Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Green Bay Resch Center Just Steps From Lambeau Field

Every time I take a trip up to Lambeau Field, I am impressed by the area just to the east of Packer country. Not only will you find the Don Hudson Center, you can't miss the Green Bay Resch Center.

Who calls the Resch Center in Green Bay their home? First, you will find the Green Bay Phoenix college basketball team. From there, the Resch Center plays host to concerts. I see only two concerts coming up at the Resch Center. On February 27, Rascal Flatts will perform with Darius Rucker. Martina McBride and Trace Adkins will play on March 27th. Yes, Darius Rucker is a country singer now. I doubt that you will have time to get up to Green Bay today, but The Harlem Globetrotters will be performing there tonight. If you like the Globetrotters, I suggest grabbing a few Bradley Center tickets for their New Year's Eve performances. That's an annual event.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Black Eyed Peas general admission tickets are the best way to get close

This is another big show at the Bradley Center where the main floor is wide open. When it's The Black Eyed Peas Bradley Center show in Milwaukee, the venue will feature an open floor. When I have to stand all night for a show, I don't mind as long as the band can keep me happy.

Bruce Springsteen did a general Admission floor for his show too. That would be a marathon event. I guess that made the tickets on the Bradley Center floor the hardest to move? It's been 14 years with The Peas, so one would think that they will have a great fan base that is more than willing to dance all night in Milwaukee. This time it makes sense. For Bruce, not so much. I expect more of a general admission show at Shank Hall.
It looks like Behind the Front was the first album for the Black Eyed Peas. They took over three years between their latest release and Monkey Business back in 2005. There are three songs on The E.N.D. that are up for Grammys. You have to take advantage of that power, and tour once more. That's just what we see with The Black Eyed Peas Milwaukee show in the spring.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Riverside Theater Show partner at Turner Hall hosts The Residents Feb. 16th

The Residents will perform on February 16th at Turner Hall. This show will certainly be full of audio and visual splendor. The Residents have performed their art/music/craziness since the late 1960's. Nobody knows what the actual performers look like. That mystery makes this band even more enjoyable. I'm more about the art, than unmasking the artist.

I'm also happy to see that this event is not a Riverside Theater show. Turner Hall has a large stage, and the hall itself is small. That will make the event even more spectacular.

For those who have never heard of The Residents, they fancy themselves to be makers of avant-garde music, backed up by a visual show that cannot be described to easily. They have well over fifty albums to their name. These albums are hard to digest, if you don't open your mind and let them pour their liquid craziness into your head.

Some critics have no love for the band, where others certainly "get it." Those that follow the movements of The Residents are an intelligent, arty, fringe, group. They bring out the best in we normal humans that understand that music and art are not just what you hear on commercial radio, or see in the most famous of galleries. My favorite album is Mark Of The Mole.

AC DC Milwaukee Bradley Center Show Date is Now April 15th

Hold on to your tickets for AC/DC, because the new show date is April 15th. Those who love to rock will pay their taxes, and drive down to the Bradley Center to see AC/DC. There were worries that this show may never happen. Now, the Aussie/Brit rockers will ring in the spring with a show that is sure to shake the BC.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jacob Jones on Electric Western Records Coming to Wisconsin in a Wicked 1984 RV

Jacob Jones is coming to Wisconsin next week. If I weren’t booked up with the usual holiday mess, I would take a trip over to Madison Wisconsin to catch this soulful country singer. He's at the Dry Bean on December 9th, and the Reptile Palace in Oshkosh on December 10th. Jones is backed up by Electric Western Records. The label is out of Nashville, and it seems like they know how to treat their artists. They keep it simple: Promote, believe in the artists, and bring the music to your ears.
Jones is promoting his disk Love and War. The first track, I Know How It Feels, hits me hard. Slow as the tempo is, this song has some kind of feel that tells me Mr. Jones knows what he’s doing. “We all get old, we all get sold.” Yes Jacob I know that’s true. That line stuck in my head for a while, and it brought a smile to my face. One thing I like to do is predict the next line of a slow tune. With I Know How It Feels, I was wrong every time. That’s a good thing. Who wants to listen to rhymes that you can predict one measure ahead of the next? Not me.
Lay Your Money Down almost turned into one of those songs that makes you think it’s going in one direction but turns before you get there. I like turns, and that takes me to track number three, Let This Train Take You Down.
It starts with soft, padded drums. Jacob’s vocals are pushed forward but not too close as to have me pushing back. The simplicity of this song is quite appealing. By simple, I mean to say that as the melody comes forward, it only serves to compliment the lines sung by Mr. Jones. Before you know it, you are on that rolling train heading somewhere fast on a hot railroad track.
In the title track Love and War, the instrumental accompaniment that backs up Jacob on this song acts as a crystalline bond. The melody sparkles between the sorrowful words he weaves. The battle of Love and War is understandably deep into the disk. You need a bit of everything Jacob gives you before he brings you to Love and War.

Which song brought a smile to my face? Rows of Dead Houses. Yes, the lyrics may convey some sadness, but the way that they are delivered makes me feel hopeful. It’s as if I’m just passing though. I don’t live there, I’m just an observer, and happy to be headed home. Crushing pennies on the train tracks, the air, the coffee, nights spent together, they are all in the past. “I came home to you, but you’re not here.” If that doesn’t bring a mental picture to your mind, you belong in one of those dead houses he sings about.
Hurricane Sam has something of a carnival feel with its banjo, booming and rolling drums, along with deep-in-the woods storytelling. The story is about a man named Sam who worked hard only to find his girl doing bad things while he was away. The melody is what carries the day in this song. She got what she deserved. The sorrowful horn bleating above the tune keeps things in perspective. Hurricane Sam did a bad thing, but enjoy this rollicking tune.
If I wasn’t so terribly in love with my wife, I Wish You Knew would have deeper meaning for me. As it stands, I can only listen as a man with a solid chick. To those of you who lost their love, this one is will pull it out of you. “Even if home for you and me are two different things” tells you all you need to know. Jacob Jones is rambling around the country in a 25 year old RV right now. He will be easy to spot in that 80's behemoth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lemon Lounge hosts Binky Tunny show December 3rd in Milwaukee

I know this is a short notice post, but you might want to head on down to Lemon Lounge on Oakland Avenue in Milwaukee. Lemon Lounge is right next to the Miramar Theater, which is across the street from the best Middle Eastern Restaurant in Milwaukee. Whoa, that's a wild way to give you directions to the Binky Tunny show.

Anyway, Binky Tunny has their new disk available. The disk is aptly titled Black Sheep Chronicles. It's all about love, love lost, keeping your man in check, using a gun if necessary to keep your man in check, the wants and needs of any modern rock and roll woman, and more! That's also a wild way to describe the Binky Tunny CD, but hey, this is my blog.

Ok, to recap, Lemon Lounge, Binky Tunny disk titled Black Sheep Chronicles, Miramar Theater, Middle Eastern Restaurant, Milwaukee night out. Woo!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AC/DC Milwaukee Show, Will It Happen?

Will the AC/DC Milwaukee Show ever take place? I went to the official AC/DC website to see if there were any hints. Their last news update was five days ago. If I look at the upcoming tour dates, I can see that they play one show in Sao Paulo, then take three days off before playing three shows in Buenos Aires. The big "hole" in their schedule is between December 7th, and January 28. Will the band play their makeup Milwaukee AC/DC show at that time? I have my doubts. There is simply not enough time to announce the new date.

My guess is that the band will play a Milwaukee show in the summer of 2010. I see that they have a rescheduled date for their Tacoma show. That's going to happen in August of 2010. I have to think that they will honor the other missed show dates somehow. Meanwhile, we AD/DC Milwaukee fans, with Bradley Center tickets in hand are chomping at the bit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

St. Vincent Turner Hall tickets in Hand Already

St. Vincent was on Austin City Limits a few weeks back. They had just played in Milwaukee prior to that television broadcast. I had no idea who they were when they passed through town. If I had, I would have bought Riverside Theater tickets for that show. I thought the typical thoughts when I miss a live show. They might be back next year.
In the case of St. Vincent, the wait won't be too long. They come to Turner Hall on February 17th, and I already have my ticket in hand. After playing their disk Actor about 15 times, I'm a fan of this eclectic band.

What do I like about St. Vincent. First, their videos are stories that don't insult your senses with thousands of 1 second clips. That's got to be the most annoying thing about videos. Second, the songs don't take the usual path. The vocal melodies may follow too closely with the actual notes on the keys or violin, but I'll live with that. Any disk that has more than two great songs on it is surprising. Actor has at least six well written songs. Save Me From What I want, Black Rainbow, Laughing With A Mouth of Blood all satisfy.

If I were to pick the best song on Actor, it would have to be The Party. The story she tells comes to life with the first line. Staying too late at a party, licking the ice cubes, cleaning the ashtrays and fixating on a hole in a t-shirt. It's all so real. Annie Clark doesn't whisper this melody. She just sings it out loud, and I like that very much. See you in February St. Vincent.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Local CD Manufacturing for Wisconsin Bands

I am in the final stages of putting together my band's disk. I got advice from my friend at Beer City Records on who to use for the CD manufacturing. He had a good guy, and a good price, but the company was not local. I wanted to keep this entire thing local. We have a local artist doing the artwork, we recorded it right here in Milwaukee too.
I got an email from my singer. She suggested Sooper Dooper for the CD duplication. Why would I plug these guys? I'm not a paid spokesperson to be sure, I'm just a huge fan after one meeting with the guys at Sooper Dooper. They have low overhead, a great location here in Milwaukee, and a "factory" in Madison.
Chris at Sooper is out there doing this for a living, and plays in Mad Trucker Gone Mad. Who could ask for more? The biggest surprise of the entire meeting was his turn around time. I won't say what he promised on that, but let's just say that it won't take months like some of the giant factories. If you have a small or large CD Duplication job, give them a shout. P.S. Hooray for blog post #200!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bruce Springsteen Milwaukee tickets hard to find

I should not be surprised to find that the Bruce Springsteen Milwaukee tickets are hard to find. The Boss made the entire floor of the BC general admission. Some of his fans, the older ones, don't want to stand all night long. They opted for the reserved seats. That made the floor tickets easy to find for the first month or so. Then all heck broke loose.
Perhaps the announcement that the band was going to play the entire Born To Run album changed the demand? All I know is that Bruce can still sell out an 18,000 capacity Bradley Center. It just took time. Could this be the last tour for Bruce? I doubt it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Anthony Bourdain comes to the Riverside Theater Milwaukee

On January 22nd, Anthony Bourdain comes to the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. I know this is not music related, but I have to give a heads up to his fans. I have no idea what he will be doing on stage. Perhaps he will speak from his books, perhaps he will cook for the crowd. Either way, I'll be there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Justin Bieber at The Rave-Eagles Club Milwaukee

Justin Bieber will "perform" at the Rave in Milwaukee on November 12th. He doesn't have a disk out yet. It won't be released until after the Rave show. Rave tickets for this show are moving fast. Between this post and the date of the show, Little Justin Bieber will have grown about 1/2 inch. He started with Youtube, and now he's on a rocket ride to stardom, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Riverside Theater Tickets for Her First Show

My coworker is young. I think that 22 is young. When she told me that she had Riverside Theater tickets for her first show, it confirmed her youth. She had been to lots of venues in Milwaukee but no the Pabst.

It was amusing to hear her say that she was concerned that the Riverside Theater Milwaukee would not have good seats. She told me that she was sitting in the first balcony. I knew that she would like it up there.

The Riverside Theater has been around for over 100 years. A place like that is very often one of the better venues for shows. Yea, who wants to be in the third balcony of some old, stinky theater. The Riverside is not one of those crusty places.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Best Live Music Venues in Milwaukee

I figured that it was about time that I put my two cents in about which Milwaukee venues are the best place to see live music. I will try to be honest, and unbiased. It really doesn't matter that much since I am only one person in a city of 500,000 people. lists Sauce as the best venue, but when I read the sentence "Fashion-conscious sophisticates flock to this upscale restaurant/bar in the trendy Third Ward," Sauce loses all rankings in my book. I'm not one to dress like a slob at a show, but c'mon, the words Fashion, upscale, and trendy are all jammed into the description. I'll pass on that one.

They list the Bremen Cafe as number two. That's a realistic ranking.

Some put Shank Hall at the top of the list. I guess you could say it's in the top 20, if that's a good thing to be one of twenty clubs to see a live band. I have to say that the sound has been great there, but the venue has not changed inside very much.

Others prefer to put the BBC at the top of the heap. Yea, the staff at the BBC has been nothing but professional when I go see a band. A nice waitstaff makes you feel so welcome. If I had any criticisms of the BBC it would be that the sound is hard to dial in. The place is big, there is a post in the middle of the stage, and the windows reflect so much sound, that you wonder if putting up some baffles for live shows wouldn't be a bad idea. The only other hurdle is loading all the gear up and down those stairs. If it is a rainy night, you risk a hard fall. Yea, the BBC gets high marks.

Some prefer to head to Bay View's Cactus Club. Sorry, I stopped giving that venue my money a long time ago. Who wants to go to a club to be treated like dirt by the owner and his staff? The regulars sit on their butts and stare into their beers. What fun!

I have to say that Mad Planet gets high marks. The staff is nice, there is plenty of room, the stage may be small, but you don't feel like you are crammed into the hall. I like the risers along the east wall. You get a chance to stand above the crowd.

Points East is another one of those friendly clubs. Hang out front and have a beer before the show starts. The stage is angular, but tall. The parking has never been a problem at Points East.

Looking back at my choices, it's safe to say that I lean towards the rock venues. Milwaukee has so much more to offer than what I posted here. I barely scratched the surface. I left out all the large venues on purpose, but if I had to list just one, it would be the Milwaukee Theater. When I have Milwaukee Theater tickets to a show, I know that the sound will be great, the entertainment top notch, and it's easy to sneak out to get a drink. The Riverside is a close second, but Milwaukee Theater goers will agree with me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

ACDC Bradley Center Show Delayed

Brian Johnson has had some serious stomach problems as of late. They finally got the best of him, and as a result, the Milwaukee show at the Bradley Center has been postphoned. For their age, these guys tour pretty hard. When I look at their tour schedule, I do see days off inbetween four and five show runs, but still, that's enough work to take a toll on the body.

Tickets for that AC/DC show will most likely be honored for the new date. Doctors working Brian Johnson over said that he needs rest. It's not about his throat, it's about his stomach.

As for a local plug, I'm heading down to the Miramar Theater this Saturday night. My wife loves ska music, and she has a patient who plays in the band The Invaders. They play with Mustard Plug, Deals Gone Bad, and Car Full of Midgets. Show starts at 8pm.

I practiced a gig in Bill's studio last month, and on the way out of his space, he played some raw tracks to a rockabilly band he is recording. He used two microphones for the drums and it sounded killer! I have been trying to recreate that sound in my own studio, as best I can. Granted, I only have a pair of Oktava large condenser microphones, but we will see what kind fo sound I can get.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Cranberries come to The Pabst Theater

Famous for her near-yodel type singing, Dolores O'Riordan was the voice of The Cranberries. They took a seven year hiatus, and now they are back. They perform in Milwaukee on November 27th. Pabst Theater tickets are on sale next week.

O'Riordan did some solo work in the past few years. This show will feature both Cranberries songs and Dolores' material. What people will most want to hear is Linger, and Zombie.

The Cranberries' singer reminds me of a Milwaukee Rock band that has been around for the past ten years, Binky Tunny. When Binky started singing in her late teens, she had a Cranberries shade to her voice. That was short lived, and thankfully Binky Tunny found her own voice. Binky Tunny played an acoustic show at Conways a few weeks ago. It was surprising to see how many fans packed the place, just to see a stripped down version of the band. They are about to release their next disk, titled The Black Sheep Chronicles.

Friday, September 18, 2009

AC DC Coming to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee

On October 14th, The Bradley Center will be shaking to the thunder from down under. AC/DC will bring their current tour to Milwaukee. Bradley Center tickets for that show are bound to sell out. A quick glance at their tour dates reveal that they do sell out the venues they play in. It may take up to the week of the show for the event to sell out, but it will happen.

The Bradley Center is certainly one of the bigger venues on their current tour. I just popped over to the Ticketmaster site, and they only have upper rows in the back of the venue available. There will be a huge walkway on the main floor for this show. The center section is basically gone for this one.

The guys in AC/DC have the craziest accents. When you combine the Aussie, and Scottish background, it's amazing what you come up with. Add a few decades of drinking and you have a slurring mass of a dialect.

My wife likes AC/DC. When she heard about the show coming to the Bradley Center, it didn't interest her in the least. She claims that it will make her sad to see all the aged rockers in the seats. It's a reminder that she is not getting any younger. We're not old, but we are not 21 anymore. What was more amusing was the Amazon package that came to the front door this week. It had three of the classic AC/DC disks inside. She bought them, instead of spending the dough to go to the show.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Secure in My Basement A Drummer Learns All Over Again

Wanted: Rehearsal space. Must be secure, cheap, and warm in winter. This ad is fictitious, but a common site if you are a working musician looking over the want ads. A solid practice space is something to hold on to at all costs.

There are building owners across Milwaukee who take a risk and build out spaces for musicians. The buildings are generally in so-so shape. They are sometimes in a transition period, going from bad to good, or vice versa. That's when you can catch a property owner willing to accommodate the artists.

My least favorite space was an old sausage factory on the banks of the Milwaukee river, at Humboldt street. It was unheated, and there were no bathrooms. It was dank, dark and scary. Our space was big enough for two drum kits, but only one band. I paid $50 per month in order to play my drums alone, when the band that shared the space wasn't rehearsing. In the months that I was in that space, I never saw the other band. I had lots of alone time. The building is long gone.

I spent a couple of years rehearsing in Cudahy. We rented a space in a home that was once filled with cats. Imagine the smell. My bass drum still stinks, 12 years and lots of scrubbing later. It was the perfect place to play, aside from the cat piss smell. To the west of the building, there was a parking lot. To the south, a vacant lot, and to the north a busy street. Nobody ever complained, and we had eight musicians blasting away.
Nothing compares to playing in your own home. If you have a flash of creativity, you can run downstairs and bang away on the drums. If you get the chance to host the band for rehearsals, you don't have to do the hauling.

I just acquired a full-volume practice space that is ten minutes from my home. I get to play my drums as loud as I like, and as hard as I want to, for the first time in years. In the past, I had to use Hot Rods, and only got the time to work the set. I had no opportunity to be creative, because we practiced in places that couldn't handle full volume rehearsals. Now, it's just me and my drums. It's been a long, long time baby, and I'm back.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cary Judd from Wyoming to Perform in LaCrosse

Cary Judd will be performing at The Warehouse in LaCrosse Wisconsin on September 4th. This one-man band plays a ton of effects, loops, and wrestles a drum machine live on stage. He's got thirty shows listed on his MySpace site as of this post. Currently, he's the support act for Five Times August. Don't forget Daniel Kunz. He will jump in on keys and guitar when needed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wisconsin Rock and Roll Bands and History

I have been playing the drums for 26 years. I started by doing the usual high school band thing. We played in my parent's basement. We hid booze behind the amps, and we goofed around a lot. Along the way, I managed to find myself in some pretty enjoyable situations. By the time I was 21 years old, I had toured a big chunk of the United States, and my punk band had sold upwards of four thousand copies of a cassette. Yes, I said cassette. It was 1986. We produced our own music, and we would order the cassettes from the factory 500 at a time. If we ran out of cassettes while on tour, we had a duplicator in the van. We would buy blanks along the way.

In between the punk thing, and landing my first recording contract, I spent about ten years working with talented musicians that wrote their own songs and tried their best to land a record deal. I never stopped playing live music, and rarely turned down a show.I was very fortunate to be on a label that put out a number of recordings of one my bands. They took a risk. Some recordings were profitable, some not. That's life. The label would make roughly 2000 copies of each release. The quantity was partly based on if there were profits from the prior release. Our last cd with that label crashed and burned. Two years later, I was happy to hear that the label was including free copies of that disk with every skateboard they sold. Why not give it away if it's not going to sell. Yes, they are an international record label, and skateboard company. It works surprisingly well.

I'm not ashamed to say that one of my cd's tanked. That happens so often in the music world. We had a great run, but our fans grew up and out of that style of music. We did too, and it showed on that cd.

When the time came to tell the band members that the cd was a bust, I had to find them. One was in Korea, on tour with his other band. Our bass player was somewhere in the north woods of Wisconsin, touring with his band. The other guy was on the road with Kenny Chesney. I was in the midst of playing my usual 30 gigs a year with another band, as we were under contract with a national brewing company.

The sad news didn't really crush any of us. We had lots of things going on. Between releases, and after promoting them, we would scatter off and do other things. With very little profit to spread around, we were happy to have the label pay for the recordings, distribute the music, and let us take all the profits from the shows and merchandise.

What's the moral of this post? There is none. I'm just rambling about the tiny dust speck of my musical career to date. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stop the Madness. The Auto Tuner Must Die

If anyone has read the book 1984, there is a small reference to the music created for the "Proles." This was music created by the Party. It was for music the masses. It had no substance. I have just spent the past seven hours listening to the satellite channel titled "The Heat." You can find it on XM, channel 68. The purveyors of said station must think that we are all Proles. It's a grab bag of meaningless garbage, mostly referring to making love, losing a lover, or attempting to acquire a lover. The common thread in this never-ending musical nightmare is the auto tuner. Every song uses this horrid device. I know that this post has nothing to do with Wisconsin, but I had to vent somewhere.

When I was working on the vocal tracks to our cd, I came upon a section of a song that needed to be "auto tuned." Our singer had a touch of what could be best described as a warble in one of the back up harmonies. We tried to find a workable note from one of the six times she sang this part in the song. No luck, she warbled in every one of them. The engineer put that track through an auto tuner, and goodbye warble. I doubt that anyone but the most professional of ears will notice, but this helpful tool fixed something substantially messed up.

Yes, so many others have ripped on people who make the auto tuner an integral part of their song. I'm certainly not the first, or even the thousandth person to complain. The point I am trying to make here is that this effective studio tool has morphed. The Heat on XM is not to blame, but they are guilty of what I would call a music crime.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Flurry of Concert Announcements for Riverside Theater

The postings came fast and furiously. The Riverside was touting their fall lineup via email. If you were wishing for a Black Crowes show at a smaller venue, than wish no more. The Black Crowes will be performing on November 7th. Around that same day, Colbie Caillat and Lucinda Williams were also announced.

WMSE Radio Summer Camp is coming up fast. On August 20, The Trusty Knife, Juniper Tar, and The Dim Sums will all perform with Sometimes Sweet Susan. This show is a bargain at 10 bucks.

How often will you see Riverside Theater tickets at that price? Only when a local band has a show I guess. I checked the Riverside Theater Twitter account today. What would a historic venue have to say on Twitter? It's pretty much all tweets starting with the words "Just Announced." Of course, they also have a Facebook and Myspace page.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peter Murphy was a Pleasant Surprise

My friend Paul is in town from Pennsylvania. He's here for six weeks, and we are catching up on things. I was the second in line for an invitation to see Peter Murphy at The Rave in Milwaukee. We had a deal. He bought The Rave tickets, and I paid for a few drinks while there. Believe me, a couple of drinks at the Rave, and I had my ticket price covered.

There was no opening act for the show, and it seemed like the road crew was in no hurry to get the show started. I overheard a bartender say "are we having a show tonight or not?" It was that laid back. By the time Peter Murphy went on, there were no more than 350 fans in the crowd. No matter, the people that came out on a Sunday night were very happy to see him.

Some fans felt that his performance in Milwaukee was the best they have seen in years. I must say that as the night went on, I was amazed by his energy on stage. He worked the crowd, but more impressive was how he worked his voice. The guy hit the notes all night long. I might have heard one sour note, but it was nothing worth complaining about.

Another great thing was the mix at the Rave. How rare is it to go to that venue and actually hear everything clearly. This would be the first time in many years for me. Killing Joke comes to mind as the worst mix I had ever heard there. It was so bad at Killing Joke, that I thought it was another band altogether. It was so good at Peter Murphy that I pulled out my ear plugs for a few songs, just to get a full blast. His band was tight, and workmanlike.

What I liked best about the Peter Murphy show was his lack of pretension. The man just called it like it is. He skipped songs, added others, and even sang a couple cover tunes. As I was thinking that this guy is like a gritty David Bowie, he starts to sing Space Oddity.

His band was playing their last North American show on this tour, and Peter Murphy had the entire crew come out and take a bow. That was a nice touch. They work just as hard as the band, so why not give them props.

As the lights went up and the crowd cleared out, I ran a friend who we walked to her car. We got the usual aggressive demands for cigarettes when we got to our car, and after paying off the street hustlers with tobacco, we drove over to the Sugar Cane on Forest Home. Crazy, that Sugar Cane.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Like Fire and Ice? Marcus Amphitheater and Festa

It's that time of year where an ethnic festival will occupy the Summerfest grounds at the same time that a band plays at the Marcus Amphitheater. Poison, Cheap Trick, and Def Leppard will perform on Saturday at the Marcus. At the same time, Festa Italiana will be in full swing. You need separate tickets to attend either event.

Marcus Amphitheater tickets are in large supply for this weekend's show. I suppose that people are taking a moment to regroup before the second half of summer begins. That, or fans of Poison have had their fill. I'm sure that there will be a few dedicated fans that will attend both events. They will grab a meal at Festa, then roll over to the Marcus.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Recap of Summerfest 2009

It was a blurry night for me, once the sun set. I forgot to bring my glasses to Summerfest. I had my prescription shades on when I entered the gates, completely forgetting that I would be at the fest well after the sun would set.

Decapitado was tight, and the sound was dialed in by song number two. It gave me a feeling of pride knowing that these guys are from my home town. When the show was over, I bought a copy of Lean Into It, a tribute to Die Kreuzen. Bionic's version of All White gave me freaking goose bumps.

I didn't want to head over to the M&I stage until Crumpler finished their set. Their sound was even better. Steve Thode is not only a bass master, but joke teller extraordinaire. The fans found him funny, and tight on the bass. Craig Radke is so smooth on the drums, he makes me feel like a novice behind the kit. He forgave me for the cargo shorts comment on my last post. It was all in fun. If anyone can take a ribbing, it's Craig.

The Pabst was flowing, but I chose water. In fact, that was the only thing I bought during my two nights at Summerfest. The parking lot attendant got the most money. I just didn't have a craving for fried food, or meat.

The who's who at Cascio last night included "Bill The Fan," Binky and Marsh of Binky Tunny, and more. Decapitado brings out the local celebs.

My night turned sour when the sun set. I had to take my shades off. In the dark of night, I had to figure out a way to walk blindly to the M&I stage. Elvis Costello was performing there, this way my chance to "see" the legend. I worked the perimeter of the grounds, and got to the stage just one song into his set. Some people say that when one of your senses goes down, the others become more acute. Perhaps that's why I felt that the sound coming off the M&I stage was so horrid. The Elvis Costello mix was the worst I had ever heard in all my years of seeing shows. That includes the 1983 DEVO show at the Oriental theater, when one half of the sound system had completely broken down.

I was standing in front of the sound board. This wasn't a matter of positioning. I was hearing what the engineers were hearing, and that made me angry. The sound coming off that stage was a mushy mixture of vocals, and one guitar. By the fourth song, I gave up on the chance of the sound changing. I squinted my way out of the festival.

Last Thursday, I headed down to the fest for a couple of hours. While there, I spent ten minutes watching Cherry Pie. They captured, and held an enormous crowd. I was amazed. This was the largest crowd I have ever seen for a local cover band. They are great guys, and quite talented, don't get me wrong. I met them at the short lived Milwaukee Oktoberfest. When a cover band can attract thousands of people, you have to wonder about the tastes of Milwaukeeans.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jazz In The Park, Booze in the Back

Jazz in the park starts this weekend. I envision blankets, baskets, cheese. If you want to drink booze this year, you need to buy it from the vendors nearby. No carry ins allowed this year.
Many of the country's most talented jazz performers will be on stage this summer.

The season opens with The Bonifas Quintet. Bonerama from New Orleans plays on June 11th. If you like harmonica, try Sugar Blue. They perform on June 18th. Pete Carney and Orange Alert play on June 25th. For more dates, feel free to check out the Jazz in The Park link.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summerfest Bands That I Want to See

I guess that the final Marcus Amphitheater booking has prompted me to look at all the side stage bookings for 2009. What shows do I want to see? I am fired up to see Elvis Costello. He writes such great lyrics. I would enjoy going to Willie Nelson, but probably wouldn't stay for Bob Dylan.

As usual, the Cascio tent has some top-notch local talent on tap. This year, they made it easy for me. (not that they even know I exist) Decapitado, and Crumpler play back to back on July 5th. Yes, those two bands couldn't be more opposite, but a beer break between sets will easily cleanse the pallet.

Summerfest tickets are available online already. I'm waiting it out, to see who wants to go with me. Last year's Cheap Trick show was so packed, that my wife had a panic attack. She may not go with me this year. I have to find a Costello fan that I can drag down to the Summerfest grounds if she won't go with me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mixing is Lonely Work

I don't know which is more tedious, rehearsing for an upcoming recording, or mixing the project with the engineer. There are variables to think about when you make that recording. If you lay some live tracks along with the drums, you could have an easier time mixing. You have to be spot on when you play, but you have a better shot of capturing the soul of the band.

We feed off of each other when we play. If you are in a booth, headphones on, tired from doing twenty takes, and you are the only person at the studio aside from the engineer, it's hard to capture the feel of the song. If you and your band mates are all trying their level best to play along together, and the room sounds good, you might capture lighting in a bottle. Just remember that what you record, you have to mix, edit, fix. The more tracks and takes you keep, the more work you will have to do on the back end.

We are feeling that now. Our engineer had the guitar players lay double, and sometimes triple tracks to every song. He had them lay a single acoustic guitar track too. It all has to be mixed, and I'm the guy sitting in the chair behind the sound board right next to the engineer. My mates are off doing whatever. I'm missing out on the spring weather. I'm in the sound hole, making the tracks sound good. I would rather grab some Brewers tickets and head to Miller Park for the game.

There are times when I play along to scratch tracks. Most of us do that. If the scratch tracks are off time, your recording will be off time too. If the guitar player is just slopping along, thinking that this is not their session, it could come back to bite you. "We are recording the drum tracks, not guitar. What do I care."

I have had to play along to uninspired scratch tracks. They can drag you down. Sometimes they have been so bad that I just tell the engineer to play a click track, and I will play the drums to imaginary guitar. The first time I did that, it worked like a charm.

Yes, you must learn to play to a click track. Whether you record to one or not, it may come in handy. If the session is bogged down because your time is not steady, you may be called upon to play to the click. Be ready. Embrace the click. It is your friend.

For the slow numbers, ask the engineer to double up the time on the click track. It's easier to play a 40 b.p.m. song with a click track that's ringing in your head at 80 beats per minute. I don't recall the guy who said this, but it's heavy. He said "Your beats are like the telephone poles along the side of the road. They have to carry the electricity, they have to be spaced perfectly or the wires will drop."

That's all I have for today. Keep beating on the skins.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Playing The Drums With A Wig On My Head

I had a gig last Saturday night. The musicians had to wear costumes. Three of us had to wear wigs. I remember playing a show about 12 years ago, when I wore a Halloween mask. It was harder than I thought it would be. The mask kept sliding down. I couldn't see.

The wig did similar things. It kept getting in my eyes. What was worse were the long strands of hair that would get stuck in my hands. As I hit the drums, the wig would waggle, almost falling off my head.

Between each song, I had to part my hair. That sucked. I missed all the action on stage, because I was blinded by fake blond hair. It was a good thing that I knew the songs inside and out. I just blazed through the tunes, and didn't worry about anything else. The lights were so bright that there was no way to see the fans. I felt like I was playing drums with a well lit, big pile of fur in my face.

Thankfully, we had a dress rehearsal before the show. That's when I found out that it was going to be a tough night. I tried to keep my head still while I played. That kept the flowing hair from getting stuck in my hands. I pulled back some of the hair and tied it. That was a tip that I got from my wife. The show was fantastic. The crowd loved the costumes, and the night went buy in a flash.
To all you musicians out there that are too cool to wear a costume, too cool to try something crazy, try to look at it from the perspective of a fan. If you think that you are too talented to listen to someone else when they say that there should be a visual aspect to the show, I say try it, wear it, do it. You will love the experience, and it will humble you a bit. If you think that your music is all that your fans need to love you, then why do we have lights, smoke, stage shows, and cool rock and roll clothing? It's all part of the package.

I say leave the cargo shorts at home and put on some cool clothes. (Yes, I know someone who wears cargo shorts and sandals on stage) Try something on that shows off your guns. Wear something that is not labeled extra large. Get out there and entertain, on both the musical and visual level.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bob Dylan to Play Summerfest

Bob Dylan, with Willie nelson will perform at the Marcus Amphitheater on July 1st. Both men bring with them an enormous catalog of music. How these two guys ended up on the same bill, I don't know. I like the mix though.

Willie Nelson has a voice that you just fall into. It's so easy to find yourself hanging on his every word. I don't call it hypnotic, it's more about his rasp. Who else has that rasp?

As for Bob Dylan, too much has already been written about him. I don't need to add my two cents to that massive mountain of musings. Let's just say that co-workers much younger than I really like this guy. His fan base is old, young, black, white, and they will come from far and wide.

Two headliner spots have yet to be announced. If I could make a suggestion, let it be a band that attracts a younger crowd. The same could be said for the side stages. Will we see some cutting edge musical acts this year, or the same old junk? Take a page from Bumbershoot Mr. Smiley.

Here are just a few bands booked for that Seattle Music festival.
Sheryl Crow, Modest Mouse, The All-American Rejects, Katy Perry, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Franz Ferdinand, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, De La Soul, Raphael Saadiq, Brett Dennen, Os Mutantes.

Let's compare this to the headliners booked for Summerfest 2009.
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Robin Trower, The Offspring, Barenaked Ladies, Buddy Guy, Jason Aldean, Whitesnake, Kevin Rudolph.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spoof Fest 2009 Fast Approaching

Liquor Sweets will host Spoof Fest 2009. This year, there will be two stages. The music will alternate between stages, with only five minutes break between acts. So many musicians signed up for the show that the event is now spread over two nights.

The acts range from Motorhead, to Britney Spears to Binky Tunny playing Alice Cooper.
Friday night, I would certainly make it there in time to see Alanis Morrisette. No Doubt, King Crimson, and others will be "Spoofed."

Liquor Sweets is located on 3000 S. 13th in good old Milwaukee. This event used to be held at V'nuks, but they have an old hair band booked for that night.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kansas and "The Symphony" Play the Pabst Theater

I asked my neighbor if she's going to play her violin for Kansas and the The Symphony. She usually gets to play at those touring shows. When The Moody Blues, or Styx come to Milwaukee, she gets the call to play the violin parts for the band. Usually she plays along with a group of ten, or up to thirty violinists. This time, if she wants to see the band, she will have to buy a Pabst Theater ticket. She did not get the call to play. When I asked her about it, her husband smirked. Apparently, everyone has been asking her about it.

Kansas will be playing with a Symphony Orchestra. The Pabst Theater is a small venue. I would expect to see the symphony at the back of the stage. They will probably put them on risers too.

Kansas should have great acoustics when they play at the Pabst Theater. The venue is almost round in nature, instead of being rectangular. Even when you sit in the balcony, you feel like you are directly above the artists on the stage. The date for that show is April 11th. Just think, you could start your day off at Miller Park, and then head over to the Pabst Theater. It's sad to think that she won't be playing the cool violin part to Dust In The Wind.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Does the Bradley Center Stage Move?

I don't really care that the Jonas Brothers are coming to Milwaukee. Why I'm posting about them is because I overheard a coworker discussing her attempt to purchase tickets with another employee. The Jonas Brothers were selling their Bradley Center Tickets through various sponsorship events. My coworker was trying her best to buy some tickets for her 12 year old daughter. The Jonas Brothers shows do not feature your traditional "end stage" setup. They have built a stage in the center of the venue. That's what they call "in the round." They can optimize all seating if they perform in the round.

Sometimes the center portion of the stage will spin when it is in the round. The world famous, and what some would say, "greatest singer in the world," Celine Dion had a rotating stage.

I don't think that The Jonas Brothers' stage will rotate, but you never know. What was amusing to me was the comment by my coworker. She asked the ticket salesperson "does the stage move?" I could tell that the ticket salesperson on the other end had no idea what she meant. I could also tell that her reply was something like, "No ma'am, stages stay in one place. That would be dangerous."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ms. Sara & The Help - Fortune Flower

Sometimes the best music you discover is not hyped by the corporate machine. Let me back up and say that MOST of the best music you discover is passed on to you from a friend. Fortune Flower by Ms. Sara & The Help was literally passed on to me over my back yard fence. It's big.

The first three numbers are powerful. There is plenty to listen to in those songs. Each band member gets their chance to shine. There's no tripping up, or propping up for that matter. The band is top-notch. Sara's vocal strength doesn't distract from the band either. It's right in the pocket. Big powerful songs are a bit easier to play, sing, etc. The test of any great vocalist is how they handle the low, light songs. Dirtybird, (cut number four) shows that Sara's got what it takes. Yes, even Dirtybird ratchets up a bit during some parts, but you won't mind that a bit.
9-5 has that radio friendly feel. That's perfectly fine, because we should be hearing it on the radio soon enough. I almost think that this could be a contemporary country number. All it needs is a touch of steel guitar, and a couple drawl hooks from Sara, and there you are. That's not a rip, I'm just hearing it like that.
Working my way down the the last four songs, I'm hearing a reggae number that lets Sara hit some sweet highs. I must admit that the song could drop right into the mix of the pop top 20, but is that a bad thing? Forgive me for saying this, but I hear Lilly Allen there.
Anabel Lee drops way down to a grey, deep, and dark world. Jimmy Dynamo is deep into the cd, and I'm happy about that. Sara's vocals are too good to be working that angle too hard. Rapid fire rock styling is something she need not waste her time on. Last To Tell Ya is a stripped down, rainy day on the bayou with a woman who's got "a straight razor in her right hand and bubble gum in the other".
I'm not a music critic, and I don't pretend to be one. But when someone gives you something sweet to listen to, you have to pass it over the fence. I will be passing this one on to my friends for sure.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Miller Park Now a Venue For Concerts

Whoa, it’s freaky! Just a few posts back, I spoke about Miller Park being a concert venue. I talked about what the field conditions would be like after forty-thousand fans trampled the grass, etc. I suppose that we will come to know all about that in due time, because Miller Park management announced that they have partnered with Summerfest president Don Smiley to bring shows to the largest indoor venue in Wisconsin.

As expected, the shows would have to be large events that require weatherproofing. Miller Park can be climate controlled to a certain point, but cannot accommodate events in the winter. It is a rain-or-shine venue to be sure. My mind wanders, as I think about the events that could be held there. The first thing that comes to mind would be the back end of some festival that draws numbers as large as Coachella. The parking lot could hold pre-show events, weather permitting, and the interior of Miller Park could be configured to provide reserved seating and general admission areas on the grass.

When I saw Pink Floyd at County Stadium, I sat near the top of the upper deck. I was as far away from the stage as one could get. I experienced an echo of grand proportions that night. Yes, sound engineers can adjust for p.a. mixing issues, but who wants to be the first band to test out the sound at Miller Park?

This agreement may also come in handy, should it last through the Harley Davidson 110th anniversary rally. It was interesting to see the bands in the Miller Park parking lot, but it would have been better to see them in the park itself.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No Doubt Coming To Summerfest

No Doubt is a lock for a headline spot during Summerfest 2009. The date is July 2. The price is pretty darn good for a headliner. Considering that the $15 admission fee is included, you are basically going to see No Doubt for $52. The band has not toured since 2004, and they all seem to get along.

Their statement included a hint that they might go back into the studio to record. Paramore will be the support act for the evening. No Doubt has a sound that is part rock, part ska, and part ballads that support Gwen. Clearly, Stefani took hold of the fame and ran with it. She has a clothing line called L.A.M.B., and had a pretty successful solo career.

After Gwen went out on her own way, No Doubt recorded a second album titled Return of Saturn. It flopped. The band stayed true to their roots. It seems that there are good feelings between all band mates, seeing that they are happy to tour once again.

As for Paramore, I first heard one of their songs last summer. I thought it was Avril Lavigne coming through the speakers. Ok, I’m going to sound cynical here, but when an artist hits the big time, you can bet that there are other labels scouring the country in search of their own version of that hit maker. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the singer from Paramore could easily be mistaken for Avril.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Steven Adler Coming to Turner Hall

My singer plays the role of bass tech for Kliff McBurtney of Beatallica when they open for Adler's Appetite on March 5th at Turner Hall. She's stoked to do Mr. McBurtney the favor of warming up his bass guitar. As she explained to me, she gets to play a couple of sound check songs with Beatllica, one of her favorite local bands, and then watch Mr. Steven Adler rip it up on drums.

Adler was the original drummer for Guns and Roses. He played drums for the first five years of the band's existence. Ultimately, the lifestyle he lived blew up in his face. He was booted from the band. I didn't know who Steven Adler was until last week. Back in the mid 80's, my musical tastes were diametrically opposed to what Guns and Roses produced. You can't blame me for not knowing this man from a hole in the wall. I was busy listening to (and playing) hardcore punk. Any band that wore black spandex and had hair bigger than my sister's didn't deserve my attention.

Adler can be found on the show Sober House. How you can get to the bottom of your addictions while a camera records your every word is beyond me.
My singer was a GNR fan from the start. We opened a Summerfest gig with Welcome To The Jungle. That was the first time I sat down and listened to one of their tunes. Let's just say a three year old child could play the drums to that song.
Slash plays some serious guitar in that band, but that's it. I give the band no more credit on the talent front. I have always felt that Axl Rose sings like Ethel Merman, and my wife says that anybody named "Duff" is fighting an uphill battle for respect. With all that being said, GNR did break the mold when it came to L.A. bands of their ilk. They didn't wear make up, they didn't prance around on stage too much, and they seemed to stay true to their sound. I don't want to offend the Guns and Roses fans, but this is my blog and I get to say what I like.

I hope my singer has fun.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Miller Park, the Unused Concert Venue?

Professional baseball players would not like to chase down a fly ball, only to twist an ankle on some overly-trodden grass. Imagine the wild hop a baseball would take if the surface at Miller park was trampled flat by 50,000 fans. Some sports venues are routinely used for non-sports events. Soldier Field comes to mind. Jimmy Buffett played there a few years back, as did Pearl Jam and The Grateful Dead. I suppose that it's a bit easier to fix a football field when you have months to get it ready for the NFL season. You could have a concert in July, and still have nearly two months to get the grass back in shape.

For a "baseball only" venue there is the problem of trying to have a concert, then most likely a baseball game within days of each other. I remember the plywood covered outfield at County Stadium for Pink Floyd. 60,000 people crushed the field flat, but it didn't matter, the Brewer season was over.

Miller park keeps the roof open during the winter months. The snow can pile high in that place for sure. It's actually good for the natural grass to have a blanket of snow. Will that venue ever host a concert? They did just that during the 105th Harley Davidson Rally. Kid Rock headlined a two-night event there. The Miller Park Tickets you needed to get into the event allowed access to the parking lot only. The event was held outside of the ballpark.

As the years roll on, we might see a show inside the ballpark, but I don't see it happening during the baseball season. Perhaps there would be a show in late fall, with the roof closed, after the Brewers season is over. As a venue, Miller Park is not hurting for revenue. That may never happen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Grinding it out behind the drums

My band is preparing for a show up in Door County this weekend. We are under contract to play at least two hours. We have to bring the P.A. system, the lights, everything. Working bands do this every weekend, all over the United States. They work their day jobs all week, and then do what they really love on the weekends. This particular show requires that we play a few cover songs to fill the time slot. We certainly have over two hours of original material, but we made the decision to play some covers too. The writer in our band tires of the older original songs. She feels that her material evolves and changes. Playing a song she wrote ten years ago is painful to her. I understand that.

When you write, or paint, or compose, your creation can seem stale as time goes by. You tend to feel as if you are currently a better writer, or artist when looking back at what you did so long ago. Sometimes a song becomes a classic. It might be something that you must play at every show. When I was in this old punk band, we had a song that everybody wanted to hear on every occasion that we played out. We wrote the song in 1985. We were still playing it in 2006. When the opening chords to the song started up, I never got that loathsome feeling. I embraced the vibe of the crowd. They are the reason that we played the song, or any song for that matter. If they were whipped into a frenzy by a twenty-one year old song, then so be it. I am happy to oblige.With that being said, I must say that there is a difference between playing the old songs, and being an oldies band. That's something I hope I never have to resort to. If my band is playing twenty year old songs exclusively, we have a problem. If the fans don't want to hear anything you have written after 1990, it might be time for you to find an outlet that satisfies the writer in you.

Have you ever listened to an old hit on VH1 and thought to yourself “everybody was writing songs like that.” Listen to some songs from the old glam bands of the late 1980’s and they all sound the same. The drums are mixed the same way, the singers sing the same way, and the guitar solos all sound the same. The bands are forced by their management to have a sound and style that says “I’m wearing a lady’s wig and makeup, but I’m not into guys.” How do those musicians feel when they do oldies tours long after the wigs and makeup were stripped away? The songs have to stand on their own merit, and that can be a tall order.

Lastly, I have to touch upon the difference between being in a band that "plays all the hits from the 60's, 70's and beyond." That's a cover band, and they don't count. Playing your own songs from the 60's, 70's and beyond is different. You wrote them, you own them, and people want to hear you play your songs. I have no problem with that, as long as you don't have a problem with those pesky fans demanding to hear them decades later.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Is It a Country Summerfest? Time Will Tell

Smiley promises that this upcoming Summerfest will not be comprised of all country music headliners. I hope to buy a Marcus Amphitheater ticket for a show this does not require that I wear a cowboy hat in order to get in. At least the two country acts that they have booked are not totally horrible. George Strait is a solid, old school man. Kenny Chesney is loved by his fans far and wide.

I friend of mine works on the road crew for Kenny, and he has nothing but great things to say about the man. I suspect that there will be a current flavor of the day show, a couple of softer rock shows, and beyond.

It's nice to have an announcement in the dead of winter though. At least we know that someone is working hard to make this summer a good time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Used Music Store Stocked to the Roof.

I don't usually shop for complete drum kits at Music Go Round in Greenfield. I go there quite often just to look around and see what grabs me. In the past year, I bought a small p.a. board, microphones, cymbal stands, a throne, cases, skins and sticks. (I had to change my original post, after I realized that I do drop the cash at MGR.) When I do go there, I scour the store. I don't play guitar, but I look at their stock. I don't need an amp, but I look at all of them. I just like to kill time there while my wife shops at the spice store.

In the weeks before Xmas, the place is crowded with drum stock. It's mostly used starter drum kits that crowd the front end of the store. The used cymbal stands fill the window, no matter what season it is.

I stopped in the store last week, and it was amazing. There were more amps than I could ever remember seeing in past years. There were more guitars, drums, cases, etc. What gives? This was just weeks after Christmas, at a time when the store has usually been picked clean by mom's and dad's and the staff is a few days away from restocking.

Was it related to the economy? Was every spare amp sold off to Music Go Round to cover utility bills, or to make ends meet? The place was busy with customers, and if you had the cash, there was product to buy, but I was wondering what was up with all that juicy gear?

Perhaps it was just a fluke. Perhaps I came at a time that had nothing to do with this sagging economy. I don't know.

Many musicians struggle financially, even during the best of times. They are devoted to their craft, and many don't have steady jobs. Some of my friends sell off gear when they are in trouble, but I doubt that this was why MGR was stocked full.

I think it's my paranoia about the economy, and I just caught the "gear wave" at its crest.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ladder House Sturgeon Bay

February 6th, I will be heading up to Sturgeon Bay for the Binky Tunny show at The Ladder House. They play the second half of the evening. There is an acoustic show before they go on.
It's a two-hour drive to Door County, but I really enjoy Sturgeon Bay. The rooms are cheap this time of year, and the crowds at the Ladder House are pretty awesome.

See you there?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Phish coming to Alpine

Get out your whirling dervish dress, because Phish is coming to Alpine Valley this summer. They perform for two nights in East Troy, and they have a couple of other shows listed on their website. I would suspect that they will add dates as this brutal, never ending winter plods along. The Phish Alpine Valley shows are June 20th and 21st.

That is late enough in the summer where we can expect warm weather. I have gone to those early June shows at Alpine where it gets into the low 60's for the day and high 50's at night. That's a buzzkill.

Summerfest starts five days after that, so we're already in for a great summer.

It's 12 degrees outside right now, but in just five short months, it will be warm.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Old Milwaukee Clubs That Closed Their Doors

Having been around this old town for too long, I can recall many live venues that have come and gone. Some clubs just change ownership, remodel, and open as a new club the day after the old one closes. Most close their doors, and never open as a club again. I can think of three factors that influence the decision to reopen as a club. Is the foot traffic strong enough to bring people to the door? Is the style of music that they book still popular enough to attract paying customers? Is the surrounding neighborhood supportive?

Taking a moment to write about the East Side, North Avenue, between Farwell and Prospect has seen numerous live clubs open and close under different names for many years. The foot traffic it great, the college crowd will always be there, and the neighborhood is mostly commercial.

The neighborhood at the intersection of Humboldt and North Avenue does not have the foot traffic that it used to in the early 80's. Even though the southeast corner has been fully developed, and the blocks south of North avenue have seen a boom in condo construction, the neighborhood cannot seem to support a live club.

The building that used to house The Tasting Room was once called The Landing. It was a bar that had live shows for decades. Sadly, the Tasting Room closed its doors a few years back and never opened again. The neighborhood is perfect for the right venue, but probably not good for a club any more. It's become gentrified.

The following club names should bring back memories: The Underground on Broadway Street, Club New York, Irene J's, Zak's, Starship, The Stone Toad, Century Hall, The Crystal Ballroom, Yano's, Teddy's, Billy's Old Mill, and many more.

Clubs have to change with the tastes and with the times. Only the strong and supported survive.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Harry Connick a bust for this year

I found myself handing over my Milwaukee Theater tickets to a friend the other night. My wife loves Harry Connick Jr. She has seen him three times so far. We were planning on that show for weeks, but when I showed her the tickets, she balked. She was repelled by the print on the ticket. It said "holiday show" on it.

She was not expecting a holiday show. I must admit, a holiday show can get as stale as a cup of Alterra coffee when you get to be my age. You have heard them sung in so many ways, you have seen dozens of performers do their rendition of White Christmas, Jingle Bells, and so on.
We decided to go out for dinner instead. That was a good call. It was cold that night, and the thought of hitting the downtown bars before and after the show chilled me just to think about it.

The next day I read the review of the show. To my dismay, I read that Harry played more than holiday songs. He played a mix of both his regular numbers and the usual holiday music. There is a chance that I could have suffered through that just to see my wife so happy.

It was too late for that. We will have to wait for Harry to come back next year. Meanwhile on the local side, I'm heading down to Racine this Friday night to check out Binky Tunny and the Farmland Chokehold at McAuliffe's Irish Pub. Binky Tunny opens for Thunder Driver from Illinois. It's my last weekend before heading to Amsterdam. I want to have some local fun.