Appeal to sponsors: Bring back New Music Stage


Last summer when I pulled up Summerfest’s website I was crestfallen to find the New Music Stage, which hosted many local and up-and-coming acts, had been nixed. Grafton’s K-Nation Entertainment, who had been the sponsors of the stage until 2015, pulled their sponsorship, citing the difficulty of running such a stage while maintaining their business. Apparently Summerfest could not or would not look for another sponsor.

The final headliners in 2015 included Milwaukee natives Brett Newski and Direct Hit! and Appleton crooner Cory Chisel.  The stage gave an opportunity for bands whose audiences usually consisted of bar patrons in Riverwest to bring their music out into the open and to a larger, and perhaps more diverse, crowd.

While the upper echelon of Milwaukee’s music scene will be dispersed around the Big Gig performing at other stages — IshDARR, Dead Horses, GGOOLLDD and Vinyl Theatre — missing will be the great smaller bands that make Milwaukee such a great place to live year-round.  Having local music put on a pedestal at our own festival used to differentiate Summerfest from every other summer music festival where the same bands play over and over again.

If we’re going to say Milwaukee has an amazing music scene, we need to be able to prove it and support these promising bands.  So here’s my appeal: Milwaukee companies, we need you to step up so we can demonstrate that we want to invest in ourselves as much as we want to pad the pockets of already-rich megastars like Tom Petty and Red Hot Chili Peppers.