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Rock on Mile of Music Festival

Music variety pleased Festival goers
Music variety pleased Festival goers
Karen J Lee

To comment that Appleton, Wisconsin's, Mile of Music was a success for it's second year, would clearly be an understatement. In only 1 year, the musicians ’ performances went from 180, to this year's over 600 talented music lovin' participants from various destinations.

Co-Founded and organized by Appleton native and national recording artist, Cory Chisel and Dave Willems, president and CEO of Willems Marketing, Inc., the festival brought many musical styles including roots and indie rock to country, soul, blues and folk to downtown Appleton. “It seemed like the amount of music we had – which featured 620 live performances compared with 180 in year one – was a good fit with a crowd that seemed about double the size,” Willems said. “It was a guess on our part because the festival’s music is mostly free and that means that it’s hard to tell how many people will come. But, we think we came close and the crowds were tremendous.”

Attendance at the Festival saw endless music style options. An added element, included the appreciation of music through live, on the spot complimentary music lessons as well. A series of hands-on, extensive participatory music education events, featuring more than 30 workshops and demonstrations, was led by 1987 Lawrence University, Appleton, graduate Leila Ramagopal Pertl, the festival’s music education curator. With the support of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Pertl assembled an expert team of 10 area music teachers and music education students, who conducted sessions ranging from Balinese gamelan to Brazilian samba.

"This is one of the only music festivals in the nation where music education is a central part of the mission,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music, who conducted a didjeridu workshop as part of the festival. “The music education team created all sorts of opportunities for everybody to transcend the role of passive listener, and embrace the role of active music maker.”
The university’s collaboration on the music education aspect is something that sets Mile of Music apart from many other festivals across the country

For the second year in a row, the Lawrence (University) Memorial Chapel hosted several of the festival’s headline acts. Some of the performers included excellent folk/bluegrass guitar picker Christopher Gold, and Nashville singer/songwriter Adriel Denae. Mile of Music organizers formed an outlaw-themed performance hosted by festival co-founder Cory Chisel. Joining Chisel for the round-table performance included new additions Langhorne Slim and Ruby Amanfu.

Dave also commented: “The streamlined organization, along with a group of knowledgeable volunteers, made the difference in the set up and guiding of participants per their questions and directions for the Festival. "We are very pleased with the enthusiastic musicians who embraced the event and gave of their talents, as well as the contributions of the volunteers, and for the overall community support.

Appleton "rocks," and the Mile of Music Festival event is one to watch for in 2015.

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