Madison has a crush on the band Snaps for Sinners. And they are pretty sweet on us too. It all started when community development consultant Michael Fortunato came to Madison about a year ago to work with our arts alliance.

“Michael is a friend of ours and sometimes band member, back in northern California where we’re from,” said Corwin Zekley, violin player for the band. “He said, you won’t believe this little town. You gotta go play there.”

So they contacted Ryan Shaw and set up a gig at Off Broadway Taproom on a Tuesday night. I happened to catch that show, and they blew everybody away. That first night they were comped a room at the Riverboat Inn. Camille Fife took them to breakfast the next day. Ryan Shaw booked them for a second night at the Taproom. Jenny Mills put them up the second night. Somebody else booked them for a private house concert on the third night.

Jay Drapes, bass player for the band continued, “It was the most amazing and warm reception by a community. We actually had a show booked in Columbus, Ohio, that third night, but we told them our transmission broke and cancelled. We didn’t want to leave.

“Everyone was so open and inviting and accepting. We could tell right away Madison is a very progressive town, which sort of contrasts with the old architecture. People here are receptive to new sounds and they love their music.”

“I like the history of the place,” said Michael Fierro, guitarist, “you can almost feel everything that has happened here over the years.”

So the three of them decided to move to Madison. “There were two things driving the decision,” Michael said. “First, we just couldn’t afford to live in California anymore. The whole Silicon Valley thing has made the cost of living untenable, even though we were doing quite well as a band.

“The second thing was just a desire for a different community perspective, we needed to get out and experience middle America. We wanted to embrace the other, and give people a chance to embrace us. Right away Madison did just that.”

But alas, they are not now Madison residents as they had hoped. They had an apartment all lined up back in April, but at the last minute the landlord told them no.

“I think he just got cold feet about having a band living upstairs,” Corwin said. “It was very disappointing. We were in a bind with no place to live, but we happened on a place in Springfield, Missouri. It’s nice there, but we still love Madison.”

The band’s music is hard to describe, but it definitely swings. It’s very upbeat. The musicianship and talent are off the charts. You just need to see them for yourself, and fortunately you have a lot of opportunities in the near future.

They are playing tonight (Thursday, June 6) at the Off Broadway Taproom and Friday over in Friendship at the Tavern.

And Saturday, they are leading off the RiverRoots line-up at 2 p.m., with Michael Fortunato on sax. They also will be making another swing through Madison in late October playing at Rembrandt’s and with the Nulydedz on Oct. 25th.


It’s RiverRoots weekend of course, so if you love Americana roots music, it’s the only place to be Friday and Saturday. Another can’t-miss show is the FREE Kick-Off Party at 7 p.m. tonight, June 6, at Bicentennial Park, featuring Steve Poltz. I’ve been told he is a spellbinding performer. The Friday show at the Taproom with Jimmy Davis and Jordan Wilson will likely be special too. Stop by the RiverRoots Beer Tent and say “Hello” to me this weekend.

Charlie Rohlfing is a stalwart of the RiverRoots Festival committee, a campfire guitar strummer, and a partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening. Find him out and about or at


Lighthouse on the river — Various live music

Thursday, June 6:

Off Broadway Taproom — Snaps for Sinners

Bicentennial Park — Steve Poltz (free show)

Friday, June 7:

Off Broadway Taproom — Jimmy Davis & Jordan Wilson Blues Show

Friendship Tavern (in Friendship) — Snaps for Sinners

Vevay First Friday — Brian McClure & Michael Kruse

RiverRoots Festival at Bicentennial Park (music starts at 5:30 p.m.)

Saturday, June 8:

Off Broadway Taproom — SPKR

L&L Lounge — Country Bourne

RiverRoots Festival at Bicentennial Park (music starts at 2 p.m.)

Sunday, June 9:

Off Broadway Taproom — Davy or Darryl