Summerfest musicians stay strong for 11 days of performing

MILWAUKEE — The extreme heat may have kept some from the fun of Summerfest this year, or maybe had some fest-goers adjusting their plans. But for Summerfest’s musicians, playing the Big Gig is something they’ll do every day, for all 11 days of the fest, despite the unrelenting heat.

Coventry Jones and his friends say they’ve had to tune their instruments a lot more due to the heat, and also, change the strings on their guitars.

“We’ve broken a record number of strings out here. That first day, a lot went. We lost three or four strings in a day,” Jones said.

The musicians say the humidity and temperature can throw the instruments out of tune a bit so adjustments have to be made frequently.

Another downfall to playing the Big Gig — The sun!

“It’s always like, the audience is in the shade, and we’re in the sun pretty much every time, but we’ll always be here playing — rain, shine, heat, whatever it may be,” Jones said.

One musician pounding the drums in 100-degree heat said he doesn’t let the elements phase him.

“I’m not feeling it man. The fun, the joy, the music — the heat doesn’t exist for me,” Ndongo Diop said.

Diop shares traditional African music on the Summerfest grounds and says he just feels lucky for the opportunity.

“You’re having too much fun. You forget about the pain and stuff,” Diop said.

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