"Billy's respect for folk music and stellar musicianship
coupled with John's attentive drumming and backup singing
keeps the crowd moving and calling for more"
- Tyler Vogt, Owner at Malarkey's Pub
A humble man from the Northwoods with a voice that fills the room and a smile that warms the heart. His midwestern kindness shines through in his sincere performances. If you’re scouring the pines, you may find Billy helping his family and friends build shelter, or hanging out in the swamp-side cabin he built while contemplating the nature of our existence. Most days, you’ll find him walking his dog before hitting the road to tell a few heartfelt stories. Billy Bronsted’s music is here to stay, keeping the Northwoods alive with the tradition of honest songwriting and seasoned guitar pickin’. With two studio albums, a couple of cross-country tours, and a host of festival shows under his belt, Billy’s journey with music is headed toward a smoky, northern horizon and straight into your heart.
After the release of his debut solo record, This Bed of Mine, Billy formed Linus and the Loot, a bluegrass trio that worked with Marc Golde at Rock Garden Studio to release an EP called Its Real. Billy spent the next year hanging around the Fox Valley collaborating with local bands and artists.
In 2019, Billy toured across 13 states over the course of a couple of months. Starting in Chicago and making stops in Louisville, Nashville, Asheville, Atlanta, New Orleans, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, along with many other smaller towns in between. He returned to Wisconsin for the summer to work and play gigs around the state, saving money for studio time to make a second solo record. Those shows were often collaborative, with many performances paired with his drummer and longtime collaborator, John Kneipp.
Inspired by the American landscape he spent so much time touring earlier that year, Billy began writing more songs about his travels and the parallels to his working life back home. He spent the better part of two years taking in life experiences, swinging a hammer, gigging several times a week, and demoing songs for his sophomore album.
A six-state tour in early 2020 led Billy to put the finishing touches on writing what would become his second solo record. Touring as the duo Billy Bronsted & The Loot with Milwaukee-based trio, Listening Party, Billy and friends stuffed six men, their bags, and all of their gear into one van and a 4’ x 6’ trailer. He returned home mid-February with even more ambitious goals for the next few years. Of course, the world was put on pause almost immediately after, but Billy used the time to record and polish the album. After a winter spent in the Rockies, he released Rhythm, Racket, & Romance in May of 2022.
Since that release, Billy has built himself a Northwoods cabin and studio, where he lands to rest, write, and record when he's not on the road sharing his stories and music with those he encounters. He's double-downed on the vision for his career, crafting a more selective show schedule, and collaborating more (on and off stage) with some of Wisconsin's original artists and bands. In addition to playing dozens of festival stages and ticketed rooms, the last year has spawned the creation of Billy Bronsted's Bluegrass Buddies and the project's inaugural festival, the "Bluegrass Buddies Blender," as well as a new band, Billy Bronsted Trio (BB3).
Billy Bronsted Trio
With two studio albums, a handful of cross-country tours, and a slew of festival shows under his belt, Billy's newest project is a genre-bending exploration of his musical roots.
Billy Bronsted Trio (BB3) delivers the heartfelt storytelling of Billy's expansive catalog through the grit and grime of new sonic textures and progressive flows. The music celebrates hard-working folks, the highs and lows of everyday life, and the rhythms that keep us dancing.
Billy (lead vocals/guitar), is joined by rhythmic powerhouses Andy Welsch (drums/backing vocals), and Pete Koconis (bass/backing vocals), creating a pulsating soundscape that keeps your heart beating and your feet stomping.
Billy Bronsted's Bluegrass Buddies
It's the latest musical adventure from a seasoned musician whose love for bluegrass has brought together some of Wisconsin's finest pickers. After years of late-night, post-festival pickin’ circles and forming deep friendships with the state's top bluegrass musicians, Billy had an opportunity to create something special.
It all started as a monthly bluegrass residency at Gibson Community Music Hall. Every month, Billy handpicked a different cast of talented pickers to join him on stage, creating a brand new Wisconsin bluegrass band for one unforgettable night. The magic of these performances quickly became evident, and the concept began to take shape. Now, the project is spreading its wings, moving beyond Gibson and gracing festival stages. Billy's pickin' friends for the Bluegrass Buddies have included:
Augie Dougherty (banjo/vocalist, Armchair Boogie)
Timmy Mac (fiddle/vocalist with Feed The Dog)
Travis Worth (upright bass with Listening Party, among other bands)
Bob Weigandt (mandolin with Dig Deep)
Dale Reichert (banjo with Art Stevenson & Highwater, among other bands)
Joe Wais (mandolin/fiddle with the Milbillies and Sugar Bush, amoung other bands)
Cole Holliday (harmonica)
Jed Cordwell (upright bass)
Bernardo Cano (harmonica)
After several months, the residency blossomed into a bigger collaboration between Gibson and Billy's team that resulted in the inaugural "Bluegrass Buddies Blender," a New Year's Eve weekend festival that showcased the pickin' skills of 17 different artists from several of Wisconsin's top bluegrass bands.
Billy Bronsted & The Loot
A progressive Americana trio from central Wisconsin, leaning on the crack bass chops of Darian Woller, John' Kneipp's loose, yet precise percussion, and Billy's fervent songwriting. Billy and John were both born and raised in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, where their love for music was definitely thought of as “unique.” Growing up in small-town Tomahawk instilled strong values of hard work and the importance of family, grounding them and shaping the way they walk through their lives. The Loot's sound reflects this peaceful upbringing; there is a characteristic storytelling and writing style that is second nature to them. The trio's raw and aggressive percussion mixed with Billy's diverse acoustic playing styles pulls the listener back through time. The music evokes the milieu of the backwoods, where campfire strumming sets the tone for well-crafted narratives.
After several years playing together, "The Loot" era began to wind down in mid-2023 when Darian's career in fish ecology relocated him to Colorado. But the trio finished strong with a two week tour through Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming in the Fall of 2023. Billy and John played a few more shows as before deciding it was time to retire the band and "hang up the jersey" in honor of the members' history with The Loot. Although the band will no longer be gracing stages, fans of The Loot will have the band's music available to them forever when the farewell tour's live album is released in 2024.