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By Christopher Sampson

What To Expect at Little Big Fest 2016

Little BIG Fest is an annual festival featuring roots, singer-songwriter, bluegrass, jam, world, blues, jazz, and soul music. November 5th 2016, https://midwestix.securemytix.com/event/little-big-fest-2016

This year the following performers have been announced:


As Greyhounds, guitarist Andrew Trube and keyboardist Anthony Farrell have been making music and touring for 15 years, refining and developing a sound Trube calls “Hall and Oates meet ZZ Top.” The band also has long ties to Memphis, home of the soul that inspires them.
Ardent Music, the independent record label based out of legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, expects to build on the fanbase the band has developed both on the road and as a staple of the Austin music scene. Label director Reed Turchi says, “We committed to three albums not only because we believe in these guys, not only because they’re great musicians and songwriters, but because they’ve been incredibly prolific.”“We’re always writing,” Trube says. “We’ve got songs for eight albums.”

Ardent has had a long and productive relationship with Texas music: Studio C was designed for ZZ Top, which called Ardent Studios home for many years, and Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan recorded Family Style in the famous brick building on Madison Avenue. 


Check out "What's On Your Mind" a laid back southern track with a touch of soul that would be at home in any Tarantino flick.



Daphne & the Mystery Machines

Daphne Culver (chief architect, namesake) and Jenn Palmer (angelic-voiced firebrand) utilize familiar yet unorthodox pop sensibilities in their songs to exercise the demons of life, love and loss that we have all faced or will surely face in the not-too-distant future. The testament of a great song is in its ability to transcend genre and they achieve this not by careful calculation but by simply writing from a place of honesty and experience; reveling in each song's creation and in what the listener will continue to take from them.

When the musical gears begin to seamlessly click and spin together, Daphne & The Mystery Machines communicate with each other through the songs themselves and, in doing so, open a direct channel to the hearts of their audience and unwaveringly transmit a palpable intensity. Their ascension is beginning like the start of a dream and when a dream of music finally appears in color, it sounds exactly like Daphne & The Mystery Machines.

Here is their "Learn To Fall" an haunting southern gothic tune, with intricate multple instrumental parts and tight vocal harmonies.



Colter Wall

Colter Wall is a young Saskatchewan born songwriter and performing musician. Steeped in Old Timey material and traditional Americana, Wall's sound is comprised of resonate and raw baritone vocals, Folk and Bluegrass style guitar and banjo picking, steady kick-drum stomping, and visually provoking, story telling lyrics. Wall Draws influence from legends of the past such as Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, and The Band, as well as more modern Americana pioneers including Shovels and Rope, Jack White, Ray Lamontagne, and Shakey Graves. Despite only recently beginning his musical career, Colter Wall has been seen in the company of Saskatchewan's infamous gritty bluegrass trailblazers,The Dead South. Wall has had the opportunity to open for The Dead South on several occasions with more show's upcoming. In addition to racking up memorable live shows across the province, Wall is planning on releasing an EP in the summer of 2015 and has been busy recording at Regina's own Studio One. From dive bars to fundraiser galas, Colter Wall has a history of leaving audiences in shock at the maturity of his voice as well as his songwriting.
"Codeine Dream" is a great song, with vocals reminiscent of Richie Havens, and a guitar like Arlo Guthrie.



Crystal City

Crystal City, fronted by Dave Helmer and Sam Drella, is a Heartland rock band with blue-collar roots. Heavily influenced by Paul Westerberg, Tom Petty, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt, Helmer’s songs are approachable and relatable, touching on themes of love and loss, being good to each other, and celebrating life.

Here is their song "Vacation Eyes"



The Well Pennies

THE WELL PENNIES are a Folk/Pop duo consisting of husband and wife team Bryan & Sarah Vanderpool. The pair met in Boston while supporting each other’s solo sets at popular venues like Club Passim, Lizard Lounge, and The Middle East. They fell in love, ran away to Los Angeles and released their debut EP that was met with critical acclaim from press like Interview Magazine, Under the Radar, Daily Unsigned, and countless others. Taking influence from THE LUMINEERSPASSENGER, and SUFJAN STEVENS, the pair combine their signature pop melodies and tight harmonies with beautifully produced lush string arrangements. The band explains, “Our goal is to write songs that inspire something – however simple – to smile, to love, to get out and experience life.”



The Host Country

The Host Country was born while Ty Wistrand (guitar/vox) and Diana Weishaar (keys/vox) were both attending the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

Meeting through common circles, they found they shared a passion for similar artists and styles of writing that led them to begin collaborating together to see what kind of music they could create together.  The result is a sound that is emotional and honest. Sparse, yet powerful. 

They officially began playing under the name 'The Host Country' shortly after Ty moved to Des Moines in early 2011 and started playing proper venues both there and in Cedar Falls shortly thereafter.

In May 2011 they recorded an EP at the Sonic Factory Studios in Des Moines which displays the folk and rock roots they built their sound on, then in 2014 they released a full length album recorded at Midday Studios complete with bass, drums, strings, organ, and an overall bigger sound.

Tom Rue (bass) and Ethan Weishaar (drums) are now permanent and essential members of the evolving Host Country music where you can now hear a bit of everything, from folk to rock, Americana, blues, and beyond.



Matthew James & the Rust Belt Union

Members: Wrex - Drums. Larry - Upright Bass. Nathan - Pedal Steel. Brad - Guitar. Matthew - Acoustic / vocal.
Genre: Midwest Junk Soul



Carbon Canaries

Carbon Canaries formed out of a musical bond between three friends. We're made up of Kowbel  (guitar, vocals), Andrew (guitar, vocals) and Rupkey (percussion) & we play an array of  original songs and covers in an acoustic folk fashion. 



Jess DeWitt & Co

Up-and-coming Midwestern singer-songwriter that is equally heartfelt and whimsical. She has a talent for finding the humor in the human experience and eloquently translating it to catchy, upbeat tunes accompanied by playful, tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

This little lady (standing at only 5'2") has a dynamic vocal style and range that never fails to impress. Her music is a charming mix of folk, blues, rock and pop guaranteed to leave you with a glossy-eyed grin and a bounce in your step.



Patresa Hartman

I’m the third of three daughters to musical parents. I grew up with church choir, barbershop quartets, show tunes, the symphony, military marches, Fifth Dimension, Crosby Stills & Nash, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, my father’s whistling, and The Gaithers. I made music everywhere, all the time. Then, at some random time and for some unidentified reason, my confidence tanked, and I stopped.
Through the entirety of my 20’s and the start of my 30’s, I did anything but music. I finished college and went to graduate school. I cycled through four careers in fifteen years. At one point along the way, I missed music enough to buy a piano for $200 from a thrift store, and I learned chords on a beat-up classical guitar my then-boyfriend salvaged from the dumpster of the music store where he worked. Several songs fell out, and I recorded them using an analog four-track and a borrowed microphone. But I didn't play them for anyone.
Over the next several years, I continued to write music that I was too insecure to play for others. Eventually, I recognized what a waste that was. You don't have to be great; you just have to be honest.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for connecting. Hope to see you at a show soon.



Randy Burk & the Prisoners

Steeped in the rich tradition of Americana artists before him like Steve Earle, Johnny Cash and Dave Alvin, Randy Burk creates music that is at once exciting and familiar, honest and soulful, fearless and introspective. 
Wrought with Midwestern sensibility and a blue-collar work ethic, Burk's affinity for songs about love, life and pain can be traced to his small-town Iowa roots. Born and raised in Atlantic, Iowa, Burk spent much of his youth singing in the church and listening to his father's collection of Elvis Presley 8 tracks.