It all begins with a smoke signal of sorts, the scent rising from the sausages at Madison's many brat celebrations. Whether you're at World's Largest Brat Fest, Wurst Times or the People's Brat Fest on Memorial Day weekend, it's clear that festival season has begun.
Thanks to a heaping helping of bands, these meaty events also serve as a reminder that music-focused fetes like Marquette Waterfront Fest are just around the corner. This year's event takes place on Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, at Yahara Place Park. Here's a pocket guide to the weekend's performers.
Though this Chicago duo visit Madison regularly, they usually perform in dark bars. Marquette Waterfront Fest lets music lovers of all ages study their technique in broad daylight. Kapsalis is a steel-string virtuoso, while Ivanovic wields a nylon-stringed instrument. The players meld these different timbres in ear-pleasing ways while exploring classical music, jazz and toe-tapping tunes from around the globe.
Born in Mali, Africa's blues capital, Diakite is a master of the kamale n'goni, a stringed instrument that's a forebear of the banjo. He pairs its melodies with wistful vocals and the funky djembe rhythms of his backing band.
Nicknamed Freaky Hot by his bandmates, this guitarist peppers jam rock with jazz flavors and elements of his Pakistani and Chilean heritage. He also teaches music at Northern Illinois University, which technically makes him Professor Freaky Hot.
This local percussion ensemble celebrates Brazil's rich musical traditions with samba, bossa nova and maracatu rhythms that can get even the most timid crowd to dance.
The musical traditions of New Orleans and New York City converge in this band's soulful songs, which draw inspiration from Brooklyn DJ culture, East Harlem salsa clubs and the funky Dixieland of Steamboat Willie.
With 11 members, including a trombonist and a conga player, this funky Austin orchestra pack a wallop live. In addition to intoxicating audiences at events like the Montreal Jazz Festival, their cocktail of samba, merengue and cumbia has won a Grammy Award.
This local group specialize in homegrown folk and bluegrass, which they often crossbreed with roots rock.
The Twin Cities seem to have a crush on northern Wisconsin, whose remote cabins and scenic forests have helped launch the careers of groups like Bon Iver. A love child has arrived in the form of Communist Daughter, a St. Paul band known to practice in a diner in tiny Prescott, Wis. Their sunny melodies and lush vocal harmonies should charm the crowd as quickly as a smiling baby.
Dubbed "a dustbowl cluster of folk, roots and blues" by No Depression, this band is living proof that talent can spring from the grimmest conditions. Runaway turned songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra is a commanding vocalist whose resilience shines through ominous swirls of strings and piano.
This Boston sextet buzz with manic energy whether they're delivering a quiet country tune about heartbreak or a seething cover of the Clash's "Career Opportunities."
The marching band typically isn't the coolest clique in high school, but Portland isn't a very typical place. Stilt walkers, flag twirlers and fire dancers up the freak factor, while a killer horn section shows how awesome band nerds can be.