Summer doesn’t officially arrive on Madison’s east side until the first notes are struck at the annual Marquette Waterfront Festival, which takes over Yahara Place Park, east of the Yahara River on the shore of Lake Monona, June 11-12. The event is a fundraiser for the Marquette Neighborhood Association which, in turn, funds several programs, including the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, the EastSide Express free summer day camp and college scholarships.

Music has been the main draw over the festival’s 33 years, with a combination of Madison favorites and touring acts filling a diverse lineup, heavy on roots music. Saturday’s headliners, Brooklyn-based Kaleta & Super Yamba Band, will appeal to the dancing crowd while Sunday’s festival closers, Chicago’s Waco Brothers, will draw fans of the “half Cash, half Clash” alt-country sound.

Traveling to Madison for the fest are favorites Robbie Fulks and Count This Penny, along with local heroes Gold Dust Women and Evan Murdock and the Imperfect Strangers.

Music is presented on two stages, with the smaller Cottonwood Stage moving from its traditional location at the east end of Yahara Place Park to the western edge, near the banks of the Yahara River. Between the stages is a stretch of food stands, beer tents and gift vendors. The annual Dandelion Dash race starts at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, while Sunday’s festivities get underway with the Fools Flotilla parade down the Yahara from Tenney Park opening the fest on Sunday. Registration for the flotilla begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Tenney.

Isthmus is a sponsor of the festival, presented by the Marquette Neighborhood Association.

Kaleta – Leon Ligan-Majek – has toured as a guitarist with Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade and Lauryn Hill, but his vocal style recalls James Brown. Waco Brothers are fronted by Jon Langford, who has played on many Madison stages as a solo act, with his punk band, The Mekons, or in various other bands. Music kicks off at noon each day, with headliners taking the main stage at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday 6/11 Main Stage acts

Noon: Bryon Cherry: R&B/Soul from Milwaukee

1:30: Evan Murdock and the Imperfect Strangers: Americana favorites from Madison

3: Free Dirt: Retro post-punk from Madison led by former Blue Heels frontman Robbie Schiller

4:45: Amanda Anne Platte and the Honeycutters: Americana from Asheville, NC

6:30: Kaleta & Super Yamba Band: Afrobeat from Brooklyn, NY

Saturday 6/11 Cottonwood Stage acts

1: Dana Perry: folk/Americana from Madison

2:30: Dogtown Hollow: Americana from Madison led by former Jim James & the Damn Shames frontman James Spartz

4: Annie & the Oakies: Bluegrass from Madison

5:30: Blake Thomas: singer/songwriter formerly of Madison, now Duluth

Sunday 6/12 Main Stage acts

Noon: Paul Mitch: Madison singer/songwriter, “Lost Lakes” collaborator

1:30 Count This Penny: Folk/pop from Knoxville, formerly of Madison

3: Gold Dust Women: All-female Fleetwood Mac tribute

4:45: Robbie Fulks: Alt-country legend from Chicago, via L.A.

6:30: Waco Brothers: Chicago alt-country giants

Sunday 6/12 Cottonwood Stage acts

1: Lily DeTaeye: Folk/rock from Des Moines

2:30: Louka Patenaude with John Christensen: Jazz/Americana from Madison

4: Adrian + Meredith: Americana from Michigan

5:30: Derek Pritzl and the Gamble: Americana from Valders, Wis.


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