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UWP alumna part of Music in the Park band
Concert in City Park Thursday night
The Matriarchs are (from left) Pearl Olson, who plays upright bass and guitar; Riley Schultz, who plays the fiddle, mandolin and guitar; and Lily Sprengelmeyer, who plays banjo, guitar, harmonica and percussion.

UW–Platteville education alumna Riley Schultz and her folk band The Matriarchs will perform in Music in the Park in City Park Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The performance is open to the public and free of charge.

Members of the all-female band, based in Galena, include Schultz, who plays the fiddle, mandolin and guitar; Lily Sprengelmeyer, who plays banjo, guitar, harmonica and percussion; and Pearl Olson, who plays upright bass and guitar.
Schultz is an English teacher at Scales Mound High School, Sprengelmeyer is a third-grade teacher at East Dubuque Elementary School, and Olson is a midwife.

Schultz started the band in 2012, when she was asked to play at Council Hill Station’s music festival, held in Scales Mound, drawing the name of the band from matriarchal cultures and myths she had learned about in a Women and Mythology course at UW–Platteville.

“I love being called The Matriarchs — it’s empowering and not limited to being the head of a family, but being a bold leader of a tribe or area and having power,” said Schultz.

The band — whose genre Schultz described as “Indie folk and barn-burning old time” — has performed at festivals, boat parties, barn dances, bars, weddings and bachelorette and birthday parties throughout the Tri-State area, spanning as far as the Quad Cities, Prairie du Chien, and central Illinois.

“Each of us, as songwriters, brings a different element to the table, creating an ideal recipe for a modern indie sound with rustic roots,” said Schultz. “With diverse instrumentation and tight harmonies, each song is as unique as we are as musicians. This marks just the beginning of our path.”

The part Schultz most enjoys about performing in the band is the creative process. “Having an opportunity to share your own song with two other members to see not only how that song evolves but also how the band’s overall sound evolves is fascinating and exhilarating,” she said. “The creative process is such a unique, rewarding experience, especially when you can grow with two other individuals to create experiences at shows as well as create a product like an album that ties our efforts together.”

Schultz noted the importance of music in people’s lives. “Music is self-expression, and once it’s expressed, it’s what connects other people to those experiences and ideas,” she said. “Like any art form, whether it’s literature or a painting or a dance, it’s an expression of the human experience where the audience members can relate and think, ‘I’ve felt that.’ That’s the case with the most poppy Beatles tunes all the way to Mahler’s symphonies, from Georgia O’Keeffe to Banksy’s graffiti. It’s really what makes us human — that we’re aware of our own consciousness and that we share it with others and relate to what other people share with us.”

Schultz graduated magna cum laude in 2009 with a double major in English education and middle level education at UW–Platteville. Her third major was music (non-teaching) on saxophone. While at UW–Platteville, she played saxophone in Wind Ensemble and a sax quartet; violin in orchestra and Symphonietta; and sang in Chamber Choir.

“Through the variety of classes I took, UW–Platteville gave me the space to explore not only what it meant to be an English teacher and a musician, but also what it meant to be a poet, a philosopher, a feminist, an environmentalist and an advocate for social justice locally, regionally and globally,” said Schultz. “UW–Platteville was where I attended my first protest against sexism and bigotry; it was where I attended my first vigil for school violence; and it was where I reached a new plateau of bigger ideas.

“I sought out and created opportunities to volunteer on and off campus. I engaged myself in other people’s projects as an active participant as well as an audience member. I had significant conversations with professors and students. That’s the kind of holistic education that I try to share with my students as an English teacher, and that’s the kind of passion that I try to capture in the songs that I write.”

The band members hope to go on tour in Colorado next summer as well as in Denmark and Sweden and are planning to record their second album this winter, with a release in spring 2015.

For more information about the band and sample tracks from their album, visit the band’s Facebook page, ReverbNation website, or Folk Alley website.