Dead Horses
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Dead Horses

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Folk Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Dead Horses Takes Artistic Step Forward"

Folk trio Dead Horses had a new song to share when it came into the Journal Sentinel's studios to perform for our Soundcheck series.

How new? It didn't even have a name yet.

Singer and guitarist Sarah Vos was torn between "Leaf Song" or "Golden Sky" and turned to the Soundcheck team for some guidance. "Leaf Song" in my opinion didn't have any emotional heft. "Golden Sky" was warm, glistening, optimistic.

But even that title doesn't do justice to the simple majesty of the tune, from Vos' gorgeous yet restrained vocals, to the gentle sweep of the guitar melodies, to the vivid lyrics, interchangeably somber and soaring. The song's been in my head for weeks — and it'll get stuck in yours if you give it a listen, only at

"Golden Sky" represents an artistic step forward from Dead Horses' accomplished 2014 full-length "Space and Time," released last fall. And if there's more where that came from, the band will find plenty of golden opportunities in the Milwaukee music scene — especially since frontwoman Vos, 27, is moving to town this fall from Oshkosh, where she grew up. (Stand-up bass player Daniel Wolff, 26, also lives in Milwaukee, while acoustic guitarist Peter Raboin, 28, continues to call Oshkosh home.)

Vos spoke for the band about making "Space and Time," their dream place to play and more.

Early experiences: I grew up in a conservative Lutheran church and that definitely affected the way I perceive music. I didn't grow up listening to the Beatles or Bob Dylan, I grew up singing church hymns. I've seen videos of me as a 2-year-old singing, not even knowing how to talk yet. I got a guitar when I was 11 or 12 and I would sit in my room and pretend I was playing concerts for people.

When Dead Horses formed: Five years ago. I had just moved back to Oshkosh from Milwaukee. It was a very difficult time in my life. I was not doing very much in music in Milwaukee. I was in school and got good grades and loved my job, but within a period of a few months, I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't take care of myself. I moved back to Oshkosh to heal and be close to family. I was going to be an English teacher.

Dan and I met through some friends, and within a couple of months, we rented out a space to hang out and play folk songs and bluegrass songs and Grateful Dead songs. At some point, we realized we can start booking shows and making cash. A couple years later, we recorded our first album "Back to Life."

Your influences: Nick Drake, the Tallest Man on Earth, the Talking Heads, Radiohead, My Morning Jacket. We listen to a lot of Punch Brothers in our new Odyssey van. We named him Homer.


Making "Space and Time": We had raised around $10,000 through a Kickstarter and went to Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco in the Tenderloin. We had a friend who had gone to school in Oshkosh who had an internship at Hyde Street Studios and was hired there. We lived at the studio for 10 days. It was incredible to be in that space; there's just some good energy in there and a lot of really neat music has been made in there. It was surreal on some level.

Favorite song on the album: I think "Tops." It's a three-chord progression the whole way through and has a Wurlitzer track that Pete put down, with a Wurlitzer that Stevie Wonder had used. The feel of it, you almost can't tell what era its from, and the words are very pretty.

Losing a player: (Tim McIlree) played fiddle and mandolin, and his fiddle presence was very large and it definitely on a lot of levels defined our sound. Without it now, there is a lot of space to explore new sounds and new rhythms. There's a cohesiveness there that was not there before among the three of us.

The latest material: As a band we've prepared five or six. I have 20 or 30 that could be potential songs (for the band). These songs are more intimate, and the musicality is going to be a little more delicate. There's less noise and more soul. Our goal is to have a new album out by next spring or early next summer.

All-time favorite gig: Our album release show for "Space and Time" at the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh. We were around our family and friends in a theater setting. And we worked with a program that teaches kids how to play instruments and had the kids sing a song with us at the end. It made it really special.

Dream place to play: The Riverside Theater. It's an astoundingly beautiful room. When I lived in Milwaukee before, it's where I saw some of my absolutely favorite shows of all time.

Moving back to Milwaukee: I've missed Milwaukee, and a lot of exciting things are happening here, especially in the arts. I'm naturally a rural girl, so I want to lose myself in the city for a little while. I'm going to go to as many shows as I can, and I'd like to meet some of these people (in the music scene) and hang out and get to know them better.

Where do you want to be in five years: I want us all to own some space where we can come together and practice and record, and we'll be traveling internationally. And I'd like to own some property in the mountains and have a reliable, four-wheel drive vehicle. - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"There’s going to be a Dead Horses beer"

With there being only so many Grammy Awards to go around, the platinum-selling record quickly becoming a relic of the past, and the WAMI board preoccupied honoring Judas Priest instead of talents from this century, there aren’t many accolades these days that sit between the practice space and sold out arenas that let a band know their work is truly appreciated and that they’re on the right track. Yet lately, no doubt a surefire byproduct of the growing popularity of craft brewing, some acts are getting a unique outpouring of respect as the namesakes for beer. Next month, Milwaukee/Oshkosh folk trio Dead Horses will join the likes of Iron Maiden, Doomtree, and pre-litigation Snoop Dogg when Marshfield, Wisconsin-based Blue Heron Brewpub will tap its Dead Horses Cascadian Dark Ale.

On September 12, in accordance with the band’s headlining performance at Blue Heron’s Oktoberfest/10th anniversary celebration, Dead Horses’ honorary ale will be available. According to the brewpub, “Dead Horses Cascadian Dark Ale rides in with distinct Northwest-style hoppiness fused with malty, ebony highlights of coffee, chocolate, and molasses. The ample array of hops include Summit, Citra, Falconer’s Flight, and Simcoe. ABV 6.7%; IBU 64.”

Damn! In addition to being served on-site, take home bottles of the beer will become available when the band begins to set up and will be served until the limited batch runs out. The band hopes it can bring some back so they can have tastings in their home markets of Oshkosh and Milwaukee, but if Dead Horses the beer tastes anywhere as good as Dead Horses the band sounds, it’s going to run out fast. That is, unless the name dissuades some drinkers.

“At this time, we are not sure of the breadth of distribution,” bass player Daniel Wolff says. “Where do you shelve a consumer product with ‘Dead Horses’ in the title?” - Milwaukee Record

"Red Ants Pants rhapsody: Music festival draws record-breaking crowd of 14,000"

"the soon-to-be-discovered bands like Parsonsfield, Turnpike Troubadours and Dead Horses" - Missoulian


Space and Time


Produced by Stephen Barncard
Recorded by Jack Kertzman
Recorded at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco, CA

Back To Life


Produced by Dead Horses
Recorded by Brian Keohler
Recorded at Topsoil Studio in Oshkosh, WI



Dead Horses is a young acoustic band with a cultivated folk sensibility well beyond their years. Hailing from a small Wisconsin town made world famous by a pair of overalls, the Oshkosh, WI based troupe craft powerful coming of age narratives sung by the alluring golden-haired songstress Sarah Vos. 

"Dead Horses has a sound equally beautiful and effortless."
-Stephanie Elkins, "Simply Folk" Wisconsin Public Radio

"...and the amazing old soul voice of Sarah Vos, evocative of First Aid Kit’s Klara Soderberg. However, you also have the feeling that her lungs could burst open a la Susan Tedeschi or Melissa Etheridge and blow us all down." 
-Rachael Nachtwey, 91.7 WSUM FM

"Dead Horses has become a prominent fixture in Wisconsin’s blossoming music scene. An American folk aesthetic enhanced by a youthful twist, not unlike the early work of fellow midwesterner Sufjan Stevens."
-Audrey Piehl, "The Badger Herald"

Following the release of their second album 'Space and Time' in 2014, Dead Horses have been touring tirelessly across the Midwest to glowing review, including shows with Brooklyn folksters Swear & Shake, Wisconsin troubadour Cory Chisel and Minneapolis newgrassers Pert Near Sandstone. 

'Space and Time' is continuing to receive critical support from college and AAA non-commercial stations, including live Dead Horses in-studio performances on "Simply Folk" Wisconsin Public Radio, "Lake Effects" Milwaukee Public Radio, 91.1FM The Avenue (Fox Cities), 90.3FM KFAI (Minneapolis) and 91.7 WMSE (Milwaukee) and 88.9FM Radio Milwaukee. The latter recently awarded "Space and Time" during their 2014 Radio Milwaukee Awards ceremony.

"Throughout, 'Space and Time' showcases instrumental virtuosity, masterful songwriting, and heartfelt soul--an overwhelmingly impressive album."
-Those Who Dig

Vos (whose musical influence reads like most early-American folk musicians) was raised by a preacher father and spent a good part of her childhood singing bible hymns. Her gospel, living free and unapologetically, is supported with conviction by Peter Raboin on acoustic guitar and Daniel Wolff on double bass. 

"Beautiful harmonies, great playing and song-writing"
- Steve March-Tormé, 91.1FM The Avenue

Musical cues on 'Space and Time' range from old-time porch songs “Lay Me Down” and “I Will Walk,” complete with four-part harmonies, to the blues-influenced strut in “Old Soul,” to the sweet, summery feel of “Tops” and “ I Am Not.” The versatility of Space and Time creates a wonderfully captivating album that is a welcomed addition to the canon of folk music.

Since forming in 2010, Dead Horses have performed more than 400 shows across the Midwest and have re-emerged, focused and determined, as a quartet since releasing their debut album, 'Back to Life,' in 2012.

Band Members