The original members who performed on the album Cardboard Box, Bill Camplin, Bob Mueller, Jamie Sheldon, Robert Knetzger, and Jason Klagstad, reunited at Ebbott’s Barn on August 14 for a private concert that celebrated their 40 year legacy of friendship and music.

Bill Camplin is arguably the father of the Wisconsin folk scene as well as mentor to scores of young singers, songwriters, and music artists coming up through the ranks. Camplin’s live music club, Cafe Carpe, is located in Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin. Artists such as Peter Mulvey, Willy Porter, Paul Cebar and others call the venue home. Camplin has an extensive discography spanning the past 40 years, with several new releases in the works for the future.


In 1974, a group of young Milwaukee musicians accompanied Bill Camplin to Minneapolis to record a live record at the Sound 80 studio. From those sessions emerged the album Cardboard Box. After the album was released, the members who performed each went their separate ways with careers and raising families. Yet all of them continued to play music wherever they wound up. And all remembered capturing that moment in time with Bill at Sound 80 Studios.

This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the making of his landmark album, CardBoard Box, and bringing together the original musicians for a handful of live performances in conjunction with a new live album called Reunion. Reunion is an album of all new material recorded at the 150 year old Ebbott’s Barn, just outside of Milwaukee in Jefferson County. The songs celebrate the deep bonds and connections that brought the members together originally in 1974.

“I am so used to playing alone, having an inner feel for the way things are. Somebody else can’t jump inside my brain. And when I perform with a group, they’re trying to figure things out from their perspective. So what we are kind of doing is making sausage. But I think we’ve sounded better this week than we ever did 40 years ago. It has been a great exercise in rehearsing with people, hanging with them, working together, and just developing. I think we all agree it’s like a one week vacation from other parts of our life. And it’s all built around music.” – Bill Camplin

Milwaukee Independent: If you could send a message back 40 years to your younger self, what would you say?

Bill Camplin: Practice, with the idea of using the familiarity you have with the unfamiliar. To some degree the music I wrote was like a note in a bottle. I didn’t know what shore it would wash-up on, didn’t know when. Yet even a song I wrote in 1974, when we played it this week, still feels totally fresh. Part of my purpose was I wanted to write something that I would be able to sing when I got old, if I lived long enough. I had a long range vision, to write with a perspective that doesn’t have a freshness date on it.

“In music there is sort of an olfactory sense that happens inside of your ear, and its a thing that happens that brings back memories from the distant past. And so playing with Bill and the others, it’s 40 years of memories that come back to me.” – Jason Klagstad

Milwaukee Independent: If you could send a message back 40 years to your younger self, what would you say?

Jason Klagstad: Accept what you are. Accept your voice in music, and strengthen that voice. Trust your instincts. When I was 7 years old and heard the sound of steel guitar on my father’s radio, I instantly knew that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. And to have that vision from a very young age, this is what I am going to be and nothing else. I felt different from the other kids because I wanted to practice in my room all day. That influenced all the choices I made in the rest of your life, the girlfriends I choose, the sports I don’t do, and how that pays off in my professional and personal life. Especially the people that get left behind because I wanted to be in music.

“I’ve been a base player since 6th grade. Its my creative outlet. It keeps me sane, and my best friends are all throughout music. Its a huge part of my life. So getting together with these guys is just unreal. The friends you make back then are really important, and when you add music to that, it brings a lot of depth to the relationship. You are making art and merging your intimate thoughts with these people. So it is a huge thing to get back together and really wonderful.” – Jamie Sheldon

Milwaukee Independent: If you could send a message back 40 years to your younger self, what would you say?

Jamie Sheldon: Do what you love and think about the people you are with. Treasure them. Not all the guys I was with back then are still around. And those relationships really become the most valuable thing in your life.

“To me, music is secondary to the beat inside of it. When I hear music I listen more for the percussion. I could not give the lyrics of a song to save my life, because I just want to hear the melody and what’s driving it. That’s music to me.” – Bob Mueller

Milwaukee Independent: If you could send a message back 40 years to your younger self, what would you say?

Bob Mueller: Take drum lessons. I took what I listened to and learned from them. But when I look back, I picked up bad habits over the years and its hard to shed those. So I wish I had focused on getting some proper music lessons.

“I love that music is a creative thing that you can do with other people. I’m a designer and an artist, which is a lot of time working solo on a visual project. But music is great way to do something together. For me, it’s not so much about the audience but the fellow players, and the process of creating the music. So I have as much fun in a rehearsal as I would in a big show.” – Robert Knetzger

Milwaukee Independent: If you could send a message back 40 years to your younger self, what would you say?

Robert Knetzger: Stay connected to music and things emotionally. When you are younger, you don’t have the perspective to know what that moment is going to mean, and what it’s going to mean as you are performing it. Just saver spending time together as a band and pay more attention to it. Also, to buy a better guitar, because I’m playing the same guitar with now that I had back then.”


Bill Camplin (songs, guitar, vocals)

Bob Mueller (drums) an original member of “Woodbine” has spent part of the following years playing with Jim Liban, Steve Cohen and others.

Jamie Sheldon (bass) continues to perform with a band in the Boston area noted for their homage to Steely Dan.

Robert Knetzger (steel guitar, dobro) now in Seattle, continues to play with various country and blues bands in the Northwest.

Jason Klagstad (guitars, vocals) has been an integral part of the Milwaukee music scene and has played on many occasions with Bill over the past 40 years.


Chris Hanson and Mike Hoffmann (producer/engineers of Reunion at Ebbott’s Barn)

John Ebbott (owner of Ebbott’s Barn)

“I’m glad that I grew up as a farm boy. And also glad I’m not farming now. I feel good about growing up that way. Which is funny, because at the time all I could think about was getting out of here and going to the University of Wisconsin. Then when I got a career that kept me in the office, all I could think about was getting back out on the farm.” – John Ebbott