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Stump Dodger Bash returns July 2 and 3
In Gays Mills
10th ann Stump Dodger Bash

GAYS MILLS - The Stump Dodger Bash, a popular local country music festival in Gays Mills, returns for its tenth annual appearance on July 1, 2 and 3 this year.

Unfortunately, the Bash had to be cancelled last year due to the COVID 19 Pandemic. However, the 10thAnnual Stump Dodger Bash is definitely back on for this year with lots of high quality entertainment and excitement for the large crowd that is anticipated.

Jim and Allison Showen are the owners of the Stump Dodger Campground, where the Bash is held every year on the weekend closest to the July Fourth holiday.

Jim smiles when you bring up the first Stump Dodger Bash held at the campground in 2001. The Showens call the local crowd that showed up for that Bash   “the original 200.” Incidentally, there are more than a few of the original 200 that have been to every Bash since.

The original Bash featured the Dr. Rumley Snuff Band, a rock group led by Joe Cody from Rolling Ground. Another band at the first Bash was Challenger from Northeast Iowa.

“It was struggle,” Jim Showen said of the effort behind producing the Bash.

The Showens are quick to thank all of the event’s sponsors that have enabled them to keep the Bash going and growing over all those years. 

It was because of the sponsors that the Bash has been able to get larger acts after that first one.

One of the biggest acts to appear at the Stump Dodger Bash was Eric Paisley, who had a song go to number one on the country charts after he had signed to play the event. At the Bash that year, he sang a new song for the first time that would become another number one hit on the country chart.

Another performer, who played at the Bash, was Dylan Scott. He’s become a big deal in the world of country music, according to Showen.

Many performers have played more than once at the Bash. However, the record for return performances is held by High Mileage, which features Lavon ‘Spanky’ Felton. Spanky is the owner of the Sleepy Hollow auto dealership in Viroqua. The popular local cover band has appeared at the Bash for the past four or five years.

In fact, Spanky and the band made an appearance on the grounds last year, even though the official Bash had been cancelled. They were very well-received by a small, but appreciative crowd, starved for some live entertainment.

So, how big is the event these days? Showen estimated the recent Bash attendance at about 3,000 to 4,000 people including about 500 campers. 

This year’s Stump Dodger Bash, as expected, features plenty of country music talent.

The headliners are Mo Pitney on Friday night and Ross Ellis on Saturday.

Mo Pitney
THE STUMP DODGER BASH welcomes country musician Mo Pitney as the event's Friday night headliner. Pitney grew up in Rockford, playing with his brother in a blue grass band. Later, he moved to Nashville where his music career blossomed. He has released a couple of hit recordings and two albums for Curb Records. Pitney's straightforward approach to the music appeals to music critics and fans alike. The Bash is ready for some Mo Pitney on Friday, July 2.

Mo Pitney

Mo Pitney was born in Rockford, Illinois. He began playing drums at six and guitar at 12. He played in a bluegrass band with his brother and a friend. Pitney moved to Nashville, where he signed with Curb Records.

Pitney released his single ‘Country,’ in December 2014. Billy Dukes of Taste of Country reviewed the single positively, saying that "Mo isn’t making a statement, and he’s not the sign of some traditional country revolution in 2015. But he’s a reminder of how good a simple country song (is) sung by a man who believes in God and George Strait.” The song entered Top 40 on Country Airplay on the chart dated for the week ending June 20, 2015, its nineteenth week on that chart.His second single, ‘Boy and a Girl,’ was released to country radio on August 31, 2015. It reached #50 on Hot Country Songs in October 2016. His debut album was ‘Behind This Guitar.’

His second album is ‘Ain't Lookin' Back.’

Pitney describes his time making ‘Ain't Lookin' Back’ as "the most joyful" musical experience he's had thus far. 

Ross Ellis

Saturday night’s headliner Ross Ellis was born and raised in the small town of Monterey, Louisiana. At 15, he started the band, ‘Wayside’ with his cousin and some high school friends. 

The band gained a strong following throughout Ross’s high school and college years. After graduating from college, Ross turned down multiple job offers to instead move to Nashville.

In late 2017, Ross was named Sirius XM’s latest ‘Highway Find’ with the release of his first single, ‘Home for the Weekend.’ 

More recently, Ross released the hauntingly powerful single, ‘Ghosts,’ which reached the top 10 most played songs on The Highway. 

Tyler Deaver

Aside from the headliners, there’s some pretty good entertainment on the Bash roster this year. It starts on Friday night with two bands tied to Viroqua. 

Of course, the first act, featuring Tyler Deaver,  comes from Nashville.

However, Tyler was born and raised in Viroqua. Most of Tyler’s childhood was spent hunting and fishing on either of his family farms. Over the years, these hobbies turned into an obsession. This led Tyler to earn a degree in Wildlife/Law Enforcement from the UW-Stevens Point. 

From a young age, Tyler has been blessed with the great gift of singing. He wanted to do more with music than just sing, so in college he began playing guitar and songwriting. He honed his skills by playing gigs at local bars and county fairs. 

Tyler dreamed of singing for a living and sharing his music with the world.  He often thought about making the move to Nashville, as so many other dreamers have done.  With the support of his wife, Stephanie, and other family members, Tyler moved to Nashville and never looked back. You can find Tyler playing gigs with his band at AJ’s Good Time Bar, The Stage, Second Fiddle, and Legends Corner. Tyler’s band plays everything from Merle Haggard to Marshall Tucker Band. 

After Tyler Deaver plays, the popular local band High Mileage takes the stage.

High Mileage

High Mileage is also from Viroqua.  High Mileage has dedicated itself to reproducing music from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s (...throwing in some country and modern pop), as well as thrilling audiences all over the Midwest with the best songs built around strong vocal harmonies, instantly recognizable melodies and irresistible dance songs.  

Each band member will have you engaged while singing along to your favorite song.  Members of High Mileage include: Tim Severson, lead guitar; Lavon ‘Spanky’ Felton, drums; Tom Lohr, vocals; Zach Kumlin, bass guitar; and Jess Peckham, keyboards.

Saturday night lineup

Aside from headliner Ross Ellis, there’s also lots of other entertainment planned for Saturday night.

It starts with Smoking Gun Showdown, which was born on the banks of the Mississippi River in Prairie du Chien. It is the brainchild of their two powerhouse female singers April Bouzek and Leigh Vorwald.

April and Leigh are well known in the region for their performances in large music competitions. Wishing to take their love of music and passion for a good show to a wider audience, they have brought together a talented group of like-minded musicians: Joe Schroeder on drums, Jeff Goettel on bass,  Jeff Gaunitz on guitar, keyboards and harmonica and Jeff Hanson on lead guitar. 

A Smoking Gun Showdown performance is a high-energy experience mixing old, new and pop, Country, Top 40, originals, classic rock, blues... and some rap skills from time to time. It’s a high energy show you do not want to miss!!

Corey Farley

Corey Farley will follow Smoking Gun. Farley was born in Decorah, Iowa. He was raised on a large beef farm that his parents, Joe and Brenda, operate just north of town. 

Cory’s first taste of country music was through the speakers of an old radio that hung from a post in the middle of his grandfather’s barn, where the cattle were only permitted to listen to country music while being milked. 

“I was about seven years old, and I remember that was around the first time I heard the voices of Willie Nelson, George Strait, and Toby Keith. Grandpa retired from milking some years ago, but he still has that old radio hanging on the post in the barn. 

“I have always loved country music and have always wanted to perform. When I was younger, I used to jump on my parent’s bed with my dad’s guitar pretending I was Garth Brooks,” Farley said.

Farley graduated from high school in 2004, and ventured to Phoenix to continue his education. Shortly after his move, Cory’s passion for music evolved to being far more than a hobby. He began singing with a few local bands before ultimately being dubbed as the lead singer in a band of his own, known as Redneck Revolution. 

The band performed in an array of honkytonks, night clubs, and bars, where Cory enhanced his stage presence and earned his reputation for putting on a rowdy show. From running on top of the bar, swinging from rafters, dancing on tables, and jumping off stage, Farley never fails to exceed the crowd’s expectations. 

“I love singing, but anybody can get up and sing a song and sound like the jukebox. I was always into doing whatever it takes to make sure I knew that the crowd would go home that night with a great experience.” 

In 2010, Cory set out to pursue a full-time music career in Nashville. With his signature voice, drive, and unforgettably wild shows, Cory Farley is one musician to keep an eye on.

Royal South

After Farley, Royal South will step up to entertain the Bash crowd. Individual artists in their own right, Sara Beth, Glen Mitchell, and Vickie Vaughn have come together to form the harmony powerhouse Royal South.  

Based in Nashville, the Texas, London, and Kentucky natives have attracted the attention of renowned producer, Paul Worley, who produced the Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, and Martina McBride to name a few.  

Their debut single, ‘Cry, Cry’ was released on January 18, 2019.  It topped the UK iTunes Country Chart at #1 and the US New Country iTunes Chart at #2. 

With chart-topping songs, Grand Ole Opry performances, industry awards, and world tours between them, Royal South gives every audience a dynamic, unforgettable show.

Canaan Cox

Canaan Cox follows Royal South. Cox is the definition of an entertainer. 

Canaan’s music has the energy of pop, a bit of R&B flare, and a strong foundation in contemporary country lyrics. This unique blend of genres is best showcased in ‘Lie,’ the aggressive, rocking debut single issued fall of 2017. ‘Lie’ appeared only eight months after Canaan Cox moved to Nashville, which allowed him to quit his serving job.

In just three months, ‘Lie’ raced up Music Row’s Top 50, making it the chart’s most added song in 2017. This momentum carried over into his self-titled EP, which was featured on iTunes Country for six weeks in a row. With this attention, Canaan was soon featured on premier country outlets like Whiskey Riff, The Boot, and Sounds Like Nashville.  

Releasing singles like, ‘Take My Time,’ ‘Greener,’ ‘Out of Nowhere,’ and ‘Long Way Home,’ Canaan has led his fans down a path of catchy and relatable hits. 

More than music

However, there’s few more things to do at this year’s Stump Dodger Bash than listening to all of that music.

On Thursday, July 1, there will a free warmup moment, hosted by Gays Mills’ own DJ Dom. Yes, DJ Dom plays the music and the crowd hangs out!

During the concert on Friday, a second stage with a band featuring Spanky’s son will entertain the crowd as the main stage is readied for the next performance.

And there’s more-including a kids party on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The party is open to the public and there is no admission.

“There will be kid games and all kids are invited,” Showen said of the event.  “There’s no admission and anybody can attend. It’s free and everybody is invited to come.”

There will be a drawing for 15 bikes. All children from age two to 14 are eligible to put their name in raffle.

Three vendors will be on hand to provide food for the Bash this year, including the Friends of Gays Mills, which will operate a food stand.

Make no mistake about it-the Stump Dodger Bash is back.

Material about the performers used in this story was obtained from their personal websites.