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.