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Artist Biographies

The Main Stage at the Midwest Folklife Festival featured a number of different music, dance-and even jump rope-traditions. Here are brief descriptions of the artists who performed on the main stage. For pictures of some of these performers, visit our picture gallery.

Double Dutch Divas | Rudy Garcia | Gary's Ridgeland Dutchmen | Henry Family Dancers
Karl & the Country Dutchmen | Louis McTizic Blues Review | Madison Gospelaires | Monroe Swiss Singers
Southern Wisconsin Old Time Fiddlers | Wisconsin Dells Singers & Dancers | Dang Yang


In the 1970s, the playground game of Double Dutch jump rope was transformed into a competitive sport, and Milwaukee's Double Dutch Divas excel at it. Past Wisconsin state champions, the Divas dazzle with accomplished footwork and coordination. Members Shawnie Jasper, Lequandra Hale, B.K. Kinkaid and Iyana Wesley range in age from 10-15. Together with coach Michael Graham, they take Double Dutch to a whole new level.

Rudolfo (Rudy) Garcia was born in 1932 in central Colombia. He taught himself to play the guitar and was soon singing the folksongs of the region. As a young man, he traveled through Central America to Texas, eventually moving to Wisconsin in 1973. Over the years his repertoire has grown to include music from many Latin American countries.

The name Gary's Ridgeland Dutchmen explains the family, regional and ethnic traditions of this group. Gary Brueggen is a member of the Brueggen clan that has been making music in the Cashton area since the time of the Civil War. "Ridgeland" refers to the uplands east of the Mississippi River, home to the Dutchmen. "Dutchmen" is an Americanization of Deutsch, indicating the German-style basis to their old-time music.

The Henry Family Dancers consist of Angela, Janice, Elizabeth and Michael Henry, aged 21 to 13. This Dodgeville family is so committed to the importance of Irish step dance in their family that they travel weekly to Milwaukee to study at the Cashel-Dennehy School of Irish Dance.

Karl & the Country Dutchmen: Karl Hartwich has set a new standard for
playing the Chemnitzer concertina in the Dutchman style. His band, featuring German-style polka, plays more than 100 dances a year. A consummate musician and a concertina prodigy, Karl has stimulated a rebirth of interest in this music among younger players.

The Louis McTizic Blues Review is a traditional house juke five-member band that plays urban electric "Chicago Blues" style, typical of many musicians who migrated from the South to areas of the Midwest. Members include Louis McTizic, vocals/harmonica and Etheleen Wright, guitar and vocals.

The Madison Gospelaires are an a capella gospel quartet founded in 1985 by Will and Dorothy Williams. Hailing from Mississippi, the Williams brought with them to Madison the strong African-American tradition of worship through song.

The Monroe Swiss Singers evolved out of a long history of Swiss/German folklore choral groups in Green County. The group's fifty members proudly pay homage to their Swiss and German heritage with singing, yodeling, and alpenhorn blowing.

The Southern Wisconsin Old Time Fiddlers Association has been entertaining southwestern Wisconsinites for almost fifteen years. As many as sixteen fiddlers gather to play old-time favorites with backup from guitars, bass, banjo and accordion.

The Wisconsin Dells Singers & Dancers is a group of performers from the Ho Chunk Nation who perform tribal dances and songs, to help audiences better understand some of the Ho Chunk customs. According to their oral history, the Ho-Chunk people have been present in the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois region since before the ice age.

Dang Yang, an artist of Hmong instruments, currently lives Milwaukee. As a boy, he learned from his father how to play and make instruments like the raj (flute), nca (mouth organ), and xim xaus (violin). Since 1976 Dang has made over 100 instruments for his friends, relatives and families in Laos and Thailand.

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