The Festival before Woodstock
Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance held its 55th celebration in Milwaukee. The music festival started in 1968, which is one year before the emphasis Woodstock Festival. Unlike other years, Summerfest was only on weekends, making it a 3-day weekend party.
The 2023 festival ran from June 22-24, June 29-July 1, and July 6-8.
According to Summerfest, the nine-day festival featured over 600 artists on 12 stages throughout the 75-acre festival grounds along Lake Michigan.
Each year Summerfest brings the industry’s biggest acts to the city and this year was no different. With a mix of free and ticketed performances, each stage brought its own unique crowd.
Some of the acts include:
- A Boogie with Da Hoodie
- City Girls
- Smokey Robinson
- Imagine Dragons
Even with all of the big names, the stars of the show were the local acts. Wisconsin artists, specifically Northside Milwaukeeans, were given opportunities of a lifetime to perform on big stages and show out.
“The Summerfest entertainment team prides itself on discovering and fostering local talent. There is nothing more exciting than being able to book a local artist and give them the opportunity to play for thousands of new fans on a national stage”, said Scott Ziel, Vice President of Entertainment, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.
The Sound Waves Stage
Summerfest went all out to make sure local acts got the star treatment. Local artists and DJs performed on the Sound Waves Stage, which was recently renovated with huge screens, amazing speakers, big lights, and other entertainment effects.
DJ Shawna, the official Milwaukee Bucks DJ, hosted her “Women in Music- Dance Thru the Decades” on the stage. She invited women DJs from Milwaukee to take the stage. One of those DJs was DJ DripSweat who’s performed at Summerfest multiple, but she said this time she felt a difference.
“Since being back out and being back at Summerfest…I’ve felt like an energetic change in the way that people show up to these festivals. And there’s so much more with intent to listen to music and to explore different artists and different cultures. And Milwaukee is the place to do that.”-DJ DripSweat
Another well-known DJ in Wisconsin hosted his own show that broke the Sound Waves stage’s past attendance. According to Summerfest, DJ Mr. New York’s “Lover & Friends R&B Concert” brought out around 10,000 people with a big portion being the Black community. Mr. New York has been DJing for over 10 years and has built up a reputation like no other.
During his set, he invited all Black DJs, along with local artists to take the stage from 7 p.m. CST to a little past 10. Some of the guests included DJ Gee A, DJ SnackDaddy, and artists Troy Tyler, Meech Lo, and Kennaye Lewis. The crowd quickly grew throughout those hours with people singing and dancing the entire night.
“It’s not about me. Honestly. It’s about like the whole culture of DJing, especially with Black DJs. I have a lot of Black DJs here today…you know, R&B is Black music, so I wanted to bring like more African-American DJs [from] all around the city.”-DJ Mr. New York
Summerfest Video Interviews and Photos
Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.