Tuesday, Nov. 28th, 2017

Local Figure Skating Club Announces Winter on Ice Spectacular Featuring National Champion

The Tri-State Toe Picks Figure Skating Club has taken the sport of figure skating to the next level. Skaters of this club competed at both State Games of America this summer and the Upper Great Lakes Regional Champions this fall, bringing home a total of six gold medals, three silver medals, and three bronze medals.  

In celebration of this season’s success and the club’s 10-year anniversary, the Tri-State Toe Picks FSC is excited to announce for the first time ever, Winter On Ice Spectacular. This one of a kind event is not about promoting the club’s figure skating program, but to help recognize ice skating sports entirely to the Seven Rivers Region. 

This show will feature the club’s talented skaters, but will also feature elite and nationally ranked, professional guest skaters. For the 2017 inaugural event, the featured guest skater is 2011 U.S. National Champion, Ryan Bradley. Ryan is also the 2008 Skate Canada International Silver Medalist, the 2009 Skate America Bronze Medalist, and a three-time U.S. Collegiate Champion.  

This event will attract locals and visitors alike, with hopes to create a magical holiday tradition in the Coulee Region, recognizing the sport of both figure and ice skating sports.

>>>> More Info.

Sunday, Nov. 26th, 2017

Driftless Music Festival Announces Christina Dollhausen Joins Board of Directors

Christina Dollhausen
Christina Dollhausen

The Driftless Music Festival announced the addition of Christina Dollhausen to its board of directors.

For the past decade, Dollhausen worked as the events coordinator at the Stoughton Opera House where she was instrumental in transforming the historic venue from a little-used performance space to one of the state’s busiest and most popular concert halls, an endeavor that spurred significant economic development in the community.

A native of McGregor, Iowa, Dollhausen recently returned to the Driftless area with her husband Ben and three young boys to raise their family, and to set down roots on a fixer-upper farm just outside of Viroqua. She has nurtured a lifelong interest in music and the arts and is herself a gifted musician.

“With the addition of Christina to the Music Festival Board, we have set our sights clearly on the future of the event to insure that it will continue to be a rich and important asset to Viroqua and the Driftless area,” said Joel Johnson, the festival’s board president.

Dollhausen indicated she is honored to be asked to serve on the board and looks forward to working with such a fine group of community visionaries. Christina sees great potential for many good things to happen in the region, “I want to support and encourage people to continue to coordinate their efforts and implement amazing ideas that benefit and elevate the quality of life in the community.”

The Driftless Music Festival, a free family-friendly event featuring outstanding music from the region and beyond, is held annually on the second Saturday of July in Viroqua’s Eckhart Park.

Saturday, Nov. 11th, 2017

Society of Broken Souls Performing in Viroqua on National Tour

Lauryn Shapter and Dennis James. Photo: Liz Brown, Estorie Photography
Lauryn Shapter and Dennis James. Photo: Liz Brown, Estorie Photography

Society of Broken Souls, the husband-wife songwriting duo of multi-instrumentalists Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter, will be bringing their unique Folk Noir sound to Viroqua at Driftless Books and Music. The performance is part of the Midwest leg of a national tour.  

Based in rural Iowa, James and Shapter set out with a goal of performing 100 shows in 2017. While not unheard of for independent musicians, the tour marks a turning point for this couple with considerably more years behind them than ahead. In 2016, they walked away from multiple attempts at a “straight” life to do the only thing that made any sense anymore: write, record, and perform unflinching songs for fearless hearts, songs that take the broken bits and shine a little musical light on their redemptive beauty.  

Their 2016 release, appropriately titled Things Still Left Unsaid, was produced and engineered entirely in their attic recording studio, with James and Shapter playing nearly every last part, from fiddle and guitars, to drums, piano, organ, auxiliary percussion and keys, viola, bass, and lead and harmony vocals. Iowa Public Radio’s Ben Kieffer called Society of Broken Souls “a songwriting powerhouse.” Of the collection of 10 songs, Andrew Bargerstock (The Iowa Source) wrote “Things Still Left Unsaid glows with mature, lyrical songwriting, nuanced vocals, and wonderfully subtle instrumentals.” Chris Johnson, founder of FAIRFest Roots Music Festival, called the album “a work of art” and “a masterpiece.”  

While they perform as a duo, Society of Broken Souls uses their multi-faceted instrumental talents to create a varied and dynamic live show. Sweet harmonies

Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter. Photo: Liz Brown, Estorie Photography
Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter. Photo: Liz Brown, Estorie Photography

share the stage with dirty guitars, while a dusted-off old snare drum, partnered with a stomp box, drives a heavy, raucous beat or backs up a sultry, jazzy piano. The myriad combinations of instruments, however, don’t mean they have forgotten their acoustic roots: their quintessential pairing of soulful fiddle and guitar always finds a place in their sets, creating a truly dynamic terrain upon which to explore their songs. Seattle, WA filmmaker John Helde (Try This Films) called their live show, “tight, rocking, and heartfelt…they reverberate with a raw authenticity that settles in your soul.”

Society of Broken Souls Website

Event Information

Wednesday, Nov. 8th, 2017

Craft Brewery and Winery Tour Bus Comes to La Crosse

The Seven Rivers Region is getting a gift this holiday season: its own craft brewery and winery tour bus! Bus Bros. Tour Co. will pick up a party of six to 14 guests for an excursion of local craft breweries and wineries. This is more than a party bus; it’s a curated experience. Each guest receives a souvenir wine or pint glass, a beer flight or wine samples (including a full glass of wine) at each stop, a narrated history of each venue, and bottled water and snacks on the bus (and you can bring your own!).

Childhood friends Brandon Felce and Tyler Koxlien, the founders and owners of Bus Bros. Tour Co., started the business as Eau Claire Brew Hop in June 2017 but changed the name to be inclusive of winery stops. For Felce and Koxlien, starting the business was a natural transition. Koxlien recalls, “We’ve been best friends since we were five, and we’ve been doing entrepreneurial stuff since 5th grade with comics, then shirts, and more. This is our first big investment.”

The idea started when Felce tried to take out of town friends for a tour of craft breweries but realized they could safely drive to only two stops. With this kind of tour bus service, Koxlien says, guests “can have fun in a responsible way that takes all of the stress and planning out of it, to get a taste of La Crosse without the worry of driving. It’s great for businesses, too.” 

Business picked up quickly, and the pair, along with their newest business partner (and long-time friend) Jake Rogness, set their sights on including more tour routes. Rogness and Koxlien attended UW-La Crosse together, so they were already familiar with the growing regional craft brew scene, so the trio decided to expand from Eau Claire into the La Crosse market. Koxlien says, “We knew Eau Claire would be a good place to start, but La Crosse is a similar sister city, both being on the river, with a lot of historic culture. La Crosse was on our mind from the beginning.” 

Looking to the future, the partners plan to establish themselves further in the Eau Claire and La Crosse areas by adding more craft brewery and winery partners. Koxlien says they “look to become one of the top tourist attractions and ‘go-to’ things to do in La Crosse.”

How it works

  • Visit their website to book online: www.busbrostourco.com (or you can email or call, too)
  • Create a custom tour by choosing 3 to 4 brewery or winery locations from their partner list (see map online).
  • Plan for about one hour per stop.
  • Gather 6 to 14 friends (can accommodate larger groups).
  • Choose your pick up and drop off locations.
  • Pay reservation deposit online, and remainder with cash or credit card upon tour pick-up.
  • A historical background of each venue is provided by tour guides, and additional tour amenities are chosen by each venue.
  • To enhance the brewery tours, guides provide guests with beer menus and beer selector sheets on the bus, then personally help deliver the beer flights.
  • When you arrive: Must have ID. That’s it. And have fun!
  • During the winter season, the tour bus will include wineries when they’re open. Brewery tours are available year-round.
  • Gift certificates are available!
Bus Bros. Tour Co. Owners L to R: Tyler Koxlien, Brandon Felce, Jake Rogness. Photo: Contributed.
Bus Bros. Tour Co. Owners L to R: Tyler Koxlien, Brandon Felce, Jake Rogness. Photo: Contributed.

Thursday, Oct. 26th, 2017

Bestselling Author to Keynote Launch of Writing Programs

Nickolas Butler
Nickolas Butler

Nickolas Butler is an award winning and internationally best-selling author living in Wisconsin, writing about the state with a kind of detailed admiration that feels like a love letter to the land. In his newest release, The Hearts of Men, Butler writes about multiple generations and sets much of the story at Camp Chippewa, a boy scout camp in Northern Wisconsin. At times, you can hear the campfire crackle and the sound of screen doors slamming. His use of metaphor and keen imagery captures the reader, drawing them into the world, and hearts, of the imperfect men and women in the story.

Making his first appearance in La Crosse, Butler is the keynote kickoff for a series of writing events called Great River Writes. The programs launched in partnership with the La Crosse Public Library and two local writing communities, Women Writers Ink and La Crosse Area Writers Group. To expand the programming, they also brought in Winona Public Library and the River Arts Alliance.

Together, the organizations are hosting six major writing events and over a dozen write-ins, all free to the public, and running from the end of October through November to coincide with National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo. Their goal is to encourage writers of all levels and interests to tell their story.

Butler kicks off the event series, with a keynote speech and book signing. Locals may recognize the cover image of his internationally bestselling novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, as it portrays downtown’s 4th Street with Leithold’s Music and Bodega (renamed St. Elmo’s Fire), though the novel is set in a smaller, fictional Wisconsin town.

Joining Butler for Great River Writes are fellow authors Laura Purdie Salas on November 3rd, discussing writing for children, and memoirist Blair Braverman on November 5th, teaching a workshop on setting as character.

Anyone with an interest in the written word is encouraged to attend, get inspired, and start writing the story inside of them.

Monday, Oct. 23rd, 2017

Los Colognes - Interview with Jay Rutherford

Jay Rutherford, Photo: Aaron Mortenson
Jay Rutherford, Photo: Aaron Mortenson

Tell me again how you guys originally got together. In Chicago right?

Mort (drummer) and Gordo (bass player) went to high school together and they had their first band early on in high school and I had a high school band as well – we were all from the northwest Chicago suburbs. We went to different schools, but heard about each other when both of our current bands were broken up. This was in the early 2000s. We started playing together, end of high school, right at the beginning of college, but started the band that became Los Colognes in 2010. So, this core has been playing together for 15 years or so. In 2010, Mort and I headed to Nashville and Gordo followed.

Where would you say your sound comes from?

I would say we are like a lot of musicians, through admiration for the great rhythm sections, songwriters, and guitar players. By having a healthy respect for the classic players in rock we have tried to find our own voice.

Tell me about the new record, ‘The Wave’, which has a really different feel – kind of late 80s, near the beach somewhere, late-night kind of chilled-out feel. Less burning Jay guitar lines.

The songs were all actually written in the winter in Nashville. The metaphor behind those songs was not actually a tropical beach kind of vibe. ‘The Wave’ is actually more of philosophical metaphor. I think one of the main reasons the album sounds different is because for the first time all the songs were written in conjunction with one another and intentionally made to have a similar sonic flow. On ‘Dos’ we were toying with different grooves and different styles. We built ‘The Wave’ from the ground up and used some 80s drum machines and 80s sounding keyboards. But when we perform the new songs live we still break those songs apart live and open them up like maybe the [Grateful] Dead would. One of the things the Dead has really taught us is that there are ways to take apart and open up songs that make it really interesting to keep playing them over time.

Seems like it has been a good year. You guys are playing coast to coast, from big festivals to choice mid-size rooms with some really great drawing bands.

Yeah it has definitely been a good year – we have some shows coming up with Hard Working Americans and then a tour with Blues Traveler. But it still comes down to putting on good shows and establishing a connection with local audiences wherever we go – hopefully we come back and can grow that audience. I mean some people have a big PR campaign backed by a credible label or get great press breaks or opening slots – and we are definitely grateful for the opportunities we have had, but it still comes down to performing and connecting with people, I think that is going to go a lot further. I think that is the real currency – someone putting on a set of headphones and really getting into the record or stumbling upon us playing live who just really likes it. I have a lot of admiration for the jam band community. There are a lot of players and bands out there that might not be recognized nationally, but have maintained a devoted fan base over long periods of time. There is a strong sense of community there, almost a religious component. They aren’t caught up by the current trend, they know what they like – good is good, it can stand the test of time.

Jay Rutherford is lead guitar player and singer for the band Los Colognes. They will be playing The Court Above Main in La Crosse November 2 with special guest The Smokin’ Bandits.

Event Details: Click Here

Sunday, Oct. 22nd, 2017

Talking Sweet Water - Interview with Marlin Ledin


Marlin Ledin
Marlin Ledin

Marlin Ledin grew up on the shores of Lake Superior in Washburn, Wis. and took up music at an early age. 

His family was not into music, but he describes himself as an extremely temperamental child who courted anger issues at every turn. One day he came home from school to discover a drum kit that his parents had bought him and he credits the drums with changing his life. “There was a night and day kind of change in me, I felt a lot better after playing the drums and soon found myself playing them before school and in the evening as much as I could.” His parents tolerated all the banging because they noticed that the drums were quieting the anger issues that had been following him.

Marlin joined every ensemble of band he could at high school, though admits that he was terrible at everything else. Upon graduating he took his passion to McNally Smith College of Music to pursue what he thought would be a career in music. As fate would have it, the classrooms of McNally became a burden rather than the secret to his musical success. “I became overwhelmed by the encyclopedia-like classes in music theory, business, and performance.” The form of instruction coupled with a crippling case of tendinitis ended his days of formal instruction in Minneapolis.

He packed his bags and returned to Washburn and the woods and shorelines of the big lake. The time was also the beginning of his second great passion in life – sailing. Not unlike his fall into drumming, his career in sailing also began unplanned. Though his family was not into sailing, he had been out on other boats and found a similar release to that he experienced through music. He had saved up some money to buy a car, but when he saw a small sailboat for sale, he decided to buy the boat instead of the car. With no formal instruction, he checked out some books from the library, and starting sailing Lake Superior and credits a few terrifying experiences and a ride on a much larger sailboat with finally figuring out his way.

Between the sailing and the woods, Marlin’s music has been a way for him to bring together his love of nature. His first album included many field recordings taken while sailing Lake Superior – recordings of rainstorms, the breaking and clunking together of lake ice, and several songs devoted to favorite islands on the lake. The intersection of music and nature continues to be his focus on his second album. Though he did not start singing and playing guitar until he was in his late 20s, both his albums are singer-songwriter elegies in which he has primarily played all the instruments. He spent three years, “trying to do it right”, and his September self-titled release has a much more polished feel though at the heart remains a kind of thrumming, meditative poetry that only comes from long periods of time in the woods and on the lake.

Event Details: Click Here

The Road to the Isles; Storytelling & Songs from Scotland’s Western Isles

Tracy Chipman
Tracy Chipman

Driftless Books in Viroqua is pleased to present, Wisconsin storyteller, Tracy Chipman and The Road to the Isles; Stories & Songs from Scotland’s Western Isles on Thursday, November 9th at 7pm. Donations are welcome and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Road to the Isles celebrates the connection between evocative landscape of Scotland’s Outer Hebridean Islands, off Scotland’s west coast, and the oral culture of the people dwelling there. The Outer Hebrides or Western Isles as they are also known are a place, rich with Gaelic. Joining Tracy for the evening are Newton Valley (Viroqua) residents; Angela Rennison and Peter Hutter.

Tracy stepped onto the path of storyteller 22 years ago under an Oregon hazelnut tree and has never looked back. She believes the connection between storytelling and the land is a powerful teacher and ally -if you are listening. From 1996 – 2004 Tracy’s love of storytelling and her deep longing for Scotland took her to the Outer Hebrides with the Hebridean Folklore Project where she visited with and recorded over 40 Gaelic speaking elders from the islands. A Wisconsin native who has moved 22 times in the past 25 years and presently resides under mostly one roof in Menomonie. More information about her and the Hebridean Folklore Project can be found at www.listentoatale.com.

Angela is sustained by a deep love of spinning and weaving story through music and song in the ancient tradition of her Scottish ancestors. She is a multi-instrumentalist and has recorded a CD of original and traditional songs In English, Gaelic and Spanish that celebrates the rich heritage of longing and home that lives in the diaspora of those cultures. When she first climbed around the hills of Scotland and the Hebrides 30 years ago, she felt a sense of being called to that land as if she were a salmon returning home after a long journey away.

Peter grew up on a farm in the Driftless area, he just didn't grow up until he was about 45. He is an eclectic musician and songwriter in love with the sounds of the world and the riddles that lead to their origins, caught between the Tradition Bearer, and the Wild Creative. He formed the Firefly Brass Band back in March of 2016, and has many projects brewing for the coming Winter.

Driftless Books and Music is a Bookstore located in a 110-year-old, 20,000 sq. ft., 3 floor tobacco warehouse. It houses between 250,000 and 500,000 used books, sheet music and records. Over the years, the Bookstore has become a space where the full spectrum of activities associated with live music enjoyment, performance, and community involvement can take place. Books, beverages and snacks are available during shows. Events are family-friendly, all-ages and alcohol free.


Thursday, Apr. 27th, 2017

Behind The Scenes: Listen To Your Mother, La Crosse’s Finale Season

Listen To Your Mother 2017 Cast. Photo: Diane Knothe of Apropos Photography
Listen To Your Mother 2017 Cast. Photo: Diane Knothe of Apropos Photography

Listen To Your Mother is a national series that features local stories about mothers and motherhood. In our second year hosting a show in La Crosse, my production team of Beth Erickson (Jobe Communications and Trust Point Inc.), Molly Hilligoss (YWCA La Crosse), and I wish that everyone could be a fly on the wall during auditions. We hear incredible stories of love, loss, laughter, and life journeys. It is a privilege to listen to each story, and we want to thank everyone who has trusted us with their truths over the past two years. There is something so touching about listening to a person’s truth it can only be described as magical.

The 2017 show promises to take our audience on a well-crafted exploration of “the good, the bad, and the barely-rested” that is motherhood. Though, we should say, you don’t have to be a mother to enjoy our show. We are excited to introduce our cast of 13 women and men to you. Our cast is diverse, and so are our stories, with tales coming from all over the globe this year.  

We’ve got stories about mothers, of course, but we also have stories about mother figures, the often unrecognized individuals who play just as important a role in our support system – grandmothers, aunts, sisters, even stay-at-home dads. We’ve got stories to make you laugh, and definitely some that will make you cry. All of our stories are full of heart.

Behind the scenes, our cast and production team are getting to know one another. We’re sharing more stories. We’re talking about our families, our jobs, our hobbies, our passions. We’re workshopping the show order and fine tuning our pieces, so when show night comes you can sit back and enjoy this production of live readings that is truly unlike any other.

We’re thrilled to welcome back our emcee for the evening, WKBT News 8’s Lisa Klein. So many of our local sponsors, such as Women Writers Ink and News 8, returned to support us this year, and we are ever grateful for their partnership. The many local sponsors we have help provide us with rehearsal space, they feed our cast, they promote the show, and they all support women and families.

All of the Listen To Your Mother productions across the country – there are 30 cities this year – take place within a few weeks of Mother’s Day, and each performance supports a nonprofit partner as well. Locally, ten percent of every ticket sold will benefit YWCA La Crosse whose mission is to end racism and empower women and girls. Our local YWCA has been established for over 100 years and offers many programs for teens and adults that support mentoring, counseling, rehabilitation, social justice, and diversity.

We can’t wait to see you in the crowd on show night! It is an honor to share these stories with each of you. In the meantime, don’t forget to LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!

2017 Cast  

  • Joanne Adragna Shird
  • Beth Erickson
  • Maureen Freedland
  • Nancy Heerens-Knudson
  • Sylvia Jimison
  • Livia Johnson
  • Jonathan Lamb
  • Amy Sanwick
  • Susan C. Schuyler
  • Michael Scott
  • Sheida Teimouri
  • Clare Wight
  • Christy Wopat
2016 Cast. Photos: Bruce Defries
2016 Cast. Photos: Bruce Defries
YWCA Development Director, Rose Reinert. Photo: Bruce Defries
YWCA Development Director, Rose Reinert. Photo: Bruce Defries
Photo: Bruce Defries
Photo: Bruce Defries
Photo: Bruce Defries
Photo: Bruce Defries

Friday, Mar. 3rd, 2017

Stanton West, formerly Eddie Danger, to Release Folk Album

Eddie Danger is about to release a debut folk album under his grandfather's name, Stanton West, to be produced by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia's percussionist, Joe Craven at Foxtail Studios in California.

Eddie Danger has been part of the Wisconsin music scene for almost 20 years.  He was the creator behind the Feel Good Music & Arts Festival, Renewsical: A Musical About Renewable Energy, The Seafaring Musical Marionette Puppet Show, bluegrass band Dangergrass, and the Wisconsin Roots Music Cooperative.  There isn’t a venue or stage in Wisconsin he hasn’t played.  If you haven’t heard of him perhaps you were wandering a music festival and he randomly stopped you to give you a magic acorn (a real acorn top with a glass marble for the nut).  There is even a chance you were at a wedding he officiated, or you sang along with him at a kids’ show or a farmers’ market.  He is a spreader of fun and music.  And now he has a new project.  

After making a name for himself in the folk scene appearing in a film with A Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor, being a regular on WPR’s Simply Folk, and winning multiple songwriters’ contests throughout the state, Danger decided to go folk’in all the way.  Danger is releasing a new folk album under his grandfather’s name, Stanton West, that will be released this summer.  The album is being recorded at Foxtail Studios in California and produced by his musical hero, Joe Craven.  Craven is most known for his work as the percussion player for David Grisman and Jerry Garcia’s five acoustic albums released under Grisman’s record label Acoustic Disc.  

Stanton/Danger has spent the last 10 years balancing his music career with being a home-schooling stay-at-home dad and a part-time organic farmer.  Now that both of his kids are ready to attend school, he is presented with the opportunity to focus on his music career entirely.  He refers to the whole idea as, “Being Who I Am, Going Pro, & Providing for my Family.  I Love being a creative person and I Love my family.  This is an effort to do them both a service.”  It’s a big step, and he is taking it enthusiastically.  

Danger is taking action by exemplifying his sentiments of, "To thrive in this world you must decide what you Love to do and figure out a way to make it happen." He sees this as his time to step it up and record in professional studio with one of his musical heroes producing the project.  His first eleven albums were self-funded and recorded in home-studios.  Stanton has also been working with an artist manager out of Nashville. She has been helping him with the preproduction of the album.  She feels confident that she can get the songs on to national folk radio charts.   

The new songs are groove-driven, folk tunes about feeling good, being who you are, and staying present in the moment.  Like all of his past projects, it promotes family fun, environmental stewardship, building community, healthy local food, live & local music, creative expression, and being a positive (yet practical) force in the world. 

Danger is doing a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for the month of March and is offering some very unique acorn themed rewards to backers including an acorn tattoo!

Learn more about Stanton West on Facebook or his website.