Full Gallery: Count This Penny & Haley Bonar at Sh*tty Barn Sessions
“I wrote the setlist on the back of a Culver’s receipt.” What better opening line could you have for an evening of music in Spring Green, Wisconsin at the summer stalwart of the Shitty Barn Sessions? Haley Bonar’s little quip brought sunshine to an otherwise very, very rainy evening an hour west of Madison. The barn has become an affectionate place of lore in the State, selling out high quality concerts mixed with the intimacy of being welcomed warmly into a small Midwestern town community. Enos Farms provided a wonderful menu that evening of cheesesteak and cheesecake (cutely snug in a mason jar). Coupled with local Furthermore Beer, especially their darker coffee-hinted Obscura, Chris and company has turned a humble red barn off East Madison Street in Spring Green into a place you instantly feel welcome and home within. That evening, contrary to most days but due to a healthy downpour, he opened up typically closed parts of the barn to help shelter the sold out crowd from the storms outside.
Haley Bonar hit the road alongside Low at the tender age of twenty, leaving school for the motorways of America. Although she performed solo, her live band consists of members who perform with Andrew Bird, Bon Iver and Gayngs. That evening, it didn’t take too long for Haley to go into “Bad Reputation” off her new EP. Her words bounded off the Christmas lights wrapped around the wooden barn beams, echoing the chorus into the memories of those in lawn chairs around her. Even though she was fighting sickness, she made the most and let herself rest over two piano instrumentals. During one of which, “Leo,” the moment became so enchantingly silent that the birds nearby chipped in. “I liked the birds on that one,” Haley so elegantly slipped before continuing.
Count This Penny hadn’t traveled as far as Haley, though they likewise have clocked the mileage most recently with a long tour capped by singer Amanda Rigell awakening to her fellow bandmates Allen and John zoned into Mitch Hedberg. “For a band that doesn’t really tour, Mitch Hedberg saved our tour!” Lovingly familiar, their gentle Americana highlighted their most recent album, Pitchman. For those who haven’t been able to catch a performance, “Medicine” is a good entry with, that evening, Allen’s smoothly warm voice harmoniously balanced by Amanda’s supporting vocals.
The barn is open throughout the summer into October. If you ever are passing through or nearby, I can’t urge you enough to make a small little road trip. You’ll surely find yourself among kind company.