They call it the Mile of Music, though Walt Hamburger will play the musician’s equivalent of an ultra-marathon in upcoming days.
Enjoy his voice, because by this time next week, he’s not likely to have one.
The Fox Valley singer-songwriter probably has more Mile of Music shows to his name than any other on the festival’s long roster. And he’s prepared once again to endure a fuller festival than most because all the good that’s come from it.
“I realized that I had a platform,” he said.
It’s been a busy, yet satisfying year for Walt Hamburger as he digs in for the most intense few days on his calendar.
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Musicians have praised Mile of Music as a place to connect and to hear from a wide variety of other artists.
It isn’t Walt’s experience; not with 11 shows scheduled over four days.
It’s demanding. It’s exhausting.
“I hate it,” he said, “and be sure to write that.”
Though he soon later clarified, “I’m thankful they want me to do it.”
Walt began a collection for animal rescues while playing during Mile 3. Each year, he’s surpassed goals and he’s since formed the nonprofit Walt Hamburger Foundation as a means to distribute donations.
Last year’s Mile shows raised $5,000 for the foundation.
“The math doesn’t add up,” Hamburger said when thinking audience sizes and final tallies. He’s curious to see if fans and businesses providing matching grants will continue the upward trajectory.
In addition to providing financial assistance for rescues, the foundation has donated to Appleton’s Renaissance School for the Arts and provided musical instruments to the Pillars adult shelter.
The foundation has been gratifying. And so too has his music journey.
There was no break before the Mile. He began a local tour last week with fellow One Week recording artist Seth Anderson.
Walt spent plenty of time this year spreading his music far beyond the Fox Valley.
He had a European tour in spring and soon thereafter played the punk music Pouzza Fest in Montreal. He’s embarking on a Canadian tour in September.
The gigs abroad are special. He said it’s validating to go across the world to hear audience members singing along with his songs.
And as he heads in for a long mile ahead, he doesn’t it for granted.
“I’m happy,” he said, “and I’m fortunate to be able to do it.”