Love of Bluegrass Shines with Bent Grass

What do you get when you combine a carpenter, a medical salesman, a business owner and a water department employee? If the guys in question are Mark Wellens, Dave Sladek, Joe Hannon and Mike Strenski, then you’ve got yourself one heckuva bluegrass band! Bent Grass brings traditional and original bluegrass and gospel to Third Avenue Playhouse for one performance on Saturday, May 17 at 7:30 pm.

The four members of Bent Grass began playing together in early 2005 and, although this group is relatively young, its fan base is growing with each performance. Their recent appearance at the Weidner Center this spring was sold out and a second show was added.

Although they come from different professional backgrounds, the four men share a love of bluegrass music that will have audience members smiling from start to finish. Traditional instruments include the banjo, guitar, mandolin, stand-up bass and dobro with strong four-part harmonies and some well-placed a cappella singing.

Bent Grass will perform both traditional bluegrass and some gospel music, blending songs like “Blue Moon Over Kentucky” (Bill Monroe) with newer styles like “When the Sun Goes Down” (Kenny Chesney) and “Paradise” (John Prine), as well as a liberal sprinkling of original tunes. The band has recorded one CD entitled “Nineteen Days” and just released their second, “Coming Home.”

Joe Hannon, the group’s mandolin player and ringleader, says the Bent Grass motto is “Entertainment for when you just want to have fun.”

“If people enjoy watching people who enjoy playing music, then they’ll fit right in with us,” says band member Dave Sladek.

Tickets for Bent Grass are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students and $8 for children under 12. Tickets are available at the theater box office, 239 N, Third Avenue, Sturgeon Bay, 920.743.1760. Box office hours are 10 am – 3 pm, Monday through Friday and one hour prior to performances. Tickets are also sold at Dancing Bear, 13 N. Third Avenue and on-line at