With an abundance of talented Milaca area musicians, 16-year-old Maddy Braun had an idea for bringing them all together.
Why not place them all on the same stage for a one-day festival?
Throw in food from local vendors and you’ve got the ingredients for a fun-filled, community-oriented concert.
Braun has been performing throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin this summer. She wanted to bring some of the area talent together and came up with Milaca’s Homegrown Music Fest.
The inaugural event is scheduled from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at Recreation Park.
Tickets for the event are $10 per person and are available at Milaca City Hall, Timber Valley Grille or any Santa Lucia location.
Online orders can be completed on the city’s website for an additional 60 cents. Admission at the gate is $15.
“Between me and Maddy, we were just talking one day about how many musicians are based out of here that are pretty well-known,” said Maddy's father Bill Braun, who owns an upholstery shop called Interiors of Excellence in Princeton.
Braun added: “We thought ‘Why don’t we do a festival with just local musicians?’ and that’s how it started. We knew the main acts we wanted to have, and once they said yes, we went from there.” Braun said things are coming together for the event.
“It’s going to be a busy and fun day,” he said. “We’ll be there early getting things set up and making sure things go as smoothly as possible.”
Food vendors scheduled to be on-site include Thai-1-On, Grannie’s Mini Donuts, Timber Valley Grille and a food truck from Old Capital Tavern in Sauk Rapids. There also will be the ever-popular popcorn from the Milaca Theatre.
Bill Braun said the event will feature many different genres of music.
Acts scheduled to perform include the recently formed Maddy Braun Band, Backstage Pass, Dram Shop Country Band, She’s My Sister, The Cooper Kids and Sailor Jerri with her full band. Backstage Pass features keyboardist Tom Bell, She’s My Sister plays bluegrass-style music, and The Cooper Kids features three generations of the Cooper family.
“It’s a really good variety,” Braun said. “The Cooper Kids is a grandfather, son and two grandsons, and Maddy will do some guest vocals with them. They do some old school 1960s and ’70s music and are a lot of fun. Everyone brings something different.”
Music with meaning
Sailor Jerri is a patriotic country artist and Navy veteran who has released two albums that are available on music services such as Spotify, iTunes and Google Play. She has gained notoriety in part due to her version of “Hallelujah,” which salutes America’s veterans.
Sailor Jerri started playing guitar and singing for long-term care patients at the VA and in veteran support groups.
Her military lyrics to “Hallelujah” music was released in May and reached No. 8 on the iTunes country charts.
She also filmed a music video for her original song “I’m Going Anyway” in her squadron’s hangar. It was released in September and has been watched more than 200,000 times.
Jerri’s career path is headed in the right direction, as evidenced by a jam-packed performance schedule.
She’ll be in Spring Valley at the Deer Creek Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 17, before coming to Milaca. She then performs in Mankato, the Minnesota State Fair’s Dan Patch Stage and at a private event in Nashville on Aug. 30. Her itinerary remains busy through November.
“I began performing for veterans and in groups online where we meet to give each other support,” Jerri said on her website (sailorjerrimusic.com). “They are 100 % behind me. That is an amazing feeling.”
Maddy Braun (maddybraun.com) said she started singing “about the time I could talk” and started with songs from her father’s collection. She started piano lessons a few years later, soon joining her school’s jazz, pep, concert and marching bands as well as choir.
However, Braun never really thought of turning her music into a career until she was 13. Now that she has, eventually hitting the big time is the goal.
Last March, Braun spent 10 days performing at clubs such as B.B. King’s Blues Club in Nashville and also in front of talent agents. She also recorded her first album there and is hoping for a December release. Braun labels her music “Americana-style.”
“Nashville was very exciting,” she said. “The musicians were all amazing. Words just don’t do it justice. I knew a little bit about the recording experience, but I learned so much more.”
Braun has been performing various duo and trio gigs around the state this summer, but the Homegrown Music Fest will only be her second performance with the five-piece band. They first performed at the Cambridge Art Fair.
“It went a lot better than I thought,” she said. “We’ve been working so hard and practicing twice a week since June. It’s been a lot of fun, and I can’t wait for this event to come together.”
Braun hopes to continue playing similar events as she prepares for another trip to Nashville when she turns 18.
“Hopefully I can shoot off and go big. That’s the big goal,” Braun said. “Hopefully I can go down there and make my big break.”
For more information on the event, go to discovermilaca.com/milacashomegrownmusicfest.html and visit the Milaca Homegrown Music Fest’s Facebook page.