ROCKONSIN Youth Garage Bands Rocking Wisconsin

ROCKONSIN-front-postcard-artworkIn the past 11 years, over 600 statewide garage bands, of all musical genres, have competed in the statewide garage band competition presented by Dennis Graham Associates and the Wisconsin School Music Association.

Graham’s 12th season of offering a stage to young statewide garage bands in 7th – 12th grades will take on a new name, ROCKONSIN, in association with the not for profit MAMA (Madison Area Music Association). Some of the major changes for the 2016 edition will include no registration fee, allowing all 7th & 8th grade garage bands to compete, and the finals competition will be at Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival.

The Fox River Valley and Central Wisconsin have been a gold mine for the development and recognition of young musicians that have started their own garage band.

The first ‘all ladies’ band to ever win a Wisconsin statewide styled garage band competition was in 2015 when Eminence took the top prize. The five young ladies of Eminence represented five different Fox Valley high schools (Menasha, Neenah, Appleton East, Oshkosh West and Appleton North/Renaissance High Schools).

Eminence, with its harder rock stylings not only took the top honors to win a full set gig at Summerfest opening for classic rock band Kansas, but they also performed at the 100th celebration of Les Paul’s birthday in Waukesha last August.

“This competition was one of the best experiences of my life,” Caitlin Sweeney, the powerful drummer for Eminence said. “It was so amazing to be able to play at Summerfest, and we have met so many people because of this opportunity.”
At the Les Paul celebration, Eminence mingled and impressed the stable of other headliners, such as Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.

And the Fox Valley/Central Wisconsin area has produced a treasure trove of talented high school bands that have joined Eminence in performing in past Finals competitions. In 2005 Smuggle Doug and His Six Shooters (from Appleton North and Xavier High Schools) took home the top honors, and in 2006, Sulco (St. Mary Central High School in Neenah) won the top prize.

Many talented young garage bands over the years have represented the Fox Valley/Central Wisconsin area including the Ian Olvera Band, Outbreak, ska band Orpheus, Mr. Mayor, Karmah and many more that have taken the stage to showcase their musicality.

So what are the new changes for ROCKONSIN in 2016?

ROCKONSIN is a Finals only format to be held at Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival at the Johnson Controls Stage on June 30 (6 bands) and July 1 (6 bands) from Noon – 3:30 pm each day.

Twelve ROCKONSIN statewide garage bands, of all musical genres, will be selected to perform at the Summerfest Finals. Bands must be of two or more members, and must have been formed outside the school music program. Musicians do not have to be enrolled in a traditional school music program, but must be enrolled in a Wisconsin traditional, virtual, charter or home school.

The Finals set times will be increased from 15 – 20 minutes for each band.

All 7th or 8th grade bands can now join high school garage bands in applying for the competition; or a band can be a combination of any students in 7th – 12th grade. Each finalist band will receive two (2) Shure microphones. One finalist band will be chosen to represent ROCKONSIN and perform at the Vans Warped Tour stop in Milwaukee on July 26 at the Summerfest grounds.

There is NO band registration fee – each band will be asked to send in one song on video (cover or original); no need for a professional video – just use your smart phone or video camera and send us the link along with your online application.

The winning band and runner-up band will each receive a second 45 minute gig at Summerfest on July 10th on the Harley-Davidson Stage at 5:00 pm & 4:00 pm respectively.

The winning band and the runner-up band will each win a professional recording session.

LIKE us on Facebook: ROCKONSIN and watch a message from Butch Vig, drummer for the internationally acclaimed band Garbage, and Grammy Award winning producer and Viroqua, Wisconsin native about his love of music and support of ROCKONSIN.

To run off a free poster and to get more information on band application, rules, news and more visit to enter this only statewide garageband competition, of its kind, in the nation. ROCKONSIN band application period closes on April 30, 2016.

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