here you can learn more about the band

 

Since their humble beginnings in the Spring of 2002, the band has seen a few lineup changes, but one thing has stayed the same: quality, ear-pleasing Bluegrass music, presented with a familiarity that makes you feel like you're listening to live music in your own living room. 

The Bass Player
Upright Bass/Low Vocals
Creative Director

How long have you been with the band?

You mean when did I decide to form the band? I think it was in the beginning, 2002 the idea came to me.

 

What do you play?

Upright Bass aka Double Bass aka Bass Fiddle, built by The Double Bass Workshop here in Madison.

 

Do you sing?

Yes, low harmonies and in the shower.

 

How'd you get your start in Music?

I started with piano at a very young age and then picked up the bass in 5th grade in the Sun Prairie orchestra program. And when I say "picked up", i dont mean it in the literal sense.

 

What's your favorite song to play?

How Mountain Girls Can Love

 

What do you do to make money in real life?

I work as a Customer Success Manager for a healthcare IT company in Madison.

 

What's important to you in life?

Working hard and playing harder. My wife and my dog. The great outdoors and experiencing new things and meeting new people.

 

Freebie: tell me something interesting:

I come from a family with a very honored musical past, dating back to the early 20th century in Sheboygan, WI. My grandfather, Leo Ayers was an accomplished jazz trumpet player, big band conductor, and music teacher. Other family members performed in Sheboygan's vaudeville acts that toured the state and country.

Jim Kvalheim
Mandolin/Vocals
Chief Sound Engineer

How long have you been with the band?

As a Junior in 2001, my brother Mike, friends Luke and Andi, and I formed a no name group to compete in the talent competition at the Wisconsin State FFA Convention.  We performed “Follow Me” and earned a spot on the convention main stage.  The following year we actually formed a band and never looked back. 

 

What do you play?

In the band I play a Poplar Ridge F-5 Mandolin and an Eastman MD 305.  I took a year off from my undergraduate education at UW-River Falls to attend Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical in Red Wing.  I earned a Diploma in Musical Stringed Instrument Repair and a Certificate in Instrument Construction.  Since that time I’ve completed two acoustic guitars and two mandolins under the name “Poplar Ridge”.  I’m currently working on two more acoustic guitars. 

 

Do you sing?

I’m not a singer, I’m a player…but they do make me sing some harmonies.

 

How'd you get your start in Music?

I grew up on 160 acre beef farm where we also raised tobacco.  In the spring, summer, and fall, when the day’s work was done and the chores were finished we would sit around a campfire and play music.  It was always my Dad and Uncle Andy on guitars and us kids would fill in whenever we wanted.  On special occasions all of the cousins would be out and all of our aunts and uncles would play music.  My Uncle Jim and Aunt Laura dropped off a mandolin when I was in middle school and it became my instrument of choice.  Of course I can’t leave out the inspiration of “Uncle” Scott who played with my Dad at weddings when I was younger. 

 

What's your favorite song to play?

That’s a great question.  I really enjoy Blue Moon of Kentucky, Across the Great Divide, Squeezebox, and Vamp in the Middle, but my favorite might just be Stuck in the Middle with You!

 

What do you do to make money in real life?

I’m the Agriculture Instructor and FFA Advisor at Evansville High School.  I really enjoy working with high school students and preparing them for careers.

 

What's important to you in life?

My wife Stephanie, family and friends, music, animals, agriculture and education!

 

Freebie: tell me something interesting:

I am the glue that holds this band together!  I really enjoy canoeing, horseback riding, and woodworking. 

 

Erin Barnard
Fiddle/High Vocals

How long have you been with the band?

Officially I think since the end of May 2018, but I subbed in for a few shows here and there since February 2018.   

 

What do you play?

Officially I play fiddle, but I dabble in a bit of everything (shh, don't tell the guys).  

 

Do you sing?

Yep!  

 

How'd you get your start in Music? 

I was lucky to grow up in a musical family. My grandpa was an old time accordion player and could play hours of songs by ear - he didn't read a note of music. I grew up listening to him play and going with him to dances and other gigs. When I was pretty little he sat me down at the piano to learn chords and then he taught me to hear the chord changes as he played his accordion. Then we'd jam! Family gatherings during the holidays include lots of jam sessions with everyone picking up whatever instrument is in reach, singing, or dancing along.  I ended up pursuing music as a major in college and have played in a lot classical orchestras as a violist but the jamming has never left my soul. 

What's your favorite song to play?

I feel like it changes with each gig we play. Right now I'm so new to this group that something unlocks every time we play. As of this past weekend I'd say I like doing the fills in Steel Rails and I can make up anything in the key of G. 

What do you do to make money in real life?

I help young people learn how to make music. Everything considered it's a pretty great job but I do hate it when they throw carrots at lunch. Geez. 

 

What's important to you in life?

Working hard and being thankful for the opportunities - and then sitting down and enjoying a nice night on the porch with a good friend and a good beer. 

 

Freebie: tell me something interesting:

I play my great-grandfather's fiddle that's been in my family for around 100 years. He was a Czech farmer in Eau Claire and played in the community for dances, weddings, and other events. Sorta like we do now. I'm really excited to continue to do that.

Kodey J.D. Feiner
Guitar/Vocals
Band Manager

How long have you been with the band?

Since the beginning. I met Mike in 8th grade middle school wrestling, and the next year sat next to him in Mary Schmidt’s Mixed Choir.  We became fast friends, so he eventually got me to join the FFA.  From there came the decision to join the 2002 FFA State Talent Competition, and eventually we became the Soggy Prairie Boys.

 

What do you play?

I have two guitars in regular rotation. The first is a Poplar Ridge Custom guitar. Poplar Ridge is Jim Kvalheim’s Luthiery outfit. Yes, Jim built my guitar. He designed it to be exactly what I wanted, with a nice deep Bluegrassy low end, a responsive high end, and some fancy inlay that matches my personality pretty well. He used some influence of the early Gibson guitars, and some of the Martin bracing technology. More recently, I picked up a Collings D1 Sunburst. The voice matches mine perfectly, and it's absolutely gorgeous. 

 

Do you sing?

I do. I do most of the lead vocals, but I really enjoy singing harmony with the Boys as well.

 

How'd you get your start in Music?

Barb Haugen was the Sacred Hearts Children’s Choir director back in the 90’s. She heard me singing away in the pews at mass as a young sprout, and convinced my parents to put me in the choir. They did, and it turns out I could sing! I started guitar lessons around middle school with Gregg Gernetzke, who really was the first guy to teach me how to be a musician. From there I met Mary Schmidt, one of the finest Choral Conductors you will ever encounter. Then I spent a few years in classical voice lessons where I credit Jane Voegeli for teaching me how to breathe. Shortly thereafter I met Dan Kvalheim, who is arguably the most influential in a long line of musical mentors for me. It all leads up to what you see today when we perform.

 

What's your favorite song to play?

This is a tie between Kate Wolf’s “Across the Great Divide” and the Dirt Band’s “Mother Earth”

 

What do you do to make money in real life?

I sell software. Trust me, it's cooler than it sounds. 

 

What's important to you in life?

If I don’t list family first my mother will never let me hear the end of it, so I guess my family; my beautiful partner Lauren, mom and dad, my sister, three brothers, three nieces, and seven nephews. I have a beautiful little Entlebucher Mountain Dog pup named Sweeney who is my copilot and right hand pup. After that it’s the music. I have had few constants in my life, but family and music have always been there.  

Freebie: tell me something interesting:

I have an MBA from the University of Wisconsin School of Business, and I'm a big fan of LEGO. 

Kristen Kvalheim
Banjo

How long have you been with the band?

It all started in February of 2012, when a friend from college moved in with me and brought along a banjo. Intrigued I was, and decided to pick it up. Having never played the five string banjo I did what every inspiring musician of this day and age does, and looked up how to play banjo on youtube! After a couple of hours learning the song Wagon Wheel I felt I was ready for the big time and dragged it back to Sun Prairie and joined the band on a cold and blustery day playing for tips at a Farmers Market in the Evansville Community Center. It was a couple days later when I got a call from Kodey saying that if I "actually" learned how to banjo I could be in the Band!

 

What do you play?

I hold a Gold Tone Orange Blossom Special 250t!

 

Do you sing?

Sing? I do sing, at least my mouth moves to some of the words, but never into a mic! I am really just here to hold the banjo!

 

How'd you get your start in Music?

I started with vocal lessons in kindergarten, and stayed in choirs 'til senior year of high school. I grew up with my dad playing guitar and I began picking that up sometime in the elementary school age. I played bass in orchestra and jazz band from 5th-8th grade and played trumpet throughout my middle school years. Music was always around me growing up whether it was family gatherings sitting around playing guitar and singing or watching my older brothers and their friends hold band practice in the basement. In a way it was hard not to be a part of it!

 

What's your favorite song to play?

I will always enjoy playing the first song I learned on banjo "Wagon Wheel" but really my favorite songs to play are "Battle of New Orleans" and " Man of Constant Sorrow (in the key of F!)" 

 

What do you do to make money in real life?

I am an Agricultural Educator at Sun Prairie High School teaching grades 10-12 in the career pathways of Animals, Plants, Welding, Agribusiness, Environment, Natural Resources, Food Processing, and Biotechnology.

I also raise beef cattle and specialty crops on Poplar Ridge Farm, the official home base of the Soggy Prairie Boys!

 

What's important to you in life?

Family, Friends, Music, Real Food, Poplar Ridge Farm, Adventures, Teaching...the list goes on! 

 

Freebie: tell me something interesting:

Rock Climbing, Canoeing, and Farm Work are my favorite sports!

Carl Rozas*
Fiddle/High Vocals
(*Currently on timeout)

How long have you been with the band?

Almost 4 years. (editor's note - Carl is currently on hiatus from the band to pursue a career with the circus. We will update this if and when we hear back from him.)

 

What do you play?

I was born to be a fiddler in an old-time string band.

My axe is a 1991 Brian Derber violin with a Kremona pickup, plugged into a Fishman Loudbox amp.

 

Do you sing?

High harmonies are my specialty.

 

How'd you get your start in Music?

I started playing at age 5. From early on I played classical music in most every configuration you can think of (solo, duos, trios, quartets, orchestras, symphonies, musicals, etc)

 

In college I discovered drinking beer and playing in a rock band. Sorry mom and dad.

 

What's your favorite song to play?

Currently "Rocky Top", but it changes weekly.

 

What do you do to make money in real life?

I work with them new-fangled computers.

 

What's important to you in life?

Family, friends, music, kittens, puppies, long walks on the beach. In that order.

 

Freebie: tell me something interesting:

I drive a minivan.

Editor's note: Carl's real job sent him to a secret location in Europe for two years, so we hope to welcome him back when his tour of duty is complete. Based on how well Erin is filling his sandals, he may have to audition for his old spot. 

Alumni & Friends

Uncle Jim Lottridge - Guilty of giving us our start in Bluegrass Music, Uncle Jim is currently our go-to fill in musician, and he has joined us on Dobro, Mandolin, Guitar, and Upright Bass. 

Mike Kvalheim - Original band member, from 2002-2015, Mike added lead and harmony vocals along with Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo, and Dobro. Then he had kids, and we haven't heard from him since. 

Ben Acton - The first Fiddler the band ever had, Ben was a member from ??-2014. He left the band to pursue a career in medicine, and we still can't figure out why. 

Luke Hallmark - Original band member, from 2002-2012, Luke started on the spoons, eventually teaching himself Mandolin, Guitar, and Dobro. 

Pat Zeigle - Our go-to bass fill-in, Pat introduced us to our first Fiddler, Ben. Great hair. 

Dan Kvalheim - The patriarch of the Kvalheim family, Dan can be found joining us on stage here and there. He wrote and performed a song on the "Just Enough to Feed the Cows" album. He is our resident John Denver expert. 

Scott Baumann - Chiefly a Banjoist, Scott has joined us on both Banjo and Bass. Scott is the Banjo player of successful local band Milkhouse Radio. He is also a wiz-bang with computers, and has helped us with IT needs. 

Mark Schlutt - Mark is a rocket scientist and plays Banjo with the Oak Street Ramblers. He once told Kodey that he rolls cords well, and Kodey won't shut up about it. 

Bruce Stein - Bruce plays Mandolin with Scott in Milkhouse Radio, and has joined us on Mandolin. He's funnier than Jim and dresses better too. 

Brad Astor - Brad is the third member of Milkhouse Radio to join us. Brad is a bass player, and also a doctor, but not the kind that helps people. Ask him about his fridge. 

Rich Schwartz - Mandolin player for Genessee Ridge, and joins us on shows close to Lake Michigan. Rich is the president of the Badgerland Bluegrass Association. 

Brian O'Brien - Brian fills in on bass when needed, and does a little singin' as well. Rumor has it he owns a chrome ukelele. Once he broke his bass on the way to a show. He's also a successful local radio host on WORT. 

Don Moore - Don has played at least two shows with us, and therefore deserves mention here. He plays bass lines that walk so hard, we worry he's going to have to chase them. 

Dave Goodwin - Dave has played Banjo with us on occasion. 

Banjo Kyle - Kyle has played, you guessed it, Banjo with us.

Korey Feiner - Not a musician, more of a poet. Korey wrote the lyrics to "Prairie Sun" on our most recent album. Korey is Kodey's older brother. 

BOOKING INFO

​email Kodey

kodey@soggyprairie.com​​​