Summerfest appearance can jumpstart careers
Festival’s Emerging Artist Series helps create opportunities


June 27, 2017

The Magnettes, based in Sweden, will perform on the opening day of Summerfest as part of the festival’s Emerging Artists Series, which showcases rising acts from around the world.
Submitted photo

WEST BEND The Magnettes, David Myles and 42 other acts hope to be the next music success story to come from Summerfest.

The Magnettes, a Swedish trio, will play at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage with 88Nine Radio at Henry Maier Festival Park to help kickoff Summerfest’s Emerging Artists Series showcase.

"All we’ve heard is it’s the biggest festival in the world," said Rebecka Digervall, 23, a member of The Magnettes.

Myles, 36, is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and will play at 5:30 p.m. July 8 on the same stage.

"I’m pumped," said the 27-time award-winning folk musician.

In its 12th year, the series highlights up-and-coming local, national and international talent each day of the festival. It not only introduces crowds to budding acts, but it also engages fans by letting them vote for their favorite act or acts. Each day, the act with the most fan votes receives a gift package worth nearly $3,000.

In addition, two acts will receive a college and non-commercial radio campaign.

This year, there are 11 acts from Wisconsin, 28 from elsewhere in the U.S. and five international acts.

The other international acts joining The Magnettes and Myles at Summerfest’s Emerging Artist Series are Alvarez Kings of Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (5:30 p.m., Thursday); Hamish Anderson of Melbourne, Australia (5:30 p.m., July 7); and Harts of Melbourne, Australia (6:45 p.m., July 7).

From Wisconsin are Rose of the West (Milwaukee, 4:15 p.m. Thursday), WheelHouse (Madison, 3 p.m. Friday), Devil Met Contention (Milwaukee, 4:15 p.m. Friday), The Zach Pietrini Band (Milwaukee, 4:15 p.m. July 1), Driveway Thriftdwellers (Milwaukee, 6:45 p.m. July 1), The Middle Ground (Milwaukee, 4:15 p.m. July 4), Abby Jeanne (Milwaukee, 3 p.m.

July 5), D’Amato (Milwaukee, 4:15 p.m. July 6), Trapo (Madison, 5:30 p.m. July 6), Vincent VanGREAT (Milwaukee, 6:45 p.m. July 6) and Queen Hilma (Green Bay, 3 p.m. July 8).

The 28 remaining acts will come from California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.

Myles hopes he’ll get some fans based on his interests, in addition to his mix of 1950s country and rock ‘n’ roll music.

"Everybody I talk to about Milwaukee, speaking of the city first, I’m telling a lot of musicians that I’m going down there and everybody’s like, ‘Aw, great,’" Myles said. "They say, ‘Beer and cheese,’ which is hilarious and I like both of those things."

David Myles of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, will play in the series July 8.
Submitted photo

Summerfest’s impact?

Several of the past acts in Summerfest’s Emerging Artist Series have gone on to achieve national and international success since the series’ inception in 2006.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats is one of those stories.

As a solo act, Rateliff played in the series in 2012. In 2015, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats was created and their first single, "S.O.B.," was a top-10 hit. Two other songs, "Look It Here"

and "I Need Never Get Old," are also top-10 hits.

This year, Rateliff returns to Summerfest, this time with his band, as part of Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival on the main stage July 9. That show also features Bob Dylan and Sheryl Crow.

Another success story involves the X Ambassadors, who were in the

2015 lineup, two years after they recorded a single with Eminem on his album, "The Marshall Mathers LP 2."

In 2016, the X Ambassadors received award nominations from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, the iHeart Radio Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards.

"Summerfest is enormous," Myles said. "Its reputation is international. A lot of people know about the festival because it is such a big one."

While the festival offers fans a chance to see a variety of acts, the it’s equally important to the acts, especially for ones like The Magnettes and Myles.

The performers often use large-scale festivals as a way to see what their colleagues are doing and maybe, find potential collaboration efforts whether it be in song-writing, touring or something else.

"Festivals are a great opportunity, even if you’re playing at them, to see other stuff," Myles said.

He added, "You all share the obsession with music. And you also get to see the acts that are really experienced that have played for a long time and make you go, ‘OK. This is where the bar is at. That’s what we have to work toward.’ That’s really important as an entertainer."

For new acts, there is an urge to perform well. But Digervall said they’re not nervous or scared to play in a setting with more than tens of thousands people going through the turnstiles.

"We’re building our fan base over here," she said. "So this is going to help out a lot. We promise a great show."

"We’re looking forward to meeting a lot of new fans," Digervall added. "It’s all about meeting the people that enjoy our music."

Myles said it is an honor to be a part of the festival.

"It makes it really special for me as an entertainer, a player, a songwriter to even be remotely be a part of that festival," he said.

Myles added a large-scale festival like Summerfest can change the life for a musician. He hopes that is the case for his career.

"An opportunity like this, to play in front of a good number of people in a city I’ve never played in is totally a dream opportunity for me," Myles said. "This is how you build a career, to play in front of new audiences."

He added, "It’s really important you take advantage of those opportunities and put on a show that’s really memorable."

A series such as the Emerging Artist Series is a step on the proverbial ladder.

"That’s why those acts move from emerging stages onto main stages,"

Myles said. "We’re all emerging at one point. Ideally some of us have had the opportunity to keep moving up.

"I started on emerging stages in Canada and now I play on big stages.

I see it as a part of the development. I’m new to playing in the States."


A chance to showcase debut album

It will be a special week for The Magnettes.

After their performance Wednesday, they’ll celebrate the release of their debut album, "Ugly Youth," on Friday.

"We’re super excited," Digervall said. "We’ve been working on this for a long time."

The Magnettes originally started with Digervall and her friend, Sanna Kalla. They’ve known each other since they were 5 years old. The third member, Tomas Backlund, joined in 2014, a few years after Digervall and Kalla recorded demos at a studio where he was the sound engineer.

Since becoming a trio, they’ve released four singles.

"It’s everything we never dared to say as teenagers, just screaming it all out on this record," Digervall said of the album. "It’s a lot about adolescence, growing up, the pressures of society.

We’re super excited for it to be out and we get to celebrate at Summerfest.

"It’s going to be a great (expletive) week."

They also can’t wait to explore the festival they’ve heard so much about.

"People, our best friends, every time they see the lineup, they’re like freaking out, like, ‘Holy (expletive). You’re going to play at the same festival as Bob Dylan and Red Hot Chili Peppers?’" Digervall said. "Everyone is there. Everyone’s been excited, including us.

We’re super excited to be at Summerfest."

"It’s just crazy," she added. "It’s like a head rush. It feels like it’s not real."

Lineup information

To see the full lineup for this year’s Emerging Artist Series at Summerfest, visit