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

Archive for January, 2013

Alverno Presents, Beautiful Dreamer: The Foster Project


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.

Of particular note also on the bill, Field Report’s Christopher Porterfield and Betty Strigens of Testa Rosa will add their enthusiasm for all things enjoyable about 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.

Snap to it, Furious Frank, Bad Genie


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

Birth of a Buzz, Thriftones


“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.

Thriftones front man Matthew Davies releases his debut album Wish Peak at Linneman’s this Friday, January 11. Thriftones are scheduled to play next at Tonic Tavern on January 16.