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Chicken Wire Empire

About the Band:

Formed in Wisconsin, Chicken Wire Empire has emerged as a pioneering force in the Upper Midwest contemporary bluegrass scene. Fusing traditional roots with innovative genre-blending elements, the band has captivated audiences worldwide with their unique musicality and electrifying performances.


In 2023, Chicken Wire Empire reached new heights with a showcase at the prestigious Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.  It was an honor to perform 4 sets through rain and mud.  This came on the heels of their diverse creative ventures, including "Verry Garcia," a Grateful Dead tribute, and a distinctive rendition of The Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm." These projects showcased their ability to seamlessly blend genres, demonstrating a musical depth that resonates with both young and old fans of bluegrass.

CWE’s sophomore studio endeavor, "What Moves Mountains," received widespread praise upon its release, and marks the band’s evolution.  This musical journey was artfully captured in the documentary "All It Takes.”  Directed by Ross Monagle, the film showcased their travels across Wisconsin, including soul-stirring performances at Milwaukee's historic Riverside Theatre.

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The band's international acclaim grew after their 2019 tour across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as part of the Bluegrass Jamboree. Their energetic sound enchanted European audiences, leading to the release of two live albums, "Live from Deutschland Vol. 1 & 2," capturing the magic of their performances abroad.


Returning home, Chicken Wire Empire navigated the challenges of 2020 by embracing live-streaming, becoming featured artists at virtual editions of the IBMA and Folk Alliance International conferences. Their adaptability was mirrored in their collaboration with Chris Castino of The Big Wu, resulting in the critically acclaimed album "Fresh Pickles," released in 2022, recorded by Ryan Young (Neon Brown Studios, Trampled By Turtles).

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Chicken Wire Empire has been blessed to share the stage with renowned musicians Yonder Mountain String Band, Jerry Douglas, 30db, The Big Wu, Peter Rowan, The Travelin’ McCourys, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and more.  With love from their local scene, friends, and families, Chicken Wire Empire looks to the future, with a goal to strengthen Wisconsin’s bluegrass scene, and further the appreciation of acoustic music.

Chicken Wire Empire - Disarm [The Smashing Pumpkins cover]
Jerry Douglas with Chicken Wire Empire - The Ballad of Dan Toe - Grey Fox 2023

Band Videos:

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