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Ty Helbach Photography Blue Ox  2nd 2022 CWE.jpeg


Formed in Wisconsin, Chicken Wire Empire has emerged as a pioneering force in the Upper Midwest contemporary bluegrass scene. Fusing traditional roots with innovative genre-blending elements, the band has captivated audiences worldwide with their unique musicality and electrifying performances.


In 2023, Chicken Wire Empire reached new heights with a showcase at the prestigious Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.  It was an honor to perform 4 sets through rain and mud.  This came on the heels of their diverse creative ventures, including "Verry Garcia," a Grateful Dead tribute, and a distinctive rendition of The Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm." These projects showcased their ability to seamlessly blend genres, demonstrating a musical depth that resonates with both young and old fans of bluegrass.

CWE’s sophomore studio endeavor, "What Moves Mountains," received widespread praise upon its release, and marks the band’s evolution.  This musical journey was artfully captured in the documentary "All It Takes.”  Directed by Ross Monagle, the film showcased their travels across Wisconsin, including soul-stirring performances at Milwaukee's historic Riverside Theatre.


"The new Chicken Wire Empire record is a technically proficient, well-crafted mixture of modern original songwriting and time earned classics. They seem to have taken on some wonderfully exciting elements of modern progressive bluegrass while also retaining their original character, born of their greater Milwaukee town roots." - Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades


The band's international acclaim grew after their 2019 tour across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as part of the Bluegrass Jamboree. Their energetic sound enchanted European audiences, leading to the release of two live albums, "Live from Deutschland Vol. 1 & 2," capturing the magic of their performances abroad.


"The new Chicken Wire Empire live recordings rock! What a great show they put on! The flow of the recordings makes one feel like you are sitting in the audience in the auditorium for the live performance. I especially enjoyed their unique take on some of the traditional songs found in the bluegrass repertoire – made them truly sound like their own. The somewhat non-traditional grass tracks are what might be considered “progressive traditional” bluegrass, where they stretch out a bit while keeping the traditional feel. I thoroughly enjoyed these “funkytrad” recordings by Chicken Wire Empire!"

                - Greg Cahill (Special Consensus)


Returning home, Chicken Wire Empire navigated the challenges of 2020 by embracing live-streaming, becoming featured artists at virtual editions of the IBMA and Folk Alliance International conferences. Their adaptability was mirrored in their collaboration with Chris Castino of The Big Wu, resulting in the critically acclaimed album "Fresh Pickles," released in 2022, recorded by Ryan Young (Neon Brown Studios, Trampled By Turtles).


"Fresh Pickles aims to satisfy your cravings and is just the beginning of Castino’s heartfelt and fulfilling voyage into bluegrass. Always true to the tradition and authentic in presentation, Fresh Pickles is packed with great music." - (


Chicken Wire Empire has been blessed to share the stage with renowned musicians Yonder Mountain String Band, Jerry Douglas, 30db, The Big Wu, Peter Rowan, The Travelin’ McCourys, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and more.  With love from their local scene, friends, and families, Chicken Wire Empire looks to the future, with a goal to strengthen Wisconsin’s bluegrass scene, and further the appreciation of acoustic music.

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