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Contest Winner Dave’s Unique Fan Experience at Blue Ox Festival

Good Morning Bedlam with the Noles and friends / Photography by Tom Smouse

Last updated on July 12th, 2022 at 10:24 am

Music in Minnesota and Blue Ox teamed up to give a fan a special experience at the Blue Ox Festival. Our winner Dave Noles is a fun, friendly, social guy who lives in Hudson, WI. He works as a partner manager at Infinite Campus, working with schools and nonprofits. He also is co-owner of

Photography by Tom Smouse

He and his wife Jenny have three kids, Anna who is 13, Lizzie who is 11, and David who is 8. Anna does music and theater at Phipps Theater in Hudson. Lizzie does hockey and gymnastics and David is active in hockey and baseball. They are a very sweet and energetic family that loves music. They even host bands to play at their property for a weekend in the summer for all their neighbors and friends. 

Photography by Tom Smouse

The Noles family and their friends had a blast camping at the festival. They previously stayed off-site when they attended Blue Ox but wanted to try a different kind of experience. They brought their friends and they all set up a little courtyard with campers on their campsite. There was plenty of room and they brought enough food to share while also eating at food trucks for dinner at night.

Photography by Tom Smouse

They were fully prepared for rest and comfort between the shows, complete with a basket of shoes for all needs.

Yoga / Photography by Tom Smouse

Dave noted that camping on-site meant so much more. He felt a part of the experience and was able to attend the early activities like yoga and the 11am concerts, as well as the midnight shows in the backwoods. He felt like he was not just a visitor but a part of the community of like-minded people who like music.

The Noles family and friends / Photography by Tom Smouse

His kids had a blast in the festival “bowl” where their blankets and chairs were set up to watch the bands. They did crafts, played football, and ran around. They got to choose their own dinner at the food trucks.

The Kids / Photography by Tom Smouse

The only thing Dave would do differently is bring more friends! And maybe an outside fan for the hot afternoons. 

“This year’s experience can’t be beat” 


Dave was in the crowd’s front section for many bands. He loves live music and being in the middle of the action.

Photography by Bryan Jones

While watching Ryan Necci and the Buffalo Gospel, he accidentally met Ryan Necci’s dad and watched most of the set with him. Then he was fortunate enough to meet the band after their show and bought their T-shirt at the merch table.

Photography by Tom Smouse

Other highlights include a double set of Good Morning Bedlam, Pert Near Sandstone, and Mae Simpson, with whom Dave met and got a picture. Fireside Collective and Samantha Fish were also notable performances.

Photography by Tom Smouse

Dave mentioned he was a fan of Daniel Donato in the pre-festival interview. On the festival’s first day, he again said how excited to see him play. I made a point of finding out what all the fuss was about.

Dave watching Daniel Donato / Photography by Tom Smouse

Sure enough, Daniel Donato’s performance was incredible. It was an hour of pure entertainment and energetic jamming. He and his band blew us away from start to finish.

“I expected Daniel Donato to be good, BUT OMG he was absolutely amazing.


Donato is an impressive guitar player at age 25. He has been playing guitar since he was 12 years old and has loads of ambition and determination. The audience was buzzing with admiration.

Donato and his band had next-level dynamic energy and played for hours at Blue Ox. They played the Saloon Stage and then moved to the Backwoods stage. And, the story has it, they then moved over to the Picker’s circle and jammed until the sunrise. 

Joseph / Photography by Tom Smouse

Joseph was Dave’s favorite part of the festival. He noted that he listens to their records often.

Joseph / Photography Tom Smouse

The trio had an amazing performance. Their harmonizing and overall sound is really full, and the lyrics are powerful. 

On Friday night we asked Dave to meet us for a surprise. A golf cart brought his family to the backstage area where he met some of the guys from Pert Near Sandstone. Siri from Humbird came as well, Cedar Ridge Distillery donated a bottle of their excellent whiskey, and other musicians showed up and chatted casually, all excited to see each other.

Meet and Greet Backstage / Photography by Tom Smouse

Everyone was so friendly and talkative. The conversation lasted for an easy hour and they even invited Dave and Jenny back under the tent with the keg and high tables! There, people brought out their instruments and jammed together. 

Good Morning Bedlam / Photography by Tom Smouse

Saturday was a packed day of great bands. It was also time for Dave’s second unique fan experience. He and his group were eating a late lunch while we walked up to their campsite and surprised them with the entire band of Good Morning Bedlam

They introduced themselves and graciously said they would play a couple of songs. “Devil’s Waltz” was the enthusiastic request and they immediately fulfilled it. 

Good Morning Bedlam / Photography by Tom Smouse

It was incredible to watch the scene unfold. The kids were captivated and the adults were grinning and nodding along. It was heartwarming to see how much they enjoyed it.

Afterward, Dave and Jenny offered to share their meal and drinks with the band. They all hung out and talked about their lives and the festival. It felt natural and exciting all at the same time.

Good Morning Bedlam / Photography by Bryan Jones

Bands like Good Morning Bedlam, Humbird, and Pert Near Sandstone are so open and welcoming. They are willing to get real with fans and really care about including them in the music community.

Humbird / Photography by Tom Smouse

We appreciated the efforts these bands and Blue Ox put into Dave and his family to make sure they had a special experience.

Be sure to check into the Blue Ox festival early next year to get tickets and camping packages.

Written by Renee Jones

Writer, Photographer, and Editor at Music in Minnesota


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