Gimpleg had the pleasure of speaking with Skappleton’s Jon Sobie! Together they discussed the festival, the current ska scene, the line-up, and so much more!

1. Hi and thank you for taking some time to join us on the Music Shelf. How are you doing today?

Howdy! I’m doin’ alright. Just waitin’ out the Wisconsin winter. Excited for sunshine, nature and music!

2. SkAppleton is a long-running festival that hasn’t existed for the last few years. This is your first year booking and promoting and you have helped resurrect the festival. Who is Fox Valley Music Festivals and what led to the decision to resurrect a ska festival?

Fox Valley Music Festivals is an Appleton, WI based independent music promotion team. And when I say “team”, it’s actually just myself, Jon Sobie.

It was a long-time dream of mine to organize a music festival that not only supported local and state-wide music but also local venues and small businesses. That’s when Fox Valley Roots Festival ’18 was born. With the success of FVRF’18, I decided to continue bringing talented artists to the area. Covid certainly mucked things up for a while there, but that aside, I now have three Fox Valley Roots Festivals and one Fox Valley Shred Fest under my belt, along with dozens of other great shows.

3. Historically, ska has had a lot of successful bands on the coasts, with thriving scenes in the New York/ Boston and in the LA/ Orange County areas. Is there a scene for ska thriving in the Midwest right now?

The decision to revive SkAppleton was actually quite random. One night over some beers, some friends and I were reminiscing about attending SkAppleton back in our high school days and remembering how fun it was. This was back when the festival was hosted at Lawrence University. One of my friends jokingly said I should book another SkAppleton, and I said “Y’know what? That’s not such a bad idea.” So, I reached out to the SkAppleton FB page to see what they thought about given’re another go, and I was met with full support

4. With Bad Time Records tour selling out numerous cities this March, Ska Punk International just hosting a very successful 2 day Ska and Punk festival in Texas, and the resurrection of SkAppleton, do you think it is safe to say that ska is on the rise? 

It sure seems that ska is making a comeback. I see quite a few newer ska bands popping up around the Midwest, which is certainly great to see! I’m hearing a lot of great things out of the Chicago and Minneapolis areas, specifically. The Midwest has a lot of hidden talent, and it’s great to see some of these artists gaining the recognition they deserve.

5. Time to get to the hard question- the one that is on everyone’s mind. How do you pronounce the “A” in SkAppleton?

I’ve always pronounced it SKAppleton. It just makes sense. I’ve heard a lot of people pronounce it Sk’Appleton, but that just sounds silly.

6. Are you sure?

I’m pretty dang sure about that.

7. Fair enough. With this being your first time organizing the fest, what were some of the hardest parts that you weren’t expecting?

Organizing this year’s SkAppleton has actually been pretty easy going. I’ve had a lot of artists reach out, so booking has been a breeze. I’ve also had the help of Kenny Maciejewski of The Black and Blue Hearts. No issues thus far, and I’m hoping things stay that way!

8. Can you tell us the full lineup now? 

This year, we’re having a pre-party the evening of Friday, May 12th at Dr. Jekyll’s (7PM). We have DJ Chuck Wren of JUMP UP RECORDS spinnin’ some ska 45s, as well as live music by JF Zastrow, The Chad O’Kennedy, Kenny Maciejewski of The Black and Blue Hearts and Lefty Luci.

Saturday, May 13th, there will be live music all day at Appleton Beer Factory, from noon until 1:30AMish. Artists include Meskales, The Black and Blue Hearts, Courtesy Of Tim, Local Legends, Flying Raccoon Suit, Space Monkey Mafia, Joystick, Something To Do, The Crombies, Max & The Invaders and Mephiskapheles! DJ Chuck Wren will also be spinnin’ 45s prior to bands at 11AM and between sets.

9. Who are the advertisers and sponsors that are helping to support the festival?

For sponsors, we’re happy to have Punk Rock Saves Lives, Heid Music, On The Upbeat and Relik Vintage & Oddity on board!

10. What are the metrics that would make this festival a success or a failure? Are there currently plans to make this an annual festival again, or is it currently a one year revival?

I’m certainly hoping SkAppleton ’23 is an overall success, as I’d love to keep it alive! I suppose this year is sort of a test run, to see if there’s enough interest and participation to make it an annual thing again. If everything goes smoothly and everyone has an enjoyable experience, I definitely see SkAppleton ’24 being a possibility!

11. Where can people go to find out more about the festival and to get their tickets?

FB event page:

Ticket URL:


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