Over 300 tickets have already been sold to the Maggie Mae Concert being held on April 18, 2015 to honor Rod “Peanuts” Esser. In addition, nearly 20 area businesses have also agreed to sponsor the event, including Madison Community Foundation, Wagner Insurance, St. Francis Xavier School, Main Street Lanes, Sauk Plains Plumbing, Crossroads Coffeehouse, Century 21, All-American Liquor, Hellenbrand Water Center, TA Miller Electric, Lawns Unlimited, Plastic Ingenuity, Kalscheur Implement, Cross Plains Motors, Tax Solutions. and True Value Hardware in Cross Plains.
“I am bringing my good friend Maggie Mae to our PAC for an evening of wonderful music and showmanship,” Esser told staff. “It’s part of my celebration of gratefulness for working more than 50 years as custodian at Park School.”
The concert to honor Esser will be held at the Middleton Performing Arts Center on Saturday, April 18, and proceeds will benefit the MCPASD Education Foundation. Esser has seen Mae perform in person more than a dozen times, including throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and even in Branson, Missouri. He plans to see her again on December 7, just a few days before his 75th birthday.
“I am honored and humbled that everyone is making such a fuss over this,’’ said Esser, who for most of his time with the District has worked as the custodian at Park Elementary in Cross Plains. “I love Maggie’s concerts. Everyone who comes will have a great time. She provides good, wholesome entertainment.’’
Tickets for the show, which begins at 7 p.m., are $26 for orchestra seating and $21 for mezzanine seating. All seats are reserved. More than 200 seats have already been sold. Tickets can be purchased through the Brown Paper Tickets website or by calling 1-800-838-3006. The PAC has more than 550 orchestra seats and nearly 350 mezzanine seats.
The Lions Club of Cross Plains, the Cross Plains Optimist Club, the Park PTO and St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church will sell food, beverages and dessert before the concert. The PAC will open at 5 p.m. and Mae and Esser will be available to meet with people before and after the show. A short tribute to Esser will begin at 6:45 p.m.
Mae, a home-grown talented country singer and Nashville recording artist from Oxford, Wisconsin, has become one of the biggest Midwestern names in pure country music. She is a favorite performer on RFD TV’s “Midwest Country Show” on Saturday nights, which has made her a familiar face in millions of homes across the country. She also makes appearances on The Virginia Dreams Center Stage Show and the Shotgun Red Variety Show on RFD TV.
In 2012 her gospel album “Walking in the Son’s Light” received a Grammy nomination. She has recorded seven albums and has sang with such greats as The Riders in the Sky and recorded a duet with country great Doug Stone as well as opened up shows for many artists. In 2011 Maggie’s album “Cooking Up Country’’ won the Rural Roots Music Commissions pick for Contemporary Country CD of the Year Award.
She is accompanied by the Heartland Country Band, which includes Eric Nofsinger (fiddle), Steve Nelson (lead guitar), James Lau (bass), Ray Chambers (drums), Loren Nelson (steel guitar) and Stuart Thayer (piano).
Mae and her husband, Roger Hilliard, own and operate Maggie Mae’s Café in Oxford. She regularly performs the “Maggie Mae Barn Dance/Dinner Shows” that are held on her farm in Oxford, too.
“Every day there are so many folks that travel from states and cities away to my café in Oxford or attend some of my other shows across the state,’’ she said. “I love seeing the smiles on fans’ faces.”