With Opening Day less than a week away and spring on the horizon, the time has come for bands to begin peaking out with the recorded results of their winter hibernation. The year of the snake has just begun and the promise of new recordings from Milwaukee groups like Midnight Reruns, Catacombz, Castle Thunder and hopefully many, many more, is a reminder of what lies ahead in an incredible summer. Tonight at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, Milwaukee’s Calliope will start the release train with the their self-titled debut album, along the support of Animals In Human Attire and The Zelda Routine completing the three ring spectacle and something NOT TO BE MISSED!
Recorded in a 3-day stint last September under the ears of Milwaukee Veteran Mike Hoffman, Calliope set the band up in the family cabin of lead singer/organ player Al Kreamer and did most of the recording live. Together with Victor Buell IV on guitar, John Larkin on Bass and Eric Gornoll on drums, they played as a band, capturing the raw power of their live performances. I saw them for the first time at Yield a few weeks back and was stupefied. They play so tight but also were able to keep the music loose, never skipping a beat and pushing the performance straight through to doomsday. There is an influence of Blue Cheer, The Sonics, Frank Zappa, The Pretty Things, The Doors, Alice Cooper or any of the more grandiose garage or psychedelic Rock and Roll groups of the late 60’s and early 70’s giving Calliope’s sound darker narrative roots. But more importantly, the music begs for live performance interaction, easily lost in multi-track recording’s infinite possibility. The old, “F-it, let’s do it live,” camaraderie of the blues with a fuzzy psychedelic twist that transcends the influence into something fresh.
The dynamics of the album functions like a live performance, keeping your ear fixed to hear the movement within the songs and the flow from song to song. Leading with this new kind of future blues in the first few tracks, including the prevailing guitar riff and harmonica drone of the single ‘Miller City Blues.’ The “black as sackcloth” dirty funk of ‘La Catalina’ and driving guitar hook of ‘Blue Ribbon Boogie,” turning straight into the jazzey instrumental other world of tracks like “Penitent Man,” and “Rising Water,” the latter featuring Kramer on Saxophone in the groove an extended solo section. Progressing to dissonance in the guitar riff and vocal harmonies of ‘Wild Eye,’ and an almost raga drone feel of ‘Woodland Stomp’ that switches 180 degrees to more electric bluegrass mid-song. It’s all here. Apocalyptical crusades, screaming call and response sections, subtle vocal harmonies, a bit of crunchy guitar echo and even a “Happy Song” wrapping up album to play the band off at the end of the performance. It is an album that will require many listenings and never lose the unrestrained energy occurring in the live performances captured in those 3 short days of recording. This is a band to see to in 2013, this is now.
Show starts at 9. Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, $7 cover that includes a CD. Dig It. Dance.
Calliope’s video links:
Official Music Video: Miller City Blues
JS Online Sound Check: Woodland Stomp
2012 has been a great year for Milwaukee’s audiophiles, with a wide array of quality albums released by area bands these past months. One such release is local band Shoot Down the Moon’s highly anticipated “Meetings & Greetings”. It’s difficult to categorize this band to specific genres, but the energy they provide live, their ability to jam out on stage and the raw emotion in their lyrics make this album a must listen to. Anyone who’s seen them perform at area bars knows what I mean. The follow up to their album, “Swollen Teeth”, shows a tighter, more unified sound that is showcased well by the high production quality. The members of the band (singer & lead guitarist Jake McDonald, singer & guitarist Matthew “Fizz” Flanagan, drummer Zak Ihlenfeld, guitarist Justin Cohen and bassist Jon Taglienti) all stand out as they together create a great product. Here’s my take on the album, to be released next week Wednesday (Halloween) at Yield Bar.
Do414 has a knack for throwing events by putting together great bands in fun venues. Tomorrow will be one such event at Stonefly Brewery, with two Milwaukee acts, The Delta Routine and Calliope along with Chicago-based band Mutts. All three bring it with the best of ‘em, each providing a different brand of rock’n'roll.
Tonight at Hotel Foster, Catacombz, Calliope and Waxworks will be taking over the trendy venue. This show is one to highlight because summer is filled with many outdoor events and festivals that sometimes its easy to forget about an amazing show happening indoors. Well tonight will be quite worth being inside despite the beautiful weather outside. The lineup tonight has a perfect balance between blues, rock and electronic, the best ingredients for a good night.
Milwaukee bands Calliope and Catacombz have gained a larger audience recently due to much success musically. Calliope recently played at the Cascio Stage at Summerfest and Catacombz have been on a couple of tours already this year & hitting up larger cities. Catacombz has a sound that is more of a modern day take on the 80′s club scene, at least in my mind. Calliope with their psychedelic rock and roll will trance you back to the 60′s with lead men Al Kraemer and Victor Buell. The band is currently in the works on a new album hopefully to be released by fall. Waxworks is a blues/rock group from Chicago that has a unique way to break their music down in to a acoustic set while still harmonizing from the soul. Check out Waxworks’ self titled acoustic EP. Songs like “Cold Bones” give me a feeling that they are going to rock live.
Make sure to check out the show tonight, it will be a packed house. Door cover is only $3 and the music starts at 9pm so get there early!
Well another great weekend has come and gone again! This Saturday was pretty unique with Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby, and the “Supermoon”, bringing all the crazies out to Stonefly Brewery for some local Milwaukee music. Do414.com organized Milwaukee bands Calliope and Ivy Spokes to play with The Small Cities from the Twin Cities for a night of rock’n'roll. All three bands left some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to entertainment and we have no doubt we’ll be hearing more from all of them.
If you are a regular Local Playlist blog reader, you would know that Calliope earned the position of Featured Talent of the month of April and they deserved it. The best way to describe their sound to put it most simply is progressive oldies with a flavor of the psychedelic. “La Catalina” features mystical spoken word from Al Kraemer combined with the gritty electric guitar sounds of Victor Buell, the song made you feel like you time traveled to a Doors concert in the 70’s, all from the comfort of Milwaukee. On bass, John was consumed with his instrument in almost a meditative state. At one point Jeremy Rogers of Do414 turned to me and said ”He is such a good bassist.” I quickly agreed, nodding my head to the music. Calliope did a fun and unique cover of Acapulco Gold as well as paid tribute to Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys who passed away on May 4th by covering (You Gotta) Fight For Your To Party! Go to their Facebook page or Localplaylist’s YouTube channel to see a clip of the band nailing this classic song. Towards the end of the set, the band called local musician & friend Jack Tell on stage to hold up a Sponge Bob Square Pants pinata for audience members to take a swing at in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Check out Calliope on Facebook for up and coming show dates and make sure you check out this unique Milwaukee band.
The Small Cities, all dressed in plaid, (except for the drummer who apparently didn’t get the memo) from Twin Cities MN, took the stage next. With a tough act to follow, the guys definitely rocked out and set themselves apart from Calliope with their more modern, indie-rock which infuses just the right amount of pop while still remaining “alternative” enough for this Riverwest crowd. Some of their songs were a little more laid-back a la Jimmy Eat World but most of the set had an upbeat tone to it, reminiscent of early Kings of Leon. This four-piece is made up of Leif Bjornson and Wes Burdine both on vocals & guitar, Jimmy Osterholt on bass and David Osborn on drums, contributing heavily to vocals as well. Their set ended all too early but I hope this talented group makes it back to Milwaukee sometime soon because everyone at Stonefly thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Check out their website for music, videos, shows & more!
To cap off the night was the headliner, Ivy Spokes, a trio made up of Brandon Arndt on lead vocals, synth, keys and guitar, Hans Blanc on drums and Phil Cowen on bass. This trio continued the rock’n’roll theme of the night but with a dance-y flair that fit perfectly for the end of the night spot. Their most poppy song, “Shake it Off” on their Chaos To Cosmos Ep is simple but super catchy I feel like it will fit well on the radio and become a top single. Take a minute next time you are on a computer to check out their Facebook page for their EP and upcoming show dates!
Edited & Co-Written by Anne Conway
I would like to introduce and bring more attention to a local band named Calliope. A few weeks ago they performed at my favorite east side bar, Yield. The show brought out a really good crowd and also more exposure for the band. I originally learned about the band through Vic Buell and Al Kraemer who documented our Local Playlist launch party back in February through their other project FUN TV. If I could describe Al Kraemer, I would say he is a 1970s teenage movie character, maybe one who played music with the Doors in some dream land at one point. If you put an organ in front of him you are likely to be ignored for a while but highly amused by his musical genius. Vic on the other hand is a dashing young individual who has the potential to take over the universe with one fell swoop. When Al and Vic invited me to come to the show, of course I was going to make it out. They have a sound that comes from various influences like Robert Plant, Jim Morrison, Bon Scott, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Page, Jerry Cantrell, George Harrison, the list could continue for so long because whose to say where inspiration starts and stops. In order to get more first person information from the guys, I shared coffee and maybe a Schlitz Tall Boy with Al and Vic at Fuel Café, or Church as some people call it in Riverwest. The reason was to find out more about the beginnings of Calliope, best and worst show moments, and up coming events. So I asked them a few questions and recorded what they had to say…
Me: How long have you guys been together?
Al: Calliope has been practicing for about a year and a half now. However, before we started performing at bars we had a little band make over by adding John on bass and Eric on drums. These changes all happened before we played on the 18th of March 2011 for our first show.
Me: So currently who are the members that make up Calliope?
Al: Right now we have Eric Gomoll on drums and vocals, John Larkin on bass who also plays with Bread King’s Temple, Al Kramer on keys and harmonica, sax, vocals, and Victor Buell on guitar, and vocals.
Me: It is really important to have a practice space for any band, where do you guys practice? More of a basement thing or do you have a studio or warehouse?
Al: Right now we are practicing in a warehouse located on the West Side off of Green Bay Ave and Port Washington. The place is vacant and perfect for us to be as loud as we want but I feel like zombies might live there. (chuckle)
Me: Asking a band what their genre is, is never my favorite question, but I have to ask because I feel there is a mix between circus music and rock n roll, how would you describe the sound of Calliope?
Vic: What is hilarious is the other night the owner of Kochanski’s referred to our song as “Like the shrine circus on fire!” However I would like to describe Calliope music to be loosely coined progressive oldies only because it’s an oxymoron. We are making music based on the instruments we have available to us. The idea of paying homage to our rock n roll forefathers, while at the same putting our own spin on things. One thing someone said to us is how well we have evolved since the first recordings and performances. The real rock n roll is becoming apparent to the true madness that is brewing. I would say we were pseudo serious novelty rock before we were a full band and after Eric and John joined we were able to evolve into something a little different. To summarize, let’s say psychedelic blues.
Me: What are some of your favorite and least favorite gig moments?
Al: My favorite moment would have to be our most recent Yield show. All of the right things went wrong with the Yield show.
Vic: My favorite gig moment has to be when Andy Kochanski the owner of Kochanskis’ started playing the air accordion on stage with us and then all of our friends from Bread King Collective decided to get on stage and play together as well! As for bad moments, I would probably just say any time something little goes wrong, for example a guitar sting breaking during a song.
Al, Vic and I continued to talk for a little while longer at Fuel bringing up things like shows in the near future. Save the date for, May 5th with Ivy Spokes @ Stonefly Brewery, May 24th with The Small City’s @ Yield Bar, and last but not least the have a time slot on July 4th Cascio stage @ Summerfest. And one last thing, there is talk of a full length album release in the next few months.