Farmageddon Records Music Festival attendees were witness to a rare Wisconsin musical treat earlier this month—a surprise .357 String Band performance. The Milwaukee band reunited to play one song during a Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band set at the festival held at the Wilderness Inn in the small central Wisconsin town of Sprague.
“The greatest thing that could possibly happen just happened,” festival attendee Chelsea Lynn, of New York, wrote on her Facebook page, where she shared a cell phone video of the Sunday, July 13 performance. She has consented to Milwaukee Record posting the footage publicly. Though definitely phone quality, the video shows something many people in Milwaukee (and beyond) have dreamed of seeing and hearing again for close to three years.
Founding members Joseph Huber (banjo), Jayke Orvis (mandolin), and Derek Dunn (guitar) took the stage with Broken Band members James Hunnicutt (guitar), Liz Sloan (fiddle) and Jared McGovern (bass) to play “Raise the Moon” from their 2006 album Ghost Town. Bassist Rick Ness was the only original .357 String Band member missing.
“Ten years ago, in July, we started this fucking band together,” Orvis said during the performance.
“On a cold, dark night,” Huber interjected.
“And ruined all of our lives,” Orvis continued. “And now here we are, all together! All together!”
The Milwaukee mainstay mixed country, bluegrass and punk in a style they coined as “streetgrass.” After forming in 2004, they helped forge the underground roots music scene, which is arguably stronger than ever today. While .357 String Band broke up in November 2011, their popularity has perhaps only risen since then, as Dunn, Huber and Orvis have pursued solo careers.
The Farmageddon Fest performance was only the band’s second time on stage together since their breakup. The band also played “Raise the Moon” at a small gathering following the funeral of their friend and Farmageddon Records employee Richard Laferte in Bangor, Maine in January of 2013.
The Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band set at Farmageddon Fest was the penultimate performance for the group. Broken Band will break up following its show at the Muddy Roots Music Festival in Cookeville, Tennessee in August. Orvis has not announced plans for future musical endeavors but has promised to be active.
Dunn and Huber both released solo albums in 2014. Dunn’s Poisonous Serpents came out in February, and Huber’s The Hanging Road was released in April.