Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Summerfest 2012 Headline Acts at Marcus Amphitheater

Summerfest tickets We're looking at a pair of Summerfest 2012 Headliners for the Marcus Amphitheater so far. Booked before the end of this year, we have months to wait before they scan our Summerfest tickets, and we go on to find our seats. Two classic performers will headline at Summerfest: Neil Diamond will play on July 8, and , and Lady Antebellum on June 30. Darius Rucker will open for Lady Antebellum. There are many other booking announcements to come.
M&I Stage Renovation for South Summerfest Grounds
Late this summer, Summerfest announced that they will be renovating the M&I Classic Rock stage. If you didn't think that the stage just north of the Marcus Amp. was big enough, when the plans are completed, ten thousand rock music lovers will be able to watch the new stage comfortably. A covered stage will make it so much more enjoyable for poor weather evenings. This new stage setup will be the last for M&I, as it's going to be changed to BMO Harris Bank.

Summerfest Looking for Good Local Acts

Summerfest is reaching out to musicians from the area. Which local bands will make it to one of eleven stage? You can help the booking agents of Summerfest by replying to their Summerfest Twitter account. Nearly seventeen thousand fans follow Summerfest on Twitter, and the number is sure to grow as winter turns to spring.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beach Boys 2012 Reunion Tour | Surf Rock - Pop Band Hits the Road

Beach Boys 2012 Reunion tour

Upon the announcement of the Beach Boys 2012 reunion tour, I felt it was time to reflect upon the band that inspired so many true rock musicians. Personally, I don’t understand the lure of this band. Perhaps it was my Midwest upbringing, or my age, having come of age twenty years after the band recorded Pet Sounds. Still, they are considered to be one of the greatest “rock bands” to ever come from California. The Beach boys started out in 1961, writing surf songs, and singing about life on the west coast. They were popular, they had a niche sound, and it was not dissimilar to other surf bands, if not for the lush harmonies. Their first album, titled Surfin’ Safari, was comprised of songs that resonated with a generation of kids that grew up in southern California. They borrowed tracks from Eddie Cochran and Vincent Catalano in order to fill the space required to produce a full-length album. The album spent nearly ten months on the US top 100 charts, and just about every kid knows the words “Come on baby, surfin’ safari.”

Beach Boys Go from Surf Songs to Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys went on to record ten albums from 1961 through 1965. The subject matter of the disks was mostly about surfing, and cars. They made a Christmas album and a disk made up entirely of cover songs. The Beach Boys were certainly a popular band, as some of their songs cracked the top ten, spending months high on the rock music charts. It was the album title Pet Sounds that took the Beach Boys in a different direction, and perhaps inspired a generation of musicians to go on to create rock music. Pet Sounds was mostly written by Brian Wilson, and Tony Asher provided lyrical support. Not only did Wilson take a cue from the Beatles Rubber Soul album, some would say that he basically copied the formula. Wilson stopped touring, reportedly dropped acid, brought in hired guns to play the instruments, and spent months layering the sounds. When the rest of the Beach Boys finally got to hear his creation, they were not too thrilled to see that Wilson was taking the band in a different direction.

Beach Boys Followed Musical Trends Instead of Leading Them

I never felt that the Beach Boys were anything close to rock and roll. They were certainly pop music creators. I’ll give them credit for that. Their songs have a lasting quality, and the Wilson family has a vocal styling that will never be repeated. What I can’t give them credit for is any type of originality. They followed the musical scene, never leading the way. Surf music had already come to the fore by the time that Surfin’ Safari was released. In fact, the Beach Boys covered a Dick Dale song on one of their albums, proving that the band broke no new ground. The Beach Boys harmonies were not unlike early “do-wop” groups of the 1950’s. The breakout album Pet Sounds was created in reply to Rubber Soul. Smiley Smile was a second crack at what Pet Sounds failed to do, that is launch the Beach Boys to higher ground. From there, the band was never quite the same.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sports Venues and House Bands

Does anyone remember the house band at the Bradley Center? It was StreetLife, featuring Warren Wiegratz. The band was set in one of the corners of the lower level, and they played during halftime at Bucks games, and during the breaks between the action on the court. They would also be called upon to play the national anthem from time to time. Mr. Wiegratz is a Milwaukee-based jazz musician, and still performs festivals and private parties throughout Wisconsin. His band takes me back to a time when sports venues had house bands.

The Green Bay Packers had a house band at Lambeau Field through the 1995 season. They would be the bumper music for kickoffs, and at times the brass section would squeeze out a tune during time outs. The musicians that made up the band were all very talented. You had to be, if you were going to tough it out in the cold and snow.

Badgers Marching Band at Camp Randall

When you head to Camp Randall Stadium, it's none other than the Badgers Marching band that will entertain you. It's unfair to call them a "house band." They are one of the best marching bands in the country, performing in parades and stadiums throughout the United States. The Fifth Quarter is when they get their chance to shine. It comes right after Badgers home games, and many fans stick around for the performance.
As time marches on, it seems like house bands are disappearing. Stadiums need more than a dixieland or jazz ensemble to keep fans excited. Sports fans expect to be blown away by more than the sites and sounds of the game on the field. Tucking a band in the corner of a venue just doesn't get the crowd fired up. There may always be a place for a marching band, but house bands at sports stadiums have probably seen their best days pass them by.