Brave Voices Kmetz Benefit Concerts

Poster for May 2nd Concert (please help by printing and posting the poster!)

April 21, 2004
Contact: Elizabeth Fine [000-000-0000]; Alan Ng, 608-255-3996,
Web site:

Public can support free-speech fighter at benefit concert

A joyful night of vocal music at the Harmony Bar and Grill, 2201 Atwood Avenue, Madison, on Sunday, May 2 at 6 pm, will raise money for folk musician and historian turned free-speech fighter, Debbie Kmetz.

Performing first will be Roxanne Neat, a popular performer at folk clubs and festivals throughout the Midwest. Her expressive voice catches you in your heart and draws back audiences year after year. Roxanne specializes in traditional and contemporary folk songs and ballads, accompanying herself on guitar.

Next will be Celtic quartet Navan, a "hot, young a cappella group" according to the Boston Herald. The singers' bell-like, almost "elven" sound; their use of all five living Celtic languages; and their penchant for digging up forgotten lyrics to fit with surviving tunes from the same culture have earned performance invitations from as far away as Boston and Ireland. Clips of Navan can be sampled at

Other acts may be added closer to the date.

Debbie Kmetz has been active in the Madison folk community for many years – including as a founding member of Tri Bratovchedki and Wild Hog in the Woods coffeehouse. She was a long-time employee of the State Historical Society where she passionately assisted communities around the state in preserving and sharing their local history.

Kmetz was laid off from the Historical Society in 2002. She believes it was because she publicly questioned the administration about a proposed institutional name change. Retaliating against a state employee for speaking out on issues of public concern is a violation of constitutional free-speech protections.

Kmetz fought a legal battle to win back her position, spending thousands of dollars to cover court costs. Law firm Garvey & Stoddard represented Kmetz in the case, which Kmetz ultimately lost.

Suggested donation for admission to the May 2 concert is $15. All proceeds will help reimburse Kmetz for the substantial court fees. The benefit concert was arranged by friends who were outraged at the outcome of her trial.