The full blown quakes shaking the current discourse surrounding Niki Johnson’s Eggs Benedict, reached me as a mere tremor aftershock, a rumor of spectacular occurrence. I witnessed the aftermath of Johnson’s creatively seismic work during the day session of Gallery Night Spring 2013. Astounded, I expected to like the piece not to have my afternoon taken over by it.
Debra Brehmer, gladly spending some time with her patrons, candidly observed of Johnson’s piece a quality indescribably awe inspiring, a gestalt nearly impossible to render in contemporary art. Brehmer, Portrait Society Gallery’s Director, profoundly noted that the weaving technique Johnson used to ensnare Pope Benedict’s image mimics fine needle point work made so often from women’s hands; an irony for a woman’s craft to have created an irreverent iconic reference to an institution women have been so systematically subjugated within.
Depending on which side of Eggs Benedict pedestal display you approach from, you either feel duped or immediately captured. The portrait’s verso is exposed, revealing the tied medial regions and exposed openings of the many contraceptives. They are so carefully secured on the wire grid, in appearance, sloppy and awkward with no semblance of the intended likeness; a vestige of the personal made uncomfortably public. This window into Johnson’s artistic process demystifies the piece’s craft work, increasing its power.
Eggs Benedict by Niki Johnson on display at the Portrait Society Gallery, 2013
I stood with a couple hand fulls of people for much longer than you may traditionally imbibe an artwork, contemplating whether on a metaphysical level the Catholic church could oppose condoms as a mere object if not used for a contraceptive. Upon further deliberation, given that the portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict referenced in Eggs Benedict originates from a group of press photos associated with his now infamous statement that condoms help spread AIDS in Africa, and the unequivocal prohibition of contraceptives of all forms in Catholic dogma, it is absolutely impossible to parse the medium from the message. In fact, in no more certain terms could the adage “The medium is the message” hold true.
The stage of Eggs Benedict will always be heightened by Pope Benedict’s historic resignation, an eerie stroke fate for Niki Johnson. I sincerely hope they meet someday in some realm. Johnson has put Eggs Benedict up for auction, with proceeds going to benefit AIDS research. The opening bid came in at $20 thousand.
Johnson’s Eggs Benedict secures a moment in art history for Milwaukee; the Portrait Society Gallery serving as the vessel to bring this piece into the art world internationally; April 19, 2013 its semi-official first public opening.
Eggs Benedict remains on display at the Portrait Society Gallery through July 28th, Thursday – Saturday 12 noon to 5p. It will join a series of Niki Johnson’s work opening June 6, 2013 entitled Sourcebook: Martha Wilson and MKE.
Rains drenched the week leading up to this spring’s Gallery Night in Milwaukee and a tornado warning. No worries there are plenty of great place to get stuck in the Third Ward tonight. Cohesion, would be the word that best describes what the Third Ward has achieved in the arts and entertainment lobe of its identity. A permanent scene has undoubtedly formed there to support the City’s high-end fine artists, its cornerstone sits on the intersection of Water and Buffalo Street at the Marshall Building.
Once an informal stash of professional artists and collectors, the building now supports an evolved and varied ecosystem of art and design disciplines. Some are highly recognizable like Reginald Baylor/Plaid Tuba and the Portrait Society. Others like Katie Gingrass are synonymous with fine art galleries in Milwaukee. All of the residents of the Marshall Building deserve notoriety.
Look Who’s Looking
Spring Gallery Night 2013 at the Marshall Building will feature 26 studios and galleries spread about all 7 levels of the building, making it very nearly an informal Contemporary Art museum. One highly anticipated show in particular at the Portrait Society Gallery will feature Nikki Johnson’s Eggs Benedict, a pixelated portrait of Emeritus Pope Benedict made entirely of colored condoms.
Another effort to look forward to comes from recent resident Marlene Hecht Simmons who lower level gallery features her own original paintings ranging in style from pop to portrait to folk. Phil Saxon’s work is also displayed there, a mixed media set that distilled something potentially neo-movement-like.
Timothy Meyerring appears to have quite an experience formulating in his first floor space Timo Gallery. If you don’t like his paintings which is really hard to do, there should be a little revelry to go with them to keep you engaged too.
From the Bottom Up
Gallery Night Spring 2013 kicks off tonight April 19, 2013. Most galleries are also open April 20 as well. Here are the who’s and where’s:
Milwaukee Potters Guild
Marlene Hecht Simmons
Elaine Erickson Gallery
Grotta & Co.
Blustein Brondino Gallery
The Fine Art Gallery
J. Nikolai Art
Too Much Metal
Christine Plamann Photography
C. Harbeck Object Conservation
CR Davidson Art
Portrait Society Gallery
In a wily move, the Coalition of Photographic Arts (CoPA) took over a traditional second floor office suite on upper Mason Street and turned it into a a multi-room gallery space for their 8th Annual Member’s Exhibition. CoPA, a contemporary photography guild, showcases and supports fine photographic arts of all styles.
CoPA member Kelly Crandall expressed that CoPA exists to support the photographer community in the Milwaukee area, and although a membership organization, it is open to amateur and professional photographers. Crandall’s work for CoPA’s current exhibition focuses on landscape and street photography, much of her subject matter being people and architecture. With no less than 50 individual pieces on display from a couple dozen CoPA members, the photographic styles demonstrated encapsulate a wide variety of applications of the medium.
In this exhibition, classic portrait, landscape, and nature photographs accompany technologically driven examples of perspective, enhanced and digitally altered photography. Some less conventional styles like photographic canvas wraps can also be witnessed at the current CoPA exhibition. This will be truly one of the most diverse photography exhibitions around town.
CoPA’s Gallery Night opening is tomorrow night from 4p – 9p Friday, April 19 and Gallery Day 11a – 4p, April 20 on the 2nd floor of 600 East Mason St. The 8th Annual CoPA Member’s Exhibition will continue Thursdays through Saturdays 12p – 6p from April 24 – May 3, 2013.
Growing up, I had a shit kicking, High Life drinking, roof laying, neighbor next door. He was also the first person I ever saw grilling in the rain under an umbrella, with a beer can and Marlboro smoking in one hand, turning brats with a serving fork in the other.
Beside the yelling, cursing, racist propagating and abusive familial relating going-on year round, this family can claim my first best friend, my first video game football touchdown (on Atari 5200), and also my appreciation for Bob Uecker’s voice crackling Brewer’s play-by-play through AM airwaves, and not surprisingly my taste for fried smelt.
Back then the crank nets would come out once a year, cast off of the McKinley Marina pier, snagging multitudes of mid sized bait fish. My neighbors would bequeath a 5 gallon bucket or so of smelt upon my family every summer.
Those days of smelt fishing on Milwaukee’s corner of Lake Michigan left long ago. Not to be forgotten, recently I noticed smelt popping up again in Pick N’ Save and even Whole Foods’ fresh seafood sections.
Get Ready to Play
I got a call from an old college buddy of mine, with a ticket to Brewer’s opening day 2013? I hadn’t been since I wasn’t supposed to be there legally boozing… An idea formed instantaneously. Needing only the occasion, I thought craftily to myself, “let the commiserating of old times begin!”
Some Old Charcoals
It’s like all the days at the Park that came before and all the days that will come after, this year the atmosphere spits crisp gusts of pre-spring air down on thousands of revelers in the mid-morning pale sun. Bumpers hold brews and bags of chips, buns and what-have-you fixings for the tailgating, my party’s got a special guest.
A hoard of headless smelt lay prone packed on top of each other, wrapped in a thin film of plastic and secured in stiff brown butcher shop wax paper. Unwrapped, they nonchalantly slide past each other looking for the nearest resistance to hold them from spilling everywhere.
Ten in the morning is too early for brats, and thats why these here smelt are here. Seasoned and ready the cast iron pan catches the match light flame, too hot for grill cooking, heating the oil to a boil. Old Bay’s and salt are already mixed in the cornmeal, waiting for the smelt to take a dip and shake. Prepped, the smelt go for a swim in the pan for a couple of minutes, out and ready to eat like fish french fries.
The commotion draws the attention of a few weathered tailgaters. They exclaim “Aw yeah, Smelt!” A new opening day tradition is born.
Opening Day Smelt Batter Recipe
Yellow Corn Meal (I use the Quaker round container. You may have to pour a little out to make shake room)
Old Bay’s Seasoning
Add to the Corn Meal
3 heaping Tbsp of Old Bay’s Seasoning
1 Tbsp of Table Salt
Shake to mix
Add 3-5 smelt at a time to the mix and shake to cover smelt
Drop in hot oil and fry for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes
Remove and let rest on a paper towel
She’s crushing the drums relentlessly, not smashed in the back behind the amps, but on the front line. Accompanied by a guitar or two (Pat Boyce and Bill Grasley), bass (Brandon Domer), and sometime keys (Domer), Nichole Rae concusses the tension out of her drum heads while vocally exhuming all manners of their collective innards, thusly The Traveling Suitcase. For the Eastside Music Tour they made their 5:00p slot feel like headliner, that’s a pretty good sign of gnarl even if day drinking is involved. Something cool from Madison for a change.
The Traveling Suitcase, Carry Out Show via Brandon Domer on YouTube
Give them shades from other bands of now, or the future, and their eyes will blaze through those tinted lenses and burn your face off. The Traveling Suitcase rallies harmonic, desperate, and mercurial spirits. Spreading themselves as thin as artistically possible, they’re getting around the Midwest for live shows, keeping their edges tattered.
Slated to return to Milwaukee for Raw Artist Showcase in May, it wouldn’t surprise if The Traveling Suitcase finds time to squeeze in a couple of shows around here in the meantime.
MC Mikal lumbered in the BBC upper room, tall, gangly, vibrating above it all. The scene, relatively modest by hip-hop standards, dropped like an ember that starts a wild brush fire. A performative charge present, highly concentrated energy burned the anticipatory material around it, not caring to be seen.
In a benefit for Men of Tomorrow, one of the older youth programs in Milwaukee, MC Mikal ripped the mic to beats cued by local music producer Moses. Showing mastery of the chambers of emceeing, deviating from prepared material, Mikal enthusiastically took liberty to casually experiment with increasingly poetic streams of mind over rhythm.
Lyrically, MC Mikal readily latches on to various wavelengths, mostly intelligent, conscious of today’s struggles to avoid snares in the web of crap that is American society. In other moments, he gets down right hedonist, encouraging the niceties of life in the moment, social mischief and pleasures of the flesh. Oddly the “Mr. Hyde” MC Mikal, allows you to take his profound lyrical repertoire more seriously, there are no more saints, and he doesn’t pretend to be one. When he’s on, he’s a force on the mic.
Running with Knives
Milwaukee rap conglomerate H.E.R. held the flank, delivering tracks with beats tailor-fit for trunks with subs, riding on rims in their mid-20′s and candy coated paint. Thank Moses, as one of the producers of H.E.R. he brings plenty of heat.
Words peppering the crowd, Jermaine Event led H.E.R, twisting traditional battle style Milwaukee flavored hip-hop banter, an easy combination for people to get lost in. Rarely seen in the contemporary era of hip-hop, H.E.R. prominently featured a hype-man on back-up vocals and 2 guest MC’s. That’s an old formula that usually works, and H.E.R. put it to use rather effectively.
Sean Smart pushed his flows for H.E.R., packing visions of rugged-living, slick talking in a notable mic voice. Expanding on H.E.R.’s lessons, Myke Deezy kept the pace of the show well above resting with his additional vocals and general stage presence.
Quietly, emerging from its chrysalis, we see new hip-hop fauna flashing its oversized moth wings in the likes of MC Mikal, mysterious white dots marking the wings looking like eyes, giving music explorers something new to find. MC Mikal might be considered more appropriately as an artist that emees, so catching a performance from him is a gem.
Some avian raptor varieties of the hip-hop kingdom still stalk the streets, evolving like H.E.R., hanging on resiliently not likely to parish with the Jurassic era of the genre, giving fans from the original depths of the boombap something to vibe to. The subtle reinventions of the street rap style that H.E.R. brings to the stage, although clearly drawing off classic underground gangster rap legends, makes H.E.R. an intriguing example of how each style contributes to the rap picture. All are needed to make the hip-hop eco-system viable, if hip hop is truly to be a voice by which various perspectives on life are amplified through stereo speakers.
Cause for a Cause
In an time when everyone has an idea, notion or feeling of divine right to tell people what to do and how to do it, Anwar Floyd-Pruitt understands that just having a mentor can mean the difference between falling for traps set by bad influences or deciding your own path. He’s the acting Director of Men of Tomorrow, and the proceeds of the MC Mikal with H.E.R show went as a small but meaningful tithe to the Men of Tomorrow youth program. Men of Tomorrow is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that primarily focuses on providing elementary school aged Black youth with mentors and guided activities to assist their transition to adulthood.
I like the idea of a one block tour, it’s the next best thing to traveling all over the country chasing your favorite bands! Keepers of the local ART Milwaukee are making it happen this Saturday on Brady Street all day with the Eastside Music Tour. They strung together an all day line up of shows to benefit the Cass Street School playground, which may soon be the grounds of Maryland Montessori. The overgrown and cuddly beasts calling the playground home need a new paint job.
The shows start at 4p and there are many. The entire line-up is pretty extreme, each hour will have a different band at up to 11 different locations simultaneously around the Brady Street Area. There are some obvious dinner time starts like Joe Wray (Cempazuchi at 4p) and Evan Christian (Casablanca at 5p), both solo crooners of the Rock, Blues and Blues and Soul persuasion.
Trocadero will have Fresh Cut Collective and Kane Place Record Club back to back starting at 7p in the Redlight, where they used to show soft romantic videos after hours (not to be confused with the now burned out Red Room). Roxie Beane, an extremely popular local rocker, also has a 7p slot (at Hybrid).
No Praise Required
If you’re in the mood for potentially new-to-you music, a couple of acts come to mind. The Thriftones mixes cocktail of rock and roll genres having all the ingredients that will give you plenty ambiance to day-drink to. I saw their recent Frank’s Power Plant show and they left quite an impression. More here… Birth of a Buzz, Thriftones, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1y3
On a whole different wavelength at 9p, Crisp will have Albydamned and Demix a duo that master party time like no other. They collaborate on a electronic music showcase called Beyond Awesome, and it is just that. Beyond Awesome recently collaborated with local beat-makers Deletah and special guest Team Bayside High to put on a ridiculous show. Don’t even try to sample this music on your computer speakers. More here… Miramar Theatre, Beyond Awesome, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-1zI
Tickets to the Eastside Music Tour are available in advance only! If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, only “Procrastinator Tickets” are available. Sucking for you they don’t come with a Fanny Pack or T-Shirt. For $15 you can get into whatever shows have room for you, and you also get exclusive Milwaukee deals and specials.
Maybe because it happened to be Black History Month did the irony of Aaron McGruder’s talk at UW-Milwaukee’s most recent Distinguished Lecture Series evening feel even more striking. McGruder’s comic strip turned animated adult cartoon series, picked-up steam the past three years as one of the only televised young and flippant pop-culture outlets originating from the Black community (I really can’t name another).
As The Boondocks appeals to wider and wider audiences, let’s just forgo the conclusion of it reaching cult status. McGruder brilliantly channeled from the ages, angsty, disconnected and disaffected black male attitudes through contemporary cartoon caricatures, to populate his illustrated world. He’s completed 3 seasons on air, preceded by 20 years as a syndicated comic strip of critical acclaim. The Boondocks, in its relatively short television run, has pushed its cult meter dial to negative 270 degrees, aligning with the skull with x-ed out eyes if not now, yesterday.
A Scene from Academia
McGruder in pre-mortem fame commanded 7 bucks per eye, or ear, to catch a whiff of his brain in live action. Copious forward-thinking collegiate troves filed non-chalantly into the Student Union’s Wisconsin Room, eager to hear the words of an unlikely aspiring comic, turned comic strip author, turned television series producer. After laying some flags demarcating the invisible electric fence not to piss on, the fun could rush ahead. Posted were signs for no questions about Season 4, McGruder’s finances or personal life, etc…
As an appetizer, the moderator served McGruder some canned ham, allowing him to address his early influences of Doonsberry, Calvin and Hobbs, and Japanese anime. Social distiller extraordinaire, McGruder gave insight to his uncanny ability to deal satire with a beautifully stacked deck of current events, historical references and cultural archetypes. McGruder quickly addressed how his worldview gained bearing, influenced by voices in his family expressing clear skepticism to news and politics, and admitted his impatience and impudence for criticism (hold that thought). It didn’t take long for McGruder to bare his teeth.
The moderator advanced his inquiry, feigning subtly and nuance, postulating as to whether McGruder ever concerned himself with a segment of his audience possibly missing the point of his story-lines, particularly the satirical elements, because of their maturity as measured in years of age. A snidely understated quip to the effect of “Age has little to do with understanding my work,” left a scald mark on the moderator’s face.
As that question sailed clear over the center field fireworks at Kaminski Park like a screaming fly ball and rolled around on the Eisenhower getting hit by tractor trailers, you could see where McGruder was coming from. One of the inherent tensions in The Boondocks stays tightly focused on the main character Huey, a 10 year-old that consistently wields knowledge and reason in the face of adults and peers, which usually lays useless. His friends, family and neighbors blindly ignore Huey’s logical rationales in preference to being engulfed by their own personal dramas.
Q & A
McGruder also fielded the world’s longest prefaced question, nearly five minutes long, recounting his early childhood experiences gathered from extensive background research, including his love of water, and cheeseburgers, finally diverging into glancing remarks about McGruder’s early professional experiences and dreams of authoring action comic books for a living.
When the run-on question mercifully received punctuation, miraculously McGruder was able to track the woman for long enough to discuss candidly being in his early 20′s and realizing he just wasn’t a good enough illustrator to make it in the full-length comic industry. He refocused his passion to comic strips, a more manageable format, and placed greater emphasis on developing written content with steady punch. Gems often go uncovered in this format of discussion, but McGruder’s forthcoming remarks shone as a must have life hack. Separating pride from reality when detouring your passions, is essential to transforming dreams into something marketable.
The adoration ceded long enough for the moderator to ask pressing questions about criticism McGruder occasionally faces for his exaggerated and stereotypical depictions of African-Americans, particularly African-American women. Almost shockingly, given the underlying political and social charge The Boondocks maintains, McGruder absent any deliberation shrugged off the second-guess. He readily admitted that the show takes various African-American male perspectives, centers on their struggles and snags in the American social system, draws from the absurdities buried within those experiences to create comedy, not exempting African-American women from the shooting gallery.
Furthermore, he matter-of-factly expressed that The Boondocks never aspired to address deep social issues, particularly gender issues, as much as it needed to be funny, if not flat-out offensive, to maintain its standing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. McGruder implicitly kicked the noble-cause-trap of social justice obsessed “Race men” to the side, emphasizing that his personal responsibility lay with his creative vision, and not speaking for Black people in general or to taking on issues of oppression that he personally doesn’t see fitting The Boondock‘s premise.
Whoa! In a room full of a students mildly leaning social activist, with more Black women than I’ve seen in one place on the Eastside, ever, his nerve probably took most by complete surprise. You couldn’t help but notice one African-American woman get up immediately following his comment, as if she just remembered her laundry was done, leaving the auditorium with indignant purpose.
Follow the Parallel Tracks
If you need some light background on the show, McGruder’s masterful animated series hones in on two Elementary school kids, Huey and Riley, who live with their Grandad in Suburbs, after having been raised on the Southside of Chicago. Two other notable on-going characters are Tom DuBois, a very assimilated African-American man with a White wife, and Uncle Ruckus an old ornery Black man with an undying contempt for his own people and unrequited reverence for the “White man”.
McGruder nails it almost every episode lampooning the lamest of what NYC, Hollywood and cable motion picture and televised productions have to offer. Boiled down to its cultural relevance (not to be mistaken with content), The Boondocks is for Blacks young adults, what Family Guy and The Simpsons is for their White counterparts: make-believe mockeries of real social dynamics that glorify ignorant male perspectives. Thankfully for the Boondocks, McGruder at least partially jabs pertinent issues in the mouth regularly, rather than just maintaining ignorance for ignorance’s sake as a form of comedy.
Black nerdom vs. The World
Inevitably, at McGruder’s UWM talk all the elements melded for a explosive build-up: controversial subject matter, general appetite for sarcasm, activist energy, a successful author of exceptional intelligence with an axe to bare on his shoulder, and a mixed-crowd of all ages and backgrounds. Let’s add a bit of context, before jumping off of the diving board into the most thrilling exchange with McGruder that night.
Where a long exposition on hipsterdom, Black nerdom and everyone else may fit here, I’ll just bypass that trouble. Most would agree that despite efforts planned and unplanned to make it so, and not so, the prevailing social winds of today are much the same as they were 20, 30, 40 years ago, and in some ways worse and more insidiously socially divisive.
Despite legal enforcement of institutional racism and cultural reinforcement of injustice at every turn years ago, there was still some willingness of an eager few to engage, at least intellectually, people of different backgrounds even if just in curiosity. The best examples of this happened on college campuses.
Although they were most likely all Radical Chic posers, we can at least imagine every member of the 60′s youth counterculture had a profound cause back then, and it wasn’t just to get “Likes” on social media. In today’s “post-racial” world, a relatively miniscule band of anti-establishment provocateurs have a true sense of engaging in social causes as a matter of seeking common humanity and social justice, and when you see them you know it. That brings us to the conclusion of the DLS talk with McGruder. A woman approaches the microphone.
Silence of the Lamb
She explained her interest in revisiting McGruder on the issue of negative and dis-empowering depictions of Black women on The Boondocks as being particularly troublesome. Her phrasing of the problem, a carefully spun knit scarf of sincere consciousness, recognizing pervasive mass media exclusion and abuse of non-white cultures, compelled silence from the crowd, as she successfully began backing McGruder into a corner about his reprehensible complicity in this practice.
McGruder reiterated his points about his comedic reach, lack of venue and proclivity to incorporate gender issues and balanced representation into his show. Continuing down the scenic justification route, he cleverly reminding the audience that much of what happens on the show is possible, only in the absence of well-adjusted and intelligent Black women.
Persistently she tried another angle, asking of McGruder’s knowledge of the recent controversy of the HBO series Girls (link via Pajiba), and Lena Dunham’s attempt to be inclusive of other backgrounds and cultures. McGruder a formidable plaintiff turned prosecutor, darted that Dunham did so only because she was facing public criticism, after initially being dismissive of observations about her show (link via Mother Jones).
McGruder’s Hattori Hanzo followed with a shadowless arc, “Besides that You’re White”. Her mouth ceased to speak, head tumbling to the floor. The crowd about 50/50 Black and non-Black, half erupted into oooh-ed laughter. She came millimeters away from thrusting her Shaolin spear through his temple, but valiantly fell in rhetorical battle for taking the wrong shot. Comparing McGruder, and his 20 year-old body of work, to a HBO series about White girls was basically like falling in a hole covered with leaves. Did he have any choice but to brazenly dismiss her in front of a predominately Black audience from Milwaukee?
The Non Fall Out
A young Black man, stepped to the mic next, “Ahem, Yeah, uh 1-2, 1-2… Just wanted to snaaaw, shout out Skiiizy, whut up little Tone… McGruder ganstalicious love yaaao…,” He was hissed by everyone and verbally escorted away by the moderator. I looked around. The Black women I could see were not phased by what just happened, the call to arms from the cult of womanhood was not heeded and they let their White ally die an unwanted martyr. Not a single Black woman questioned McGruder, maybe that was the answer to so many questions. Ironically, I doubt any of it mattered to McGruder at all, on any level.
Unfortunately for her, this wasn’t a Tarantino movie and Beatrix Kiddo doesn’t always win in real life. This type of defeat is what turns good White young adults into apathetic hipsters, hopefully she didn’t take it personal. I’m sure he’d say otherwise but I’ll just chalk McGruder’s response up to being skeptical of her intentions. If she really believes in what she says, she’ll continue to be an advocate for appropriateness regardless of McGruder or anyone else’s attitude about it.
The Macro Chip
Speaking of Tarantino, an audience member did ask McGruder about his thoughts on Django Unchained and the striking similarities between a couple of Tarantino’s characters and McGruder’s long-running animated meme Uncle Ruckus and a particular episode about Grandad’s Grandad Catcher Freeman (via YouTube). Simply put, McGruder said he would not comment beyond asking the audience member if he thought there were any obvious similarities that would make him ask that question. Sounds like Tarantino might have pulled a move like Stallone with Rocky. In a fitting twist of fate, Django Unchained just won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Aaron McGruder is a giant who truly owes no one anything. He’s deserves a lot of credit for nurturing a creative concept into a marketable body of work and also for freeing people to recognize he is not just a Black man, but an individual and entrepreneur that had an idea and the guts to pursue it. Likewise, McGruder has to take the criticism for pandering to the worst to low-end of humor just like anybody else, hopefully he won’t cop out next time. Congrats to UW-Milwaukee’s Distinguished Lecture Series and SocioCultural Programming for nailing this selection.
Mark “Madden Miles” next project (Download the Kate Upton Beat EP) dropped on the net on Valenine’s Day. If you just couldn’t get enough of that you could have got out to the Kate Upton EP Beat Tape Release Party live in Racine February 21, 2013. Well if you missed that I suggest you cop the download, the play is extra nifty. Click on your favorite part of the Kate Upton EP cover art below and check the details.
Madden Miles’ last joint the Candace Baily EP Beat Tape dropped last year and is still bouncing. If haven’t pressed the player play button to get a snippet of Madden Miles’ beastliness you missing it!
The irony of robots is that they are kind of low tech now. In Brian Rott’s latest amalgamation of ideas, props, plot and actors Robot Cabaret, we find out that quite possibly robots have feelings too.
Extraordinarily imaginative, Rott, in creative tandem with Michael Guthrie, centers an underlying point of tension around a Robot Detective that seeks out and dismantles fritzing robots that are passing around a terrible virus. In this robot world, companionship develops between human and machine, as robots of various persuasions, interests and intelligence seek to emulate the best humans have to offer; or wait do the robots want to rid the planet of humans and keep the highest points of human invention preserved in exacting semi-conducted binary logic?
The best thing about Quasimondo’s productions (Robot Cabaret being no exception) is that they spin fractal like stories, within sub-stories within metaphorical vignettes, woven into loosely devised plots that don’t follow a logical or sequential pattern, their plays at least don’t seem to do so until you get home and say silently, “oh”. Most likely you’ll just have had several dramatic flashbacks to some completely outrageous joke that you missed live.
Quasimondo’s full commotion multi-sensory response inducing hijinks, always stack the shows with ample pop culture references and true renegade efforts from very talented performers of many different corners of stage art. Robot Cabaret even has guest cameos from famous imposter musicians of various glory ages that a conniving salesman has put his robot minions up to studying so that he can make sideshows out of them. Bits and jokes galore litter the show, spewing from human and robot alike, and backed up by a house band… a house band? Yes!
If you’re into theater, nothing can bring more enjoyment than not knowing what to expect next from the next scene, or part of a dialog. Robot Cabaret far exceeds this threshold and the ensemble is an attractive bunch to put a bit of icing on the show.
The Quasimondo’s Robot Cabaret opened Thursday night and runs February 16, 18, 21, 22 and 23 and the following weekend all at 8p at the Fortress. There’s also a Matinee show on February 24 at 2p and pay-what-you can on February 18. Advanced tickets are available.
Beyond Awesome #somethingsomething via Spectral Productions on YouTube
If I said I didn’t have a taste in music vulnerable to electronic bass music, I’d be lying. The genre has had its fits and starts over the years but has solidly stayed under the rug of hip-hop and club-pop, since Disco died. Nowadays it has a spectrum that spans material making great soundtracks for basement booty-shake jams, warehouse thumping Drum-and-Bass and fun loving dance in the mirror House music. The gradients even go way beyond and have to many pseudonyms to discern, solidly separating the current forms from their musical predecessors. It really doesn’t matter anyway, the current mutation has crept out like some cold-ass Thriller-video zombies, with LED lit rainbow finger tips.
A coven of Milwaukee beat heads started bringing the boom back over the past few years, one group loosely coalesced under the Beyond Awesome banner. Expanding from hole in wall venues, Beyond Awesome now blows up little big spots into mini-full action mini-shows, A/V effects and all. The latest installment took over the Miramar Theatre this past weekend at Beyond Awesome #14-something, with Ryan Albydamed, Deletah and special guest Team Bayside High putting woofers to the test, lashing the faint-hearted with some nasty bass mash-up party music.
In Every City
Kind of beat up, the Miramar Theatre is basically one of the last true hold outs of super open format live music in Milwaukee, mostly extra local. Miramar is notorious and friendly to everything from open mic nights, to metal, to gangster rap, and folk all in the same night (I personally have even done my first and only stand-up comedy routine there on a dare, and the Miramar hosts were kind enough to record it to CD for me, to remind me not to do stand-up again).
More or less suitable for any type of crowd, except intimate, an ample open floor layout cuddled up to the stage where a gang of bass heads bumped, stomped, juked, nodded, and bounced, feeding off of rhythm and lazers. Actually, many due high-fives to Miramar for having ample house sound capabilities to handle the low end (or to whoever the sound dude was if that wasn’t an Miramar upgrade). The February 2013 installment of Beyond Awesome smashed again with a few sea-weathered DJs guiding the ship.
Release Performance, Manual Controller, Salutations
The February 2013 term of Beyond Awesome featured lazer blazing Chicago duo Team Bayside High. If the Miramar Theatre was actually Bayside High these cats basically tied Mr. Belling up, put Zack in a full-nelson and made Screech punch him in the face at knife point, while blasting their stanking new refit of C+C Music Factory’s infamous hype-music era killing classic “Make You Sweat” over the PA. They bribed Slater to lug 10 barrels of PBR, by himself, into that super weak cafe they had called The Max, where Kelly, Lisa and Jessie were already covered in chocolate syrup and whip cream having a three-way tongue fight, forcing Slater to stuff that masochist Gimp leather gag-ball in his mouth if he wanted to stick around and watch… and he did. Yeah, pretty much like that.
Man… Gonna Make You Sweat Retake via http://soundcloud.com/teambaysidehigh
At some point in their fledgling careers mashing beats up and blasting them, Team Bayside High felt the apple drop on their head, realizing that people like that kind of nonsense. They are tearing scenes up like breakaway pro-wrestler tanks on their rag-tag Midwest tour that eventually hits Spring Awakening in Chicago this June at Soldier Field. Expecting any material to stay sacred around them is expecting to much, they are capable of mashing anything to smithereens, including the best Super Mario rendition I’ve heard yet. Maestros, for real…
Here we go… Super Mario via http://soundcloud.com/teambaysidehigh
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Miramar Theatre, Beyond Awesome
Picture a couple of everyday smart assess interlocking hands in an Exclusive Company dance instrumental section while reaching for the same rare Dan the Automator CD, their deranged minds forever become intertwined, morphing into a mighty entity called Deletah. They Glitch and Dubstep with a high degree of technicality, carrying well thought out concepts that warp the dance floor to a distant nebula. Deletah generally finds some way to squeeze infinite variations from similar pulsing modulated lazer synths. At the end of an otherwise boring day, keeping the commotion going at Beyond Awesome was really not a problem for Deletah.
Very Recently released Deletah track via Deletah
Taking in a deeper listen of Deletah’s track sets gives a better perspective of the horizons they reach in their craft. Understandably, for a gig like Beyond Awesome nothing less could be expected besides a spine-shaking ton of rhythm pound, with a heavy dose of good old kick in the chest.
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Miramar Theatre, Beyond Awesome
A nice cross between mellower House and hard banging club Electronica of vary shades, I hate to even try to give a written flavor of Albydamned controlling the monitors. He’s been a mainstay of Beyond Awesome dance-offs and collaborator with most of the who is’s of Milwaukee’s club jam producers, most notably 414MELT ‘s TheDemix who deserves his own post.
Like a great point guard, Albydamned set the tone for the latest edition of Beyond Awesome at the Miramar Theatre emitting slowly boiling mixes that got the crowd primed and frothing for the rest of the night, swaying involuntarily to his own blends, his flowing mane draping in through the bass. You can get a great taste of a few of his kicking downloadable sets on the Ryan Albydamned Mixcloud, chances of sitting still… none.
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Miramar Theatre, Beyond Awesome
A jagged cobble gangway leads to a rundown London public house. Inside, the local pub’s dingily stained wood bar, worn and barely kept, stays littered with empty glasses awaiting a pour from Margarette (Sharon Nieman-Koebert), a surly bartender in the Whitechapel section. The pub’s flock comes to the trough at times solitary, and at others in tandem and at random, always gnarled like the wrought iron propping up the once fine carved stair banister. The same iron, cast thick to seal unequivocally combustible ether within it, protects the life of the only light on this bleak passage on Buck’s Row. A lurid scene to beset the stage, a swell display of craftsmanship to give a story a place; something Milwaukee’s come to expect from the Alchemist Theatre.
Aaron Kopec, the Alchemist’s lead producer/director, has been making rounds story telling the world’s most notorious villains. Eventually, the wheel had to stop on the original terror tale, of those despicable acts carried out by Jack the Ripper. Dubbed the first modern serial killer, the fact that “The Ripper” only had a nickname and never saw justice gives his legend that much more creepy mystic. His known victims referred to in history’s annals as the Canonical Five, collectively serve as the production’s namesake and principle character.
The Chisel, The Stone
One by one we meet Polly Nichols (Liz Whitford), Annie Chapman (Sammich Ditloff), Elizabeth Stride (Erin E.), Catherine Eddowes (Libby Amato) and Mary Kelly (Anna Figlesthaler), unsavory and low, making their ends meet through charms of the flesh. Their first impressions come through the crude eyes of two Whitechapel blokes, who give us a taste of the bitter flavor filling the Old World English body politic, freshly weary off a century of Industrialization.
Isolated and cynical of their own existence, we learn of the male archetype’s harbor of utter disdain for women from Thomas Cutbush’s (Randall T. Anderson) foul mouth, frothing with vile regard for each of the Canonical Five. As he describes the unseemly sisterhood, they pepper the street corners and pubs they work with quip dirty remarks, emitting an aura of rank sexuality, leaving little doubt as to the warrant for Cutbush’s attitude.
Then there’s James Sadler (Kurtis Witzlsteiner) a scurvy ship hand with a streak of kindness towards the neighborhood ladies, but within eye shot of a fellow bloke he falls in-line with the times. He likes to frequent the stale air in London’s underbelly, among the regular faces flush with booze, scrapping by in life, guiltlessly having his way with the town floozies.
Then there’s a conspicuous stranger that completes the line up. A Yank, Francis Tumblety (Harry Loeffler-Bell) sensitive and prone to offense, with little interest in typical mundane male affairs, floating far above vulgarity and “buggering” tawdry women. Searching for something, his mysterious silent ways befuddle everyone, even more so when he takes a personal interest in anyone expressing brutal honesty about the contradictions and futility surrounding life in industrial society.
When the Music Stops
Contrary to the male point-of-view, much of the story unfolds from the perspective of the women who would loose their lives at the hands of Whitechapel’s unknown killer. In their private moments with each other, the working women share kindnesses, concern, their meager possessions and hefty burdens. After the first of their circle falls to a vicious murder, with them we go deeper and deeper into fear’s mist, barely enduring reality as their loop grows narrower and narrower.
Each heroine exposes their inner most feelings before their moment of reckoning, leaving an unfortunate trail of crumbs back to the beaten road of circumstances leading to their dispossessed existences as working girls; each having been abandoned by their husbands and emotionally lacerated by the loss of their children. They yearn for some light of hope, elusive and shyly personified by Billy McDoogle (Drake Dorfner), the Whitechapel section’s street lantern attendant.
The Wheels Grind
Theater has always taken on the conundrums of human life, contemporaneously in current day theater it’s quite vogue get down right obscene. While keeping the obvious aesthetic and entertainment value of drama in the forefront, The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper does present some content, social commentary and dialog that is not for the squeamish. In taking on the tough issues of gender relations, morality and poverty, in some of the scenes the players are clearly challenged with even dramatizing these topics. (not to worry this doesn’t relate to the on-stage portrayal of the fates of the victims, there is not one scene of dramatized violence)
All of the actors muster rousing performances in at least one scene, playing to their acting strengths. Amato and Figlesthaler maintain superb chemistry with each other and create tension with the other characters particularly well. Ditloff embodying haplessness, Erin coyness, and Whitford tragedy, take the limited moments available in their monologues to draw the audiences attention.
Nieman-Koebert’s character Margarette, an unlikely foil, keeps the down-beats from sinking too low. A bit jester-ish Witzlsteiner provides a character that is relateable to most. Loeffler-Bell is convincing, as a being that doesn’t quite fit in. Anderson, displayed quite a bit of stage presence and seasoning, keeping the pace of the show.
A Matter of Practice
Where as pressure has mounted in Milwaukee’s theater community to climb trees and dance in the street, as a production The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper maintains a conventional approach, which is always interesting to watch, as it tries to say something relying purely on what the players can evoke with method and the personal approaches to character. A good story and show, the Alchemist’s current run appeals most to those with a taste for little suspense and naughty humor.
The Canonical Five of Jack the Ripper runs tonight in about five minutes, with closing weekend next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All show times starting at 7:30p on the dot.
Proclaiming ‘Old is the the new New’ on the most infamous social media outlet, attracted the comment “New is Ooover!” Can anything be official?
Inducing a new understanding of ubiquity, when Alverno Presents announced Ryan Schleicher would lead a night of musical rediscovery entitled Beautiful Dreamer: The Foster Project the pieces of this musical thread dangled unattached to my immediate reference. If Schleicher rings a bell, he’s a member of Milwaukee’s own Juniper Tar, a simple times bluesy rock band that evokes that slow roasted southern rock with sharp whiskers whose name I pray is a idiom for Gin and cigarettes… but Stephen Foster…
Juniper Tar will preside over Alverno’s Pitman Theatre as maestro of The Foster Project, giving segue to several performers of disparate musical genres all of them casting their interpretations of Stephen Foster’s body of work. Let your eyes relax, drifting the words ‘Stephen, Stephen … Foster‘ through your mind.
Set Adrift on Memories Bliss
Yes, that green composite plastic cardboard cuboid with metal hinges and stubby round feet opens, revealing the platter of that 2nd grade classroom A.V. wonder sitting on the counter. Maybe it stood in the music room. Mrs. Staccato delicately picks up the arm of the phonograph and places it on the already rotating vinyl record. “Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me…, Today class were going to learn about Stephen Foster”, Mrs. Staccato says. Please, come off of that bookshelf before you hurt yourself in your daydream now.
Old Music Dawns
Giving due to Stephen Foster, Jon Langford representing punk/blue grass, Blueprint accounting for Hip Hop, Robbie Fulks revving up Country, and Bethany Thomas pipping Choral solo will treat the audience to their personal tributes to Foster’s music.
Incredible talent will perform Beautiful Dreamer: The Foster Project at Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre, 3134 South 39th Street, on February 2, 2013 at 8:00p. Tickets are available in advance and at the door. It’s early, but The Foster Project might be one of the most genuinely interesting musical performances of the year.
Darkness permeates the atmosphere, the bar’s rich and chocolate brown stain has the visual quality of an oak barrel that soaked up raw molasses for decades. Oversized canvases beset the Bad Genie’s walls, bestowing florescent pop art images of the great heroes of rock n roll’s childhood, bears dancing, a Vicious snarl. The stage on this night invited a taste of old made new, Furious Frank smashing Chicago blues into traveling carnival vaudevillian show tunes.
Multi-pieced and maybe leaning a bit to the freaky side musically, Furious Frank keeps typical band instruments around (drums, guitar, bass, and assorted percussion pieces like tambourine) to accompany a prominently featured Trombone and kitschy favorites the Concertina and Mandolin. Furious Frank amplifies instrumentation making treats out of sound by massacring feel good covers and original songs.
If ears could be deceived, at least one set piece easily stunt-doubled for a Ska-version of “Soul Man”. All notes considered, Furious Frank subliminally rocked the house, a feat beautifully contorted Carny-rock can’t always pull. They put together some wicked low-tech animation for this video release that makes them even more weird.
via Hobocampmudshow on YouTube
“Motley” described a famous Crue of lost angles rocking the 80′s. In Milwaukee these days, Thriftones get motley, genuinely. Their distinct brand of folk, rhythm and blues Americana bridges the front porches of Dixie to bonfires of the Heartland, open fields of Upstate New York to city blocks running into Golden Gate Park.
The Thriftones tumble through mysterious carnival music-box time signatures, chiming, then break into swoons well-timed, with pace and delivery of a hilarious stand-up comedian prodding a crowd to laughter on command. Rattling, twanging guitar riffs serrate blues piano melodies, reckoning humble, hard times, down-tempo bluegrass rock by-gone, but not forgotten. Tapping influences faintly recognizable, more as ode than necessity, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, and a few others, subtly register in interludes and bridges, densely covered with original musical elements.
While judgement passed on bands often hinges on they’re musical ability, Thriftones demonstrate that lyrics sung, in key and audibly, can also have thoughtful, wise and poetic content and keep they’re edge. At their Mayan world end show at Frank’s Power Plant, Thriftones’ vocals easily cut the monotony of clanking glasses and empty cackles, in easy harmony with their instrumentation. A balance struck on par with bourbon whiskey, neat.
Approaching the doorstep of 2013, lets not trip over the threshold without getting a chance to look back on the most popular posts appearing on Local Trolley in 2012. First, I want to thank everyone who has used precious bytes of data and bandwidth to take a peek, if only at the home page on accident, at Local Trolley’s content. A lot has happened in Local Trolley’s second year, I find it fitting share a couple of online media milestones.
Numero Uno: I got a smartphone! Not just any old smarty-phone, I got an iPhone… and have talked shit about it from the day I took it out of that lame little white cardboard box. (I still love you though boo). My iPhone has truly made me more adequately social media obsessed and has truly aided me in finding my humble place on the grand scale of social media petty obsessionists. Yet I am undaunted, because at the end of the my AC adapter I still like to write more than I like to attract followers, so my cryptic and unflashy site is for just that, reading, occasionally.
Enough about Local Trolley, let get to the top posts, of the Year 2012.
#5 Brighten the Passage, Design Competition
This post actually appeared on Local Trolley in late December of 2011, and progressively got more popular. Perhaps as more people have attempted to walk from Downtown to the Third Ward, more have wondered why it is so Billy Goat Gruff-like under there, rather than yeah cool Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Under the Bridge-like. Maybe others are just wondering if the contest is still going on. The Third Ward Association opened a design competition called Brighten the Passage to solicit ideas for how to make being under the I-794 overpass for 150 yards while trying to get to Public Market a bit more bearable. I never heard of a winner of the design competition or of an submission, maybe its time to revisit this one. I think we can at least get the City to move that damn yellow utility van off of the gravel on 4th and Clybourn Street.
#4 Far South Coast, Chef Paz Restaurant
Who wants to argue about Milwaukee’s “Foodies” and their enthusiasm for food? I don’t. Let’s face it, Wisconsin is known for brats and cheese. Milwaukee is know for brats, cheese and some of the best damn no non-sense ethnic food you can find… uh anywhere. I hate to take a stab Madison, but they’re a one of most things kind of town. Here in Milwaukee, for being a little big town, we have multiple decent options for a lot of ethnic food genres. The only thing we are missing is dim sum. At any rate, how cool is having a Peruvian restaurant to brag about, in West Allis no less.
#3 Bronze Age 2.0, Vanguard Sculpture Service, Winter Gallery Night 2012
Not to show too much bias (I’m a blog I can do that), but Vanguard’s Gallery opening was one of the coolest events I have attended in Milwaukee. Throwing fashion and trends to the side, Vanguard stepped out from years of unsung Milwaukee artisan craftsmanship to reach out to the mainstream. Nestled deep in the 35th Street Industrial Corridor, Mike Nolte represents the deep native Milwaukeean original art scene, predating the modern internet and contemporary art ad nauseam by decades. The Vanguard exhibit, Founders, featured bronze sculpture by roughly a dozen artists and a live bronze pouring demonstration.
#2 Making the Mold, Northern Chocolate Company
Our favorite chocolateer tops the list again! I am not the first nor will I be the last to write about the magical cocoa concoctions imprisoned in that beautiful Italianate cream city brick building on MLK Drive just waiting for you to break them out, waiting for you to become a part of the legend. A pure Milwaukee bucket list item, there are a couple of notes you should take before your trip to the chocolate town in Northern Chocolate Company. Give this post read before you go.
NUMBER ONE! Opening Shop, Urban Milwaukee
If there’s a more fitting outfit to grab the top spot, even on the most underground blog in Milwaukee let me know and I will sing their praises with a daisy behind each ear. Urban Milwaukee may be the most established Milwaukee focused online outlet Milwaukee has, and Urban Milwaukee has a store now. With a premier location kiddy corner to Hotel Metro , it’s great to have a place to feel right at home exchanging a few zealous words about Milwaukee in. One of the biggest beneficiaries of Urban Milwaukee (other than fanatic Milwaukeeans) are definitely visitors to the City. Kudos to Jeramy Jannene and Dave Reid you nabbed Local Trolley’s top post of 2012!
Ya! Ya! Sea Triscuit, on with 2013!
Football dominates Sunday afternoons, especially in Packer country and especially when the hometown favorite makes mince meat morsels out of ancient rivals Chicago Bears. MOCT on Pittsburg has taken a different approach to Sunday funday, mixing an afternoon of sports and indy commerce. They’ve huddled with Wren Solares’ creative start-up Lost In Milwaukee to give a winter home to Solares’ venture the Sunday Up Market. The first installment of Up Market popped this past Sunday, scheduled to cycle in crafty inventories on alternating Sundays through the Spring of 2013.
Accommodating a couple of fists full of vendors, the Up Market gave opportunity to venerable makers-of-things of varying materials including Butterscotch Baby’s full line of Total Body Experience products, felted accessories by Jan Falk, repurposed and original nit designs by Zen Dragonfly, couture from BVEN Boutique on Brady, and some serious iron work from Historic Preservation Award winner Milwaukee Blacksmith Inc. Sunday Up Market’s selection of wares and accessories gave a swath of interpretations on winter favorites like hats, scarves, wrist warmers and some really nice mittens, and all season items like jewelry and resale vintage fashion from other sellers as well.
As craft and art fairs become vogue, mainstay outlets like WSME’s Buy Local Bazaar, Art vs Craft and Made in Milwaukee need company, its getting to the place where there are just not enough booths to go around. Even more intriguing, MOCT has the ability to host this event on a regular basis with a nearly ideal atmosphere for a local shopping experience: urban chic and niche. Once spring breaks, Solares, collaborating with the Walker’s Point Association and Alderman Perez, plans to move the venue of Sunday Up Market to an outdoor space that will accommodate 200 vendors. The Sunday Up Market spring kick-off is scheduled for May 5, 2013.
Even though the next Up Market is a month out, you may still have time to strike a deal with some of the vendors before Christmas by contacting them directly, online or by appointment. The next Sunday Up Market is January 20, 2013 at MOCT. You’ll find more information on the market and vending opportunities on Sunday Up Market’s website.
Cloaked and vaporous social commentary of unprecedented proportion masqueraded as wackiness in one of the best art installations of the year. Tremendous effort went into putting together The Skrauss’ latest exhibition Ascension into the Fiction at UWM Innova 3 Gallery. An illustrator and painters by training The Skrauss has more recently taken a dive of the deep end into video production. He’s compiled a series of vlogs entitled The Skrauss Speaks. For Ascension into the Fiction The Skrauss constructed an elaborate maze, with walls at least 10 feet high with blind turns and tight spaces, fabricated from discarded boxes and duck tape. Several rooms were set upon by projectors blasting the The Skrauss Speaks propaganda films onto the maze walls.
This once and life time experience closed December 8th unfortunately, it actually took me two weeks to find the Innova 3 Gallery, nestled unceremoniously in the Peck Arts building on UWM campus proper. Alas, The Skrauss is having an art open house and book give away today at 4:30p at The Skrap Haus Multinational.
Have you given up on beats? Unplug those earbuds and get a download of this collab of Ed Pengame and Madden Miles that’s only suitable for quality headphones, car systems with sub port bass systems or home stereos. Ed Pengame aka e.d.g.e gets clean on this one, indie and nothing to lose except respect in the underground hip-hop game, so you know what that means, Rip a Shot!
e.d.g.e. “For Your Thoughts” produced by Madden Miles via bigmcenroe on YouTube
Madden Miles released a limited edition EP this summer, The Candace Bailey Beat Tape, and keeps beating on the doors with a quality contender showing at the 2012 Miltown Beatdown. The kid keeps it very nice for purists and instrumental lovers with occasional beat sample drops check out some of the latest.
“Powdered Nostrils” Madden Miles
“Broken Mirrors” Madden Miles
“Rising Above” Madden Miles
The Candace Bailey Beat Tape, Madden Miles
Busting out the It’s Tricky Irish folk band rendition? That’s gutsy Brothers Quinn, that’s gutsy. A musical brigade armed with fiddle, banjo, upright bass, drums and probably some other instruments I couldn’t see, Brothers Quinn heated up Fire on Water last Friday with traditional Irish tunes and even a cover of the classic Gorillaz ft. Deltron compilation track Clint Eastwood. Adding even more fever to the night MC One Self made a lyrical cameo.
It was already well beyond room temperature in the joint, and I’m not sure if that was to keep with the theme of the bar or because Brothers Quinn had a consistent jolly riot of dance floor junkies doing the half House of Pain Jump Around, half Polka, half Irish Jig move all night. What better to go with a few shots of Tullamore Dew than some kick butt Irish rock.
Brothers Quinn tour all around Wisconsin, and when they come around to Milwaukee again they may be worth pairing with a round or two.
If you heard a rumor that there was a giant coffee cup being hoisted atop a building you can confirm that just by heading east down I-794. The giant rooftop cup, a beacon to all wayward coffee drinkers, signifies you can now sip Stone Creek Coffee slowly at their shining new Factory Store on 5th and St. Paul.
Stone Creek Coffee Factory Store serves up quality and well sourced grind all week, very early on weekdays opening at 5:30a, then 6:00a on Sat and 7:00a on Sun.
Spacious, comfortable and modest, the Stone Creek Factory Store retained the old world charm of given by original building architects Burnham and Root, with vintage cabin completeness provided by Kubala Washakto (a slightly style-cramping choice of architects considering they also designed Alterra’s corporate headquarters). Not moments after entering Stone Creek’s vestibule, do you experience l0arge glass panels beckoning you to enter the cafe to see just how nice inside looks.
At the Factory Store opening, Stone Creek’s renewed industrial interior, formerly just their headquarters and roasting facility, provides a ideal setting for coffee consumption and bustles with activity. It feels like an unpretentious resort suitable for Stone Creek’s typical patronage, a pleasant and seemly crowd not quite spanning the cultural spectrum the way Alterra does. Friendly, knowledgeable Barristas have a marked presence, as well as ample seating at big tables suitable for accommodating feasts in ancient Saxony.
Method to the Cup
Stone Creek still has a Barrista school where its employees hone their craft of brewing and cupping. A kind fellow stands at the coffee bar practice area ready to demonstrate the traditional drip method of brewing. The mock Barrista station captures the intensity of a chemistry lab. Several glass vessels rest on top of digital scales consecutively, cradle ceramic drip cones in their openings. A tea kettle holding water heats up with a digital thermometer monitoring its temperature. In grave detail, the fellow explains that preparation of a single cup of coffee using the drip method suits his personal preference. An emphasis on the precise weight of beans and type of grind, ensures that what the vessel captures, when water brought just below a boil slowly soaks through the coffee and filter, impresses the pallet of those with discerning taste.
Further leaping into maturity, not that Stone Creek hadn’t outdone itself with the primary features of the remodel, baked goods now come in-sourced fresh from its newly christened commercial backing facility. Goodies make it from oven to plate, pipping fresh, and quicker than ever. Stone Creek’s coffee couldn’t be happier.
Stone Creek’s flagship store gets tons of credit for adding a little commerce to an otherwise bleak area for retail business of any kind. Sitting at the footsteps of the Central Post Office and Intermodal Station, and a stones throw from We Energies, an obvious captive market will inevitablely tip their cups. Let’s hope that some spillover from the Third Ward Association’s innovations in pedestrian experience and attempts to heighten awareness of activating dead spaces like Brighten the Passage, can meet West Town and the City halfway and alleviate the bleak walking conditions from surrounding areas to make an even greater success story for Downtown.