Arts Wisconsin: World’s largest annual music event spreads across Wisconsin on Monday, June 21

Thirteen Wisconsin cities and towns will join forces to present hundreds of free outdoor musical events on Monday, June 21 for Make Music Day, a global music celebration on the summer solstice each year that brings people of all ages and skill levels together to make music. This year, Appleton, Barron, Chequamegon Bay, Fitchburg, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Land O’Lakes, Madison, Marshfield, Milwaukee, Platteville, and Waunakee join more than 100 U.S. cities hosting thousands of Make Music Day performances across the country, as part of the world’s largest annual music event. Eau Claire and Stevens Point are also hosting musical events on June 21.

Gov. Tony Evers has issued a proclamation designating Monday, June 21 as “Make Music Day in Wisconsin.”

This year’s event will return to a mostly in-person experience after last year’s pivoted to a largely virtual one due to the pandemic. Safety protocols will remain in place. Completely different from a traditional music festival, Make Music Day celebrates and promotes the natural music maker in all of us, regardless of age, ethnicity, background or skill level. Make Music Day is a free and open invitation for everyone to make, enjoy, perform, teach, learn and experience the joy of making music on the longest day of the year.  

Make Music Day began in France in 1982 as the Fête de la Musique, and has spread to over 1,000 cities across 120 countries. Completely different from a typical musical festival, Make Music Day concerts are performed by anyone who wants to take part and enjoyed by everyone who wants to attend. From classical to folk, hip hop to opera, Latin jazz to punk rock, live music of all kinds resounds on streets, sidewalks, porches, plazas, parks, gardens, store fronts and other public spaces on the longest day of the year.

“What a joy to celebrate Make Music Day this year, throughout the state,” says Anne Katz, Director of Arts Wisconsin, which is coordinating statewide administration and promotion.  “From Kenosha to Land o’Lakes, from Platteville to Green Bay, music will be the universal language that brings people together on Make Music Day in Wisconsin. And special thanks to our partners Wisconsin Public Radio and League of Wisconsin Municipalities for their help.”

Highlights of the day will include:

  • Appleton: Make Music Day Appleton will be returning to in-person programming for the fourth year. A collaborative event involving Heid Music, Appleton Downtown Inc., the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, and Mile of Music. Performances, educational programming, and music workshops will be presented by various local artists and organizations celebrating a wide range of genres and instrumentations.
  • Barron: Barron will participate in their second MMD. Barron Federated Music Club will conduct Window Serenades at two locations this year. The incomparable Lenore Berg will perform with Norm Yamada for residents of Barron Care and Rehab, and Monroe Manor. Northwoods Percussion will conduct a drum circle at the new inclusive adaptive playground at Anderson Park. The Jumbie Jam steel drum will be available at this venue for exploration. Barron Public Library will be hosting music and crafts all day, where a Jumbie Jam will also be hosted. BCDSI and the Barron Community Garden will host a Jumbie Jam, as well as other music throughout the day. The bell tower on LaSalle Ave will be programmed to play a variety of different music every hour on June 21st.
  • Chequamegon Bay: Make Music Chequamegon Bay returns with a number of performances throughout Washburn and Ashland. Join MMCB in Wikdal Park, Co-op Park, The Alley, Saron Lutheran Church, and more! The event will also feature the Online Big Top Chautauqua Community Sing-Along.
  • Fitchburg: Fitchburg’s inaugural Make Music Day will celebrate local musicians in the area, welcoming all musicians of any age and skill level to join in the fun! The festivities include a free concert from Lynda & the ZEROs at McKee Farms Park, June 21st at 7pm.
  • Green Bay: Make Music Green Bay is hosting The Junkophonic Journey (aka Bash the Trash), making and playing instruments created from cast off everyday items. Then, drawing on their local history and heritage, MMGB is hosting “Packerland Polka Palooza” in the TitleTown District. This event celebrates the lowly Polka by spotlighting art, stories, and instruments to be played during the Polka Parade, geared towards kids. They are partnering with local florists in a collaborative orchestra performing their Flower Pot Symphony. In an effort to promote unity across our region, they are holding a “Harmonizing our Community” event, spotlighting harmonicas and “harps” played by a wide variety of musicians. The ever-popular Bongos by the Bay will return, and Biking to the Beat and Yoga Heart Chants are again being celebrated throughout the area.
  • Kenosha: Kenosha’s block party will bring the community together with live performances, engaging all-age events, and amazing food and beverage. There will be a main stage featuring bands such as Violet Wilder, Would You Kindly?, and Ivy Ford. Window Serenade showcases featuring acoustic artists like Kim Banis, Jaz Cardoza, and 3 A.M. Saints. And throughout the day, there will be open jams, and “singing in the shower” events so everyone can have some fun! Many local restaurants, food trucks, and breweries will be offering food and beverages for all to enjoy. The festivities don’t stop there: other Make Music events will be popping up around the city, so be sure to get involved wherever and however you can. Celebrate the power of music throughout Kenosha together.
  • La Crosse: Make Music La Crosse’s first year will feature a wide range of participating venues and musicians! Activities include the Solar Show and Tell event at Hamilton Early Learning Center/SOTA I elementary school, Peter Kish is performing at Bluffside Park, Larson’s General retail store, Craig McClelland, Boyle and Johnson, and One More Onion all in front of the John Pugh Mural at the Pump House Regional Arts Center, the Downtown Main Street Inc. Office, Leithold’s Music, Fly Casual band and DJ Jeremy Light.
  • Land O’ Lakes: LOLA Arts, located in Land O’ Lakes, WI will celebrate Summer Make Music Day 2021 with musicians playing outside of local businesses, an impromptu percussion parade, a chance to learn a few chords on the ukulele (instruments and music provided), a free harmonica with a link to an online lesson, a chance to hear and play the Jumbie Jam (steel drum), a piano player serenading fishermen, boaters and beach-goers at Black Oak Lake Beach and an interactive Sound Garden exhibit of poetry, photography, music native to the Land O Lakes area and windchimes.
  • Madison: Make Music Madison is celebrating the ninth Make Music Madison with over 200 concerts at 100 locations including homes, parks, libraries, community centers, businesses, and street corners throughout the city. From classical to blues, Indie-rock to Japanese taiko drumming and even a kids harmonica jam, the city will become a stage. Make Music Madison is sponsored by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission with support from Madison Gas & Electric, and additional funding provided by Farley’s House of Pianos, Capital Music Gear, Liz Quinn Homes, Madison Chocolate Company, Metcalfe’s, Solidarity Realty, Heid Music and partners Wisconsin Public Radio and WORT Community Radio.
  • Marshfield: Make Music Marshfield will host performances throughout the area at the Governor William H. Upham House, Wahle-Laird House, Good Day Sunshine Record Shop, Columbia Park Bandshell, Drendel Room, and many more locations!
  • Milwaukee: Now in its fifth year, Make Music Milwaukee will be hosting a day-long hybrid event in 2021 with virtual, outdoor and social distanced performances taking place throughout the Greater Milwaukee Area. This year Milwaukee is excited to feature new collaborations with the Florentine Opera Company, Wisconsin Music Podcast, and Guitars For Vets, and to celebrate being reunited with annual Make Music Milwaukee favorites such as the Beulah Brinton House, Hal Leonard Corporation, 310W and Brass Bell Music Store!
  • Platteville: This Platteville Community Fund sponsored event will feature Window Serenades at Park Place Senior Living and Edenbrook. The “M” Stands for Music and Mining event taking place from the highest point in Southwest Wisconsin (the World’s Largest “M”) to the subterranean Bevans Mine using the very portable keyboard sponsored by Casio Music. Other featured music activities include: the Tri-State Homeschool Choir, Dr. Duo, Lou Oswald and Kent Scheuerell. Harmonica Lessons and Ukulele/Guitar Jam Session at the Mitchell Rountree Stone Cottage will include a campfire sing-a-long and s’mores.
  • Waunakee: Celebrating Waunakee’s first year of Make Music Day celebrations along with the Village’s 150th Anniversary, Make Music Waunakee will highlight local talent with parking lot concerts, kids music lessons and singer/songwriter performances at venues such as the Waunakee Public Library, Waunakee Chamber of Commerce, Senior Housing Facilities, as well as Village Parks and local businesses! This project is supported by the Village of Waunakee, Dane County Arts with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, The Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation.

Any musician, amateur or professional, young or old, is invited to visit, where you can find your nearest Make Music Day celebration and sign up to participate. Likewise, businesses, buildings, schools, churches, and other institutions can visit the website to offer their outdoor spaces as concert locations.

A full schedule of events will be posted on each city’s website in June:

Special thanks to the League of Wisconsin Municipalities for its support and Wisconsin Public Radio for promotion regionally and statewide.  For more information on Make Music Day in Wisconsin, contact Anne Katz, Arts Wisconsin, [email protected] | (608) 255-8316.