About Us

The Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) is a volunteer organization whose purpose is to educate and recognize the achievements and accomplishments of individuals in the Wisconsin music industry.

We endeavor to provide annual scholarships to students and/or emerging artists in the Wisconsin community; promote the Wisconsin music scene; and execute an awards ceremony annually.

Executive Board

Jason Klagstad


Capping a 30 year career in marketing, MI retail and event planning combined with a 50 year run as a guitarist with 4 WAMIs and a Hall of Fame award, Jason now leads the WAMI Board as President. In addition, he is a Partner in Independent and Nariadyme Studios and a guitarist with Elephonic, Semi-Twang, Bill Camplin, Plumb Loco, Sawyer Road & Post Turtles

Ron Books

Vice President

Ron grew up in seven different Midwest cities because of his father’s career as a radio and television broadcaster, eventually settling in Wisconsin. Early lessons and performances in piano and voice while in elementary eventually led him to find his passion in percussion at age 9 after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. He was among the first students to participate in Green Bay’s elementary instrumental music program and continued in school music throughout junior high, high school, and college at UWO Oshkosh, studying Music Education.

Primarily a performer, Ron has played with bands beginning in high school and college, which led to traveling as a member and sometimes bandleader of several full and part time groups playing and recording rock, blues, pop, country, and variety genres. 

Ron’s association with WAMI began as a bandleader while gaining valuable business experience in residential design/sales and industrial sales/ engineering, starting his own business in 2017.

Originally joining the board in 2006, he has served as the stage director of the WAMI Awards Show. His experience on the executive board includes terms as secretary, vice president, and briefly as interim treasurer when called upon.

Jessie Johnson-Greenwald


Career of supporting Not for Profit Programing Development and on-going support, concurrently, events planning and coordination in this sector. Volunteer for local Not for Profits including coordinating Fundraising events to support building a Women’s Crisis Center in Kenya-this Collaboration was part of supporting Guitar for Life Studio and Operation Give Hope. Past President (Current Board Member) for WiFacets -WI FACETS provides several types of special education support services to help Wisconsin parents and educators support and enrich the lives of children with disabilities. (Mother of Cello, Guitar and Percussion students and Wife of Musician).

Michael Mann

Operations Director

Mike Mann is a 5 time WAMI award winner (1 for Artist of the Year), multiple nominee. He is a former AGM of Guitar Center – Brookfield (Store 350) and former Adjunct Instructor – Madison Media Institute.
He has played and toured nationally with countless bands over 25 years, and migrated into web design and eCommerce platform engineering to support his company’s retail endeavors the past 5 years.

Mike (a stay-at-home-dad) owns and operates MusicMann Studios in Milwaukee, WI – a recording studio/retailer/production facility.

MusicMann Studios offers music production, artist development, pro audio retail, eCommerce project management, business development, website development, digital marketing strategy development, consultation, & technology training.

Board of Directors

Ann Rakowiecki

Board Member

Owner, The Marketing Kitchen, Milwaukee Ann spent the last 5 years of her career working in two industries that she loves: food and music. Both bring people together, are part of our social landscape and are central to our comforts and memories. She started the Marketing Kitchen to create custom marketing recipes for independent and locally owned restaurants and small businesses. Life Long Guitar Player – She’s a third generation professional musician. Her latest project involves writing with vocalist Jamie (Brace) Kellicut and drummer Greg Kellicut. Marketing Consultant & Doer, Budweiser Pavilion, West Allis Consultant & Doer, The HomeTown Foundation, West Bend – Ann is president of the HomeTown Foundation. To date, the HomeTown Foundation has given back over $10,000 to the community. Vice President, SheRocks Wisconsin, Milwaukee – Founded by Ronnie Nyles, SheRocks Wisconsin was a volunteer led organization with a focus to promote women in music.

Dave Dayler

Board Member

Being born to a concert pianist father, who was also a member of numerous civic concert bands; Dave was exposed to a life of live music, the arts, and “behind the scenes” production from car seat on. Graduating from Bay View HS the final year it was The High School of the Arts and going on to minor in Theater at UW Whitewater led Dave to finding a passion for production. Hired by a production company, Dave went “on the road” as both a lighting then sound tech for traveling local bands. For a decade Dave learned how bands and techs were treated by owners and management at different venues, and how it influenced everyone. In the early 90’s Dave’s full time career and family became a priority, and for several decades he did audio production for large churches. Dave’s financial advising career allowed him to eventually purchase a failing bar close to his Brookfield home, called Saloon on Calhoun. Dedicated to the pursuit of “doing live music right” Dave and his wife Jennine quickly built Saloon on Calhoun with Bacon into one of SE WI most known venues. Saloon attained 6 WAMI Awards over a 4 year span (4 for Live Music Venue and 2- People’s Choice Venue 2017-2020). Dave hopes he can take his knowledge and experience to help others any way he can.

Rick Hagopian

Board Member

Rick is a respected credit union executive with a proven history of leadership, growth, and success and a decades-long musician and band leader with a passion for developing creative projects and contributing to and supporting a healthy and vibrant music community. He currently plays drums with Kitty Soft Paw (KSP)and Boo! The Band

Phil Norby

Board Member

Phil Norby is an award-winning singer/songwriter and renowned cover artist from Milwaukee, WI. Phil’s previous band Ordinary Heathens won a Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Award for Best Americana Band. More recently Phil released his first solo album, Pollywog, which marries the Americana flavor of his previous original work with more of his Alternative Rock roots. As a cover artist Phil has been playing all over the country for more than a decade, particularly in the Midwest. His range spans from Classic Artists like The Beatles, The Eagles and Neil Young to Alternative Rock artists like Pearl Jam and Matchbox Twenty to a wide variety of Country and Blues.

Patrick Nettesheim

Board Member

Patrick is a music teacher, composer and performer and founder of Guitars For Vets.   Music credits include many films and numerous bands in which he played guitar, bass and piano with styles covering rock, jazz, country, ambient and techno.  

In 2007, Patrick co-founded Guitars for Vets (G4V), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Most funding comes from a mix of individual donors and sponsors. G4V has a small board of directors but most efforts happen at the local chapter level (140 Chapters and growing).  

Since inception, the vast majority of funds raised has gone directly into the mission. Patrick is credited with developing the G4V “four-way path” known as PAGE—Patience, Acceptance, Gratitude, Empathy.  

Patrick continues to compose and perform music in his band, Kharma Shotgun.  His vision for the future is to offer the G4V program to all wounded Veterans throughout the USA and beyond.

Joey Carini

Board Member

Numerous promotional skills after being in the music business for 30 years, social media skills, business development, customer service, 20 years in real estate, bona fide workaholic

Jimmy Schwarz

Board Member

Moved to WI from the Chicago burbs in the early 80s and graduated from Concordia where he studied voice with Marlys Grienke, founder of MKE Master Singers with whom he performed. After fronting rock bands in HS and College, Jimmy found the Blues at the Up & Under on Brady and soon after founded The Blues Disciples in 1990.He’s been a bandleader and sideman in primarily Blues and occasionally country and rock genres since. 3 years ago he founded a new major Blues Festival in the MKE area, as well as founding and getting funding for the new WI Blues Music Hall of Fame.

Chris Carpenter

Board Member

Retired operations executive in the wealth management industry (40+ yrs), entrepreneur, consultant, non-profit board member, treasurer and fundraiser, husband and father of 4 great kids, and a huge live music fan. Motivated by seeing organizations thrive and grow, fascinated by emerging technologies and passionate about finding ways to level the playing field for good people regardless of background. Currently living on the East side of Milwaukee within walking or biking distance of many live music venues.

Steve Brill

Board Member

Steve Brill resides in Cedarburg WI. At the age of 12, Stephanie Erin Brill, Steve and Susie’s daughter, was receiving praise and encouragement to perform and showcase her piano, vocal and songwriting skills at live events. The passion to support his daughter’s musical career has resulted in his participation as a volunteer with many music events throughout Metro Milwaukee and beyond. 

Many of those opportunities came through his volunteering with WAMI (Wisconsin Are Music Industry) starting in 2012. Steve along with Stephanie enjoyed participation with WAMI events that included WAMI Fast Pitch, WAMI Award Shows and The WAMI Youth Showcase @ Summerfest. Stephanie’s live gigs presented the opportunity for Steve to be a roadie and share backstage time on most of the stages throughout Metro Milwaukee and beyond. Steve has volunteered and had leadership roles in Music events for Cedarburg Festivals, Cedarburg Cultural Center, WAMI (Wisconsin Are Music Industry), Yellow Phone Music Conference, Cedarburg High School Jam 4 Charity, Cedarburg Summer Sounds, Mequon Public Market, Gathering on the Green, Guitars 4 Vets, Mile of Music, etc. In 2012 Steve accepted the leadership role in developing The Blueburg Cafe, Open Mic Night at the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

Steve will tell you he has no musical talent, just a desire to improve the music scene in Milwaukee, especially young talent seeking an outlet to perform live and improve their craft. Steve looks forward to being an active, approachable and passionate WAMI Board Member.

Gil Southwell

Board Member

Gil Southwell is a Wisconsin native, casual bass player and soundman, and business attorney with music industry experiences in various areas including artist representation/management, intellectual property, and contract reviews. Gil is an avid vinyl collector, worked at a local music store, attends lots of music shows and has many friends who are professional musicians. Gil has worked on projects for Cheap Trick (PA sale), The Rage (management contract), and Moxy Roxx (artist rights). Gil is also a member of Milwaukee Film and is on its Black Lens Counsel, Development Committee and Cultures & Communities Engagement Committee; and is active in supporting Milwaukee’s Children’s Outing Association (COA). Gil has recently helped fund a Black Lens documentary film project that profiles local string musicians for release in 2023.

Aaron Hopgood

Board Member

Hailing from Milwaukee, WI Aaron has a deep love and passion for the community. Graduating from Brown Deer High School then attending Columbia College Chicago has allowed Aaron to refine his skills within entertainment and curating nightlife events. Currently, he serves as a Stage Manager for Milwaukee World Festival managing stages at events such as Summerfest and Black Arts Festival. He also is the assistant nightlife manager at Promontory Chicago and Events Manager for No Studios MKE.

Geoff Landon

Board Member

For over 25 years, Geoff Landon has been performing and recording Country Music. WAMI Award winner and Company owner of Lone Wolf Entertainment WI (EST.1998) Most recent ventures include performing with Still Reckless and High Country. Hosting the Online Podcast “What Are We Talking About, Geoff?” and more Entrepreneurial outlets in music and media.

Advisory Panel

Peter Strand

Mr. Strand is a partner at the entertainment, media, and intellectual property law firm Mandell Menkes LLC in Chicago. 
He represents content creators and providers including authors, songwriters and composers, recording artists, musicians, television and film writers, independent record labels, music publishers, independent film producers and documentarians, and production companies in various transactional and litigation matters in the entertainment industry. 
In addition to contract preparation, analysis, and negotiation, he assists clients with protecting and enforcing their copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property rights; licensing or exploiting their creative works; acquiring and distributing content; and selecting, securing, and protecting product and service brand names. 
Peter has taught entertainment law and music law as an adjunct professor at numerous universities, among them Northwestern and Marquette law schools.
Peter is the Immediate past Chair of the ABA Forum on the Entertainment & Sports Industries. He has served in several leadership positions for the Chicago Chapter of the Recording Academy, including National Trustee, President, Vice President, and Chapter Governor. 
In 2015, Peter was named one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Illinois by Chicago Magazine. He has been also selected as: “Super Lawyer — Billboard Magazine’s 50 Attorneys of Note in the Music Business” in 2014; Entertainment Law-Music Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers Magazine in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2018; “Leading Lawyer” in Arts, Entertainment and Sports in Illinois from 2003 – 2018 and in its 2018 Top 10 list for Arts, Entertainment and Sports in Illinois; and an “Illinois Super Lawyer” 2007-2018. 
Peter also provides pro bono legal services to musicians, artists, and arts organizations through the Lawyers for the Creative Arts. In 2008, Peter received the Thomas R. Leavens Awards from the Lawyers for the Creative Arts for his distinguished service to the arts through LCA. 
Before becoming an attorney, Peter played and recorded as a full time touring musician with several bands including Yipes, who recorded two albums for RCA/Millennium Records and released its third album in December 2018. 
It should also be noted here that Pete’s band, Yipes, received the WAMI Hall Of Fame Award in 2013

Vic Thomas

Vic Thomas was born and raised in Milwaukee. Attended University School of Milwaukee for high school. Started working at Summerfest to earn money for college. Graduated from Oberlin College in 1978. Spent four years in the USAF in Los Angeles as a 1st Lieutenant. After the Air Force, Vic worked as a salesman for various companies including Abbott Laboratories. Returned to Milwaukee in 1986, and was named the Assistant Entertainment Director for Summerfest on a seasonal basis. Hired to full time position in January 1991.  Summerfest is an annual 11-day entertainment event, one of the three largest in the United States. He is responsible for contract and negotiations with artist staff and management; booking of acts; plans, procedures and coordination of entertainment staff.  

John Ertl

John was an integral and credible part of the midwest music industry for 50+ years. He has served in various capacities from agent to manager to producer to talent buyer to festival/ special events  consultant, also a former WAMI president and member of the WAMI founders club.

Dave Willems

Dave Willems is founder and executive chair of Willems Marketing & Events, Inc., the Appleton-based community marketing and event experience firm that created and launched Mile of Music in 2013. Dave is creator, co-founder and overall experience curator for the festival that celebrates original music and artistry and features 200+ acts performing hundreds of music sets at dozens of venues over four days in August in Appleton. He is also owner/experience curator at Gibson Community Music Hall, Appleton’s only music club fully dedicated to hosting performances from around the corner as well as around the country.

Roy Elkins

Roy Elkins is a well-known music technology entrepreneur who has been leading industry innovations for nearly thirty years. Elkins is the Founder and CEO of Broadjam Inc., serving independent musicians and industry giants such as The Academy of Country Music, Warner/Chappell, The TEC Awards and many others. Broadjam.com, the company’s popular independent web site now hosts over 170,000 artists and 700,000 songs. The site is known for its musician-friendly services, including a very popular social network and musician services.

Before founding Broadjam, Elkins was the VP-Sales & Marketing for Sonic Foundry, and held several Director level positions with Ensoniq Corporation including Training and Artist Relations. He worked at Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center and began his career at Amro Music in Memphis, Tn. He maintains a database of over 5,000 music industry contacts including artists and executives at virtually every company in the music industry. 

His mission is to help songwriters and musicians through his company and the numerous charities he is involved with. He is the Chairman of the Madison Area Music Association whose mission is to put instruments in kids hands. Other boards include the Milwaukee Area Technical College Music School, The Madison and Minneapolis Media Institutes, research committee of the Arts Board of Wisconsin and a former board member of the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music. He is an active advisory board member of the The MIDI Association which promotes the advancement and use of MIDI. He is a charter member of Merlin Mentors which helps entrepreneurs in the Madison area launch new ventures and continues to privately volunteer and help numerous entrepreneurs and musicians with their companies and careers. 

Roy has lectured at many colleges, organizations and events around the world about entrepreneurship, making a living in the music industry and simple strategies to cope with the day-to-day challenges of being a musician and running a business. He is a musician and songwriter who thoroughly understands and enjoys the musician’s world.

Danny Miller

Danny Miller attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he received degrees in Management of Computer Science and Marketing. As an advisor he brings a compilation of skills developed through his experiences in the music industry as well as 24 years of consulting experience for global 1000 organizations. 

Miller is currently the managing partner at Songsmith Records where artists are developed and mentored by seasoned professionals in a creative environment while bring their original music to international markets.

From 1982 to 1991 Miller was the band leader and lead guitarist for the regional band London USA . London USA released two EP’s, the second produced by Billy Dickens, as well as a number of singles one which appeared on WQFM Hometown Album Project III. London USA had an extensive national tour schedule of 280+ dates per year and was a mainstay in the college market. London USA was selected to showcase at five regional and one national NACA showcase while being nominated by college advisors in 1990 for the Best Contemporary Artist (national award). Along with performing at the WAMI after party in 1987, London USA received multiple WAMI awards during their tenure. In 1989 Danny signed an endorsement deal with Axtra Guitars. Following the disbandment of London USA In 1991, Danny played lead guitar for Arista recording artist Keedy.

In 1990 Danny created the artist development and booking agency Ultimate Entertainment. In late 1991 he joined Total Entertainment Concepts as President.

From 1999 to 2020, Miller worked as a business development and strategy professional for global consulting firms including IBM, Mercer and Towers Perrin. He placed consulting teams with global 1000 organizations to deliver services including strategy, business process innovation, change management and back office integration.. Danny has extensive experience in public speaking, managing large teams, mentoring constituents and vendor/partner management.

Amy Books

Amy has been working at WAMI events since 2008. She serves as an active member on the WAMI Awards Show committee. 
Amy manages the registration area at the WAMI Awards Show.


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