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Eoin McCarthy (left), band manager Jim Rice and longtime volunteer Randy Beck.
Eoin McCarthy (left), band manager Jim Rice and longtime volunteer Randy Beck. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)

Rebel Stage Spotlight: Eoin McCarthy

"Rebel Stage Spotlight" is an OnMilwaukee-exclusive series of interviews with bands that will perform on The Rebel Stage during Summerfest. The Rebel Stage – located along the lakefront, directly to the east of the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage – is a completely independent venue that hosts more than 90 bands during the Big Gig and is staffed entirely by volunteers. Rebel Stage manager, Eoin McCarthy, hand picked the line-up from more than 2,000 submissions.

In 2007, Eoin McCarthy’s band at the time, Poor J, was offered a gig on Summerfest's Tiki Stage, but when the band showed up they were told the time slot was accidentally double booked and it was not going to happen.

Surprised and a bit disgruntled, McCarthy and bandmates decided they were going to play Summerfest regardless, so they wandered the grounds until they found open outlets and plugged in.

The first day, they played for 10 hours. They returned the next day – and every day after – and played for hours without anyone suspecting they weren't hired performers.

Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, Summerfest got wind of this, but wasn’t angry. Instead, they offered McCarthy a stage of his own where he could completely control the music, but without the promotional support of the fest. (To this day, the daily lineups do not appear in Summerfest’s printed or online information, but can be found here.)

Originally, McCarthy named the stage The Refugee Stage, which he has tattooed on his arm, but later changed it to The Rebel Stage, of which he also has a tattoo. 

McCarthy, who is originally from Ireland, is the lead singer and songwriter of Whiskey of the Damned. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., the band will perform and launch their new CD, "Here’s to Duffy’s Cut, Bedevil the Railroads," a rowdy, punk rock love story. He will perform a solo set on The Rebel Stage at noon on Sunday.

There is so much more to McCarthy's – and Rebel Stage's – story that can be read here.

OnMilwaukee also chatt…

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Donoma. Rebels.
Donoma. Rebels.

Rebel Stage spotlight: Donoma

"Rebel Stage Spotlight" is an OnMilwaukee-exclusive series of interviews with bands that will perform on The Rebel Stage during Summerfest. The Rebel Stage – located along the lakefront, directly to the east of the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage – is a completely independent venue that hosts more than 90 bands during the Big Gig and is staffed entirely by volunteers. Rebel Stage manager, Eoin McCarthy, hand picked the line-up from more than 2,000 submissions.

Depending on who you ask, the band Donoma can be described as rock and roll with an edge and a conscience, aggressive melodic rock, eclectic gypsy rock, glam and punk and cabaret or whoo hoo.

Guess it's one of those "you'll just have to listen to them to get it"-type bands and, luckily for all of us, a chance to listen we shall get when Donoma performs on the Rebel Stage at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 9.

Donoma members (who use first names only) include Stephanie on lead vocals, electric guitar, keyboards, mandolin; Michelle on bass; Israel on drums and percussion; Tim on lead guitar and Nick on the violin.

Recently, we chatted up the band’s road manager Paddy Fineran about, well, the band.

OnMilwaukee: How long has the band been together?

Paddy Fineran: Stephanie, Michelle and Israel formed a version of the band in 2009, and it has evolved to the current lineup being by far the strongest version of the band.

Which bands are you most looking forward to seeing at Summerfest or have been your favorite so far?

Michelle is pumped about Elle King and Cam. Israel is interested in Humphrey’s McGee and Matisyahu, and Nick is up for some Violent Femmes and Johnny Sparrow on his Weber Grill drum kit. We all heard that Dianne Coffee was amazing.

Mainly, though, we are looking forward to supporting the other independent bands at the Rebel Stage. We’ve performed there a few times now, and it’s a great community. Our hats are off to Eoin of Whiskey of the Damned and his crew there. All of us also like to ju…

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Catch November Criminals tonight!
Catch November Criminals tonight!

Rebel Stage spotlight: Hip-hop polka band November Criminals

"Rebel Stage Spotlight" is an OnMilwaukee-exclusive series of interviews with bands that will perform on The Rebel Stage during Summerfest. The Rebel Stage – located along the lakefront, directly to the east of the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage – is a completely independent venue that hosts more than 90 bands during the Big Gig and is staffed entirely by volunteers. Rebel Stage manager, Eoin McCarthy, hand picked the line-up from more than 2,000 submissions.

This is the second year the world’s only non-ironic polka hip-hop band, the November Criminals, will play the Rebel Stage.

"I, for one, am stoked," says Evan Maruszewski (aka NTSC), who plays the melodeon and raps in the band, which also includes members Brüemeister and Spade One.

November Criminals play tonight, Tuesday, July 5, at 9 p.m. OnMilwaukee recently tracked them down to talk Summerfest and making a scene.

OnMilwaukee: What do you like about playing on the Rebel Stage and why is it an asset for Summerfest?

NTSC: Last year, we were the last band on an all-metal day at the stage. It was nuts. We're not an easy band for a lot of people to digest, but the metal heads got into it. That's part of the strength of the Rebel Stage. It showcases music a lot of people would never otherwise hear and see. Summerfest, for being in Milwaukee, can't really show off what makes the city truly unique. It's got to do what it does, which is court headliners. The Rebel Stage, on the other hand, can really represent local music. I love their motto: "Make a scene."

How long have you been together, and how would you describe your music?

We've been a band since 2011 and kind of a crew since a little before then. We're the world's only polka hip-hop band. Don't adjust your dial, kiddies; you heard right.

Our sound is unlike anything anyone has ever heard before – if they haven't heard us that is. What do we do? I'd say we bring together the disparate musical genres of hip-hop and polka and slam them together int…

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OnceTheSun under the moon.
OnceTheSun under the moon. (Photo: Hobbes Caltous)

Rebel Stage spotlight: OnceTheSun

"Rebel Stage Spotlight" is an OnMilwaukee-exclusive series of interviews with bands that will perform on The Rebel Stage during Summerfest. The Rebel Stage – located along the lakefront, directly to the east of the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage – is a completely independent venue that hosts more than 90 bands during the Big Gig and is staffed entirely by volunteers. Rebel Stage manager, Eoin McCarthy, hand picked the line-up from more than 2,000 submissions.

If you don't dig loud, raucous music and hot, female lead singers, you should probably steer clear of OnceTheSun this Thursday.

OnceTheSun is a local hard rock/alternative/metal group featuring Anna Bohn – aforementioned hot lead singer – on vocals and keyboards, Nick Mitchell and Jason Rabus on guitars, bass player Josh Morrison and Samuel Morrison on the drums.

They will dominate The Rebel Stage on Thursday, July 7 at 6 p.m.

"We'll be alongside our friends in Ultrea, Disappearance and Divyded," says Bohn, who will also perform a solo set on Sunday, July 10 at 5 p.m.

OnceTheSun has played The Rebel Stage every year since its inception in 2009. OnMilwaukee recently chatted with the band about their music, favorite fest foods (is beer a food? Of course it is!) and upcoming gigs. 

OnMilwaukee: What do you like about playing on the Rebel Stage and why is it an asset for Summerfest?

OnceTheSun: We love playing The Rebel Stage because it is more than a stage at Summerfest: It’s a community and a family. Whoever plays that stage is automatically a part of a scene and has the support of everyone at the stage. That feeling of being a part of a something permeates the crowd and helps all of us to recapture that feeling we all had when we went to our first show. For some of the performers, it's their first chance to play in front of a larger crowd, which is a stellar thing in its own right. Not only that, but its location allows for a larger audience to cycle through while you are performing. Its also gi…

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