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

President

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

Secretary

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.

Dave Dayler

Treasurer

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.

Board of Directors

Jim Collar

Board Member

A journalist and copywriter, Jim has more than 20 years of experience in news and communications. He currently works as a content strategist and writer in the marketing realm after a long tenure across two daily newspapers. As an avid fan of local music, Jim has used his writing skills as an opportunity to participate and give back. He serves as the communications director for Kaukauna’s Electric City Experience music festival. He also writes a music column for Appleton Monthly magazine and copy-edits the publication.

Jesse Daily

Board Member

Jesse was born & Raised in Boise, Idaho and moved to Milwaukee in 1997 to attend MSOE. He worked for Harley-Davidson & Accenture and Started CORE Consulting – Engineering Services Firm specializing in Recruitment, Product Design & Rapid Prototyping.

Started the Thiensville Farmers Market in 2012. Opened “the cheel” in 2014. Opened “the baaree” in 2017. Opened “Daily Taco & Cantina” in 2020. Board Member: Thiensville Business Association. Founder/Director/Volunteer – Thiensville Village Market. Founder/Director/Volunteer – Best Dam Blues Festival. Proud Father & Husband

“No matter what walk of life you come from, I believe that living a fulfilling life is one of the most important life lessons that anyone can ever learn.”

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.

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.

Danny Faustmann

Board Member

Danny is a rock and metal guitarist from Southeast Wisconsin. His blend of styles has been likened to Buckethead. Danny’s other influences include Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, who along with being monstrous musicians, are also fantastic teachers.  Danny owns and operates a guitar instruction studio in Waukesha, WI called Guitar for Life Studio, specializing in rock and metal, The studio is expanding rapidly and Daniel recently added another teacher.

Brian J Harrison

Board Member

Partner at Bananas Entertainment in the Fox Valley, Talent Agent and performer who has spent decades working in entertainment and sales related industries. Brian is a graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton and hopes to use his sales and industry experiences to help identify and grow opportunities for musicians in Wisconsin to share their talents.

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.

Advisory Panel

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.

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.  

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