Water Street Jacks is an Americana band out of Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin. Educators by day, the band grew out of getting together to play for students at a staff variety show at Sauk Prairie Middle School where Ted Harter (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) is the principal and Hans Fester (drums, harmonica, vocals) is a Physical Education Teacher. Along the way Ted and Hans picked up two Sauk Prairie High School staff members: Vocal Music Teacher, Matt Brennan (keys, vocals) and School Counselor, Owen Murphy (mandolin, vocals). They formed The Jacks and began to play in earnest in 2016 for local events and at their home pub, The Woodshed Ale House.
All of the members have strong musical backgrounds. Harter grew up playing trombone, singing and acting at Wabeno High School and milking cows to late 80’s/early 90’s country on the radio in his family’s dairy barn. Fester was a drummer and front man in punk bands in the late 80’s like Drop Forge and Skip Tracer out of Milwaukee. Murphy formed the bluegrass group Old Farm Dog with a lifelong friend a few years ago which was recognized in 2015 as Madison Area Music Awards Country/Bluegrass Performer of the Year. And Brennan, a Sauk Prairie native, studied music at Drake University and has taken over a storied and renowned music program as the Vocal Music Teacher at Sauk Prairie High School; his musicals, show choirs and vocal soloists routinely win competitions across Southern Wisconsin as well as in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. While their musical roots are different, they share a love for the folk, Americana, and alt-country music that has a foundation laid by artists like John Prine, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen and has recently made a resurgence thanks to groups like Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers, The Head and the Heart, and Old Crow Medicine Show.
Since 2016, the band has collaborated to write and play over a dozen original songs along with the covers they play. River and Someday (Fester), Where to Stay and Heart of the Wilderness (Harter), and Step Out on the Stage and Adalie (Murphy) all pull together the musical backgrounds, tastes, and life experiences of this fun group of guys. Recently they changed the bands name to Water Street Jacks to reflect its beginnings at The Woodshed, everyone’s favorite corner pub on Jackson and Water in Sauk City.
Water Street Jacks prides itself on killer four-part harmonies, devilish good looks, and the only Mando-Strat this side of Nashville! They can be seen all around the Madison area at venues like Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills, Yahara Bay Distillers in Fitchburg, Concert at the Portage in Portage, and at the Vintage Brewing Company and the Fire on the River festival in Sauk City. And of course, they are very proud to headline WAM Fest right here in Wabeno, WI on August 1, 2020.