Virginia, Friday and Saturday
Junior Sisk is widely recognized as one of today's top bluegrass vocalists and is a constant reminder that traditional bluegrass is still alive and well. A long time resident of the Virginia Blue Ridge, his bluegrass pedigree runs deep. Influenced by a father who wrote songs and played guitar and a mother who sang, Sisk first learned to play around age 14.
His early influences included The Stanley Brothers, Larry Sparks, and Dave Evans, but he often credits the Johnson Mountain Boys with inspiring him to pursue bluegrass professionally. Sisk first made his mark in bluegrass as a songwriter in the early 1990s, penning classic Lonesome River Band songs like “Game (I Can't Win)" and “Tears Are Blinding Me."
In 2022, Junior won the SPBGMA song of the year for “Just Load The Wagon” as well as album of the year of the same title. “Just Load The Wagon” was #1 on the bluegrass charts for 6 months! Junior’s most recent recording project is entitled “Lost and Alone".
Illinois, Friday and Saturday
A BLUEGRASS LEGACY! The Special Consensus is a bluegrass band that has achieved a contemporary sound in their four decades of performing, making their music a modern classic. Special Consensus’ sound is grounded in a deep appreciation and understanding of bluegrass music; the infectious band sound reminds people of the past while utilizing the innovations of today.
Band leader and founder Greg Cahill is a recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and was inducted into the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) Hall of Greats. Special Consensus has released 20 band recordings and received six awards from the IBMA and two Grammy nominations.
Special C has been a fan favorite at the Lakes Bluegrass Festival and they are making their 6th appearance in 2023 (2005, 2007, 2012, 2015 & 2017).
Virginia, Saturday and Sunday
Originally from Florida, now making her home in the Virginia Mountains, Amanda Cook acquired a love of bluegrass from her father, who played banjo throughout her childhood. In 2013, determined to create her unique sound, Amanda stepped out on her own and released her first solo album. In early 2017, Amanda signed with Mountain Fever Records and recorded her debut album on Deep Water. Amanda has created quite a loyal fan base through her palpable delivery of soul-wrenching songs. In addition, her light-hearted, down-to-earth style helps her create an undeniably strong connection with her audience.
Blazing into 2020, Amanda and her fantastic band released a hard-driving bluegrass tune, “Get on Board," on February 7 that year. The song reached as high as the #2 song on the Bluegrass Today Top 20 Song Chart. In 2022 Mountain Fever Records released Amanda's 4th full length project entitled Changes, which climbed all the way to #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts!
Amanda Cook continues to garner chart success and critical acclaim. The Bluegrass Situation stated, “Amanda Cook has emerged as one of the most dynamic female bluegrass vocalists and bandleaders of today.”
Every so often a new day dawns…
In 1946, Bill Monroe (along with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs) had all the right ingredients come together for the first classic recordings for Columbia, and Bluegrass music was formed. This new music captured the imagination of a whole new generation of fans and musicians and changed forever the face of American music. Over the past three quarters of a century Bluegrass has changed and evolved, but no group of musicians has recaptured the original essence of the founding group of Mr. Monroe's quite like this band.
David Peterson & 1946 has drawn upon the style and content, recaptured the primal excitement and energy, and attracted the same kind of popular interest as that of the first Bluegrass group. Listen closely and you will hear strains of Bill Monroe, Chubby Wise, Cedric Rainwater, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. You'll also hear traces of other early Bluegrass and seminal country music pioneers interspersed among the varied tunes that 1946 plays. Driving instrumentals, solemn Gospel quartets, heartfelt trios and old-style duets. “Tears in your eyes" vocal solos, blazing original tunes, and a “treat for the eyes" stage appearance are what David Peterson & 1946 are all about.
You must hear this band. You must see this band. You must experience this band, and you must experience David Peterson & 1946.
South Dakota, Friday and Saturday
It’s been a big year for The Waddington Brothers since their first appearance at The Lakes Bluegrass Festival in 2022! They won First Place in the SPBGMA International Bluegrass Band Contests, as well as expanded touring and appearance schedules. They were such a hit in 2022 that we decided to have them back again in 2023!
From south western North Dakota, The Waddington Brothers have been performing together since 2004. They have performed with such notable artists as The Kruger Brothers, Ron Block and Bobby Hicks. The Waddington Brothers spent many years touring the United States and Canada with their family (nine of them in all) as the Waddington Family, performing Gospel music. Music has been in these men’s blood since early childhood. In 2009 Ethan won second place in the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship in Winfield Kansas. Since then the brothers have performed at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, they have been featured guests on “Dakota Air, the Radio Show" on Prairie Public Radio as well as performing for North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple’s inaugural ball in 2013. The Waddington Brothers are a versatile acoustic group with a musical style that ranges from hard driving bluegrass to the mellow sound and dynamic western harmonies reminiscent of Bob Nolan and The Sons Of The Pioneers.
Ohio, Thursday and Friday
Clay's first introduction to many was as the lead guitarist for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, winning a Grammy Award during his tenure there. After departing Skaggs, Hess toured and recorded with several of the top bands in the genre. With the help of long time friend and musical comrade Randy Kohrs, Clay recorded his critically acclaimed solo CD “Rain" with the title track going to #1 on the Bluegrass Today chart. The success of the project directly led to the formation of The Clay Hess Band in 2012.
“Growing up in a musical family, it wasn't hard to find an instrument laying around to plunk on". Pair that with having a desire to learn, a passion for music, and a wealth of people to learn from and you get a musician. “Having a family of talented players and singers is an advantage if you can keep your ears open and your mouth shut. I should have done more of both." Today with The Clay Hess Band you can hear the result of all the jam sessions, bar gigs, bluegrass festivals, and hours learning from relatives/musicians/recordings. Known for his syncopated sense of timing, Hess always tries to keep you guessing what is coming next.
Missouri, Friday and Saturday
The Baker Family is a high energy bluegrass band located in south central Missouri. They perform at bluegrass events throughout the United States from Maine to California. You may have seen them on Season 12 of America’s Got Talent, RFD-TV's The Bluegrass Trail and PBS Great American Bluegrass.
The group has won numerous awards over the years including SPBGMA Midwest Entertainers of the Year and Album of the Year for “Walking a Straight Path". Trustin Baker has won the Grand Master Fiddle Championship in 2018 AND 2022 at the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame. Carina (mandolin) and Elijah (bass) have also won several awards on their respective instruments.
You’ll want to catch every set at their third appearance at the Lakes Bluegrass Festival!
Minnesota, Saturday and Sunday
Over the past 20 years this band, unbeknownst to its members, have been preparing for this moment when they come together musically to honor their mutual love of traditional bluegrass music along with their 1970’s Americana influences. This union of musical brotherhood was predicated by each member’s musical resume and countless number of informal jam sessions with each other. Patience, along with the stars aligning just right, have played a huge part in uniting the members; Scottie Stebbins (mandolin and vocals), Heath Loy (banjo and vocals), David Tousley (bass and vocals) and Marty Marrone (guitar and vocals) and John Nieman (fiddle and vocals).
North Dakota, Sunday
Cottonwood is a much-loved bluegrass band from North Dakota and have beenperforming for over 20 years! They have traveled 5 states and have also put on their “signature" concerts of Blizzard Bluegrass for 15 years, Bluegrass goes PINK for 10 years, and have been very “instrumental” in helping the Missouri River Bluegrass festival held each year in June (this year June 16-17th, 2023) at the Cross Ranch State Park. They are good friends of the Lakes Bluegrass Festival and have attended and/or performed for many of the festivals.
The Shaffers have been a local bluegrass favorite in the Brainerd Lakes Area for many years and have performed at nearly every Lakes Bluegrass Festival. You will love their energy and drive, their instrumental abilities and their vocal harmonies. Watching “Lost 40" play is a true realization of how much every member loves the music and being part of this musical family. The fun is contagious, and the energy and drive are un-mistakenly bluegrass to the core.
Minnesota, Wednesday Night in the Pavilion
Petersen is a singer songwriter who is nationally known for writing songs such as “Cadillac Style" and “I Can’t Reach Her Anymore" sung by Sammy Kershaw; “RefriedDreams" sung by Tim McGraw and many others. Mark was raised in a musical family in Brainerd, MN. When he was 21, He joined “Steve Hall & The Southbound '76," and helped them win first place in the “Seagrams Seven International Battle of The Bands" for Minnesota in 1981 and first place in the same category for North Dakota in 1982. Drummer Steve Hall's comedic puppet “Shotgun Red" was discovered as a byproduct of the 1982 national finals, and paved the way for the group to leave the nightclub scene in favor of playing arenas, stadiums, state fairs and cruise ships, eventually leading to a year-long theater stint in Branson, Missouri, in 1990, and a 12-year run as the matinee headliner aboard the General Jackson Showboat at Opryland USA Petersen currently lives in Brainerd and performs regularly at venues throughout Minnesota.
Minnesota, Wednesday Afternoon in the Pavilion
Kevin Wright is passionate about music and proves it by being practically a one man band. He is a vocalist, singing both lead and harmony. He is a guitarist, playing both lead and rhythm on electric or acoustic. He is a bassist and a drummer. Kevin has been performing for 45 plus years and has been privileged to work with some of the best in country music; Bobby Bare, Narvel Felts, Johnny Rodriguez, and Eddy Raven to name a few. Kevin has also been involved with several recording groups. He played locally in and around the Brainerd Lakes area throughout the 1980's and 1990's. He was a member of the Northwind Band, Mississippi, Bob Gatts & Bare Feet, the house band at the Iron Rail Saloon in Brainerd and The Wayne Renn Band.
Minnesota, Thursday Afternoon Dance in the Pavilion
Eric Roggenkamp and his band have been performing at for dances, fairs and outdoor venues throughout central Minnesota for many years. “It makes people smile. It makes them happy, that makes us happy, too,” Roggenkamp said about playing music. “We’re happy when we play it and they’re happy when they hear it, so that’s the best part of doing this.” Make yourself happy by going to listen and dance to their music Thursday afternoon 1:00 – 4:00 in the big pavilion!