5 writers, 5 questions, 1 band influential Chicagoan, hand-picked by MWA. Welcome to FIVE x FIVE. This week: promoter, music-man, and Dunn Dunn Fest founder, Donnie Biggins.


What was your catalyst to start Dunn Dunn Fest? Did you see a gap in Chicago’s festival scene or did you just want to add your own touch to it? by Eric Slager.

The reason I started Dunn Dunn Fest was to feature and highlight the bands and music that I tend to cater towards through out the year. I book all types of genres, but there are some specific types that I really enjoy. I do see a gap of roots music in most festivals here in Chicago (besides Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival). We normally don’t see roots acts play big festivals until they are too big to play the small clubs in Chicago. Most of the bands playing Dunn Dunn this year are bands that I have been working with for a few years in Chicago, watching them start from no draw to building them in the Chicago music scene over time. It is probably the main reason I love booking touring and local bands. I truly enjoy watching them grow and watching people catch on to how talented and fun they really are.

What goals would you say that Dunn Dunn Fest is out to accomplish this year versus last year? by Patrick David.

One goal that every talent buyer has is to sell out every show. Why not? I think every bill this year is strong enough, and appropriately placed in each venue, to reach its capacity. So far, things are looking that way so I am excited to see what happens. Another goal is to gain overall public interest. I already know that my friends and I will have a great time at each show. I just want to witness everyone in the audience enjoying themselves and discovering new bands to follow and listen to.

This is Dunn Dunn Fest’s second year – what about last year was so inspiring that prompted you to do it all over again? by Alyssa Welch.

After the inaugural Dunn Dunn Fest, I was ready to book the next one. Literally the next week I was already emailing out to booking agents about playing next year. So I guess you could say I was inspired by the success of the first fest.

Where do you see Dunn Dunn Fest in the future? Will it get bigger and better and expand into something along the lines of Chicago’s outdoor festivals or do you prefer the more intimate gatherings at local venues? by Dan Jarvis.

I don’t necessarily need the festival to go into larger capacity venues than it already does. I also enjoy putting together something for people to do at the end of February. There are way too many street festivals in Chicago right now. If all goes well, my next step will be to book more shows on each day in the same venues. I am open to adding more small venues as well. Ideally, I want people to purchase the 3-Day passes so they have access to all of the shows. I want them to see and hear all of the bands. Plus, they save $5 on each show by getting a pass.

What would be one piece of advice for a first timer at Dunn Dunn Fest? Any tips or secrets we should be in on? by Dan Fiorio.

My advice would be to try and go to each show to take in the variety of music and experience how great each act is. I also hear music festivals are great places to meet future lovers.

Are there any bands you would say to be on the lookout for that might surprise us? (i.e. awesome new sound or a live stage presence we wouldn’t want to miss?) by Patrick David.

I need to say that every band will surprise you, or someone might send me a text message asking why I didn’t say them…. BUT, for each night I will highlight a specific band:

Thursday – Chicago Farmer. Cody is one of the best songwriters in America today and his story telling/stage presence is one of the best I’ve witnessed.

Friday – Safe Haven at Beat Kitchen. Patrick Lyons is one of the best guitar players in Chicago. He plays in many bands (slide/lead) and I find it very difficult to not fall in love with the band right away. Also on Friday, Michele McGuire will kick off The Hideout and is celebrating the release of a new EP. I’ve been working with the band for 3 years now. Michele has one of the best voices in the midwest.

Saturday – Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. I booked this band on accident 3 years ago thinking they were a local band. When they arrived they informed me that they were from Nashville. They have been some of my best friends ever since. They have a new record that only a few people have heard. I’m excited for Chicago to hear it on Saturday.

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