Sky Smeed

Sky Smeed was born and raised outside of Chanute, Kansas, in an old, one-room schoolhouse his parents bought and turned into a home in the early 1970s. Last year, he sold the country home he built by hand and migrated to Lawrence, Kansas, a place that has provided a non-stop supply of creativity, community and culture, and began settling in to an old fixer-upper on the north side of the Kaw River.

“I was spending so much time in Lawrence recording my last album Drive All Night and playing shows in the Kansas City area that I fell in love with being here,” Smeed said. “Maybe someday I’ll move back out to the country, but right now it’s a great thing to be able to walk to the store for groceries.”

Lawrence, too, helped reel in the lyrics and music for “Bumper Sticker”, the crowd favorite from Sky’s new album Lunker Bass (Digital Release: Feb. 1, 2017, Physical Release: March 1).
“You can learn a lot about a person’s taste in music, ideology and humor from the back of their car,” Smeed laughed. “I kept noticing bumper stickers everywhere, so I took note of a bunch of bumper sticker slogans and arranged them into a song in 30 minutes. It makes no sense, but it kind of rhymes!”

Much of the material on Lunker Bass came together quickly and naturally; from Lawrence to London, Smeed has found a groove or sweet spot in his songcraft, yielding the pub-pleasing “Small Town Celebrations”, heartfelt ballads like “Starting All Over Again” and “Hard Man to Love”, and the title cut’s vivid narrative. “’Lunker Bass’ is as true as any fishing story should be,” Smeed laughs, recalling going fishing in his youth with his dad, who told him “one of these days we’ll catch that lunker bass.” Lo and behold, his dad snagged that bass on the last cast of the day, but always gave his son credit for landing the legendary fish.

Smeed hopped across the pond for two tours in 2016 with U.K-based folk songwriter Beans on Toast, who knew right away European audiences would go head-over-heels for Sky’s country tinged tunes of working hard, dogs, love, money, beer, coffee, and the call of the road. The first tour, dubbed the Small Town Celebrations Tour, inspired the song of the same name. The following tour, A Spanner in the Works, again paired Smeed with Beans on Toast for raucous routings through major markets including London and Manchester.

"I’ve seen Sky Smeed win over audiences all over the U.K. It’s impossible not to fall for his charm, his smile and his wonderful songs," Beans said.

To date, Smeed has self-released five full-length albums: Flying High (2002), The Front Steps (2004), Mill River (2006), Sky Smeed (2012) and Drive All Night (2015). His sixth album, Lunker Bass (2017), was recorded and produced at The Ninth Ward Pickin’ Parlor in Lawrence by none other than award-winning folk duo Truckstop Honeymoon (Mike & Katie West). Lunker Bass saw digital distribution on Feb. 1 and physical distribution on March 1.
To this day, Smeed remains an independent recording and performing artist, booking his own shows at bars, clubs, festivals, and listening rooms across the U.S. and Europe. He’s currently prepping his first solo tour across Europe in the summer of 2017, as well as non-stop touring across America in support of Lunker Bass.

Press quotes:
“Smeed’s own grin has the power to start plenty of parties.” – Mike Warren, No Depression
“He has the ability to convey what can be complicated emotional territory simply and organically.” - Diana Griffin Ennis, DJ 90.1 KKFI
“Drive All Night is likely the best feel-good indie album to come out of Kansas in 2015.” - Currentland
“…a poignant, foot-stomping good time sprinkled with sentimental moments and allusions to not-so-illegal smiles.” -
“Mill River is a rollicking bunch of songs, with Smeed stretching emotionally, compositionally and hitting every mark full stride.” - Metroland

Ilika Ward

Ilika Ward is an acoustic-based Americana group out of Minnesota, hailing from both Minneapolis and Rochester. Armed with acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies that grab your attention, Ilika Ward's songwriting is one part modern folk, one part throwback to the sounds of the 1960's folk revival. Occasionally performing as a quintet, they round out their old-time sound with a group of seasoned Minneapolis musicians they call The Moonlight Riders, featuring Jillian Rae (Jillian Rae, Corpse Reviver), Max Graham (Kind Country, Boys 'n the Barrels) and Jeff Swanner (The May North).

Their debut album, Many Faces, was released in June of 2016, and they spent the summer and fall touring it through the Midwest and Mountain West regions. The album enjoys regular airplay on Radio Heartland and 89.3FM The Current via their Local Current stream. Ilika Ward is currently in the studio working on their sophomore album, due out in mid 2017, with plans of touring it throughout the middle US throughout the summer.

Ilika Ward has performed with:
Charlie Parr, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Gabriel Douglas of The 4onthefloor, The Pines, Erik Koskinen, The Big Wu, Reina Del Cid, Crankshaft, Chastity Brown, Chris Koza of Rogue Valley, The Last Revel, and many more.


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