Red Hot Horn Dawgs

Madison's Party Band


It’s Party time!


We’ll be celebrating our 20th Anniversary on

Saturday, June 15th

@ HODY BAR AND GRILL in Middleton (Venue Change from the brewery). It’ll be an all day party with four different bands. Hope to see you there!


  • 12pm - Gypsy Moths

  • 1pm - Dawg Bones

  • 2pm - Evan Riley Band

  • 3-6pm - Red Hot Horn Dawgs,

Check out the full RHHD timeline to see all the band members over the years and who played what instrument and when!

Check out the full RHHD timeline to see all the band members over the years and who played what instrument and when!


Full Press Release:

***Venue Change from Wisconsin Brewery to HODY BAR AND GRILL***

Local Band Celebrates 20 Years

Twenty years is more than a lifetime in dog years. It has been the time of their lives for The Red Hot Horn Dawgs. They’ve been cranking out “party music” for the last two decades. They are headlining an all day music event to celebrate on Saturday, June 15 in the Backyard at Wisconsin Brewing Company.

The Horn Dawgs have played bars, beer gardens, beer tents, festivals, countless weddings and company parties since their formation in late 1999.

“It doesn’t seem like twenty years, that’s for sure,” says original member Carl Gitchel. “But as we look back it’s amazing to us how many places we’ve played and all the people we’ve entertained along the way. We thought it was appropriate to commemorate it somehow and this [Saturday’s event] is what we came up with.”

The band’s size and membership has varied over the years. Currently, the band features ten players, five in the rhythm section and five who play horns. Gitchel is one of three original members still with the group. The others are fellow trombone Dennis Kraus and percussionist Todd “Farmboy” Thompson.

But there are no newbies in this group. Several have been with the group for over fifteen years. The newest joined almost five years ago.

The tie which binds them together is a shared history with the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. Founders Bill and Tracy Walker wanted to create a fun band to play in which featured more than the Fifth Quarter tunes they had been playing with the UW Alumni Band since they graduated. The band’s current roster includes six marching band alumni and three who performed with the Wisconsin Singers.

The Walkers will return from their current home in Oak Ridge, TN to reunite with the band and relive some of those glory days. “We’d be playing with the band yet today if the commute weren’t so bad,” jokes Bill Walker. “Tracy and I keep track of the band as best we can. We’re awfully proud of what they’ve done all these years.”

The Walkers will join many other original members on Saturday to play some of the original tunes the ‘Dawgs cranked out in the early days.

Wisconsin Brewing Company opens at noon on Saturday. Live music starts right away with the Gypsy Moths, headed by Thompson and playing original music they put together in college. The Dawg Bones follow, which is a trio of Horn Dawgs who play rockabilly/classic rock-n-roll and country. After that is The Evan Riley Band. Riley was a guitarist and bass player for the Horn Dawgs and much of his band are also current ‘Dawg members.

The Red Hot Horn Dawg “All Stars” (the current band plus the small army of regular substitute players,) take the stage at 4:00 to play some of the band’s all time favorites. The Blues Brothers, Sinatra, and other crowd pleasers will dominate this set. Gitchel promises a surprise during this sequence. “If you can’t be there for the whole noon-to-8:00 event, you’ll want to at least plan to be there at 4:00,” he teases.

This event is free and open to the public. Doors open at noon and the music plays all day.

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Upcoming Shows

The Red Hot Horn Dawgs routinely play at various public venues & festivals in the greater Madison area. We also keep busy playing for various private parties (weddings, corporate events, etc). Check us out at one of the below upcoming performances!

Note: Only confirmed performances are listed below. We may have some pending performances that aren’t listed below. If you are interested in our availability for your event, please contact us



Nothing makes a wedding reception more memorable than a live band! And for what you'd spend on today's "professional" DJ setups you could hire The Horn Dawgs!

Top 10 reasons to hire the Horn Dawgs over a DJ:

  1. Real Music.

  2. You'll feel the energy.

  3. Your kids, parents and grandparents will love our mix.

  4. 500 Miles.

  5. For Wisconsin fans, you can have The Fifth Quarter.

  6. Limbo Rock under a trombone.

  7. Moments of happiness.

  8. Emcee your grand march by the one and only Tom Halstead.

  9. Did someone say conga line?

  10. Your guests will be talking about your wedding for years.

Seriously. We know how to do weddings. Here's some proof.

If you'd like a certain song for one of your first dances, just let us know! We can either arrange the tune for our band OR we would be happy to plug a smartphone into our sound system to play your requested song. 

If you have any other specific song requests, we may be able to arrange those and perform them at your wedding. If you haven't already, please take a look at our extensive song library. We are happy to let you select some of your favorite tunes and we will do our best to work those into the performance for your wedding. 

We are happy to let you use our sound system for any speeches or announcements that you might need. 

Please check out our FAQ or contact us below for any additional questions that you have!

Check availability and get a quote for your wedding...

Name *
Date of Event *
Date of Event
Performance Start Time *
Performance Start Time
Please let us know what time you are looking for the performance to begin.
Phone *
Please let us know the music budget for your event.
Tell us about your wedding.

Contact Us


If you're interested in booking us for your next event, if you have a media inquiry or if you'd like to tell us something that only you know... 


Or feel free to reach us at 608-620-3386



Hire this band! Seriously, if you are looking to host the most memorable and entertaining wedding reception, hire this band. The Red Hot Horn Dawgs played our reception in May 2017, and our family and friends continue to talk about how truly amazing they were. Yes, they cost a bit more than a DJ, but consider what you are paying for: A large group of professional musicians who are engaging and know how to get a crowd moving! Not a college student looking to make a little extra money on the side by hitting shuffle on their iphone, but true professionals with experience. Included in the price is the custom arrangement of 3 songs. We chose Handclap by Fitz and the Tantrums, Move by Saint Motel, and Closer by Lemaitre. They knocked each out of the park! We could not have been happier with our decision. We had an amazing night of dancing and partying with our family and friends. You will not regret your decision to hire them!
— Tricia and Tony, 5/28/17 Wedding
“They did amazing! Jaime and Mike were so awesome on the front end, reaching out to us, making recommendations. I saw ex-UW marching band folks and thought, how could we go wrong here? Rolled the dice (because we never saw them) and they put on a better show than we could ever have imagined! Interacted with the crowd...just fantastic musical EVERYTHING!! Everyone enjoyed them sooo much. I highly, HIGHLY recommend. They made the experience so easy and after meeting them knew whatever they did, they were going to do super well. Thank you guys so much!!”
— Melissa and Steve, 4/30/16 Wedding
“Booking The Red Hot Horn Dawgs was a great choice. They kept the excitement rolling on
our casino floor throughout their entire performance. A bunch of great guys to work with. They will definitely be back!”
— Bryan Lynch, Promotions Manager, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison
“Their show sets (and keeps) the party atmosphere perfectly for any type of event. They know how to keep audiences of all ages thoroughly engaged and dancing all night long.”
— Christopher M. Lange, Savvy Entertainment, Inc.
“The Red Hot Horn Dawgs are a high-energy, fun group of talented musicians who have played at our church festival for a number of years. We have invited them back because the festival attendees really enjoy the variety of music played as well as the band’s unique ability to encourage audience participation.”
— Dan Amend, St. Dennis Festival
“The Red Hot Horn Dawgs have been the featured act for 10+ years for our annual National Mustard Day Festival.”
— Patti Levenson, National Mustard Museum
Loved, Loved, Loved this BAND! It was a variation of music and that was great. Only thing I heard people wanted more of was some POLKA’S! This is Wisconsin after all! Have already booked them for our Christmas Party in 2019!
— LaVonne Molenda, Certco Inc.
“The Red Hot Horn Dawgs were very high-energy and engaging for our community event. If you want to have fun and dance and/or sing along, this is the band to hire! I highly recommend The Red Hot Horn Dawgs!”
— Pamela B. 8/19/2015 Community Event
“The Red Hot Horn Dawgs were fabulous. They played for the President’s Dinner and Dance for our association national conference. Our members loved them and danced from beginning to end. Their musical talent and showmanship made them the best band we have ever had for our association conferences. Highly recommend them.”
— Rollie B. 9/23/2015 Corporate Event
“We can’t put into words how much frigg’n fun these guys (& gal) are. The RHHD’s played our post wedding party. It was quite simply, magical. What brought it to life beyond expectations were these cats. Where their energy comes from I’ve not a clue. COMPLETELY connected with everyone, young & old. The music, personalities, enthusiasm, flexibility, graciousness & sound...folks are still raving. Hire them & you’ll be a party immortal with your pals. The RHHD’s rawk!” ( the video- )
— Mike P., 9/12/2015 Wedding
“The Red Hot Horn Dawgs played our wedding, and they were fantastic! While planning, they were very easy to work with and accommodated all our requests. They songs specifically for our wedding and were very receptive to our feedback on their set list. Working with them was a very low stress experience! Musically, they knocked it out of the park at our wedding. Very high energy, talented musicians, everyone had a blast. People kept coming up to us asking ‘Where did you find these guys?!’ I highly recommend them!”
— Eric B., 9/26/2015 Wedding
Thanks for everything! Such a wonderful group of talented performers. We love having you!
— Jessica Chatham, The Edgewater
We’re so glad the Red Hot Horn Dawgs were part of our wedding! We knew we would get a great show, but you went above and beyond. You could have called it quits when we fled the tent [due to a flash flood]. Instead, you got imaginative and stuck with us despite the rain, the limited space, the longer hours, and all the chaos. We had so much fun at our make-shift reception, and you were a huge part of that. The party might have withered without the energy you brought to our wet huddled masses. You had even learned our first dance and parent dance songs without us asking. You totally rocked the Draft House. We received tons of compliments about the band from our guests and even the other bar patrons from downstairs. Thank you!
— Nick and Amanda, 9/2/2018 Wedding


  • Do you provide your own sound?

    • Sure. For most gigs, we will provide our own sound equipment and routinely work with sound engineers at our gigs. You are welcome to use the microphones for any announcements that you have, etc.

  • How loud are you?

    • We are a 10 piece horn band that is amplified. We can be pretty loud. We can certainly adjust to almost any situation, but we are not the quiet jazz band that plays at your local coffee shop. However, if you are a coffee shop owner, get in touch with us and we'll hook you up ;).

  • Do we need to provide a stage?

    • It depends. If this is a public festival/concert, yes. We request a 16 ft x 24 ft stage. We can fit on a 16 ft x 20 ft stage, and even smaller (if necessary). If this is for a private event (like a wedding), we typically will not need a stage. For larger private parties, we may request one. We'll work with you to make it work. We aren't Van Halen-Brown M&M-demanding.

  • Will you play my favorite songs at our wedding?

    • Maybe. In the rare case that your favorite songs aren't already in our giant song list, we would be happy to work up the tune. We leave the final call to Jamie, our musical director, as to whether he can arrange it, etc. We might charge a couple of extra dollars to work up any custom tunes.

  • How much do you cost?

    • It depends. The type of event, travel distance, and length of performance are all factors that contribute to the cost. If you are interested in getting a quote for your event, please contact us.



Want to know even more answers to questions you didn't think you had?

Check out our Tech Specs page! 


Did we miss anything?

Photo Credit: Marsha Mood


Meet The Dawgs























Full Band Timeline

Full Band Timeline



We have a pretty large song list of our "active" songs that we are currently rotating through various gigs. We play everything from Bruno Mars to Johnny Cash...

We store all of our music in the BandHelper app and use iPads/Tablets on stage. It's the only way to manage 400+ songs across 11 different musicians. If you are a musician, check this app out

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A History

A ten piece horn band with a rhythm section was formed in late 1999 by Bill Walker and his wife Tracy.

Both these alumni of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band wanted to broaden their musical outlets beyond the Beer Barrel Polka and Dance Little Bird (the Chicken Dance.) Between their ties to UW Band alums and Tracy's access to Edgewood College jazz musicians they were able to form The Average Blues Band, which first performed at the Stadium Bar in February of 2000.

This unique group (composed of two trumpets, a fluegelhorn, two saxophones, trombone, tuba and full rhythm section,) adapted their name from the famous Average White Band. We even played the AWB's signature tune Pick Up The Pieces.

Not enough band-hiring people made the connection. We found it increasingly tough to get hired with "Average" in our band name, so we came up with five alternatives and a majority vote turned us into The Red Hot Horn Dawgs.

While the Horn Dawgs were developing their "sound" and jelling as a group, the UW Band alums present interjected humor, stage play and showmanship into the act to offset some of the shaky playing of our early shows. As the playing improved, the fun and games simply stayed in the act and became one of our trademarks.

Over time a large band like this will experience turnover of members. Losing a key player in a small band can kill it. But a larger group offers some stability in this regard. A few members rotated in and out during the first few years. We were able to find good replacements and continued playing around Madison; in bars, clubs, weddings and private parties.

Then we faced the biggest challenge to our continued existence. Or, as long-time drummer Todd Thompson might have quoted from Animal House, "Wormer dropped the big one."

Founders Bill and Tracy Walker were moving to Tennessee to follow Bill's career path. The others who had left the band prior to this were simply players. Bill and Tracy were the movers and shakers of the group. They handled the business issues. Our practice space and several of our early gigs came through Tracy's Edgewood College connections. Bill was our lead trumpet, musical director and arranged the majority of the music we played. (Just try finding 70s rock tunes arranged for horn bands on the shelves of your local music store.  We were worried.)

The rest of the band stepped up and found a way to move on after the Walkers left. When the dust had settled we had a new permanent rehearsal space and Jamie Sercombe had joined the group. He was a great addition as lead trumpet and took over the arranging/directing duties.

2019 is our 20th season playing together and we're going strong as ever. Names and faces have changed over the years (trumpet Tom Halstead's face changes during every show!), but the spirit of playing fun and recognizable music while putting on an entertaining show never dies.