Sometimes music and charity go together like a Wisconsin fall and a snuggly flannel shirt.
For many, staying warm is just a matter of pulling out a thicker piece of clothing and going to a toasty house or apartment. Others, of course, don't have this luxury.
Fortunately, there are charities like the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund that can help keep the heat and power on. There are also musical events like Flannel Fest, a benefit designed to raise awareness about the fund and encourage music lovers to support the cause.
The Americana-themed music festival, created by Madison musicians Erik Kjelland and Beth Kille, debuts on Nov. 8 at the High Noon Saloon. Headlined by Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons, a Nashville group that started in Appleton, the fest also features Daniel and the Lion, an act with ties to Nashville, Baraboo and Madison. Oshkosh's Dead Horses and three local acts -- the Beth Kille Band, the Sharrows and Kjelland's band, the Mascot Theory -- are on the bill as well.
The festival grew out of Kjelland and Kille's collaborative writing sessions. Kille saw fans' plaid flannel shirts at a Sharrows show, and an idea began brewing.
Kille and Kjelland both have quite a bit of experience coordinating events.
"Eric, he's one of those guys that when I come up with one of these crazy ideas, he's like, 'That's a great idea, let's do it!'" says Kille.
Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, and there will also be a raffle and merchandise booths to raise funds. Expect to find flannel gear, a photo booth and more.
"My mom donated a bunch of flannel items, and my mother-in-law donated some scarves that we'll be selling," Kille says.
In addition to raising awareness about an issue facing many low-income Wisconsinites, the fest highlights Wisconsin acts' contributions to the Americana genre.
"There are just so many talented musicians in Madison and Wisconsin. We also wanted to make a connection to other bands that have gone off and done other things and bring them home, like Cory Chisel and Daniel and the Lion," says Kjelland, adding that he and Kille hope to "keep that connection going between Wisconsin... and Nashville."
Kjelland says Americana's focus on honesty and authenticity sets it apart from other styles of music.
"It's truly just a mindset, an attitude of just being true to yourself, and whatever you feel you put it down in a song," he explains.
He says the Mascot Theory enjoys playing shows like this that are events rather than just another show. The band recently recorded their latest album in Nashville, so he feels a connection with Chisel and Daniel & the Lion.
Both Flannel Fest organizers feel fortunate to have Chisel and his band on the bill. Chisel has helped make Appleton's Mile of Music a success. About 100 artists performed at more than 40 venues for the event, which is a bit like Make Music Madison, but with an Americana focus.
"He's not doing it for the money and glory but instead wants to celebrate Americana music and help the community," Kille says.