The Smokin' Bandits
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The Smokin' Bandits

Band Rock Bluegrass


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"Smokin' Bandits - Live @ Big Wu Family Reunion XIII - 8-10-2013"

Link to performance:

Crazy Reflections
Mississippi Mud
Hanging By A Thread
Spanish Moon
New Findings*
Monkey Song
Where's My Toothbrush?
Hell Or High Water
Take Me With You**
Drinkin' Wine**

*w/ Davey Lynch (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades) on harmonica
**w/ Ryan Ogburn (Stealin' Strings/Honest Monday/Fat Maw Rooney) on mandolin
***w/ Davey Lynch & Ryan Ogburn - -

"Smokin' Bandits have busy summer ahead"

It’s a good year to be a bandit, especially a Smokin’ Bandit.

As the band celebrates its 10th year, the mostly intact lineup looks forward to its Bandit County Fair music festival, headlining at Riverfest and opening for country legend Merle Haggard.

The Bandits also are about to hit the studio with all new material for a fall release and tour.

The band is going through its first major lineup change in several years. Guitarist Gregg “Cheech” Hall is leaving the band, though his Deece Productions will still manage the group. Craig Baumann will replace him.

Baumann will join Christian Staehly on acoustic guitar and lead vocals; Pat Ferguson, lead electric guitars and vocals; Tim Powers on bass; and Matt Mahlum on drums.

Ferguson said the band has grown organically, changing as the band expanded and added more musical interests.

“We started off as a four-piece string bluegrass band, then introduced electric guitars and drums, then we formed the lineup that would be able to travel,” Ferguson said.

Everyone, Ferguson said, is happy with the changes that are happening.

“People are pretty excited. Gregg is involved with booking and management,” Ferguson said, and had less time for the band. “We don’t play a whole heck of a lot every year, but we have some big events scheduled. (The change) was more based on all our conversations. Cheech wants to do the business side of things.”

Because Baumann has been a fan and friend of the band for years, it was an easy transition, Ferguson said.

“He’s probably seen more of our shows than many other people. He’s sat in with us. He comes from Fat Maw Rooney, and we played all over the Midwest and beyond with those guys. He’s become a great friend of ours.”

Bandit County Fair is always a big deal for the band, Ferguson said, because it’s their event.

“It started as an event we threw following an Earth Day event that was coordinated with folks from UW-L,” he said, and then kept growing into a bigger musical event.

“And the Merle gig, we couldn’t be more excited for that. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity. Merle Haggard, he has been an incredible influence. We cover a few of his songs,” he said, though they probably won’t when they open for him. “I think we gotta be careful on that.”

Ferguson also is excited to headline Riverfest.

“It’s our hometown festival. We played there two or three years,” Ferguson said, but could never coordinate with their schedule since 2007. “We are humbled to have been recognized as a main-stage headliner for such a reputable local festival as rich in La Crosse tradition as Riverfest, and could not think of a better way to introduce the new lineup and future of this band with Craig on guitar to our hometown crowd.”

Nowadays, Ferguson describes the band’s music as a hybrid of rock with a bluegrass edge.

“It’s bluegrass and roll is how we say it. We still hold true to our bluegrass twist. We bring a very unique aspect to the bluegrass side and the rock side. We’ve worked hard to mold a sound that is uniquely ours. We have the ability to cross in a lot of different areas. We love the spot we’re at.
- La Crosse Tribune - La Crosse, WI

"The Smokin' Bandits at the Snout"

Written by John Abbott
Sunday, 23 November 2008 21:03

The Snout was filled on Friday night in honor of Chad's birthday. It was a great time with a great band, The Smokin' Bandits. Chad was of course having a lot of fun. Final problems due to his torn ligaments incurred at the Snout Golf outing seemed to be forgotten. ...or, lost in a haze of shots. Chad, you throw a great birthday party!

I want to get into just exactly how incredibly awesome The Smokin' Bandits were. But, I first want to give some credit for something that could get easily forgotten as I ramble on about songs and guitars. The band sounded amazing. But, they had the help of a dedicated (what's the P.C. term for?) soundman, Dave Orr, who's band I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, working the sound board. And Dave, who wants to work more into the sound board business, running sound systems, had them sounding perfect. There was none of the standard amaturism you normally hear. No feedback whine, very little 60 cycle hum, crystal clear guitars, every voice mixed in volume with every instrument. I don't mean to belittle the performance of The Smokin' Bandits, I just want to say, audio perfection sounded good on them. Dave provided it. I think it was the cleanest sound I have heard at the Snout.

The bar was filled when we walked in the door last night. We couldn't even see the band from the door. And, right away I was a little surprised by this. This was my first clue that something special was going on. The Snout Saloon, like the national economy, has been noticeably slower in the past several weeks of musical events. Ordering that first beer, just inside the door, I thought I saw a familiar face on stage, but I dismissed it. "No, that was just a bit of wishful thinking". The thing about wishful thinking though, is sometimes it pans out -- as was the case last night. When we got the end of the bar close to the band and ran into Magic Deb, I discovered my eyes had not initially deceived me. On stage with the Bandits was none other than Chippewa Falls' own legend, and Deb's husband, Howard "Guitar" Luedtke.

As far as the crowd, it was not made up of the Snout regulars. It was a lot of new faces. Without a single note being played, you know this is a good sign. It's not a matter of a bunch of tourists on a cold winter night saying "I've always wanted to try that dive bar down on Central Street" Seeing all these new people meant these were people who followed the band. People who had maybe cared enough to made the drive up from Lacrosse where the band is based.

An amusing crowd note: Another way to tell, at least the out of towners. At one point a guy walked in and was standing a little ways in front of me with a look of pure bliss on his face. A serene smile. He took a long, contented drag on a cigarette, blew it out and yelled out to know one in particular, "I can't believe I am smoking in a bar!!! Woooohhhh!"

The Smokin' Bandit's style was that of bluegrass or old-time-country. The back melody on lots of their songs had that sound to them. You know the sound, the sort of stuff you picture old timers hooking their thumbs into their braces, heals together, toes out. Picture the type of music you use with this posture, with repeated dips at the knees and the occasional "Yee-Haw" thrown in and you've got it. But instead of banjos, the Bandit's have three, worthy of lead, raunchy electric guitars up front. And thought the rhythms many times carried this background sound, the song up front was pure rock/blues.

Musical highlights were, in the first set, an extremely bluesy, version of an old Frank Zappa song, My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama. With Howard having a good time shredding in. It was really a lot of fun there were many oportunities for dualing electric guitars and every one of those oportunities were being cashed in on. The crowd was enthusiastic and the band was all having a good time.

I mentioned the sound quality up front, but I feel I have to also mention the quality of the sound as well. The Smokin' Bandits are a good band. They are a band you could travel to see and not be disappointed. They are not a cover band. They play a mix of tunes which may or may not be originals. At least 95% of their music was stuff I didn't recognize --not to say I am any sort of musical archivist. They play some Bob Dylan. They play some Frank Zappa. Everything with this raggae/bluegrass/old-timey twist. I liked it a lot.

The Smokin' Bandits were also a big enough band to have actually attracted a dedicated groupie. A tall, slope shouldered guy, with a friendly, though slightly unfocused look on his face who was sitting i - Chippewa Falls Freaks & Geeks

"The Smokin' Bandits 10th Annviersary Party & Bandit County Fair Pre-Party"

The Smokin' Bandits' 10th Anniv. Party & Bandit County Fair Pre-Party, The Smokin' Bandits
Music| Fairs and Festivals
Saturday, April 27, 2013, 4:30 AM Google Calendar Yahoo Calendar Aol Calendar Windows Live Calendar Outlook Calendar (iCal)

Supporting Acts: Mark Joseph & the American Soul
The Smokin' Bandits' 10th Anniv. Party & Bandit County Fair Pre-Party

The Spring of 2013 marks the band's 10th Anniversary as well as the return of their Bandit County Fair Music Festival held June 7-8, 2013 along the beautiful Mississippi River in De Soto, WI. Joining the Bandits at this year's festival will once again be some of the best regional and national talent the Midwest has to offer, including Reed Grimm & Shoeless Revolution, Fat Maw Rooney, God Johnson, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, The People Brothers Band, Mark Joseph & the American Soul, TUGG, Evergreen Grass Band, Moon Boot Posse, SoapBox Project, Clovis Mann, and many more.

The Smokin' Bandits

Smokin' Bandits have been a staple on a powerful Midwest music scene for nearly a decade with their original, high-energy form of music they call "Grass n' Roll." With a catalog of original material mixing influences ranging from The Allman Brothers Band to Leftover Salmon, Rolling Stones to Gov't Mule, the band brings a powerhouse performance each time they take the stage sure to make you move, shake, and promising for every show to be one of different form. Forming as a string band in La Crosse, WI in 2003, the Bandits electrified in 2004 to form a sound that is uniquely theirs but reaches to music lovers of all different genres and generations.

.Cost: $7 / $5 for Shakey/Todd Snider attendees


"Best Album/Songs of 2011/"

Re: The Isthmus' best Madison albums / songs of 2011?
by BillyJake » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:10 pm

Best Best Of I have read in a while, someone actually listening to what is going on in and around Madison. None of the MAMA's Clique's here!

10 Must See Bands To See In And Around Madison, (Or Anywhere Really)

This list is not exactly non-partisan. As a band guy, I play in Clovis Mann, Crooked Barn, Unhinged el Camino; I’ve had the pleasure to play on bills this year with most of these bands. Others I caught in one of my rare nights off. Nonetheless, they are extremely talented. Most of these wicked pickers are pretty unheralded or less than well known. If you have a chance, check them out. They are, in no particular order:

The Smokin’ Bandits. Lacrosse’s most popular country rock act features the volcanic dueling guitar tandem of Gregory “Cheech” Hall and Pat Ferguson, smoky, down home vocals from Christian Staehly and the juggernaut-tastic rhythm section of Tim “Super” Powers and Matt Mahlum. They prove time and again why they are rank with the Midwest’s best. The annual “Bandit County Fair” festival they put on in DeSoto, WI each year is a showcase for some of the of acts to follow on this list.

Honest Monday. Vocally without peer, they mix ragtime, blues, and pop seamlessly. Craig Baumann, who does a killer Otis Redding tribute a few times a year, could knock down a wall with his voice. Harmonica maestro Danny Miller plays with a fluid style that is remarkably clean and pristine at times, and also ditch weed dirty at others.

Corey Hart. No reason this Madison favorite isn’t featured on the national stage. Every time I hear him sing it makes stare in disbelief. Also an excellent guitar picker, he’s not afraid to mix up delta bends with those freaky Beatle chords.

The Campaign. Paul Mitch and the Wedel boys, Joey and Danny, are another pitch perfect vocal group. They write neo-classic roc/ pop gems, but unlike some groups, they easily replicate, and in most cases elevate, the studio versions on the live stage. Whether they are playing acoustically or electrically (they switch it out a bit) they perfectly blend grit and finesse.

Sky Road Fly. Basically, if the Foo Fighters grew up on a farm, they would probably be Sky Road Fly. They write majestic anthems with intricate interplay. Live, guitarist Robert Halstead careens about and flails with a rock and roll St. Vitus dance of pure ecstasy.

Meantooth Grin. Tom Jordan, the singer and nasty slide guitar founder of MTG, bulldozes through some of the gnarliest blues-rock coming from Wisconsin today. Blurring and slurring slide lines hover over an evil nest of riffage that would make Humble Pie red with envy.

Moon Boot Posse. Another LaCrosse based favorite, they play dizzying sets of reggae and original party rock loudly and proudly. Guitarist Paul Matushek is one of those rare birds that, while destroying ridiculously technical solos and riffs, never falls into the often-triggered traps of the guitar hero noodlers. Watching him, while not only wildly entertaining, is extremely educational. On a side note, MBP are not afraid to bust out such classics as “America F#%k Yeah!” If you are on a bill with them, my fellow musicians, do yourself a favor and opt to play before first.

Mojo Radio. Sadly, time travel is not possible for most of us. Mojo Radio is in the small minority who has found the flux capacitor. With the help of some sort of wormhole, they dropped in from the skanky clubs of the UK circa 1973. This might not be true, but you would never know from listening to their live show. My favorite song from them is “Throw Your Hat in the Ring.” Layers of lyrical double-meaning peer around an alley’s corner while the boys rage through the streets of rock. Adam Ziertan’s vocals are double edged like the sweet buzz from a whiskey sour.

Nuggernaut. Trying to describe Nuggernaut with out saying “funky” or “jazzy” would be impossible. Funky jazzy. There, I said it. When John Hoel rips into a sax solo, be it over a standard or one of Nug’s own tastefully complicated originals, you forget that those sometimes violent, sometimes serene melodies are coming from a musical instrument. Hoel and trumpeter extraordinaire Andrew Traverse’s interplay is not unlike other great musical teams like Miles and Coltrane or Dickey Betts and Duane Allman. (I know those guys aren’t horn players, just trying to stress the transcendent theme.)

Little Legend. Madison is fickle when it comes to rock and roll. That being said, these guys will either become the new darlings of Madison rock, deservedly so, or will be yet another band that rips there brains out and ferociously plays to half filled rooms. Either way, they bring an intense sound that is rare in the town where quirkiness and funny hats are prerequisites for success. These guys bring it, and they do it in a monstrously grotesque blend of styles. It’s as though a gang of 50’s greaser - Isthmus Daily Page

"Mid-Summer Meltdown"

It's the heart of summer, and Madison continues its season of outdoor festivities with Maxwell Street Days, the Dane County Fair, and Paddle & Portage. The calendar also includes: Wonder Weekend at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center; a Mad Rollin' Dolls bout; a production of The Pirates of Penzance; a performance by Jared Stellmacher and the Gargoyle Brass, and Opera in the Park; Live on King Street with Cloud Cult, the Gold Velour Records Launch Party, the Mid-Summer Meltdown concert, and the Rock 'n Roar Dance; and, more live music from These United States, Painted Saints, Leverage Models, Maps & Atlases, Langhorne Slim & the Law, and Red Stinger.

Mid-Summer Meltdown
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Fans of Americana and jam bands will flock to this mini-fest emceed by Triple M's Gabby Parsons. La Crosse's Smokin' Bandits gets toes tapping with a blend of bluegrass and rock, and Illinois folk singer Cody Diekhoff, a.k.a. Chicago Farmer, treats listeners to some Dylan-inspired lyrics. With Deep-Fried Grass and Chicken Wire Empire.

- Isthmus Daily Page

"Concert Review: Smokin' Ban Lifted at The Frequency"

I might be biased because the Smokin' Bandits wrote one of my favorite all-time songs, "Flyin' High (learn it, love it)," but the Bandits put on one helluva show Friday night at the Frequency in Madison. Playing to a loyal following, the Bandits busted out old favorites including a high-octane "Hanging by a Thread," the aforementioned "Flyin' High" and a cover of The Band's "Ophelia" that shook the inhabitants of the dark, intimate room to their cores.

The Bandits play with a style that reminds me of a full-frontal attack: They line the front of the stage and bombard your senses with a sound that is all their own and leaves no room for interpretation. The playing is tight and the harmonies are perfect. While one of them shreds away the others play along, knowing right when to come back in to bring it all back together. Each musician in the band is a marvel to watch. The Bandits, who met in La Crosse and formed their band in the early 2000s, include Christian 'Chubba' Staehly on guitar and vocals, Pat 'Pete' Ferguson on guitar and vocals, Matt Mahlum on drums, Gregg 'Cheech' Hall on guitar and vocals and Tim Powers on bass.

Friday night's show marked the end of what the Bandits call their 'Bandit County Fair pre-party circuit;' a tour in which the band plays around the Midwest with some of the acts who will be joining them at the music festival that they put on in June in DeSoto, Wisconsin (Friday night they were joined by Madison rock band, Clovis Mann.) Ferguson, who plays double duty in both bands, said that Friday's show at the Frequency and their concert at the High Noon Saloon in March were the first two shows that the Smokin' Bandits had played in Madison in four years. With the focus now on getting everything prepared for the festival, Ferguson said that the Frequency was "the perfect way to wrap up the pre-party circuit." "We can't wait to see everybody June 10th, 11th and 12th," Ferguson said. The festival, which takes place next to the mystical Mississippi River, is a well-orchestrated event that was one of the highlights of my summer last year. Playing near the band's hometown, when the Smokin Bandits headline the weekend on Saturday night, there is a feeling of pure adulation in the packed outdoor venue. It's not something to be missed.

And Friday night at the Frequency was all that I needed to renew my love of the Bandits' live shows and get myself prepared for Bandit County Fair. When the unmistakable first notes of "Flyin' High" rang in my ears at the end of the first set, I put down my PBR and notebook and joined the revelers on the dance floor. When the band didn't play this song the last time that I saw them, I sort of felt like I had gone to a Government Mule show where I didn't hear "Soulshine;" still an awesome concert, but you feel like something is missing. It's that good. But the Bandits never disappoint, and Friday was no exception. The Smokin' Bandits know how to throw a party.

-Erica Krug -

"Very Supersitious: The Smokin' Bandits and Clovis Mann at The Frequency"

If you are not one of the eight percent of Americans who suffer from a crippling fear of Friday the 13ths, then you have no excuse to not attend the Smokin' Bandits on Friday night at The Frequency in Madison. Gearing up for their ridiculously fun festival in June, Bandit County Fair Music Festival, this Midwestern band will undoubtedly put everything on the line and shred their "Blues grass-n-roll" hearts out. The Bandits packed the High Noon Saloon in March, so put on your dancing shoes and show up on time.

Joining the Bandits will be Madison rock band Clovis Mann. And just like this is the only Friday the 13th happening this year, this may be your only chance to see these two bands performing together in Madison this summer (although you can catch them both at Bandit County Fair). No stranger to the Midwestern music scene themselves, Clovis Mann's incendiary album, Metamorphic, released in 2010, was chosen as one of the best local albums of the year by the Isthmus. If you attend this show, Friday just might be your lucky day.

Details: The Smokin' Bandits/ Clovis Mann, Friday, May 13th at The Frequency, 9:30 p.m., 18+, $7



Walkin' Thru - 2005 - Full-length Album
In The Grain - 2007 - Full-length Album



The Smokin' Bandits have been a staple on a powerful Midwest music scene for a decade with their original, high-energy form of music dubbed "Grass n' Roll." With an ever-growing, loyal, and dedicated fan-base along with a wide catalog of original material mixing influences ranging from Willie Nelson to The Allman Brothers Band, Little Feat to Leftover Salmon, the band brings a powerhouse performance each time they take the stage sure to make you move, shake, and promising for every show to be one of different form. Forming as a string band in La Crosse, WI in 2003, the Bandits electrified in 2004 to form a sound that is uniquely theirs but reaches to music lovers of all different genres and generations.

2013 marks the band's 10th Anniversary, and The Smokin' Bandits have headlining performances scheduled at venues and festivals this Spring/Summer across the Midwest kicking off with a sold out show at The Muse Theatre (La Crosse, WI), and also including the High Noon Saloon (Madison, WI), Whiskey Junction (Minneapolis, MN), Bandit County Fair Music Festival (De Soto, WI), Riverfest (La Crosse, WI), and PeopleFest (Hillsboro, WI). They will also be opening for country music hall-of-famer Merle Haggard in July and performing at the 13th Annual Big Wu Family Reunion in Morristown, MN in August.

Late Spring brought the return of their Bandit County Fair Music Festival held June 7-8, 2013 along the beautiful Mississippi River in De Soto, WI. Joining the Bandits at this year's festival was once again some of the finest regional and national talent the Midwest has to offer including Reed Grimm & Shoeless Revolution, Fat Maw Rooney, God Johnson, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, The People Brothers Band, Mark Joseph & the American Soul, TUGG, Evergreen Grass Band, Moon Boot Posse, SoapBox Project, Clovis Mann, and many more.

After a decade of touring The Smokin' Bandits continue to build steam, with a revitalized line-up that welcomed Craig Baumann (Fat Maw Rooney & Honest Monday) to the group on guitar. The band is planning for a live album release sometime in 2013 and to be back in the studio this fall working on their next full-length studio album with producer Chad Staehly (Great American Taxi / Todd Snider).

The Smokin' Bandits have shared the stage with the likes of Merle Haggard, Little Feat, Dr. John, Great American Taxi, ekoostik hookah, Jazz Mandolin Project, Dark Star Orchestra, Cornmeal, The Big Wu, Melvin Seals & JGB, Steve Kimock, Bill Miller, Trampled by Turtles, and Pear Near Sandstone amongst many more.