The last band we had in for Irish Fest this year was Co. Claire's trio Flash in the Pan, made up of brothers Shane and Fiachra Hayes and Aodan Coyne. This is the band's second year at Irish Fest and their second year as a formal band.

One of the bands we had in the studio this year during Irish Fest is the Scottish band Dallahan. The band is made up of Balázs Harmann (double-bass), Paddy Callaghan (button accordion), Ciarán Ryan (banjo/mandolin/fiddle), Jani Lang (fiddle), and Jack Badcock (guitar/vocals).

Suzanne Plunkett /

Fiddler Liz Carroll has won just about every musical accolade there is to be had. Her parents immigrated to Chicago from Ireland in the 1950s and Carroll began playing as a child.

She won the Senior All-Ireland Championship when she was 18, has recorded with almost every luminary in the Celtic music pantheon, was nominated for a Grammy award in the Irish traditional category – the first time for an American musician – and she’s played for the President of the United States.

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It’s not often we get a concert harp in the Lake Effect performance studio. So when Lauren Hayes wrote to say she was back in Wisconsin to give a performance, we jumped at the chance to have her in to perform.

Hayes is from Whitewater and countertenor Patrick Terry is from Janesville. They're both about to go into the second year of their masters' degree programs at the Royal Academy of Music in London. And London is where they first met despite having grown up very near each other.


As summer winds down, practice may be far removed from the minds of music students. But practice does make perfect, and it is the art of repetition and fine-tuning a sound that adds up to a great musician.

Cellist Robert Cohen says, "Feeling of having done more than you've expected to somehow are able to be more expressive than the effort you're putting in to it. It just seems to pour out of you."

There comes a time in an artist's life when they have the desire and the resources to do what they want, and not worry about what a record label, producer, or even fans are asking for. 

Such is the case for Austin-based singer/songwriter Jess Klein.  Her latest album is called Learning Faith.  Leaning towards a concept album, Klein drew upon raw emotions and the aspect of faith in many areas of life. 

"I’ve always had an interest in spirituality. I’ve never had a religion but I’ve always felt a longing to connect to something bigger," says Klein.

Born and raised in the area, Greg Koch still calls Milwaukee home.

Heavily influenced by his older brother’s record collection growing up, Koch plays his own hybrid of several iconic styles.  Joe Bonamassa, current guitar god in his own right, once said Koch is pound for pound the best guitar player in the world.

In the liner notes of his first album, released in 1993, Koch described his style as, “Chet Hendrix meeting the Kings (BB, Albert and Freddie) at the first annual Zeppelin-Holdsworth Coffee Guzzlers Hoedown.”

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When the singer Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011, she became just the latest example of a musician on a seemingly promising trajectory to have their life cut short by drugs or alcohol.

Terra Guitarra

Depending on when and where you see musicians Julie Patchouli and Bruce Hecksel, they might be playing under the name Patchouli or they might be called Terra Guitarra. The multi-instrumentalists call western Wisconsin home, but they’ve toured nearly non-stop for sixteen years.

"Passing By" the Musical /

For many, the concept of home is relative. For some, it is a location, and for others it can be found in a person.

The new musical Passing By explores the themes of choosing your own path through the relationship of Jenny Zimmermann, an ambitious writer; and Edison Wolters, a young man who works on his family’s farm. In the play, set in the small town of Jacksonia, Wisconsin, the characters must decide if they will plan a life together after high school or follow their own plans.