23rd annual Prairie Dog Blues Fest coming up July 30-31

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The Hooten Hallers don’t mess around when it comes to providing a good time for its audience. Come check out their high-energy, blues, soul, rock and roll band at the Prairie Dog Blues Fest July 30. They are the tent band and will be playing all day. (Band Facebook photo)

By Correne Martin


The Prairie Dog Blues Festival has one of the best lineups ever for its 23rd annual blues-rock music party July 30-31, on St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien, according to the event’s loyal fans. 

This year’s mix of 12 artists will bring their fresh takes of rock and roll, country, soul, pop and funk to the traditional blues genre. 

“There’s always something for everyone,” said Todd Yeomans, fest president. “We like to think it’s one of the biggest parties of the summer on the Upper Mississippi.”

One of the musical acts hitting the tent stage all Friday evening, in between main stage acts, will be The Hooten Hallers, a three-piece Missouri blues, soul, rock and roll and rockabilly band. Since 2007, this young and interactive crew has toured large portions of the U.S., Canada and the U.K. They’ve been getting into Wisconsin regularly lately.

“We love Wisconsin; everyone’s so relaxed,” said Kellie Everitt, baritone sax player.

Along with Everitt rocking the sax, John Randall will jam on the guitar and growl through his lead vocals. Andy Rehm will provide the beat on the drums. From the first view of one of the band’s videos, it’s easy to see their skillful and insane intensity. 

One YouTube fan describes the band as ZZ Top meets Seasick Steve. On the band’s website, thehootenhallers.com, they say listeners often detect hints of George Thorogood, Morphine and Tom Waits. Though, to see them live, the audience can expect the unexpected. Their instrumentals and lyrical stories are injected with character from all they’ve encountered over their many years and miles.

Everitt said The Hooten Hallers will serve up mostly originals—written by all of them—on the Prairie Dog stage, with a few covers and “lots of energy.” She said the Prairie du Chien audience can expect covers like that from Hawaiian blues musician Taj Mahal or top Rolling Stone artist Commander Cody. 

“We love the connection we can have with our audiences,” Everitt stated. “When you’re putting out energy and you’re getting that energy back and creating a whole new level of energy, it’s just fun and rewarding.”

She added that the band has developed some “little dance moves from time to time” and they look forward to jumping and jiving with the crowd at the Prairie Dog Blues Fest.

Everitt noted that Randall and Rehm started The Hooten Hallers 14 years ago and she joined them, creating a new sense of wildness, in 2014. Their hometowns are Columbia and St. Louis, Mo. 

While in Wisconsin, their main mission, other than entertaining at the blues fest, is to find a cheese plate. 

Full lineup

Friday’s main stage lineup will include the young and sultry blues rocker from Texas, Ally Venable Band, kicking things off at 5 p.m. Then, at 7 p.m., Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys will feature Westside Andy and play straight-up groovy blues. These guys generally bring a large crowd. Also a huge draw for traditional blues enthusiasts will be, at 9 p.m., Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials. They have been in the business for over 30 years and will bring a big sound with rough-edged, soulful vocals. 

Closing Friday night, at 11 p.m. John Németh will put out some rowdy southern swamp tunes blended with retro and modern blues and soul. 

Saturday will be a full day of music for everyone. 

In the tent all day will be the Avey Grouws Band, from Davenport, Iowa—fresh off a popular set at The Blackhawk in downtown Prairie du Chien last weekend. 

Starting at 12:30 p.m., up and rising, easy listening stars Roscoe Foster and The Rascal Theory will play on the main stage. At 2:30, Chicago blues legend Lurrie Bell will take the stage with harmonica phenom Jason Ricci. At 4:30, powerhouse singer Amanda Fish will lure music lovers in. At 6:30, Tony Holiday—one of the top 10 young harmonica players in the country—and his band will bring a style of humor and electric blues to event-goers. Later, at 8:30, the Altered Five Blues Band will bring a thunderstorm of blood-pumping blues from Milwaukee to the Prairie Dog stage. 

Finally, headlining the weekend will be a newcomer who, Yeomans believes, will be a household name by the end of the year. At the age of 17, the growing social media sensation, Vella, will impress with her overwhelming voice, soul and emotion and throwback style. Her debut singles are going viral and her cover songs are being labeled “better than the orginals.”

For more information or tickets, visit prairie dogblues.com, or stop by Sports World in Prairie du Chien to purchase tickets too. 

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