Land the Big Gig® Bands Finalists Named, to Perform Live for Cash and Prizes, June 26

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Milwaukee Native Danny Gokey Returns to Host the Annual Music Contest at Summerfest

Land the Big Gig® is excited to announce the three Finalists who will perform live at Summerfest for a chance to win their share of up to $100,000 in cash and prizes.The three Finalists include-Southern California country music artist Marie Wise-Hawkins and her band, which includes Kyle Cavillo, Chris Pucher, Daniel Roberts, Aaron Ruding and Trevor Steer. Doozey, a four-man band nominated for Wisconsin Area Music Industry Pop/Rock and Album of the Year. Alt-rock band Eagle Trace, comprised of brothers Max, Jackson, Mitch and Cass Borgardt and Broderick Coning.

Milwaukee native Danny Gokey returns to the stage to host the 3rd annual music competition, Thursday, June 26, at Summerfest, “The World’s Largest Music Festival.” Gokey, a BMG Recording Artist and Top 3 Finalist in the eighth season of American Idol, will also judge the acts as they perform live on stage, joining a panel of musicians and industry experts.

Gokey attracted the attention of the American public with his heartfelt performances and his dedication to music on American Idol following the death of his wife, Sophia.  After Idol, Gokey’s album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard charts—the best opening week sales by a male debut artist in his music genre in 18 years.  The album featured the hit singles “My Best Days are Ahead of Me” and “I Will Not Say Goodbye.  Following his time on Idol, Gokey toured with Taylor Swift and Sugarland and opened for the likes of Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum. His new album, “Hope in Front of Me,” is in stores now.

Joining Gokey at the judges’ table are:
Naima Adedapo, a Top 11 Finalist in season 10 of American Idol. Following her success on the show, the Chicago native toured the United States, Canada and the Philippines on the American Idol Tour and appeared on Jay Leno, Regis and Kelly, Good Morning America, The Today Show and Entertainment Tonight. Adedapo recently served as celebrity ambassador for Camp Hometown Heroes, a national free summer camp for children of fallen U.S. service members.

Bob Babisch, Vice President of Entertainment, Summerfest. A 35-year veteran of Milwaukee World Festivals, Babisch oversees the music portions of events on Summerfest grounds throughout the summer and has booked talent for Harley Davidson Anniversary events and the Tempe Music Festival, working with acts such as Jimmy Buffett, Pearl Jam, Kanye West, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.

Dave Willems, president and founder of Willems Marketing of Appleton, Wisc. Willems concepted, created and launched Mile of Music in 2013 along with Nashville recording artist Cory Chisel. Covering 40 venues and featuring more than 100 artists, Mile of Music attracted 15,000 attendees along Appleton’s College Avenue. This year’s event, August 7-10, is expected to feature more than 200 artists at more than 60 venues.

The 3rd annual Land the Big Gig® music competition gives the nation’s top musical talents the opportunity to win cash prizes and a chance to perform live before thousands of music fans at Summerfest. Bands, musicians and singer-songwriters entered the competition by uploading a video audition consisting of a live performance of an original song to Presented by Summerfest, TapMilwaukee, Robert Haack Diamonds and Noah’s Ark Waterpark with KNE (K-Nation Entertainment) providing the official sponsorship of New Music, the Land the Big Gig® competition culminates in a live performance competition before thousands of Summerfest attendees. 

Beginning Wednesday, May 9, fans voted for their favorite acts online, with the Top 3 finalists winning a trip to Milwaukee to perform on the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage on Thursday, June 26 and a chance to win a share of up to $100,000 in cash and prizes; Grand Prize is $20,000, first prize is $5,000 and second prize is $2,500. In addition to their cash prizes, all three finalists, will win recording time plus songwriting and mentoring resources from KNE Studios, the opportunity to be featured on a KNE New Music Stage Compilation CD and the opportunity to each perform a 30 minute set at a Land the Big Gig® encore showcase at Summerfest on the KNE New Music Stage the day after the competition, Friday, June 27.  Summerfest, “The World’s Largest Music Festival” features over 800 acts and 1,000 performances on 11 stages over 11 days, providing an unforgettable live music experience for nearly 900,000 music fans from around the world.

For the past 47 years, Summerfest has been Milwaukee’s cornerstone celebration, offering entertainment for everyone along the shores of Lake Michigan.  Joining Summerfest, TapMilwaukee, Robert Haack Diamonds and Noah’s Ark Waterpark as Land the Big Gig® 2014 sponsors are (K-Nation Entertainment), Pepsi, Wisconsin Vision and Boucher Auto Group.  Fans and contest entrants are encouraged to visit for updates and follow Land the Big Gig® on Facebook at and Twitter at 

About Summerfest:

Summerfest 2014 will take place June 25 - 29 and July 1 - 6 from Noon until Midnight and will be closed Monday, June 30. Following its 1968 debut, Summerfest has evolved into what is now recognized as “The World’s Largest Music Festival” and Milwaukee’s cornerstone summer celebration, bringing the music industry’s hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites along with approximately 900,000 people from Milwaukee and around the world together each year for an unforgettable live music experience. During the festival, the spotlight shines on over 800 acts, over 1,000 performances, 11 stages, delectable food and beverages and interactive activities, all in a world-class festival setting. Patrons can also enjoy Miller Lite, the Official Beer of Summerfest. For more details, visit, or Twitter: @Summerfest, or download the Summerfest 2014 app.

About Tap Milwaukee:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s is Southeastern Wisconsin’s essential guide to entertainment, providing everything you need to know about going out, staying informed and sharing that information with friends. Tap was created in 2011 to engage a growing market of readers who want local entertainment news at their fingertips. Our readers are passionate about things to do - from music to movies to dining and galleries – has it. 

About Robert Haack Diamonds:

Robert Haack Diamonds has been the leader in diamond and engagement rings since 1947. Each location has master gemologists available, along with master goldsmiths who are experts at jewelry repair and custom work, meaning they can create that piece of jewelry of your dreams. Robert Haack also helps the community by purchasing unwanted gold, silver and diamonds and comes highly recommended by the local media. What sets Robert Haack from its competitors is the no stress approach when buying or selling; getting a money saving deal with a huge selection to choose from and we treat you like family. For more details, visit

About Noah’s Ark Waterpark :

Noah’s Ark Waterpark is located on 70 acres right in the heart of Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world, featuring thrilling waterslides, two giant wave pools, two Endless Rivers, four children’s water play areas, bumper boats and a mammoth 4-D movie theater. Noah’s Ark Waterpark also features Black Anaconda—America’s Most Thrilling Watercoaster, Time Warp—the World’s Largest Bowl Ride and Scorpion’s Tail—America’s First Near-Vertical Looping Waterslide. Noah’s Ark Waterpark is committed to providing the safest, cleanest, most unforgettable waterpark experience for the entire family, receiving the Top Award for Aquatic Safety every year since 1995. The park is open each year from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, offering an entire summer of fun under the sun. For more details, visit 

About KNE:

KNE (K-Nation Entertainment) is located in Grafton, Wisconsin (about 20 minutes from downtown Milwaukee). KNE’s mission is to help in the music scene by offering a creative culture that fuels inspiration, ultimately to be the artists and musicians best friend. Now more than ever; people need help, people need guidance. KNE is building that dream and culture by designing a place where people will want to be that offers everything a musician could want. Some of KNE’s many offerings include; Recording Studios, Writers Rooms, Band/Artist Rehearsal space, Soundstage, Band/Artist Bookings & Management, Music School,Graphics/Video/Social Media Design Group, In-House Promotions/Creative Team, and Rental Equipment to include – Sound, Lighting, Mobile Stage. Why can’t we help the next big talent come out of Milwaukee? KNE is here to assist in making that dream come true. For more details,

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Kelly Phelps
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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