Westby Area Performing Arts Center
Singer/Songwriters - Humbird, Shane Leonard, Simon Balto

Simon Balto

Most people mention the voice first. It comes from deep within. Sounds like it means what it says. Then come the lyrics and the stories -- ones about workers and lovers, mothers and sons, the dying and mourning, the prideful and the abused. Ones about the Midwest and the beauty and difficulty that characterizes life around here. There is a humanity in the songs that recalls the work of some of the folk tradition's finest architects.

The songs linger. Exhale. Persist.

 Simon Balto's work has garnered praise from critics both local, regional, national, and international.  The Irish music publication Deadly Music! has compared his songwriting to top-of-his-game, Blood on the Tracks­-era Dylan. The Chicago-based music curator Music Means Family said the following: "An unbelievable talent, his layered folk ballads are reminiscent of Baez and Dylan, Guthrie and Prine. There is a deeply satisfying componentto each of his songs – a reminder of home, woodsmoke, and the first traces of your breath as winter begins to settle."

Shane Leonard:

Producer, all-purpose studio musician and songwriter Shane Leonard grew up playing jazz with musicians generations older than him, dropped out of music school to become a high school teacher, and left that to study fiddle and banjo with Appalachian elders. Hailing from Eau Claire, WI, he can usually be found in a studio there, hunched over a piano or a notebook, magnetizing a production team that has attracted national artists such as Anna Tivel, Kristin Andreassen (Uncle Earl), Sean Rowe and others to record new sounds in the snowy north. Shane Leonard's forthcoming solo album, Strange Forms, will be released early next year.


Combining a wintry longing with the warmth of a familiar folktale, Humbird stretches between experimental folk and environmental Americana to embrace the unexpected. This music invites a refreshing dissonance into the house, it leaves breadcrumbs along the path and reflects light back at the stars.