Wisconsin performers take the Gay Arts Center stage

Bill Lamb, Contributing writer

Milwaukee’s PrideFest not only provides the opportunity to experience internationally known talent, but it’s also is a showcase for Wisconsin talent. This year the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center Stage presents local musicians performing in a range of musical styles, from guitar rock thrash to indie folk. The performers will present sets throughout the three-day festival.

The Acoustic Orchard first came together at last year’s PrideFest to showcase singer and guitarist Mallori Reichenberger. This year the group is back just days after releasing new music in early June.

Acoustic Orchard describes its music as “bright and airy and looking toward the future of modern indie folk rock.” In addition to original songs, expect to hear crowd-pleasing covers from the group as well.

The Acoustic Orchard closes out all three nights on the MGAC Stage with a sound honed through performances at both folk-oriented coffeehouses and rock venues in Wisconsin.

The Upside brings the sound of thrashing girl-guitar rock to the MGAC Stage. The group plans to showcase new music that’s set to be released on PrideFest’s opening night.

The Upside came together in 2013 when Samantha Jansen and Lindsay DeCleene, formerly of The Way, decided to revamp and update their sound with the addition of Katie Potkonjak on keyboards. This is homegrown Milwaukee post-punk-influenced pop rock. Catch The Upside during all three nights of PrideFest.

Last year the Milwaukee duo Saint James, including Eliza Hanson and Evan Ditter, brought modern folk sounds to PrideFest. This year, with Evan Ditter pursuing studies abroad, Eliza Hanson returns as a solo artist. With a style influenced by classic folk artists Janis Ian and Joan Baez, Hanson contributes calm sounds to the PrideFest experience. Hanson performs both Friday and Saturday.

Jordin Baas kicked off her career performing in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She sang acoustic songs, blending her powerful voice with guitar and blues harp. Baas performs throughout Wisconsin and in Chicago at venues ranging from coffeehouses to farmers markets to Summerfest. Her music has a striking intimacy that will light up the MGAC Stage on Friday and Sunday.

Julie Brandenburg is familiar to followers of the homegrown Milwaukee music scene. In addition to performing her own music, she is an instructor at MATC, where she teaches piano, voice and composition. She also serves as a supervising composer with the young artist Creation Project of Milwaukee’s celebrated Present Music. She’s performing at PrideFest with her group Brandenburg 4, a group that came together in 2012 as a vehicle to present her original progressive pop songs. The groups perform both Saturday and Sunday.

Part of the joy in connecting with Wisconsin-based artists is the opportunity to see them perform again and again as their careers unfold. Enjoy the headliners but also take the time to experience the sounds of performers closer to home.  They will instill a sense of local pride.

Discover them at MGAC’s PrideFest stage.