Music follows Kroenke to his home


Carol Wagner Leader correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner Joel Kroenke, right, has been hosting Cotter Creek House Concerts at his home in the town of Richmond for many years. Next to him is Paul Cebar, who performed recently.

Tucked away in the woods in the town of Richmond and at the end of a long driveway is the home of Joel Kroenke. That road is well traveled during the year as entertainers and music lovers go to the Cotter Creek House Concerts that Kroenke started.

“We have a popular following,” he said.

Kroenke started the Shawano Folk Music Festival in 1979 and heard about people who had house concerts. That concept appealed to him, and the concerts have grown after he first held them in his parents’ basement.

“I like to provide an opportunity for people to support independent musicians and singer/songwriters,” Kroenke said.

Kroenke called the music of the groups who perform “folk music broadly defined.” Among the varied performers are musicians from South America, Celtic Irish performers, Cajun music, a Russian accordionist, French café songs, and yodeling cowboys.

“It’s a wide, wide variety,” Kroenke said.

People who attend the concerts love to listen and sing along. The entertainers enjoy the atmosphere, and the concert goers enjoy the close contact.

Since retiring Kroenke is scheduling more concerts. Paul Cebar, who lives in Milwaukee and has been there before, recently performed on his electric and acoustic guitar.

On Saturday, Chuck Mitchell, who was once married to Joni Mitchell, will be at the house concert. Kroenke said his music is part poetry, part acting and part music.

The OK Factor, two young female recent Minnesota music grads who play the cello and violin, will perform on Feb. 24.

“Music brings people together,” Kroenke said.

He recently added a backyard music deck for outdoor performances. People who attend the concerts are not only local, but from the Fox Valley and Door County.

“It’s a very eclectic group of people who come to listen to the music, and the performers appreciate that.” Kroenke said.

There’s an optional potluck at 5:30 p.m. with the concert at 7 p.m. Donations of $15 are given to the entertainers.

“I do it for love of the music,” Kroenke said.

He has also used his music expertise to have street benefit concerts for the homeless in different cities including Shawano, and helped organize the Christmas Concert at Heritage Park in December that benefited SAM25 and Safe Haven.

The Cotter Creek House Concerts are at W9050 Broadway Road.

For information, call Kroenke at 715-853-6879.