2008 Acoustic Fest Schedule

11:30 - Tom Pease

12:30 - 1:50

Joel Stepanek

Rebecca Markvart


Juke Joint Johnny

Daniel Nathan

2:00 - Janet Planet & Tom Theabo

3:00 - Frogwater

4:00 - 4:50

Scholarship Winner, Home Brew, Greenville

5:00 - Poor Man's Labour

6:00 - Jerry Kosak

7:00 - Unwound


Times subject to change



Acoustic Fest Performers


Born in London into a family with their roots deep in the heart of the West Kerry Gaeltacht.Tommy was raised in a melting pot of sounds from the rhythms of The Beatles on the radio and his parents Irish records on the turntable. Tommy was always a keen singer and by the time the family moved back to West Kerry in 1972 he had already begun playing guitar. By his mid teens he started performing locally in Dingle,already a popular tourist destination largely due to the movie epic ‘Ryan’s Daughter’which was filmed in the locality.Encouraged by local publican and musician Fergus Flaherty,Tommy started to explore the world of traditional music.He dabbled with open guitar tunings and listened to everybody from Paul Brady and Dick Gaughan,to the acclaimed West Kerry musicians The Begley Family.Through trial and error he eventually settled into the DADGAD tuning,a trade mark sound of his later recordings.In 1982,with Ireland in deep recession,Tommy again moved to London.There,amongst the swell of a wave of Irish immigration,he found himself engulfed in a stream of traditional music from all over Ireland.Amid this vibrant scene,Tommy quickly established himself as a useful guitar player and singer.Many of the musicians in and around this circle would later come to national and international attention such as John Carty, Mike McGoldrick,Dezi Donnelly,Sean Keane,Ron Kavana, and actor Patrick Bergin( a regular bass player on the scene).

Tommy also took a keen interest in the English folk club scene and became friendly with amongst others Barry Dransfield and Martin Simpson.These influences can be heard in his rendition of ‘The Grey Funnel Line’ which he recorded on the Sliabh Notes album ‘Along Blackwater’s Banks’in 2003.All in all,Tommy kept his base in London for 10 years.There were however a few notable side trips:In the spring of ’86 he travelled to the U.S. with fiddle player Tommy McCarthy.They performed as ‘in flight entertainers’ for Virgin Atlantic airlines a feat that prompted a headline in the evening press proclaiming “The first ceili at 5000ft”!(Tommy McCarthy went on to open ‘The Burren’in Boston which has become one of the most famous Irish American music venues in the States).

Returning again to London ,Tommy embarked on the first of many trips to Denmark.Eventually he joined ‘Ashplant’a Copenhagen based band with Danish and Irish members.Ashplant regularly toured and played at festivals all over Scandinavia.Tommy continued to tour with Ashplant until he eventually returned to Ireland in 1992.Within a year he released his acclaimed debut album ‘Legacy’.Among the musicians featured were Matt Cranitch and Steve Cooney .
Shortly after the release of ‘Legacy’,Matt,Tommy and ‘4 Men and a Dog’ box player Donal Murphy formed ‘Sliabh Notes’.To date they have recorded three albums:Sliabh Notes,Gleanntan,and Along Blackwater’s Banks.They have built an enviable reputation and have performed at many international festivals.One of the bands many highlights was on the streets of Cork city in Sep.2005 when along with Michael Flatley,The Kilfenora Ceili band and nearly 7000 dancers they entered ‘The Guinness Book Of Records’ for the largest gathering of people to play and dance the siege of Ennis!

In 1997 Tommy also began touring regularly with ex-Bothy Band virtuoso piper Paddy Keenan.Having featured on Paddy’s solo album ‘Na Keen Affair’,Tommy booked a sellout tour of Ireland for the duo.They later went on to record the much acclaimed album ‘The Long Grazing Acre’which was released on the compass label in 2003.The pair continue to tour and appear at festivals worldwide.

Tommy’s long overdue second solo album was recorded in 2006 and released in 2007. Entitled ‘Song Ablaze’it is an ambitious project with songs that range from traditional Irish and traditional American to the works of contemporary writers again from both sides of the Atlantic.The album includes an international cast of such stellar musicians as 2006 grammy award winner Tim O’Brien(USA), Shetland fiddle master Chris Stout, champion harp player Catriona McKay(Sco), David Robertson(Sco,Capercaillie), James Blennerhassett(Irl), Mary Black/Brian Kennedy(Irl), Eilis Kennedy(Irl) and Pete Grant(USA)

Tom Pease

Tom Pease has an infectious sense of fun and community building. With movement, sign language, humor, and joy, he creates concerts that leave audiences laughing and singing. He's performed full time since 1982, often giving more than 200 performances per year. He's also been a frequent presenter at early childhood and environmental conferences, keynoting and leading breakout sessions that explore the role of music in shaping our lives and the world we live in. Tom inspires and connects with every show he does.



Janet Planet with Tom Theabo

Jazziz Magazine hailed her as a "Voice of the New Jazz Culture...amazingly powerful voice with seemingly limitless expression". In her career, Ms. Planet has performed with legends such as Jackie and Roy, George Benson, and her mentor Nancy King, and shared the stage with many other accomplished jazz artists including Ellis Marsalis, John Harmon, Gene Bertoncini, and Marian McPartland. Janet is also on the staff of the Tritone Jazz Camp and teaches voice privately as well as conducting clinics.

Tom Theabo has been a guitarist/arranger/writer for more than 35 years. A full time musician and teacher, his style is a unique voice in the jazz world and immediately recognizable. His recordings are numerous. He has been featured with Grammy nominee, Chris Swanson and John Harmon on the 1985 release of "Sweet Thunder" on the Sea Breeze label. He has shared the stage with George Benson, Chuck Mangione and Gene Bertoncini. He has also collaborated with Janet Planet over the last 25 years.


(Susan and John Nicholson)

Susan began playing violin at the age of 7. Trained classically and with some Suzuki method, she played in Milwaukee ensembles, did solo recitals, and performed in Music For Youth Symphonies. After high school, she pursued interests in travel, work, and further education..

In 1989, Susan reawakened her interest in the violin as a "fiddle" and joined Milwaukee Celtic ensemble, The Glenghillies (later shortened to The Ghillies.) This popular group developed a following in all age groups and varied backgrounds. They enjoyed stints at local pubs, various festivals throughout the United States and Canada, and private and civic affairs. They even shared the stage on occasion performing with Ireland's Chieftains.

In 1995, The Ghillies added John Nicholson (guitar, banjo and vocals, ) a Milwaukee native, who had just returned from studying and living in California. John has performed traditional music around Milwaukee and Wisconsin for many years. He studied guitar at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and privately, and has taught beginning and intermediate guitar at the University of Wisconsin extension Division in Milwaukee since 1999,

After the Ghillies dissolved in 1997, John and Susan continued playing together and co-founded Frogwater, featuring a cross-pollination of musical styles: Celtic, Bluegrass, old-time, and blues. Their performances are particularly influenced by their love of Irish and Scottish music. Alongside Susan's flashing fingers on the fiddle, John adds his prowess on Celtic, Blues and fingerstyle guitar. As they began to add emphasis on old-time American music as well, Frogwater frequently includes another talented Milwaukee musician, Li'l Rev on harmonica, guitar and ukulele.

For the past several years, Frogwater has performed regularly at the Milwaukee Summerfest, Irish Fest, Bastille Days, and Rainbow Summer. In recent years, they have also begun featuring at Lancaster (WI) "Music on the Square, " Gays Mills Folk Festival, Bayfield Folk Fest, Wheatland Traditional Arts and a recent performance in England. They have received honor as best band in the Bluegrass and Country categories (for lack of a better classification) in the WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) awards for two years running, and have been honored with readers' Polls awards in several music categories in The Shepherd Express, Milwaukee's alternative newspaper.

John and Susan performed with Milwaukee's Renaissance Theaterworks in and original play, "Red Pepper Jelly" in January 2002. This provided them with an opportunity to write and perform original musical material in conjunction with a respected theatrical production. John and Susan have enjoyed performing for live dance groups, such as Trinity Contra dances throughout the Midwest.

Their discography included: "Live at Thai Hoe's" (live band recording,) 1998
"Bus Breakdown" (John and Susan studio recording,) 2002


Jerry Kosak

Jerry Kosak is a guitarist and composer performing original music for solo guitar. Drawing from a diversity of musical experiences, his compositions and playing style blend contrasting idioms to create a fresh image of traditional music. Blues, classical, rock, and jazz have all been influential in producing a musical approach with a “great reflection of many different styles,” according to Kevin Barnes of KBEM radio.

While Jerry’s music hearkens back to traditional roots, his career path has been anything but traditional. Jerry grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and didn’t touch the guitar until age 19, when the lure of the electric guitar became too powerful to resist. Steve Howe, from the band Yes, was a major influence on Jerry’s early development and inspired him to explore a wide variety of musical styles. Motivated by Steve Howe’s Mood for a Day, Jerry soon added classical guitar to his repertoire, and after only six months of lessons, he auditioned for - and was accepted into - the guitar program at Arizona State University (ASU) where he studied with Frank Koonce.

In the fall of 1980, Jerry formed Chosen, a Christian-oriented, progressive rock band. Upon graduation with a degree in Classical Guitar Performance from ASU in 1982, Jerry devoted his energy to performing with Chosen. The band recorded a self-titled album in 1982 and continued to perform for another year before finally disbanding in 1983.

For the next several years, Jerry remained busy as a session guitarist, teacher and composer. He wrote songs for America West Airlines, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and The Make a Wish Foundation. In 1986, he recorded all guitar parts for the album Form Letter, by Berkley/Bay area-based Missionary Kid, and released his first solo recording, Brighter Light.

Jerry relocated to Flagstaff, AZ in 1988 and was offered a faculty position teaching guitar and music history at Northern Arizona University (NAU). He eventually entered a graduate program in musicology at NAU and received a Masters degree in 1994. While living in Flagstaff, Jerry began performing traditional blues with local blues men, Ray Rossi and Hans Olson. Acquiring several National metal-body guitars propelled his musical direction further into the realm of finger style and slide guitar. His resulting mix of academia overlapped with the blues has been described as “Segovia playing the music of Robert Johnson, while thinking about Leo Kottke.”

In 1994, Jerry moved with his family to Minneapolis, MN where he accepted a faculty position at MacPhail Center for Music. During this period of transition, and in order to spend time with his children, Jerry decided to concentrate on teaching and composing.

An inspiring tour through Nicaragua in 1998, which included collaborative sessions with Nicaraguan guitarist Chamorito, launched Jerry into an intense phase of musical creativity. His efforts were culminated with the 1999 CD recording, Many Dances, an eclectic collection of “wonderful guitar music” for solo guitar which showcased his skills as composer, instrumentalist, and vocalist, and prompted guitarist Billy McLaughlin to say, “Jerry is a powerful and colorful guitarist who makes me want to practice..., or just listen with a big smile on my face.”

Jerry was the first two-time winner of the Zeitgeist Eric Stokes Song Contest, receiving the award in 1999 for his composition Matagalpa and 2000 for Many Dances. He was awarded a grant from MacPhail Center for Music to compose student pieces in 1991, and was a recipient of the 2001 Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant.

In 2003, Jerry joined the faculty of McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, where, in addition to teaching courses in guitar department, he is active in helping to develop new courses in guitar technique and music history. A second CD, Sounds Like This, was recorded in 2004. Once again, Jerry combined his talents with those of Matthew Zimmerman at Wild Sound Studios in Minneapolis and produced what Tommy Emmanuel described as “wonderfully recorded guitar!“

In the wake of the new recording, Jerry acquired a Lexicon JamMan and incorporated the technology of “looping“ in his live shows. As Jerry put it,“ the JamMan enabled me to add something different to my performances... something a bit more interesting than simply playing the tunes from my CDs.“ Looping is the ability to record several live parts during a performance. The result can be quite impressive and very similar to the sound of a full band. “All the parts I loop are created on the fly. Each sound is created by either playing the guitar or tapping on the body. Well, I do use a shaker egg, from Creative Kidstuff, and the soundhole mic picks up that sound. I saw Phil Keaggy do that. Invariably, someone will ask how I am making these sounds, or are those sounds pre-programmed?“ As his live shows have evolved, Jerry has opened for Don Ross and has performed on shows with Tommy Emmanuel, Bob Brozman, Catfish Keith, Steve James, Phil Heywood, and Hull and Larsen. Currently, Jerry teaches at both McNally Smith College of Music and the MacPhail Center for Music, performs across the country, and writes music for the guitar.



(Gloria and Peter Pivonka)

Traditional and contemporary acoustic composers, fingerstyle guitar and tight, rich harmonies characterize this local duo’s performance. Their repertoire includes compositions by Nancy Griffith, Fleetwood Mac, Bonnie Rait, Sheryl Crow, John Gorka, Bruce Cockburn and many others. Of particular interest are the duo’s guitar arrangements of piano tunes of Joni Mitchell and John Lennon and the addition of percussion to solo guitar pieces.
Peter’s instrumental offerings draw heavily from the compostitions of Michael Hedges, Pierre Bensusan, Alex DeGrassi, Billy McGlaughlin and Leo Kottke along with a generous sprinkling of tunes from the British Isles masters Bert Jansch, Peter Lang, and Martin Carthy. The duo venue allows the couple to explore repertoire possibilities particularly suited to the intimate, concert type atmosphere of coffee shops, book stores, museums and smaller clubs.

Home Brew

The acoustic guitar duo Home Brew, offers a blend of uniquely arranged acoustic swing, blues and pop tunes.

Pete Honzik is a finger style guitarist and a founder of Manitowoc's
annual Acoustic Fest. With 30 years of experience as a solo musician, Pete's creative collaborations also include Hardbean and McHonzik, Rebels with a Mortgage, Huckleberry Blues Hounds and is the current music director for Heart-A-Rama, an annual fund raiser for the Heart Association. He studied fingerstyle guitar at the Milwaukee Conservatory with John Stropes.

Merritt Bussiere, also plays fingerstyle guitar. In addition to his Home Brew activities, he currently entertains as a solo musician along the Wisconsin lakeshore. Merritt played piano, guitar and banjo, sang harmony vocals, and created arrangements working with different folk-rock bands during high school. After high school, he sang and played keyboards and slide guitar in dance bands around Philadelphia until the late-70s when he quit music all-together for about 20 years. In the late-1990s, he and his oldest daughter began performing as an instrumental duo called Paper Moon.

Home Brew began in December 2003. They have hours of vintage acoustic music to offer. With decades of musical experience betweenthem, Pete and Merritt bring new energy and ideas, and some nice pickin' and vocal harmonies, to an eclectic mix of songs.

Poor Man's Labour
Poor Man's Labour performs American roots music, including mountain tunes and songs, blues and rags, and traditional Irish dance music. The group includes members of the Srubas family: AJ Srubas on fiddle, guitar and vocals; his brother, Steve Srubas, on clawhammer banjo, ukelele and vocals, and their father, Paul Srubas, on guitar, vocals and whistle. The boys' mother, Ruth Ellen, will also occasionally add her voice to the mix.


Daniel Nathan

Daniel Nathan will be making a special SOLO appearance at The Manitowoc Acoustic Fest. He has recently been described as ‘…an inspiring example of musical drive and creativity.’ by OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence.

His band out of Milwaukee, The Daniel Nathan Band, is a psychedelic groove trio featuring soul-rockin’ psycho flute. They play with power and feeling, crossing genre barriers without losing coherency. Visit www.danielnathanband.com to download free mp3s off their new Voodoo Magic CD!

Rebecca Markvart

Becky has had music in her soul from a very young age. She started playing piano at age 4 and has been singing since she first began to talk. She got her first taste of guitar by taking lessons at 14, though she didn’t actually begin playing seriously until a few years ago. Becky began performing locally in January, 2005 with a newly formed trio called Happenstance. She decided to go solo in 2007 with her debut gig at Stumpjack Coffee Company in Two Rivers. At this time, she plays monthly at Stumpjack and various small venues in the local community and around the state. Some shows by herself and others with Bill Martell as Six Degrees. Becky’s musical style is very laid back and soothing and her vocals have been labeled as “angelic” and “smooth”. Some of the artists she covers include Sarah McLachlan, Alison Krauss, Dan Fogelberg and Trisha Yearwood. Becky recently started writing and performing her own songs and will release her debut CD June 1, 2008.

John "Juke Joint" Filipek

Juke Joint started playing guitar at around the age of 7. At 8 he was playing guitar for a Polka/Wedding band. That lasted until he was about 12 at which time he started getting into rock. He played with a bunch of garage bands until he was 14 when he joined a band that actually had gigs. School proms, college parties, etc. At around this time he discovered the blues and knew that was what he wanted to play. Although being in Chicago,heI couldn't find like minded people, so, rock it was. He was in bands in Chicago throughout the 70's and 80's and played mostly Led Zeppelin, Rush, etc. but every once in a while he could sneak in a blues song like Crossroads or some Foghat. John moved to Wisconsin in 1996 and has been here ever since. He's been playing acoustic blues mostly since then. Now he just plays where people will let him.


Sammy is a local musician who has lived in Manitowoc since 1977. He originated in upstate New York were he was a member of a couple of rock bands , but discovered that band life is not all it seems. He picked up the acoustic guitar and found that he was more comfortable playing country music as a hobby by himself. Sammy likes to attend open jams and has sat in with many local bands such as The Dave Steffen Band. His music is varied from country to rock and roll. He no longer pursues a pro music career but does enjoy entertaining as an amateur who plays because he enjoys it.



Milwaukee-based Greenville are making their mark on the Wisconsin live music scene with their moving blend of folk and rock. The duo combines the singing and story-telling talents of Ryan Bahnaman and Andy Berkhout, who are both in their early twenties. Unlike the majority of their peers, Bahnaman and Berkhout use a completely unplugged lineup of acoustic guitar, banjo, and mandolin to craft their melodies. Their songs contain all of the qualities of modern American folk music—soothing vocal harmonies that call to mind early Simon & Garfunkel and guitar work that could easily be mistaken for that of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.
Greenville formed in 2006 and released their first album, Welcome to Greenville, on their independent West Twin Records label. In the year that followed, they performed extensively throughout Wisconsin, including several shows at major universities. This exposure, combined with regular radio airplay, has led to a steady following among college-aged listeners. In June 2007, Greenville released their second album, Streets, Statues, and Seasons.
Greenville have enjoyed airplay on:
Wisconsin Public Radio's Simply Folk
University of Wisconsin-Madison's WSUM Student Radio.
University of Wisconsin-River Falls Hot & Fresh Radio Show
Marquette University Student Radio
Greenville have played at several Wisconsin universities, including:
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
University of Wisconsin-Steven's Point
Marquette University


Joel Stepanek

Joel grew up in Oshkosh, WI and was raised on the records his parents played every night. From a very young age Joel developed an affinity for music and song writing, and by his freshmen year of high school had already filled up countless notebooks with poetry and verse. He enjoys writing music that "captivates and grows with the listener," ultimately recognizing that if the music he creates does not capture the moment in which it is heard, then it has not lived up to his true potential.

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