BRIAN HOWE - FORMER LEAD SINGER OF BAD COMPANY
You might be forgiven for thinking that someone who wrote and sang the hits for one of the biggest bands in the world in the 80s and 90s would more likely be found on a Florida beach rather than huddled in a dark recording studio or traveling from gig to gig, taking his solo show on the road. But that is the life for Brian Howe, who for the better part of a decade fronted one of the Great British musical exports, the legendary Bad Company.
The band, The UnXpected, will bring a wide variety of songs for the crowd at the 33rd annual Riverfest celebration in Watertown to enjoy in early August.
The band, based out of Sussex, has been performing for the past 31 years and includes
three of the original band members. The other members of the band have been with the group for more than 20 years.
The band is known for being able to play a wide range of songs from various genres of music, and that detail is a major part of how the band got its name.
"We started off calling our band Mirror Image. Then we learned there already was a Mirror Image, so we were looking for a new name. One night we were playing a new gig at a bar and a woman came up to us after the show and said the variety of music we could play was totally unexpected," Brian Ruffing, lead vocalist and band member, said. "That was in 1989 and that's when we became The UnXpected."
The band was formed while they were in high school and continued performing together as their full time job for many years out of high school.
"Out of high school we traveled all across the country doing gigs in Colorado, Iowa, Chicago, Michigan," Ruffing said. "We had a really good following in 1991, '92, and '93."
Ruffing said the band has slowed down over the years as band members started families and having children, but they still do two to three shows a month, often including their own children who now also play instruments in the band from time to time.
"We'll cover everything from AC/DC to the Charlie Daniels Band," he said. "We really try to hit all genres. We don't really sit down and make out a full song list before a show. Together we feel the crowd out and choose our songs from there. That's how we've been doing it for years."
The band has performed at Summerfest and at the Wisconsin State Fair. About six years ago at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells they opened for Fran Cosmo, the former lead singer of the band Boston. They're also no strangers to Riverfest.
"We played Riverfest about 26 years ago opening for The Detroit Wheels," Ruffing said. "We're excited to be back."
The UnXpected is not only known for its variety of music, but also for its versatility in musical instruments they bring to a show.
"Our bass player also plays the fiddle and that's when we'll do some of the Alabama songs. I can play the mandolin and the guitar," Ruffing said. "Everyone in the band sings. We always have something a little different to bring to a show. At Riverfest we'll have a saxophone in the band."
The UnXpected will be on the Riverfest stage on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 5:30 p.m.
Described as an upbeat and grooving party band, The LoveMonkeys plan to get the crowd energized at Watertown's Riverfest where they will perform on Friday, Aug. 9, at 5:30 p.m.
The LoveMonkeys, a band based out of Milwaukee, is going strong in its 28th year of
entertaining crowds with its blend of rock, pop and reggae style of music.
"We really like to bring a high energy performance to our shows," band member John Hauser said. "There are so many styles involved in what we do. We usually decide just a couple hours before we go on what songs we'll play."
The band first started 28 years ago when a group of men who all worked for the same company thought it'd be funny to play at the annual work Christmas party.
"The show at that Christmas party went really well and the band started to go from there to another level," Hauser said. "We always said if it stops being fun, then we'll stop."
The band went on to perform primarily in the Midwest but also throughout the country and at times internationally. While Hauser is the only original band member left, new members have joined over the years with a similar passion for the music. All of the band members have full-time jobs and travel to their shows on the weekends.
"This is our golf," Hauser said. "None of us actually play golf. We play in the band."
Most recently The LoveMonkeys performed at Summerfest. The band also traveled to Jamaica to perform, as well as, Los Angeles, California, where it played at corporate parties. The group is also familiar with the Riverfest event, performing in past years.
Much of their show includes a wide range of songs from the past 40 years.
The Britins, one of the very first Beatles tribute band in the country, will liven the stage with their authentic sound and look recreating the Fab Four at Watertown's 33rd annual Riverfest event on Sunday, Aug. 11 at noon.
This year the Milwaukee-based band is celebrating 42 years of performing songs by the
Beatles. One original member remains in the band and the rest of the members have been a part of the group for 25 or more years. While many of them have been involved in other bands over the years,
the popularity of the Beatles has always made the Britins the most successful project they've done.
"The music is so much fun to do," Mike Shumway, who plays John Lennon in the band, said. "It's almost like a play. We dress in basically reproduction clothes from back in the '60s. We not only sound like the Beatles, but we also dress the part."
Members of the band include Rick Bertoni, on bass, Jeff Gish, the drummer as Ringo, Mike Truttshel, on guitar, and Shumway as Lennon.
Shumway said the band members also wear their hair long like the Beatles and dress with their clothes similar to the Beatles all the way down to their boots.
"When we're up on stage we're even doing that British accent and go by the Beatles' names when we're talking to each other," Shumway said. "After the show people will come up and take pictures and talk with us. We enjoy doing that if time allows."
Oftentimes the band will hear from audience members who enjoy telling them about their personal experience seeing the Beatles perform back in the '60s.
"We'll get folks who tell us that back in the day they went to see the Beatles but they didn't actually hear much because of all the screaming from the crowd," he said. "We can recreate for them an authentic Beatles experience and people really enjoy it."
Much of the songs they choose to perform at a show is crowd generated.
Hits from the 1970s will rock the stage at the 33rd annual Riverfest this year when the band Almighty Vinyl hits the stage.
Think back, before CDs or MP3s were the way of listening to music, and remember the
days when vinyl albums were popular. The band's name gives a good insight to the music they love and enjoy bringing to their crowds. Almighty Vinyl has made the music of the 1970s its top priority
bringing an unforgettable experience to its fans.
"It's our goal to re-create the energy and the experience of the music from the 1970s," band member Rich Hoffman said. "We're a fully live show playing music like it was done before bands had all the bells and whistles that they have today."
The show not only brings the authentic classic rock sound to their crowds, but band members also dress the part, wearing bell bottoms and other '70s era clothing while they perform. Their attention to detail has recently helped them earn several awards.
They received the Wisconsin Area Music Industry 2019 People's Choice Southeast Quadrant Artist of the Year award. In 2017 they won the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee award.
"We're really all a bunch of music geeks," Hoffman said. "We will sit and super analyze a song so we have every detail, even exactly down to what type of percussion is played in a song. We'll do our best to have all the harmonies and the parts the exact way they were sung in the original song."
SEPARATE WAYS The Journey Experience
is a 6-piece Tribute to one of the 80′s most influential bands – JOURNEY! Formed in 2005 at the request of numerous agents throughout
Wisconsin, “SEPARATE WAYS” has quickly become one of the most respected tribute bands in the market, winning the coveted 2012 AND the 2014 WAMI (Wisconsin "GRAMMY") award for the best tribute act in
Wisconsin. In addition, 2015, saw vocalist Paul Lent take home the WAMI award for Male Vocalist of the Year!
Built around an arsenal of multiple WAMI award winning musicians, “SEPARATE WAYS” incorporates forceful vocals with dynamic players, who together recreate the JOURNEY sound that we all love.
BIG AL & THE HI-FI'S
The golden oldies band, Big Al and the Hi-Fi's, may be new to the Riverfest stage this year, but they are no strangers to the Watertown area.
The Oconomowoc natives will perform Saturday, Aug. 10, at 3 p.m.
"Watertown is kind of like our adopted city," Cheech Counsell, band leader, said. "We're all from Oconomowoc, but over the years we've played in Watertown almost more than Oconomowoc. One of the guys in the band said he's always wanted to play at Riverfest, so we actually passed on some other shows just to do this one."
The family friendly band promises to get folks up and out of their seats dancing to music rarely heard on the radio anymore. Most of the songs they perform are from the 1950s and '60s including songs by the Beach Boys, The Dave Clark Five and Chubby Checker.
"We play a good mix of fast type of dance songs sprinkled in with a few newer ones," he said. "Even with that, the younger crowd always seems to enjoy the older songs. They may not know the original artist but they usually have heard of the songs."
Big Al and the Hi-Fi's started out as a one-night stand back in 1975, playing for a birthday party.
They've been part of the Southern Rock scene for nearly 50 years. Their biggest hits include So Into You, Champagne Jam, Imaginary Lover, Homesick, and Spooky. But there's so much more...
With 15 albums of outstanding songwriting and performances, The Atlanta Rhythm Section represents the good things the phrase "classic rock" implies.
So read, watch, listen, enjoy - have yourself a "Large Time!"
A young and talented musician, Derek Sallmann, will entertain visitors with his guitar and singing abilities setting up his show near the food court at the 33rd annual Riverfest celebration held in early August.
The 24-year-old guitar and singer/songwriter will perform a variety of songs from the
1960s and up to recent hits heard on the radio during Watertown's Riverfest
The Waukesha native graduated with a degree in biology from Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee in 2017, but has always had a love of music. His day job includes working in his biology field, but he devotes his time to his music once the weekends arrive. Sallmann packs in as many festivals and events into his performance schedule as possible once the summer season arrives.
That love of music didn't come as a surprise, as his father is a musician as well.
"My Dad sang in a band when I was younger and one day he left his guitar out and I asked him to teach me some chords. He started to teach me and even made little chord diagrams on note papers for me," Sallmann said. "I think I was 13 years old when I was really hooked on music. I started coming home from school and all I could think about was playing an E-chord on the guitar."
Sallmann continued to practice his guitar skills and then in high school started writing songs. He put all of his work together and officially released his first album, "All Seasons," in 2016. He released another album in 2018 entitled, "Love Future, You."
Celebrating our 33rd year!
Various businesses have received their tickets and more will be distributed in the near future.
The raffle this year continues its format to recent years. Tickets are $2 each.
More prizes than ever!
Grand Prize $5,000
15 Prizes at $500 each
20 Prizes at $100 each
10 Prizes at $50 each
The prize winners will be drawn and announced after the final concert on Suday, August 11. (7-30pm).
Support the 2019 Riverfest by purchasing raffle tickets from local businesses as well as the many individuals working on the sale effort!
Auto Show Sunday, August 11 from 9am-4pm.
850 Labaree Street