January 13, 2018.  That will be the date of Winter Wheat 8!!  Winter Wheat has grown from a cute little off-shoot to one of West Michigan’s premier indoor music and dancing festivals.  Located in the Intersection in Grand Rapids, we have Cajun, Americana, Bluegrass, Latin, and Traditional music, as well as Cajun and Honky-Tonk dancing.  We have food and companionship.  Simply put: WE HAVE FUN!!!!

Please keep track of Winter Wheat announcements on the WMO website and we look forward to seeing you early in 2018.  – Josh Rose


A block of hotel rooms are reserved for Winter Wheat attendees at the Grand River Inn for $99.99 per night.  Check in time is 4pm (contact the inn if you would like an earlier check-in time).  A shuttle will run until 1:00am.  The rooms are single with a king size bed.
Call the Grand River Inn at 616-363-9001 to reserve a room and ask for the Winter Wheat block!

9th Annual Winter Wheat Performers

Joshua Davis TrioJimmie StaggerK. Jones & the Benzie PlayboysMichigan Mafia String BandGasoline GypsiesPeat in the CreelJosh Rose and the Founding FathersDrive SouthJake KershawLuke Warm & the Not So HotsThe JourneymenThe Palooka BrothersBlue Water Ramblers

Main Stage
10:00 – 11:20pm


Joshua Davis was raised in the folk tradition: the music, the social movements, the land. He writes songs that blend the roots of American music with gritty rock n’ roll and vintage soul. Performing Songwriter Magazine called the result, “Some of the liveliest and most rocking roots music around.

For over 15 years Joshua has made his living sharing his songs, stories and knowledge across the US and Canada at festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses and dives – as a solo act, front man for roots ensemble “Steppin’ In It”, classic swing band “Shout Sister Shout”, songwriter showcase band “The Starlight Six” and frequently as a workshop facilitator, presenter or instructor.

His music is steeped in ragtime blues, sweet jazz and real country but Davis’s broad schooling in the cultural, political and musical roots of American tradition has resulted in more than a simple retelling of universal themes. Dubbed, “the Michigan version of the Great American Songscape” (Chris Reitz, Elderly Instruments), his catalog is a seamless snapshot of American past and present. Joshua has shared stages with a diverse list of luminaries, such as Tim O’Brien, Greg Brown, The Indigo Girls, Leftover Salmon, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Corey Harris, John Gorka, Jeff Daniels, Ellis Paul, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Jimmy LaFave, Ray Bonneville, Arlo Guthrie, Abigail Washburn, Larry McCray, Sunny Wilkinson, Catie Curtis, Bill Kirchen, Peter “Madcat” Ruth, Bernie Leadon, Wayne Hancock, The Verve Pipe, John Hammond, Pete Seeger and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Davis has released three critically acclaimed solo albums, five albums with Steppin’ In It, a record of jazz standards with Shout Sister Shout, and has appeared on too many albums to count. His most recent album, “A Miracle of Birds” is inspired by his travels in the Palestinian West Bank with non-profit organization On the Ground. About the album, Revue magazine says, “His heartfelt documentation of ‘people as people’ offers up compassionate songs of hope, darkness and perseverance.”

Joshua has performed live on the internationally syndicated programs Mountain Stage, Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour and Backstage Pass. His songs have been featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered, Folk Alley and The Mix and he has played scores of prestigious festivals and venues not to mention every festival Michigan has to offer.

His music receives regular airplay across the US and has been heard in at least 180 countries. His records have consistently appeared on major independent and free-format radio charts. Among other honors, “Fool Rooster” earned the album of the year slot from Progressive Torch and Twang, a cult favorite Americana show on WDBM, “Magnolia Belles” won Americana album of the year from WYCE, “Simple Tunes for Troubled Times” was one of Folk Alley’s best albums of 2009 and Shout Sister Shout’s “Hit That Jive” reached #1 on the Roots Music Report jazz chart and was the longest charting jazz album of that year.

Davis has gained recognition as an enthusiastic and successful songwriting and guitar instructor and folk historian. He has studied under greats such as Guy Clark, Steve Earle, John Hartford, Greg Brown, Tim O’Brien, Lyle Lovett, Michael Smith, and Tom Paxton and Dr. Bruce Conforth as well as Bela Fleck, Casey Driessen, and Roy Book Binder.

Joshua is a respected producer and has built a small but excellent home studio, pointing to his work with Grammy and Oscar winning producers and audio engineers Glenn Brown, Sally Van Meter and David Glasser.

Josh is especially interested in the ways in which music brings individuals and communities together, to foster peace and understanding. He’s noticed that songs can re-soundtrack people’s lives and peoples’ lives too. In February of 2012, he travelled to Palestine and Israel with non-profit org On the Ground to participate as “cultural emissary” in the Run Across Palestine, a fund raising ultra-marathon in support of fair trade farming communities in the West Bank.

Davis has just released “A Miracle of Birds”, an album inspired by his experience in the Holy Land. Half of the proceeds will mean olive trees and educational scholarships for the farmers and families he encountered during his travels. The songs are deeply personal and deal with his struggle between his Jewish identity and the oppression and confusion he found in the Middle East. Josh brings a unique program to schools and communities that combines his music and stories about the trip as well as club dates with a world-class six-piece band.

His greatest honor as a writer came recently when the Michigan Historical Museum recognized his work in “Put It On Paper”, an exhibit examining the creative process alongside legendary creative minds such as Ernest Hemingway and Laura Ingalls-Wilder.

He lives in Traverse City, Michigan with his lovely and brilliant wife, daughter and new son.

Main Stage
6:40 – 8:00pm


Jimmie Stagger’s Blues Odyssey began in 1965 when bought his first guitar. After gigging with various local bands for a few years, Jimmie founded the Wealthy Street Sheiks in 1970. Dedicated to the performance and preservation of the old time “back porch” and “juke joint” styles, the Sheiks ripped it up with their bawdy antics. Jimmie’s accompaniment of Bukka White highlighted the Sheiks appearance at the first Grand Valley Blues Festival in 1972.

Late in 1972, Jimmie formed a musical partnership with the legendary guitarist and songwriter Frank Salamone. It was during this time that Jimmie met the string band blues master Carl Martin. Carl encouraged Jimmie to develop his talents on the mandolin, fiddle and bottleneck guitar. Carl so enjoyed Jimmie’s playing that he invited him on stage at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan and at the National Folk Festival in Washington, DC in 1976.

After returning to his original love of the electric guitar and honing his chops in local bar bands, Jimmie said, “enough is enough” and established the “Jimmie Stagger” Band in 1980.

Since then there has been no turning back!
Currently, the three piece line up allows Stagger’s guitar prowess to shine through loud and clear. With a big, rich voice reminiscent of Jimmy Thackery, but with an elasticity that makes it far more expressive, Stagger is a compelling storyteller who makes you feel his pain and share his joy.

Jimmie also does many shows solo, duo, and trio. He can do anything you want. Jimmie’s growing list of accomplishments includes receiving the esteemed “Jammie” award for “The Triumphant Return of Slim Jim” as the best Blues CD from WYCE Radio in 2002. His new CD “Graveyard of my Own” released 2015 won best Soul/Blues at the Jammie awards.

As a community leader, Stagger contributes much of his time honoring his commitment to support several charities in the West Michigan area including Toys-for-Tots, God’s Kitchen, Childrens Christian Charities, Hospice of Michigan, Prostate Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society. Jimmie has also supported the West Michigan Blues Society and WYCE public radio.

Seen at many Festivals and Special events, this act is not one to be missed.

Main Stage
8:20 – 9:40pm

Cajun, 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.


Main Stage
3:20 – 4:40pm

Notorious for ROCKINACOUSTICBLUESGRASS The MICHIGAN MAFIA STRING BAND is fully armed with a very talented gang of West Michigan gunslingers that deliver Killer sounds no matter the musical neighborhood !

Michigan Mafia String Band has been performing in West Michigan for the last 6 years, playing rockin’ acoustic bluegrass, some sweet country along with a little Swing thrown in just to keep you movin’ has earned them an eclectic group of fans. The MMSB plays songs you love, some are classics, some are destined to be classic, all of them are performed in a powerful acoustic way.


Main Stage
with Native Howl
11:40pm – 1:00am

Rollicking, genre-transcending rock ‘n’ roll out of Detroit played by four guys who love the craft. With three part vocal harmonies, driving guitar and bass riffs, their songs are powerful and intense, yet easy to grasp. With the release of their new album “Killin’ Time” on July 1st 2017, the The Gasoline Gypsies are eager to show the rock community what they can do.​

​The first iteration of the Gasoline Gypsies was an acoustic, three piece Folk/Rock act, that honed the Gypsies penchant for crisp harmonies, and grown up lyrics. The departure of their percussion man, resulted in meeting drummer, Joe Makowski, an unabashed rock and roller whose style begged that the gypsies plug in and test their rock chops. Electrified, Caleb’s front man guitar skills blossomed. Their growth process eventually led to the addition of Neal Love. Neal’s ability to understand that he brings the missing piece to this team, makes The Gasoline Gypsies a group that reverently respects the art of the music, while unleashing all that we love about rock and roll.


Traditional Stage

“Peat in the Creel draws from Irish traditional music roots, at times nourished by the heritage of Scotland and broader world influences, to bring forth a range of energetic dance tunes, spirited folk songs, and peaceful melodies. The group’s namesake, a phrase inspired by a popular Scottish song lyric which literally wishes a basket laden with peat for fuel, metaphorically toasts to a bountiful future. Founded in 2011, the band is cut from the turf of West Michigan and enjoys performing throughout the region. Peat in the Creel features Alison Myers on flute, whistle, and vocals; Laura Christiansen on fiddle; Toby Bresnahan on bouzouki, guitar, and vocals; and Mike Mulder on bodhrán.”

Traditional Stage
10:10 – 11:30pm


Songs tend to originate in some Nashville/LA factory with the glossy coating shaped by a countless number of “pros”. The writers upon engineers upon co-writers upon writers upon stylists pass these song-objects down a huge manufacturing line and then watch the dollar signs flash. The song (that you’ve heard before) enters the public consciousness, launches a career or two, and then vanishes into oblivion. The throw-away culture strikes again. There are other songs, though, that come from craftsmen, like the characters you see working away at some Americana exhibit creating relics of an unknown past. These song craftsmen create works that are plucked from the air, like lightning bugs destined for an old Mason jar. The songs of these artists become polished like the ancient stones in the Flat River. These songs come wrapped in brown paper with an old twine ribbon. These songs come from the soul and etch themselves into your fabric.

Josh Rose is one of these craftsmen.

Josh grew up in the northern woodlands and fine tuned his songwriting in the borderlands. He has spent the past ten years touring the midwest, teaching, writing, and creating a rich body of work. Josh is the type of writer who labors over every word and wants his songs to be injected into the listener’s permanent being. After his two previous studio albums, Firework Letdown and Slow Bloom, Josh is more than pleased to bring you Old Laminate.

Traditional Stage
7:10 – 8:10pm


Drive South… You won’t regret it!
What do Freddy Fender, Ringo Starr, Gerry Rafferty and Drive South have in common? Roger Brown – a visionary songwriter whose versatility lends itself to this duo’s creative take on Americana music. Mary Sue Wilkinson is a perfect complement to Roger, with a voice as pure as a Michigan stream and as warm as a southern night. These are two seasoned musicians known most recently as the core of country band The Wilenes (formerly Sister Wilene). Vocal duets featuring tight harmony singing are the perfect match for Brown’s accomplished finger style guitar work and Mary Sue’s rock solid rhythm guitar playing. And as one recent presenter said “You two are fun!”

Main Stage
1:40 – 3:00pm


Jake Kershaw is the 16 year old guitar slinging, blues/rock singing teenager out of Southern Michigan everyone is talking about. You can find Jake performing just about anywhere from Muskegon to the Ohio-Indiana State line and all points in between. 2017 was a very busy year with festivals, benefits, and private shows in Marshall, Battle Creek, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Eaton Rapids, Saline, Quincy, St Louis, Hudsonville, Rockford, Fruitport, and Comstock Park to name a few.

In January of 2014 Jake made his public debut. Without ever playing with another musician before, he found his way to the main stage at a Chili Cook Off/ Blues Jam with approximately 600 people in attendance. Jake was immediately bombarded with musicians wanting to join forces and begin a band. A few months later a band, did indeed form, and he was beginning the journey.

In September of 2015 Jake found himself on an even bigger stage but this time with an International star named Jonny Lang. During a meet and greet with Jonny before a concert, Jake was surprised with an invitation to perform on stage that night from Jonny himself. This was another barn burner as Jake was still 14 at the time. This event, due to Jonny’s genuine kindness, has continued to be a huge inspiration for Jake.

Jake has since performed with several National touring acts such as Anthony Gomes, Albert Cummings, Larry McCray, and Walter Trout. He has also had the honor of opening for Marcus King and Tommy Castro and the Painkillers. Jake continues to book repeat work with Larry as he is a Michigan native. Jake continues to network with these acts and has built friendships with them all. It is not uncommon for Jake to either receive a call or private message from these talented individuals.

Early spring of 2017 Jake was honored with his first endorsement, a Young Artist endorsement with Heritage Guitars in Kalamazoo Michigan, which is the very factory where all of the infamous Gibson Guitars came from in the 50’s and 60’s. Jake worked side by side with the Heritage Luthiers to build his first custom Heritage guitar which he received this past summer in July. Jake also released his first CD titled “Piece of My Mind” in Grand Rapids at the WLAV Summertime Blues on the Mall.

Jake is projecting 2018 to be an incredible year as several performance requests for winter, early spring, and summer are already on the books. Jake Kershaw performs as a power trio and leaves the audiences asking for more. This is a high energy group that plays their own original blues rock as well as their versions of classic blues with a rock edge.

Jake Kershaw is on fire getting National recognition from both booking agents and professional musicians. The phone is ringing and dates are filling for 2018. Let Jake “BRING THE PARTY” to your event.

Main Stage
5:00 – 6:20pm


Luke Warm & the Not So Hots pride themselves on fun and lively performances with a strong stage presence, while maintaining a professional image. They have been performing together as Luke Warm and the Not So Hots since 2012 and have over 100 years combined musical experience in many different genres.

Traditional Stage
8:30 – 9:50pm


As acoustic musicians go these days, Brian Oberlin (mandolin) and Luke Gitchel (guitar) have a chemistry like no other. They have been playing together for 15 years, yet each concert is full of new ideas as they spring and lope through songs, bouncing off each other’s nuances with a lively thrill. Their vocal harmonies are likened to brothers as they honed their skills together as teenagers playing in several different Michigan bands. They both grew up in music playing bluegrass on their respective instruments and they write their own songs in the bluegrass and swing genres. The Journeymen typically travel with a bass player and another local hot picker on banjo or fiddle when it is appropriate.

Traditional Stage
5:30 – 6:50pm


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

Traditional Stage
Open Jam hosted by the Blue Water Ramblers
1:20 – 3:20pm


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.”