Madison-based group 5th Gear, whose members include Sun Prairie native Michael Rortvedt, Sun Prairie High School Class of 2005, swept the 96.3 Star Country Awards on Nov. 20, 2012, winning awards in each of the four categories the band was nominated in. Awards included Favorite Local Live Performance, Favorite Entertainer, Favorite Local Group and band member Tim Thielbar as Favorite Male Vocalist.
Fellow nominees included Madison bands Gypsy Holler, Madison County, Mighty Short Bus and Shotgun Jane.
“The bands that we were nominated with are bands that have been in the Madison area for years, they are very well-known and very talented groups, so we were just as surprised as everyone else I think that we won,” Rortvedt said.
Rortvedt said the other band members and he thought after the first award, that was going to be it, and were surprised to be declared winners three more times.
“After the fourth one we were just dumbfounded that we won an award in every category we were nominated for, and we just felt that is going to open up a lot of doors for us,” Rortvedt said. “With 96.3, they put on a lot of concerts, so having an in with them is going to be pretty big.”
The contest was entirely listener based, with members of the public submitting band nominations during the first round of the contest, and then voting for their favorite group in each of the categories during the voting phase.
“We are very grateful to our fans,” Rortvedt said. “It was fan voting that gave us the awards, so we appreciated all the support from family and friends.”
Although 5th Gear has not been around for very long – the five band members came together in January of this year – they have carved a name for themselves in Dane County. The group performed at Brat Fest in Madison this year, and has made appearances at Cardinal’s Nest in Sun Prairie; Club Tavern in Middleton; and at a number of Poynette locations, including Hooker’s Resort, Lakeside Bar and Grill, Remi’s Thirsty Moose and at the Poynette Street Dance. Most recently, 5th Gear performed at the VFW Post 7591 on Cottage Grove Road in Madison for a Toys for Tots benefit, Rortvedt said.
5th Gear will be returning to Sun Prairie to play at Cardinal’s Nest on Saturday, Dec. 15, beginning at 9 p.m. The group draws inspiration from country artists Luke Bryan and Keith Urban when performing.
“We all have different backgrounds in music, so we all bring something different to the band,” Rortvedt said. “Together we make a pretty unique sound.”
5th Gear will also be opening for Toby Keith and Easton Corbin at Country USA in Oshkosh on Friday, June 28, 2013.