La Crosse, WI

Songa touches on Jazz & Folk

Great River Folk

The pandemic shut down many festivals and events including the Great River Folk Fest which had been an annual La Crosse WI tradition since 1976. What didn’t get shut down was the Songwriting Contest which moved online and boy was it a blessing. One blessing was a new relationship with Songa, Sherry & Mario Friedel, a couple from Chippewa Falls WI. During the contest the couple submitted many wonderful acoustic ballads, and easily made their way into the Finals Round. At that time Dave Schipper the Fest chair interviewed them and found out the rich music history and that Mario was an original member of the Jimmy Buffett Corral Reefer Band. Plus, when you stop at their website you also quickly see a picture of them with John Hiatt who Mario played with back in 1971. While Sherry is no fluff being a performer, vocal music educator, church music director, and co-producer of children’s recordings, Mario’s history stretch’s back to many bands from the 70’s to the today, and included Howard “Guitar” Luedkte and Janet Planet. You can listen to the interview here:

Mario's connection with the jazz stylings of Janet Planet are still active and can be heard in concert Sunday evening August 1st at Riverside Park. Vocalist Janet Planet and her husband, producer Tom Washatka recently completed an album arranging several of Mario's songs for Big Band/jazz combo. She will be singing next Sunday night with The LaCrosse Jazz Orchestra. 2 of the songs from the album will be performed. One of them is "Keep Them From the Cold," (gospel style) which Songa submitted for the 2020 songwriting contest. Isn't it wonderful that a good song transcends different genres of music.

As the 2020 finals turned out, Sherry and Mario Friedel did win the Fan Favorite award in the contest, and won the hearts of many on the committee. When 2021 planning started, one of the objectives was to get Songa and other finalists down to the fest so everyone could meet our new friends. They are currently booked to do two song swaps on the Great River Folk Fest Sunday August 29th. Likely will sound totally different in their folk style.

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Bringing acoustic, folk Americana musicians and news to the LaCrosse WI area. A year round lover & promoter of musicians that have played the festival the weekend before Labor Day.

La Crosse, WI

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