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Who to see at Mid West Music Fest in Winona this weekend? Festival staff, fans and performers share their picks

April 26, 2018

With more than 80 acts playing at nine venues — 10 if you count the Trempealeau Hotel — over just two days, it can be difficult to pick which sets to see at the ninth annual Mid West Music Fest, which will be held Friday and Saturday around Winona.

Lucky for you, regular festival-goers and MWMF staff have gathered their top three picks for which acts to see this weekend during the festival.

For a complete schedule, go to midwestmusicfest.org or download the MWMF app, available through your phone’s app store.

Jon Swanson, MWMF fan

The Shackletons

8:15 p.m. Friday at Ed’s No Name Bar

Why? Because they rock! Amazing young band, high energy, with old school punk rock influences. I have seen them every time they have played Winona, the crowds keep getting bigger and better, and I cannot wait for them to fill Ed’s No Name Bar and blow people away.

DJ ESP, aka Woody McBride

9 p.m. Friday at Island City Brewing Co.

Most MWMF attendees do not realize Woody is a global superstar with over 100 dance music releases. He is a brilliant DJ, promoter, producer, and party rocker. His Bassgasm parties at First Avenue are legendary.


Midnight Saturday (early Sunday) at Historic Masonic Theatre

For a variety of reasons, I have missed them when they played Winona and La Crosse. Not this time. Based on strong word of mouth, they are not to be missed.

Jacob Grippen, MWMF board chair

Liz Cooper & The Stampede

9 p.m. Saturday at Ed’s No Name Bar

I’ve been playing them on the MWMF Radio Show, and liking what I’ve been hearing.

Blackfoot Gypsies

10 p.m. Saturday at the Tent Stage

Missed their set last year, but heard many good things, and bought music from them when the journalism students from Cotter interviewed them the morning after. Excited to finally get to see them play in person.

Minnesota State Band

11 a.m. Saturday at the Historic Masonic Theatre

Minnesota is the only state to still have a state band. It’ll be fun to see them in person at the Masonic. The show is free.

Sarah Johnson, MWMF performer

Black Widows

10:45 p.m. Friday at Ed’s No Name Bar

I am super excited to see Black Widows — gritty surf tunes with a sense of humor and powerful harmonies can’t be beat.


3:30 p.m. Friday at Blooming Grounds Coffee House

7 p.m. Friday at Historic Masonic Theatre

Humbird is a huge favorite of mine because of her sublime lyrics and otherworldly vocals.

The Nunnery

4:30 p.m. Saturday at Blooming Grounds Coffee House

I can’t wait for the entrancing melodies from The Nunnery.

(Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Sarah and her band, The Old Fashioneds, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Tent Stage).

Johnathan Roberts, MWMF fan

The Bad Bad Hats

Midnight Friday (early Saturday) at Ed’s No Name Bar

They are significantly better every time I see them and their first show years ago blew me away. A wonderful display of gracefully delivered power.

Black Widows

10:45 p.m. Friday at Ed’s No Name Bar

Saw them in January at Ed’s and was instantly enamored. The show is a spectacle. The music makes me want to surf, watch roller derby, and get the high score on every pinball machine all at the same time.

Superior Siren

6 p.m. Saturday at Island City Brewing Co.

Fell into their music on accident back in the fall and haven’t been able to climb back out, which is great. If I was shipwrecked on a North Shore island and had to live in an ice cave to survive the winter, they would be the backing tracks to that movie and it would have a happy though introspective ending.

Tyler Steinley, MWMF fan

TOPO and Port. of the Chemist

9:30 p.m. Saturday at Historic Masonic Theatre

Both are crazy talented musicians, so Port providing the grooves for TOPO’s words is going to be great. A match made in musical heaven. Their band is a supergroup of local musicians too. Definitely don’t miss this one. It’s going to get weeeiiirrddd.

Bird’s Eye

6:30 p.m. Saturday at Historic Masonic Theatre

I caught this group at the La Crosse weekend and I’m already excited to see them again. Nothing beats a hip hop project backed by a tight live band. Combined with funk and R&B influences similar to Anderson Paak, they provide perfect tunes to celebrate the long awaited warmth and sunshine.

A Little Too Short to be Stormtroopers

Midnight Saturday (early Sunday) at Ed’s No Name Bar

This will be the set that everyone talks about and nobody remembers. Ending the entire fest at midnight on Saturday, this “live karaoke” band fronted by familiar faces from around the fest will be one for the books.