Soldiers Grove-based country/Americana act, the Sapsuckers, will be performing new, original music, as well as old favorites, at a concert on Jan. 11 at the Viroqua Masonic Hall, upstairs. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $10 and can be reserved online at Brown Paper Tickets. Viroqua band The Iowans will open the show.
With an eclectic style that ranges from hillbilly roots to Nashville pop, the songwriting team of Nikki Grossman and Joe Hart has developed a lively, contemporary take on country music. Their creative lyrics, catchy melodies, and clever stage show have earned them a growing fan base in the Midwest and beyond.
The couple (on stage and off) got their start together as an old-time fiddle band, performing for square and contra dances, with Grossman on fiddle and Hart on guitar. Both had performed in a variety of musical acts—including prog rock, punk rock, and other old-time outfits—and an early connection was their interest in reproducing the close-harmony sounds of early country duos like the Blue Sky Boys and Callahan Brothers. They began co-writing their own material and have earned a wide following for their original music.
The duo has recorded three albums: “Don’t Think About Tomorrow Tonight” (2018) was launched at an official showcase at the prestigious international festival, South by Southwest, where they earned a standing ovation, as well as numerous Midwest tour dates. The album was co-produced by John Wood (Richard and Linda Thompson, Cat Stevens, Incredible String Band). The Sapsucker’s video for the song “Fools Were Made to be Broken” was premiered by Radio Heartland on Minnesota Public Radio, The Current. “Ocooch Mountain Home,” (2015), received high praise from the likes of fROOTS, Bluegrass Today, and Country Music People UK. “Speaking of Music” (2013) captures the old-timey roots of the band.
With more than 30 new, unrecorded songs, the duo is heading into the studio in 2020 to make their fourth release and plans to also release a live recording of “greatest hits.” Grossman (guitar, fiddle, lead vocals) and Hart (guitar, mandolin, vocals) are also teaming up with a number of side- and back-up musicians and performing live as a band.
Grossman and Hart live with their blended family, dividing their time between a rural homestead in Soldiers Grove, and the city of St. Louis. They tour frequently throughout the Midwest and beyond. They are a favorite headlining act at festivals including Mile of Music, Fox Valley Folk Festival, and the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Association. They are also frequent radio and television guests, with live appearances on “Radio Heartland/The Current” (Minneapolis), “30-Minute Music Hour” (PBS-Madison), “The Midnight Hour” (Chicago), “Simply Folk” (Madison), and many others.