MAMA Fundraisers Winding Down En Route to Annual Madison Area Music Awards

MAMA Fundraisers Winding Down En Route to Annual Madison Area Music Awards
Kyle Henderson Music rips it up at the Harmony.

The fundraising season in preparation for the Madison Area Music Association Awards is beginning to wind down. Voting in the second round remains open until May 16. The Madison Area Music Association, or MAMA, relies on community members to make their voices heard during the voting and selection process. You can still make your voice heard—and discover a wealth of locally-produced music—by visiting the website at

This past weekend the organization held its annual blues fundraiser at the , a fun-filled, laid-back night of great blues and blues/rock. Three bands appeared and there was a raffle featuring prizes from a local massage therapy spa as well as tickets to the MAMA Awards on June 22 at the Capitol Theater in the Overture Center.

The Stand Back Blues Band opened the show with Bill Roberts playing guitar. Roberts is one of the best guitarists in the city; an original member of Spooner, one of the city’s best-loved bands who eventually morphed into Fire Town and ultimately the world-class Garbage. The fact that people still say, “Bill who?” when talking about Roberts is a tragedy. The man doesn’t regurgitate standard blues riffs but is constantly inventing new ones with unmatched phrasing. Roberts told me he is reconstituting his band Blue Beyond which won them the New Artist of the Year award in 2009. 

The Volcanics were next, a band that formed in 2013 and featuring the brothers Dieter, the very talented Joe on guitar and Pat on saxophone. Vocals were handles by Pat and keyboardist Randy VanderHeiden. The Volcanics mixed in several covers that added funk and classic rock to the mix. The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin'” and Deep Purple’s “Hush” along with Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” got the crowd pumped up and on the dance floor.

Last up was the sensational Kyle Henderson. Henderson is a former member of MTV sensation the Producers band who scored some pretty big hits in the ’80s. Henderson’s voice is a little reminiscent of Huey Lewis, powerful and soulful with that hint of playfulness (read a profile on Henderson here).  The band is tight as nails. Twin guitar lines are this group’s calling card with Henderson and Michael Ripp playing some inspired duos. Ripp is another Madison legend making this night of blues at the Harmony a guitarist’s dream lineup.

The MAMAs also accepted a $500 donation from the Madison Blues Society toward the MAMA mission of providing instruments and funding for youth music programs in the greater Madison area. The Blues Society has been a steadfast supporter of the MAMAs. 

The Harmony Bar continues to be a Madison staple and especially an Atwood area mainstay. New owner Brad Czachor took over from the legendary Keith Daniels in September of 2013. Rest assured the vibe is intact, the beer is still affordable, plentiful and varied, and the food menu has retained its character and excellence.

The MAMAs have one more fundraising event. Wurst Times IV will be held at the 701 E. Washington Ave. complex on May 24, the building that houses the High Noon Saloon, the Brink Lounge and the . All three of these venues will be utilized and this year there will be a parking lot stage. Wurst Times Festival is known as the working-person’s bratfest and will feature more than forty local bands on five stages. MAMA is the group’s fiscal sponsor and proceeds benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank and MAMA. Nonperishable food items will earn a discount at the door. It’s a celebration of all things Madison and for a good cause. For the MAMAs, it’s the last coffer-ringer before the big event on June 22. The awards show is truly a labor of love so get out there and support it. Tickets for the eleventh annual Madison Area Music Awards are available at the Overture Center Box Office in early May.