An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere

Archive for May, 2011

Kitchen hot, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 cont. cont.

Milwtown Beat Down, screaming that Michael Buffer chorus again tonight, brings group 3 of hip-hop beat-makers to the battle pit. In case you missed it, JCPoppe of OnMilwaukee (prelim 1 and prelim 2) and the Milwtown Beat Down Blog (prelim 1 and prelim 2) recapped weeks one and two. Local Trolley admittedly took liberty to have a little fun color commentating MTBD previews of preliminary 1 and 2, this week Local Trolley gets straight to the point. Prediction: Tonight will be hype (period)

Reason vs Mc Cullah
Reason , fresh off of the wreck-ship collaboration No Flight Zone with Dana Coppafeel, continues UniFi’s hit streak to 37, just shy of Paul Molitor’s classic base-nock-a-thon, like it was ’87. Mc Cullah has done some quality projects, is young and confident, and his music is very eclectic: a twist of several influences and styles.
Prediction: While MC Cullah is talented, uncut hip-hop will reign as Reason comes away victorious.

Mixed-Up vs Luxi
Mixed-Up’s sound is acidic, grimy and frankly innovative. Luxi tracks bring big giant danceable electro-pop appeal into contact with quality production and she’s dope, and Milwaukee needs more dope female hip-hop artists.
Prediction: Anybody who can make Lionel Richie’s Hello hip-hop deserves to win. Game, Set, Match, Mixed-Up.

GoodWill vs Mighty DR
The dude GoodWill is well seasoned. Mighty DR bring your A,B,C and sometimes Y-game and some mutant super-powers, you might need mutant ninja turtles and Krang too.
Prediction: GoodWill comes out on top.

Hurrikayne vs JooneyDubz
Hurrikayne didn’t release any material per-battle. JooneyDubz has some bump coming out the shop.
Prediction: Too close to call with out anything from Hurrikayne, but JooneyDubz definitely has beats that will get points.

In the later rounds Reason will knock-off Mixed-Up and GoodWill will nuke whoever he faces. Reason and GoodWill advance to the finals.

The last preliminary round of the Miltown Beat Down takes place June 2 at the Jackalope.

Related Posts
Breaking Beats Down, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-jC
Who’s Next, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 cont., http://wp.me/p1hPwN-lv
Kitchen hot, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 cont. cont., http://wp.me/p1hPwN-nO
It’s Halftime, Miltown Beat Down Final Prelim, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-oo
Local Trolley 2011 Honors!, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-13I

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On Composers, MACA at The Alchemist

Jazz and classical compositions sung through the theatre space at the Alchemist in Bay View last Friday. Budding impresario and alto saxist Steve Gallam leads a small guild of musicians bent on reverberating their sound throughout Milwaukee, know as Milwaukee Area Artists and Composers (MACA). Original solo composition performances from Nathan Dill on violin, Mike Neumeyer on piano and Blake Manning on tenor sax messaged harmonies for the audience’s auditory pleasure. Ensemble performances featured the soloists, accompanied by Paul Westfahl on drums, presenting variations on Gallam’s original composition Ellen St. Theme . The Smiler Grogan Case added original pieces to the set, played by tenor saxist Austin Byrd, bassist Brad Karas, and Westfahl.

MACA also provides an outlet for artists with designs craving wall space. Work from local artist Jason Ludtke hung from The Alchemist’s gallery space. Visual artistry from Nic Buchel, Enrique Catalado, Nichole Doty, and Jeremy Dunn cameoed, not to be upstaged by special guest Ossacip P.

The MACA event filled a niche for The Alchemist Theatre’s Project Empty Space, an open call for performance and performance-related ideas. If agreeable to proprietors Aaron Koepec and Erica Case, two of Milwaukee’s most talented and bright young entrepreneurs, The Alchemist will host your project. Upcoming Project Empty Space events are an acting workshop moderated by Grace DeWolf on June 19 and a Bayview Treasure Hunt on July 17.

The Alchemist Theatre’s current production Fool for Love, written by Sam Shepard, runs from June 3rd to June 18th.


Who’s Next, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 cont.

I gave a thorough once over to all the beat-makers (with material available) for Local Trolley’s week one preview of the Miltown Beat Down hip-hop music production battle. Knowledge of the Beatdown‘s pure bracket format would have changed my final picks, but my take on the artists remain largely unchanged, and not far off from the actual result (more on week one here).

Heat two, of the Miltown Beatdown’s first round, cues their tracks tomorrow evening at the Jackalope. Before I continue I want to give a big forearm smash to the Miltown Beatdown organizers for their post, in the wake of last week’s competition, on artistry ethics. Check it out, we are from Milwaukee (or there abouts), and Eric Benet is the only one from Milwaukee that can expect never to get rejected; so you not always going to end up with a dime-piece after divorcing Ms. Halle! If fact, getting on salt at the Jackalope of all places, people will think you still use D-batteries in most of your electronics. Anyway, the MTBD blog said all that needs saying.

Back to the beats. Now that the Zangief (track two) laugh sample has surfaced, I am confident that no stone will be left unturned in search of beat supremacy. Here’s this weeks MTBD under-card:

Andy Petr vs Bad Character
Andy Petr got a sound, it’s choppy and takes a lot of chances. Not only that it’s versatile. I feel my ears wanting to like it, but many tracks play without any direction and the layers fight each other. Andy will be okay though on account of the ability to deliver some recognizably hip-hop tracks. Even if Andy doesn’t make up his mind what style he wants to favor, leaving out the innovative interpretations of rhythm and track progression will deprive the crowd of some forth dimension of sound Petr exists on. The Local Trolley initial Power Rankings didn’t completely do justice to Andy Petr, mainly because I’ve played Bionic Commando on the original NES, but Petr’s body of work is genuinely on a ground-breaking trajectory. Bad Character brings aggression on that Lord Infamous “I like skulls” vibe. Straight forward and primal, Bad Character beats have a club-ready knock conjuring images of arm-locking mini-skirt wearing “girls” running across the street ready to fall all over the place getting sweaty and drunk. This battle will be close if Bad Character can come up with enough interesting variations on a theme to force the crowd to not throw BC’s music in a proverbial box.
Prediction: Andy Petr prevails unphased by the need to please the crowd. Bad Character has an outside chance with an effort on par with the track Feels Good, a track playing in my head since I first heard it.

Hitmayng vs TradeMark
Hitmayng proclaims being from Milwaukee/Madison which actually puts you somewhere in Jefferson County, a place we all know you don’t want to be after dark in a car, on foot or otherwise. Furthermore, attaching Milwaukee to Madison that way is a no-no in the Local Trolley Guide to Rawness. Luckily this is the Miltown Beatdown and its about music with a beat, but I do have to ask, no, no hold on… What the hell are you doing with a Lego-man close-up of this manner? Now, what matters is that Hitmayng picks good reference material and it listens well. In a series of highlights, Hitmayng whips notable beats together from what he bills as 25 cent records. TradeMark does not have any music published, but if he has any music that is trademarked he will likely win.
Prediction: While samples have their place in hip-hop, it’s not on every beat, looped. Even the most basic beat-making software allows you to add your own flavor to your music. Hitmayng’s choice of samples is good, but if TradeMark has anything besides himself beat-boxing on cassette tape to battle with, let alone displays some brilliance, TradeMark wins.

40 Mil vs Sinister Reality
Judging 40 Mil solely on hip-hop genre won’t do justice to the music that will pump tomorrow night. The beats are original to my hearing, and have a variety of influences drawing from styles that have reaped commercial success in Hip-Hop and R&B. The fundamentals are present in the production but there is a chance that 40 Mil may not be given credit for dynamic, true-to-self (as oppose to true delusion) and radio-ready music. Although [mainstream] hip-hop music is often criticized, it is a legitimate hip-hop genre. The sound is big and will undoubtedly get heads nodding. I get the eerie feeling that Sinister Reality drew this match-up to make him demonstrate that his reality is in fact sinister; or maybe it’s just lottery karma. I also get the feeling Sinister Reality has something in the tank, whether it’s enough to deal with 40 Mil remains to be seen.
Prediction: 40 Mil wins, closely.

ClassiCal vs Big Steve
A dual of cool vs. hot ensues as ClassiCal brings light-hearted melodies stripped from lyrics. ClassiCal is refined and not overly underground. Music theory knowledge goes a long way in this craft, and ClassiCal will speak to the crowd of Jackalope. The collaboration with fellow MTBD contestant LUXI is quality. Big Steve lands somewhere between street and black hipster (“Super Producer” now just “Super”). Big Steve moved up pretty high on the Local Trolley Power Rankings for a track like Just One of Those Nights, but the odes and homages diminish his musical themes.
Prediction: ClassiCal showers the crowd with fermented Kambucha while peering through cool sunglasses. Big Steve will get approval from the MTBD mass, but music composition knowledge will swing ClassiCal past Big Steve pretty safely.

By the end, Andy Petr will have knocked off TradeMark, and ClassiCal surpasses 40 Mil to move on to the finale.

May 26th the heat gets turned up at the Jackalope when MTBD group 3 battles.

Made before round one, here are my overall power rankings of field:
I won’t re-rank until the finals but *equals trending, ~equals loosing ground.

1. Reason
2. Lex Luther (last year’s winner)
3. Mark Valdez
4. Mixed Up
5. White Russian
6. Bad Character~
7. Champ
8. Luxi
9. BakTrax
10. Big Steve GooniTunes~
11. GoodWill
12. ClassiCal
13. Audio Pilot
14. Bubba
15. 40 Mil*
16. Jihad Baracas (2009 winner, confirmed)*
17. Hitmayng~
18. Cash Beatz
19. OVA
20. Mighty DR
21. Jooney Dubz
22. Andy Petr*
23. Jungle Boy
24. TreCold
25. Sam Winters

Ranked on Principle (No Material!).
26. Saul Garza Beatz* (Got a sample of Saul Garza’s works and its definitely worthy)
27. Hurrikayne
28. James Jaxin
29. MC Cullah
30. Sinister Reality
31. DJ Heavywait
32. TradeMark (No online presence in 2011…?)

Related Posts
Breaking Beats Down, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-jC
Who’s Next, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 cont., http://wp.me/p1hPwN-lv
Kitchen hot, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 cont. cont., http://wp.me/p1hPwN-nO
It’s Halftime, Miltown Beat Down Final Prelim, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-oo
Local Trolley 2011 Honors!, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-13I


Fair and Fun, Fair Trade Day 2011

Around town last Saturday, a well-knit community of small proprietors endeavored to share their passion for global economic justice. To commemorate Fair Trade Day, Milwaukee’s shops that uphold fair trade ethics opened their doors to promote awareness of wares and edibles produced around the world. Fair Trade Day celebrates growth of consciousness that as Americans we buy a lot of goods from developing countries at deep discounts, at the expense of workers the with few labor rights, or miss out on goods from producers lacking capital and access to infrastructure to sell them Stateside. In 2007, Milwaukee became the third Fair Trade city in the United States.

Wake Up World
Efforts to break last year’s record of a 65,000 person Fair Trade Coffee Break, put the delectable coffee bean center stage. Although Fair Trade Day heightens awareness of fair trade practices in general, coffee-growing symbolizes the struggle for economic fairness worldwide. Ubiquitous in American culture, coffee drinkers can play a role in ensuring economic justice with little effort and at a marginal expense. In addition to coffee, The Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition encouraged a variety of options to experience fair trade ranging from jewelry, clothing and artwork to household cleaning products. Outpost Foods supported Fair Trade Day by offering a free prize for making stops at six participating fair trade locations. Here’s where Local Trolley stopped.

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Grace Place Coffee Lounge
250 E. Juneau, Milwaukee
Stop one, Grace Place Coffee Lounge in Juneau Village, may seem unlikely but not so. In a quaint expansion to the main church building of Grace Lutheran Church, Grace Place Coffee serves fair trade coffee in line with the Church’s mission of promoting better livelihoods in less developed countries. Its quiet and modern, a great place to study or work on a project. Grace Place Coffee sits right in the midst of Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) providing a convenient alternative to an otherwise coffee deprived area. During Fair Trade Day, Grace Place Coffee House featured Fair Trade Organic Coffee courtesy of Coffee with a Conscience.

Brewing Grounds for Change
2008 N. Farwell Ave, Milwaukee
Expecting a major fair trade coffee bash at Brewing Grounds for Change? As a focal point of community action and global awareness on the Lower Eastside, at Brewing Grounds for Change Fair Trade Day equates to business as usual. A great place representing a noble cause, Brewing Grounds nestles hidden gems such as alternative news sources from around the country and many announcements of local educational, creative and social causes. As one of the few later evening coffee shops, the opportunity to gather, read and converse carries on past 9pm. The non-profit status of Brewing Grounds allows much more room for social justice and human interest priorities, anchoring the ethics of non-commercialism still at home on the Lower Eastside. The volunteer staff shares their time so that more of the fair trade proceeds make it back to the coffee growers of less developed countries. WUWM 89.7 did a nice piece on Fair Trade Day that featured Brewing Grounds for Change among others. During Fair Trade Day, Brewing Grounds offered a $1 cup of Guatemalan blend coffee.

Third World Handcrafts Shoppe
5229 N. Capitol Drive, Milwaukee
As one of the oldest fair trade vendors in Milwaukee, Capitol Heights’ Third World Handcrafts Shoppe spent the last 22 years offering a quality and unique mix of jewelry, artifacts, religious icons, and clothing from around the world, including the West Bank, Kenya and India. Founders Jerry and Eunice Koepke, inspired by a sister church’s shop in Nebraska, began buying handcrafted items at prices that would support a family for a year, in countries they visited while on Lutheran Missions.

The idea of Missionaries conjures up a spectrum of opinions, however making a concerted effort to contribute to local economies while on “God’s business” deserves commendation. Third World Handcrafts operates as a non-profit ministry of the Capitol Drive Lutheran Church. Located in the heart of the Northside neighborhood Capitol Heights (Capitol Court to most locals), Third World Handcrafts is the unsung founder of the Fair Trade movement in Milwaukee. WJTM4’s Carol Meekins did a story on Third World Handcrafts as a part of her series Positively Milwaukee two years ago this week. The shop’s fair trade item of the day was Mexican silver jewelry.

Fair Trade for All
8730 W. North Avenue, Milwaukee County
Capping what could become Milwaukee’s most prominent street of continuous business activity, North Avenue, the street’s west end houses Fair Trade for All specialty gift shop. Attracting numerous curious shoppers, Fair Trade for All’s assortment of wall ornamentation, sculptures, clothing, bags and other eye and soul soothing consumables fill every display shelf vacancy. Some of FTA’s rare accessories benefit specific causes such as jewelry made from the ivory-alternative Tagua nut, crafted to combat the disgusting practice of poaching elephants. Handbags and computer cases designed from spent Cambodian rice and fish feed bags by Malia help battle the illicit sex trade. Family owned and operated, Fair Trade for All models sustainable and just business practices daily. On Fair Trade Day Fair Trade for All spot-lit Thai jewelry.

Four Corners of the World
5401 W. Vliet St, Milwaukee
On 54th and Vliet, Washington Heights cradles Four Corners of the World a non-profit fair trading post. Four Corners of the World offers many of the essential fair trade products such as accessories, chocolate and coffee. However, a few specific fair trade brands stand out at Four Corners. Available specialties include Malia Designs, Devine Chocolate, and a Four Corners of the World special blend coffee (along with many other blend varieties) by Madison-based coffee co-op Just Coffee. Good Paper, Four Corners’ featured Fair Trade Day product particularly notable for engaging an industry not readily associated with fair trade, assists communities in areas of the world like Rwanda, Manila, Philippines, and the Himalayas that have really struggled during the industrial and post-industrial era. Good Paper’s products offer an array of fine handmade greeting cards, stationary, and journals.

More than just a trading post, Four Corners of the World spawned from the desire of Southeastern Wisconsin Initiative for Fair Trade (SWIFT) to give Milwaukee a hub for environmental sustainability and high-road economic education. Links to film, periodicals and the Speakers’ Bureau (a listing of cost-free speakers that offer specialized knowledge on sustainability and economic justice topics) and many other Fair Trade resources can all be found at Four Corners of the World.

Future Green and Cafe Tarragon
2352 S. Kinnickinnic, Milwaukee
Subdued and tranquil, Future Green has an outdoor feel indoors. It’s simple, a bit rustic and frankly will bring you in touch with your natural side. Sweatshop-free forest trail or urban-adventurer-ready polo shirts and other active-wear hang out waiting to be whisked away. Contemporary and ethic styles of women’s clothing can also be purchased. Novel items like the featured Guatemalan dolls stand by preparing to brighten the recipients’ day. The sustainable products available set Future Green apart from the solely Fair Trade oriented shops. One-stop shopping for sustainable cleaning products, housewares, home flooring and Photovoltaic Cells (Solar panels) is amazingly possible at Future Green. Cafe Tarragon, tucked in the back of the boutique, attracts taste buds that hanker for vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Cafe Tarragon’s menu offers only vegetarian cuisine, and as an added bonus, a gluten-free bread alternative to the regular baguette. Gluten-free desserts taunt you as you nibble deliciousness, and believe me their entree satisfies cravings.

The Fair Trade Community is thriving in Milwaukee and the beautiful thing about the movement is that it is truly a Citywide effort. A listing of all participating shops in Milwaukee, and surrounding areas, is available on Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition’s website.


Breaking Beats Down, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1

Miltown Beat Down 2011 kicks-off at the Jackalope tonight. The MTBD features a tournament format that will surely generate a buzz, and plenty rattling noises from car trunks lacking ability to absorb decibels of low-end bass emanating from the Third Ward.

Here’s a primer to the beat combatants and analysis of the match-ups tonight at 10:00pm:

TreCold vs Bubba
Menash, WI repres-… Ma- what?? TreCold will tee-off some traditional hardcore gangster bang-bang, which seems to thrive in small towns with Prison Industrial bases. I think Menasha is near Waupun or something, ah ha Fond Du Lac. I suppose it’s time for the that true gangster spirit to stop playing second scene to the hipster flood. Bubba will push back with beats leaning towards experimental pop sound. Electro-rap influenced Bubba brings fun and risk-taking behavior through the speakers.
Prediction: TreCold will lose handily from gangsta rap backlash, and claim all things Milwaukee bogus. The fakey Bubba pulls off with a track like Real will also have something to do with it.

White Russian vs OVA
Unifi Records’ White Russian is the first of several Unifi Records affiliates to perform. The Unifi camp is basically Milwaukee’s equivalent to Native Tongues, on the quality rap conglomerate level. Auto-props are turned on due to Unifi’s overall success of creating a brand-mystique and refined multi-media product. OVA offers a taste of liveness, but ultimately lacks edge. Enough credit is due to OVA for what sounds to be a sample from a Nirvana Unplugged cover.
Predicition: White Russian moves on carried by talent and three fourths of the crowd that is there to support Unifi.

Audio Pilot vs. Jungle Boy
Audio Pilot brings the good old Milwaukee rogue vibe to the table. These type of dudes keep it true to the unabashed poor and working class struggle. The sound has grit and no light and will inspire fearless thoughts. Jungle Boy definitely has a concept and matches it with the ill East vibe, as in just west of Riverwest, and delivers game. It will be hardcore rap but something out of nothing creative.
Prediction: Although tilted gangster, Jungle Boy will prevail in a narrow margin on account of rawness, commitment to unwritten principles, and getting the room hype. This one is close, Auto Pilot’s presentation of a track like Still Here could tip the scales.

DJ Heavywait vs Cash Beatz
Okay a play-on-words is presented by DJ Heavywait, something concerning waiting for my web browser to crash from lamery. I don’t want to say it but waiting is not Hip-Hop. DJ Heavywait is heavy on the electric instruments and sounding commercial. Actually, the production is not terrible given the genre, just the presentation. Cash Beatz will ensure ladies with and without booty will get twerking. Cash Beatz cashes in on video game sound effects and Casio beats, but hey this is the kind of drum hit to which I see a lot player-esque rocking backing forth with Crown on the rocks in hand taking place. These qualities are especially true of Something Crazy. Did I mention ladies going H.A.M. BOW! BOW!
Prediction: The Jackalope will briefly turn into a strip-club and nobody there will argue about that. Cash Beatz wins.

Who moves on: By the end of the night, the two producers I predict to move on to the finals are White Russian and Bubba.

Miltown Beat Down Round 2 is next Thursday May 12th.

Here are my overall power rankings of field:

1. Reason
2. Lex Luther (last year’s winner)
3. Mark Valdez
4. Mixed Up
5. White Russian
6. Bad Character
7. Champ
8. Luxi
9. BakTrax
10. Big Steve GooniTunes
11. GoodWill
12. ClassiCal
13. Audio Pilot
14. Bubba
15. 40 Mil
16. Jihad Baracas (2009 winner, confirmed)
17. Hitmayng
18. Cash Beatz
19. OVA
20. Mighty DR
21. Jooney Dubz
22. Andy Petr
23. Jungle Boy
24. TreCold
25. Sam Winters

Ranked on Principle (No Material!).
26. Saul Garza Beatz
27. Hurrikayne
28. James Jaxin
29. MC Cullah
30. Sinister Reality
31. DJ Heavywait
32. TradeMark (No online presence in 2011…?)

Related Posts
Breaking Beats Down, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-jC
Who’s Next, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 cont., http://wp.me/p1hPwN-lv
Kitchen hot, Miltown Beat Down Rd. 1 cont. cont., http://wp.me/p1hPwN-nO
It’s Halftime, Miltown Beat Down Final Prelim, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-oo
Local Trolley 2011 Honors!, http://wp.me/p1hPwN-13I