ROCKONSIN Competition for Youth Garage Bands Making Summerfest Debut; Deadline to Get in is April 30

Recent News 14 Apr 2016


ROCKONSIN Competition for Youth Garage Bands Making Summerfest Debut;

Deadline to Get in is April 30

Wisconsin is a model of opportunities for young musicians. There continue to be major initiatives focused on providing music-minded youths with instructional workshops, major performance opportunities and educational events that prep them for taking on the music business. There are initiatives to fund school and other youth music programs and even awards recognition for young artists of all stripes.

For twelve years Dennis Graham of Dennis Graham Associates has melded the opportunities  for which Wisconsin is synonymous with rock-and-roll attitude, now forming a new program called Rockonsin. Like the Final Forte program, Girls Rock Camp, Madison Music Foundry programs and the Madison Area Music Association Awards, all of which give young performers a shot at a big-stage, large scale promotion, Rockonsin has managed to place their competition on what is arguably the biggest concert stage at the world’s largest music festival, Summerfest.

On June 30 and July 1 twelve very fortunate aspiring garage bands will strut their stuff on the Johnson Controls Stage, each playing a 20-minute set. The winning band and runner-up, as judged by music industry professionals, will play a second 45-minute Summerfest set on the Harley-Davidson Stage on July 10. The winning band and runner up will also get a free professional recording session at Madison’s Blast House Studios. Each of the twelve bands will receive two Shure microphones and one band (must be punk, rock or metal) will be chosen to represent ROCKONSIN at the 2016 Vans Warped Tour stop on July 26 at Milwaukee’s Summerfest grounds.

Graham even enlisted the support of Butch Vig of Smart Studios and Garbage fame whose promotional video for ROCKONSIN has practically gone viral.



Registration for ROCKONSIN is FREE but you’ll need to hurry, the deadline of April 30 is coming up fast. Here are the ground rules:

  • Open for participation to any 7th – 12th grade student led musical group of two or more members that is formed outside the school music program.
  • All band members must be enrolled in a public or private Wisconsin school or charter, virtual or home school. Yes. All band members must be enrolled in a public or private school including charter, virtual or home that is located in the state of Wisconsin. All band members must have attended one of the previously described types of Wisconsin schools listed above in the 7th – 12th grade in the Spring semester immediately preceding the Finals competition at Summerfest.
  • The band must submit, along with their application, the performance of one song (original or cover) on video with a link to that video; please include the songwriting credit and lyrics. Swearing or the use of profane, intolerant or misogynistic language will not be tolerated and the application will not be accepted.
  • All elements of the band performance must be performed live.
  • The 12 bands that are selected to perform at Summerfest must appear on the date and at the time assigned for their performance. Bands will only bring their instruments and will use the Johnson Controls & Harley-Davidson amplifiers and backline. All drummers will use a community drum kit, but can swap out bass drum pedals and cymbals, snare drum and throne (drum changes must be done in the 10 minute changeover time limit between bands).
  • If your band is selected to perform at the Summerfest finals competition, you will have 20 minutes for your performance and bands must finish their performance in that timeframe.
  • Swearing or the use of profane, intolerant or misogynistic language and inappropriate attire will be cause to turn off the sound system and disqualify a band’s performance – so be cool. You want to impress the judges with your musical talent.
  • All bands/groups are expected to respect the use of all Summerfest stage and sound equipment, this includes not damaging any sound system equipment or stage facilities. No standing on monitors, speakers or damaging microphones or the community drum kit; no throwing objects (e.g. drumsticks) from the stage or into the crowd – any actions such as described above or causing damage to equipment will not be tolerated and is grounds for immediately turning off the sound and disqualification from the competition.
  • Summerfest Johnson Controls Stage & Harley-Davidson Stage Managers have the final say on all production related matters.
  • Providing misleading or false information on your band application is grounds for disqualification.
  • Finalist band date and assignment times at the Johnson Controls Stage are not negotiable; if you are unable to sign an agreement to confirm the band’s date and time to perform including a liability waiver and provide a stage plot then that time slot will be offered to an Alternate band.

rockonsin poster

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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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