- Big-name country bands travel to Rhinelander from far away for Hodag Country Fest.
But one local band doesn't have to travel far at all for their Hodag debut.
Take a little punk, some bluegrass, and a whole lot of country and you get the Ditchrunners.
"We like to call it 'Honkey-tonk Guttergrass.' But people say it's kind of punk-countryish, whatever it is. It's our own original thing. We're not trying to be like anybody else we're just doing what we do," says Douglas Bredlau, The Ditchrunners' lead singer.
The Stevens Point band came in first place at one of several Hodag Pick-Off competitions in Wisconsin.
Now they get to play on the main stage of Hodag Country Fest.
"It's a real trip because I know what a big deal it is. I know what a huge event it is in Rhinelander. And I'm going to have a bunch of friends that are going to be there that have been going to Hodag for years, and I'm just really excited to get the chance to play for the hometown crowd," adds Bob Weigandt, The Ditchrunners' mandolin player.
Weigandt grew up in Rhinelander.
Ditchrunner's founder Douglas "Buckshot" Bredlau grew up in Park Falls.
Their debut at Hodag Country Fest will also be a competition.
Bands that won regional Hodag Pick-Offs will compete for the title of Wisconsin State Country Band Champion.
"We are rooted in the tradition of country music and we're kind of trying to bring that back a little bit in the world of pop country I guess," says Bredlau.
When The Ditchrunners perform at Hodag Fest on Friday they'll also pre-release their new full-length album.
"Squirrel Lake up by Minocqua, we spent three days out on an island just recording all day, every day for three straight days," says Alex Dalnodar, The Ditchrunners' guitarist.
It's the band's first album with a record label.
You'll be able to buy it July 16th, the same day they perform at the Rhinelander Ice Arena with Buckcherry.
"It's actually a great family and I love these guys more than anybody. It's been a real good time and it's going to get a lot better. I know that," Bredlau says.
Story By: Lauren Stephenson