Summer Music Preview 2009

One of the best things about Door County is the concept of finding something you weren’t expecting and then making it your own – even if you’ve lived here for a long time and foolishly think you’ve seen (and heard) everything.

Being a self-proclaimed audiophile and having gone to concerts and shows all over Wisconsin and the United States, I admit that it wasn’t until three years ago that I saw my first show in Door County. Maybe I was being a music snob, maybe I thought there wasn’t a scene. I was given a ticket to see Eric Lewis’s Labor Day show at Camp David and really didn’t have a reason not to go – so I went.

It was a beautiful Door County evening, and the music seemed to fit my sentiments on that holiday weekend – the notion that it felt like the summer has just begun and now, inevitably, it was ending. And for someone who had never really been to a favorite Door County band in a favorite Door County venue, it was a turning point for me. One of my good friends refers to this music-induced euphoria as the “feeling of being infinite.” It sounds cheesy, but that’s exactly what it was.

The music scene in Door County was quiet for awhile – with only a few key venues that consistently would book shows, but not a concerted effort to bring live music to the peninsula. However, there’s been a resurgence of sorts in the past few years. More bands strive to make Door County a stop on their touring calendars. There are more venues booking their music calendars months in advance. Whatever the reasons for this increase, it seems that the area’s musicians are finally starting to get the credit they deserve.

A few of those musicians (and music lovers) are taking it a step further by not only promoting themselves, but also promoting Door County as a potential destination for other musical acts. After all, we have miles of shorefront, beautiful sunny days, and a willing crowd of locals and visitors that want to see live shows. Why wouldn’t a band want to come here and play?

The peninsula’s summer music calendar is diverse, and doesn’t just cater to night owls. If the late night scene isn’t exactly what you’re going for, there are a wide variety of venues – from wineries and restaurants to old barns and new amphitheatres – that host music in any genre imaginable. Almost every one of the peninsula’s communities plan a “Concerts in the Park” series on weekday afternoons, and numerous non-profits, such as the Peninsula Music Festival, Birch Creek, Midsummer’s Music and American Folklore Theatre, host musical performances, which are not event touched upon here.

Inside this section, you’ll find profiles of some of the county’s favorite bands, and also a list of favorite venues. You’ll also find a special pull-out poster with a schedule of where to go to catch a great live show. Keep in mind that schedules are always changing and many venues not listed here (including the Northern Grill, Mink River Basin, Peninsula Pub, Sister Bay Bowl, and JJ’s/LaPuerta) will book occasional bands, so keep an eye on the pages of the Pulse or to keep up with the scene.

We hope these pages give you an incentive to check out the peninsula’s diverse music scene. No matter if you’re up here working 60 hours a week or soaking up some precious vacation time before heading home, seeing a live show in one of the peninsula’s great venues is one of the most authentic Door County experiences one can have. And when you’re dancing wildly with perfect strangers to a band you just heard for the first time minutes before, it’s as real (and good) as it gets.