The Spring Green venue’s season begins May 4 with Sonny Knight And The Lakers.
The Shitty Barn, the Spring Green venue that’s kind of what it sounds like but also really a bit nicer and more deliberate in the experience it provides, announced its 2016 season Wednesday night. It begins May 4 with Minneapolis R&B outfit Sonny Knight And The Lakers and concludes October 4 and 5 with two shows from Duluth folk-blues standout Charlie Parr. See the full lineup here.
The Shitty Barn’s schedule usually plays out like this: Heavy on palatable folk and mild-mannered rock stuff, with some detours into the adventurous and/or abrasive. And so this year we have our dead-on stuff—Cory Chisel on May 11, GGOOLLDD on May 25, The Pines on September 14 and 15—but a few pointed exceptions. July 27 features a double bill of Me en You, a hip-hop/R&B band born out of UW-Madison’s First Wave program, and Lovely Socialite, a six-piece instrumental jazz ensemble with tendencies toward heady composition and noisy improvisation. Madison pop sickos Cribshitter play what’s billed as an “intimate evening” on August 17. The Montreal duo of violinist Sarah Neufeld and saxophonist Colin Stetson, whose solo and collaborative works contort their instruments into itchy soundscapes of zoned-out repetition, share a bill with Madison electronic outfit Chants on August 10. Madison punks Wood Chickens will play a July 13 bill with Arkansas songwriter Adam Faucett.
Tickets go on sale April 1, and a lot of the shows tend to sell out, so it’s worth getting a jump on the ones you’re interested in.
This year also features a bit of a change in leadership at the Barn. Chris Staples and Martha McCamy turned it into an actual seasonal venue in 2010 after throwing a few one-off parties in partnership with Furthermore Beer, where Staples was once business manager. Before long it started landing some impressive regional and national acts, including Dosh, Low, Heartless Bastards, R. Ring, and DJ Abilities. But those big gets didn’t edge out the Barn’s focus on local artists, who remain a strong part of this year’s season. The venue also added creature comforts like a decent beer selection and meals from local farms and restaurants, but without losing its rustic informality.
Staples also ended up functioning as the de facto host of the venue’s shows, often introducing bands with lovably awkward but heartfelt speeches. In an email conversation with me last year, Staples half-jokingly complained that the Barn had become a “minor cult of personality” surrounding him. Over the past couple years, Staples has moved from Spring Green to Madison, and the venue has outgrown his and McCamy’s capacity to run things.
Staples and McCamy will still be involved, but have handed over the booking and most of the other venue-running duties to a team of people who’ve mostly already been involved in the Barn for the past few years, including Allen DeSchepper, who now heads up booking, and resident Barn photographer Connie Ward.