Local musician has played every Summerfest

Posted at 10:57 PM, Jun 27, 2017

This year Milwaukee celebrates the 50th Summerfest, and one local musician can boast that he’s played all 50 of them.

If you're from Milwaukee, you've likely heard the sweet sounds of Warren Wiegratz. Whether on the saxophone or rocking the keyboard, his passion for music comes through in every performance.

"I've loved it ever since day one," he said.

And day one goes way back. Warren has played every single Summerfest for the past 50 years. He's led a lot of bands in his life, including Streetlife, the long-time Milwaukee Bucks house band. He's also opened up for a lot of big-name bands, like Chicago, Hall and Oates, and The Bangles.

"When it started, the stages weren't big," he said. "There were no amenities. People were just on the ground, and if it rained, it was just a mud hole. To see where it's come is phenomenal."

Warren's memories from the festival are amazing. Like when history was made in 1969.

"We had just gotten done playing, and it was a full moon, and it was the night the astronauts landed for the first time on the moon," he said. "We were just standing there, looking at the moon, knowing there are human beings walking on the moon, ad listening to the music. It was just really cool. Like anything could be done."

He'll also never forget opening up for Sly and the Family Stone in 1970.

"There were 100,000 people there," he said. "Maybe 120,000 people. They were going crazy, climbing up the speaker stacks. From the stage, there were people for as far as our eyes could see. We do our set and say thank you and get off the stage, and the stage manager told us to get back on the stage and keep performing because Sly wasn't there yet, so we did. We had to kill a lot of time. We almost ran out of songs."

So, what does he like best about Summerfest?

"Whenever you're playing with other really good musicians, and you're playing the music well, what's not to like?" he said. "I love it. I get goose bumps. It's the coolest thing. I'm lucky."

Warren also writes and arranges music for other groups, recordings, and TV commercials. You can catch him at Summerfest, opening up for Huey Lewis and the News, next Friday, July 7 at the BMO Harris Pavilion.