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Don’t miss a beat: Two area garage bands are heading to the Rockonsin state finals at Summerfest

Two bands based in Eau Claire are now headed to the state finals Sept 3-4.
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 6:38 AM CDT
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WESTERN WISCONSIN, Wis. (WEAU) -Garage days are here again. Rockonsin, the statewide competition for 7th through 12th grade musicians is heading into its final stage this weekend at Summerfest in Milwaukee.

Bands from across the Badger State submit their Rockonsin audition videos for a chance to play at Summerfest, one of the world’s largest music festivals and from that pool of auditions, 12 bands make the cut.

Bands moving forward have the chance to perform not only for a Rockonsin title, but for the thousands of festival-goers.

Not one but two bands started in the Eau Claire area are slotted to play this Saturday in Milwaukee.

Meet The Public.

“Rock, metal, psychedelic, alternative, whatever you want to call it, a little bit of everything honestly,” Cam Myher, lead vocalist and drummer describes the band as.

The Public formed from humble beginnings five years ago, with help from a little game called Rock Band the three members say.

And now? The three Eau Claire natives are taking their talents to the stage this weekend in Milwaukee.

12 bands from across the Badger State, selected to perform over the course of two days, all battling for a highly-sought grand prize; a 45-minute set at Summerfest September 18th.

“We were like oh that’d be cool we might win, you know might as well spin a video, what could hurt, and then all of a sudden, we’re in,” says Myher.

“It was too much to process almost at once, its even been hard to accept now, to completely understand the fact we’re going to play in Summerfest because it seems like such a day dream for it,” says The Public’s bass player, Elias Bates.

With Scott Bulinski on guitar, Elias Bates on bass and Cam Myher behind the drums, their dream is becoming a reality.

“You totally get into the music and when people are like really into it, it really becomes your whole life at that time, its a really good release of bad energy because you don’t think of anything besides playing,” says Bulinski. “It’s just a fun time.”

Also joining the Rockonsin roster this Saturday, The Main Characters.

A four-student cover band with zoom meetings and quarantine to thank for their inception.

“We started all of our first meetings and stuff over zoom calls,” laughs Kira Nevin, guitarist and singer with The Main Characters.

So it was only fitting the team found out they’d be going to the finals, via phone call.

“Kira group facetimed everyone and broke the news, I was in complete disbelief,” says bass player Sam Waldhart. “The fact that we’re one of the top 12 bands in all of Wisconsin, its’ crazy... it’s crazy.”

“We sent in the video but we didn’t think we would get in, we didn’t really think anything would come of it,” says singer Jojo Richardson.

Joey Dasher, The Main Characters drummer, his dad is the band director at Memorial High School. He says the response from the community has been overwhelmingly supportive.

“The community that’s behind him is now the community that’s behind me and so I’ve had a bunch of people reaching out to me and congratulating me and everybody in our band,” says Dasher. “All of my friends have been going absolutely crazy.”

“We’ve practiced on my porch and we practiced at Jojo’s house for a while in the garage and her parents were very tolerable of that and obviously our parents have been helpful through all of that, just all sorts of support from everywhere,” says Nevin.

The Public will play at 12:30p.m. Saturday followed by The Main Characters taking the stage at...
The Public will play at 12:30p.m. Saturday followed by The Main Characters taking the stage at 12:55 p.m. The two winners will be announced the same day at 6p.m.(Rockonsin)

In addition to a 45-minute set September 18, the top two bands will also each receive a professional recording session at Madison’s Blast House Studios. 12 hours for the winner and 8 hours for the runners-up.

Shawn Halverson is also a ‘character’ of The Main Characters as well, playing guitar, but having graduated last year age restrictions will keep him from performing this weekend.

Patrick Schwartz also plays piano for The Main Characters at some gigs.

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