The Sounds of Summer: 2024 Door County Summer Music Preview

To me, nothing sounds more like summer than live music in the distance. Growing up, I lived close to my city’s downtown area, where concerts were often held on the weekends. When the sounds of guitars being tuned and mics being tested started drifting through my window along with the breeze, I knew summer was starting.

Now, the season is officially underway, and though I’m far from my hometown, the sounds that used to signal summer have followed me up to Door County. I heard them every weekend last year, when I lived near the main drag in Sister Bay, and I’ll hear them even more clearly this year after moving to downtown Baileys Harbor.

While hearing distant music is enough to get me hyped for summer, being there for the real deal is even better. And if you’re reading this, you probably know that too. 

In this issue, you’ll find enough music to keep you jamming out from now until the end of July. You’ll also find performance highlights, venue details, weekly music offerings, festival information, the scoop on the county’s resident classical-music groups and a playlist that’ll give you a taste of the next few months of music. There are too many shows to fit into these pages, so stay tuned for a followup issue that’ll detail the music on deck for August and September.

Whether you want to be in the front row singing along to your favorite song or in the back row discovering a new one, there’s something for you playing live in Door County this summer.

Sam Watson

Reporter, Summer Music Preview editor

Featured Artists

A look at a few new faces to check out this summer.

Lil’ Rev

Photo by Bill Aquino courtesy of Lil’ Rev.

Marc Revenson got his first acoustic guitar after he heard “I Ain’t Got No Home” by Woody Guthrie at age 14, and he hasn’t looked back since. 

In the years following his musical coming-of-age, Revenson – known onstage as Lil’ Rev – picked up an array of instruments, including the ukulele, harmonica and mandolin. He plays around 125 to 150 shows a year, sometimes solo and sometimes accompanied by his wife and daughter. 

When he’s not onstage, he can be found teaching music, running a ukulele club and annual ukulele festival, or putting on one-man musical history shows. On June 16, 3 pm, he can be found at Door County Cherry Hut, 8813 Hwy 42 in Fish Creek. 

Separate Ways

Photo courtesy of Separate Ways.

Journey might not be coming to Door County anytime soon, but a show by tribute band Separate Ways is the next best thing. The group is made up of multiple Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) award-winning musicians, who together won the 2012 and 2014 WAMI awards for best tribute band. 

Led by frontman Paul Lent – who has a multi-octave vocal range and years of onstage experience – the band came together at the request of multiple agents throughout Wisconsin. Fittingly, it got its moniker from a Journey song of the same name. 

If you’re ready to take a journey of your own at a Separate Ways show, you can see them at Door County Gala, 1023 Egg Harbor Road in Sturgeon Bay, on June 29, 8 pm.

People Brothers Band

People Brothers Band. Photo by Shatter Imagery.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself magnetically moved to the front row during a show by the People Brothers Band. 

The rock outfit originally formed as an open-mic songwriting group. Its rotating cast has now been on the road for 15 years, bringing their songs about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll (plus a whole lot more) to venues across the Midwest. During a set by this 8-piece powerhouse, you’ll be able to sense hints of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Grateful Dead, Phish and Whitney Houston.

The People Brothers Band’s strong songwriting is paired with an even stronger stage presence – so don’t miss out when they come to Waterfront Park, 10693 N. Bay Shore Dr./Hwy 42 in Sister Bay, on July 3, 6 pm.

23 Skidoo and the Secret Agency

File photo. 

It’s no secret: this band is a family-funk phenom. The group, led by the Grammy-winning, purple-velvet-tuxedo-wearing Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, channels the primal power of hip-hop as well as the surreal storytelling of science fiction. The result is music that sounds like a cross between Dr. Seuss and Dr. Dre.

While the band’s music is family-friendly, their energy isn’t toned down, and their lyrics aren’t childish. Instead, their funk is sincere and affecting, and their lyrics tap into universal constants that transcend age: love, fear and learning to become ourselves.

Let your imagination soar along with the band’s sound at Door Community Auditorium, 2073 Cty DK in Brussels, on July 8, 6:30 pm.

Subject 2 Change

Photo courtesy of Subject 2 Change.

This band’s passion for the craft of making music is audible in every note they play. Based in Green Bay, Subject 2 Change’s four members blend classic rock, alt vibes, and ‘80s and ‘90s hits to create infectiously energetic live shows.

The current iteration of the band consists of original members Anthony Bickler on drums and Jamie Wotruba on bass, plus new members Jerek Obry on rhythm guitar and Chris Lemerond on lead guitar. 

Listen in as they transcend era and genre during a show at Sonny’s Italian Kitchen and Pizzeria, 129 N. Madison Ave. in Sturgeon Bay, on July 20, 6-10 pm.

Amy LaVere and Will Sexton

Photo courtesy of the Tambourine Lounge. 

Two esteemed singer-songwriters make up this husband-and-wife music duo, whose sound can be described as indie-folk, pop-punk. LaVere’s upright-bass skills, combined with her unique vocals, make for performances that are as hypnotic as they are unpredictable. She brings the same level of energy to intimate house shows as she does to huge festival stages.

Her longtime partner, Sexton, launched his musical career in grade school. Over the decades, he has become a musical polymath, working as a writer, producer, session player and solo artist. 

Both Memphis musicians will take the stage at the Tambourine Lounge, 59 N. 2nd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay, July 21 at 7 pm. 

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