Breakthrough Madison band Wurk works it

Wurk will perform at Brat Fest
Breakthrough Madison band Wurk works it
Shatter Imagery

The Mount Horeb-based funk fusion band Wurk squeaked into the 2018 Madison Area Music Association Breakthrough Artist Competition last December at the High Noon Saloon and then won it by a nose.

The hardworking seven-piece band has three self-released albums and booked more than 60 gigs last year. But because the band formed in December 2015 – just shy of three years before MAMA’s battle of the bands took place – Wurk qualified for the breakthrough honor.

“We were just barely young enough,” Wurk guitarist and band leader Frank Laufenberg says.

But the band’s tight 15-minute set – drawing on a wealth of material and experience as improvisational performers – impressed the judges. Laufenberg says the competition was a challenge for Wurk because it’s largely a jam band, able to sustain three-plus-hour shows favoring rock, reggae or psychedelic music, depending on what best suits the occasion.

“We strive to make everything feel groovy, even if it’s in a weird time signature,” he says. “And it’s all relatively danceable, I would say. It depends on your dancing skills.”

For winning the breakthrough artist title, Wurk gets to perform at Brat Fest at Alliant Energy Center in late May and the annual MAMA Awards Show on June 9 at the Overture Center for the Arts – where Wurk may be up for other awards.

Madison folk band The North Code placed a close second in the breakthrough artist competition and won a chance to play at the third annual Between the Waves Conference and Festival this summer.
To hear both bands’ music, check out and The North Code on