Often compared to Lucinda Williams and Nikki Lane, Wonky Tonk travels the country wonkin' up dive bars, wineries, zoos and festivals alike.
Imbibed with a distinctly Midwestern warmth, Valerie Lighthart is a chirpy folk-pop songstress that tempers bright melodies with a sense of something a few shades darker -punctuations of melancholy and private moments of intimate vulnerability.
She hails from the rolling hills, bright pastures, roving rivers, and thick forests of the country outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her love of music is carried from an early age, so ardent that she would put on weekly performances for her entire first grade class. Discovering hints of folk music at a young age while simultaneously enjoying classic 50’s and 60’s pop, she now weaves a unique balance between the two contrasting sounds. After developing a deep and rich interest in classical poetry as a teenager, she combines pop elements and gentle storytelling. This culminates in something all at once youthful and timeless.
After building up a portfolio of acoustic songs, she began working with electronic duo Immortal Girlfriend after starring in their music video for the song “Daybreak.” Here, she began to develop technical knowledge and experiment with new sounds. This meeting between folk and electronica developed “I’ll Be Damned,” a song which quickly picked up traction with attention from Milwaukee Record and radio play from 88.9 Radio Milwaukee.
The circulation of “I’ll Be Damned” brought the attention of N43 Records, a local independent label attached to Attention Era, an esteemed production company. Here she collaborated with producers Timothy Wolf and Steven Pitzl, and “Mean To Me” was born, a pop celebration of the raw parts of heartbreak.
November 30th, 2018, Valerie in collaboration with N43 released her debut EP ‘V.A.L.,’ a lighthearted romp and simultaneous celebration and defamation of love and transformation.
Next on the docket are two projects currently in development. First, the Places EP, a springtime call for adventure and joy consisting of songs centered around her travels. The spirit of it will be a harkening back to simpler times as well as an exuberant march towards exploration.
Second is her debut full-length album, releasing fall of 2019. By Moonlight is a dark, cinematic folk recreation of the roles women have played in history that have caused them to be condemned, vilified, and worshipped. A concept album, it follows the journey of a single character painted throughout the landscape of history as she evolves from an effervescent but ephemeral goddess, to an isolated and mysterious witch, to a dreaded and dangerous banshee.
Experience a modern revival of the Southern Delta Blues sound. A Milwaukee three-piece, Bootleg Bessie pays tribute to American Roots Rock with their high energy original compositions and explores artists who helped influence the Classic Rock sound with re-invented covers.