an interview with creator Dennis Graham
by Teri Barr
April 2016

Rockonsin  - photo by Jerod Gibson

photo by Jerod Gibson

“Music means everything to me. And it’s great to see ROCKONSIN encourage and recognize young Wisconsin garage bands,” Butch Vig says. Vig, drummer for the internationally-acclaimed band Garbage and a Grammy Award winning producer, understands the importance of supporting up-and-coming musicians. As he told me when I interviewed him one year ago, and just before receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Madison Area Music Association, he’d started volunteering to help improve his own child’s school music program. But his current effort to speak out on behalf of ROCKONSIN may feel a little different; as the idea behind it takes Vig back to his own roots, which includes playing with friends in bands where he grew up in Viroqua, Wisconsin, and later in Madison. ROCKONSIN is getting the star treatment, because it’s deserving – Dennis Graham Associates started producing this state-wide competition back in 2005, and while it’s grown in popularity, ROCKONSIN remains the only one of its type in the country. Graham says it’s helped launched a lot of young talent, with the most recent being former Madison musician Gabe Burdulis.

But with growth, often comes change. And Graham says along with the name update from Launchpad, ROCKONSIN is truly a premiere competition for young musicians. “From no registration fee for the first time, to allowing for the first time, all 7th and 8th grade garage bands of any musical genre, the opportunity to join high school garage bands in this unique program,” Graham says. It has also taken out the multi-levels of the competition, and instead will feature the 12 selected finalists to play their hearts out on stage at Summerfest. Yes, the finals will occur June 30 and July 1 in Milwaukee during one of the largest musical festivals in the world. The top two bands will earn all kinds of great music-related prizes, including another set on a Summerfest stage.

But there is a deadline of April 30th. Graham says he has 7 bands registered so far, and representing all corners of the state – from Madison to La Crosse, Mosinee to Green Bay and back to Hartford. He also says there’s a great range in the style of music entering this year’s program.

Here’s your chance, young Rockonsinites. Show us what you got, and maybe you’ll be the one we proudly call our state’s next Butch Vig.

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