I-S student rock band will perform in Milwaukee
By Holly Neumann
Wilhelm, an alternative rock band formed by Iola-Scandinavia students Erin Thompson, Kolden Krueger, Corey Ziemann, Echo Watters and Garrett Brown, is headed to the big stage to compete in Rockonsin at Summerfest 2017.
“I’m still in shock,” said Thompson. “I was almost 100 percent sure we weren’t going to get chosen to play at Summerfest so I can’t even believe this is happening.”
“I took me a solid week to wrap my head around the fact that Wilhelm would be performing at the world’s biggest music festival in little over a month,” added Watters. “Performing at Summerfest will be an absolutely incredible experience. It will be an excellent way for Wilhelm to gain experience and develop as a group.”
Without a doubt, Iola-Scandinavia’s instrumental music teacher, Jacob Martin is proud of his students.
“I am so happy and proud of this band for accomplishing a high standard and goal so quickly in their music career,” said Martin. “This accomplishment is wonderful for the students. It shows that if they are dedicated to practice and having fun that they are able to do anything.”
Rockonsin is a garage band competition, founded and produced by Dennis Graham.
“I founded and created a statewide garage band alternative music competition in 2005 for high school garage bands of all musical genres,” said Graham. “In 2016, Rockonsin expanded the competition to include 7th and 8th grade musicians in bands as well.”
According to Graham, it was started to recognize and encourage young musicians in garage bands and to give them a forum/stage to showcase their musical talent.
“These young bands are starting out in the minor leagues so to speak,” he said. “They will be the bands of the future as they continue to grow and develop musically and proceed to move into the major league of music that we will be listening to and enjoying in Wisconsin in the coming years.”
Any band comprised of 7th – 12th grade students attending a Wisconsin public, private, charter, virtual or home school can enter to compete.
“Bands were asked to send in a video of them playing a cover or an original song and to register the band at www.rockonsin.org,” Graham said. “Three music industry professionals, with over 70 years of combined experience, judge each band in categories of creativity, rhythm, primary beats/vocals/blend and how they create a synergy of sound.”
Twelve finalist bands, representing 18 statewide high and middle schools, were selected from a pool of fifty-five bands.
“The 12 garage bands will perform at Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, in Milwaukee,” he said. “The competition will be held over two days (June 29-30) on the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage. Six bands each day will each perform 15 minute sets with the music competition taking place from noon to 2:30 p.m. each day.”
Wilhelm will kick off the start of Day 2 (June 30) at 12:05 p.m.
“Three different judges will judge them with the same rubric categories used to judge the band application video,” Graham said. “After the band has finished their set they will have a 10 minute band critique from one of the judges. The judge’s performance critique does not enter into the scoring of the band – the band is only judged on their actual performance on stage.”
Graham stated he is looking forward to Wilhelm’s performance at the big gig.
“Their video showed a young band that is developing its own synergy, jelled together as a musical unit in its interpretation of the submitted song, has a good vocalist, with each member of the band demonstrating a mastering of their role in the band,” he said. “I believe they will continue to grow musically.”
The winning band will each receive a 2017 Rockonsin Award.
“Both the winning band and runner-up will each receive a second 45 minute set on the larger Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage on Sunday July 9,” he said. “Each band will receive a free professional recording session at Madison’s Blast House Studios.”
One band chosen by the judges at the Rockonsin State Finals show at Summerfest will represent this program with a performance slot at the national Vans Warped Tour Milwaukee stop on July 24.
While another band will be chosen to represent Rockonsin at the Waukesha Bluesfest on Aug. 11 at Naga-Waukee Park.
These young musicians are excited about the experience.
“It’s a chance at a little bit of recognition,” said Ziemann. “It’s also very fun to play music and a chance to do it at the world’s largest music festival is very cool.”
“This is important to me because these are my best friends and I love playing music with them,” said Thompson. “This has been a dream of Corey’s even since I met him and I’m just over the moon that we finally get to live it out together.”
Martin believes it shows just how strong the Iola-Scandinavia music program really is.
“Not because of something special that I do, but because of the dedication and love of music from the students,” he said. “The students being invited to play at Summerfest opens a door and gives a road map for future students on what to do if they want to explore different musical careers or hobbies outside of band.”
To catch a glimpse of the talents of Wilhelm, you can see them perform at 7 p.m., Friday, June 9, at Scandihus, located at 280 N Main St. in Scandinavia.