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
Summer is fast approaching, and with the warm weather comes the wide variety of music festivals that Milwaukee provides. And there’s no better way to begin this great season than at Locust Street Days this Sunday, June 10th. Located between Humboldt and Holton streets, Locust St Days will celebrate its 36th year this year with an outstanding array of art, food, shopping, children’s activities, and of course more than enough music to suit everyone’s tastes.
The event begins with a 1.8-mile beer run/walk that starts promptly at 11:30am on the corner of Locust and Booth. Pre-registration forms are available online, or participants can sign up at 11:00 before the race. Afterward, find a snack, grab your favorite beverage and check out the more than 100 artist and craft booths. It’s a great way to support local artists and be a socially conscious shopper.
With six live music venues and over 20 bands, everyone will be able to find something good to groove the day away to. Whether you prefer rock, blues, bluegrass or reggae, the stages at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, Tracks, Klinger’s East, Riverwest Public House, Lakefront Brewery and the Wisconsin Veteran’s Stage will be sure to keep you entertained. Want to get in on the action? Then head over to the drum circle hosted by the Milwaukee Public Theatre on the corner of Locust and Bremen.
As usual, Jim Linneman brings us some of the best bands Brew City has to offer. The lineup starts outside on the Linneman’s stage with Castle Thunder, Juniper Tar, Sat Nite Duets, Kane Place Record Club and the Fatty Acids and you can finish off the night inside with Faux Fir, The Sleepwalkers, The Midwest Beat and Canopies.
For specific showtimes or to pre-register for the beer run, visit www.locust-street.com . Local Playlist will see you on Sunday, friends! Let’s kick this summer off right!
The Midwestern Charm has been one of my favorite bands around for a while now. So I was thrilled when I heard their long awaited self-titled album debut, The Midwestern Charm, had been finished and set for release. The group has been playing all over the state for years; making a name for themselves with catchy American tunes and killer live shows. The album was released on May 18th at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, a landmark venue in Milwaukee for album release parties. Ikarus Down and Tim Schweiger & The Middle Men also shared the stage Friday.
Charm’s singer, Connor S. La Mue, is a gentle giant with a clear voice. On the new album he deals with themes of love, heartache, discontent, small town blues & a longing to move on. Recently he’s made the transition from his acoustic guitar to an electric one during live shows. Their new material has a darker/harder punch to it, yet still retains their early pop sensibilities. The mix between Connor’s meaner chugs with lead guitarist, Ryan McCrary’s creamy toned solos really color each song. The group’s rhythm section is made up of Steve Sampson & Ryan Gracyalny. Both used to play in a pretty dope punk band from back in the day: Patterns In Static. You can tell they have been playing together for years. They really share a sense of dynamics that the plow through each tune, accenting with sudden stops & hard hitting explosions that make any bar crawler raise their glass & cheer.
Aside from the jams their playfulness on stage really made the set. Exchanging looks & laughing at one another’s solos: you can really tell these guys are friends & love what they are doing. They play so well yet don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s really all about the music & good times. No bs.
Download their album on ITunes, CDBaby and Amazon.com or buy a copy at most Exclusive Company stores throughout Wisconsin.
Recommended key tracks off the album: Moving Out/ Never One For Dancing (52909)/ Mi, Amor
Aurals + Optics: Bringing Milwaukee’s best together.
When Friday the 13th came by this April, Milwaukee found itself immersed with plenty of drinks, skinny ties, mustaches, pretty ladies, friends, and good fortune. The event Aurals + Optics, held at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, paired the city’s music and film talent to showcase a creative dynamic that left people feeling blessed and buzzing and looking forward to other multi-media events.
Aurals + Optics gave its audience a hearty and unique lineup with screenings of the music video “Candy Council,” made by Kurt Raether and WC Tank, the trailer of “Savage Land,” by Farmland Dynamite, and birthday boy Andrew Nordstrum’s short film, “Commit,” scored by Josh Evert of The Fatty Acids. These visual pieces traded off between the live performances from WC Tank, Canopies, and The Fatty Acids, with DJ sets from the Wax Addicts. Jason Nanna and Ross Oldenburg sat side stage, bent over an electric hive of wires, giving visualizer effects to the live acts with an analog machine that was built from scratch. With all of these names packed into one evening, Milwaukee did not pull out early on the sprawling celebration of its native gems.
Nearly two hundred people stepped into the boozy old-world charm of Linneman’s hardwood floors and high ceilings. After little time, the entire length of the bar was filled with people talking loudly and smiling freely. Groups moved on into the backroom where a projection screen spread across the back center of the stage. Opposite to the stage were the Wax Addicts’ DJs, Mickey Comerford III and Sammy Brown. The two huddled over record crates, running their fingers over their vinyl on deck in preparation.
The house lights softened, the projector’s image faded in on the screen, and Mickey Comerford III moved his needle onto the record. He spun out the relaxed beats of West Coast hip-hop’s Dilated Peoples while Jean-Luc Godard’s famous collage-like tale, “Pierrot le Fou,” glows bright across the stage. Everyone’s face in the crowd lit up, sparkling like the beer in their pint glasses.
With the backroom filled by a crowd at ease, Kurt Raether, of The Fatty Acids, got on stage, introducing the music video he made for WC Tank’s song “Candy Council.” The music video was well received, moving the audience from laughter to thoughtful examination and enthusiastic applause.
WC Tank followed up the showing with a live performance of his nerd hip hop album, ‘Painghosty Dreamlaughs.’ Dedicated to his deliverance, WC Tank moved about the stage with a camera strapped to his chest, projecting his image with other effects behind him. His voice has a wavering intensity, with it scaling a various lines in one breath, backed up by beats with fuzzy bass effects and synths. WC will be dismissed as a joke rapper by those who neglect to admit the hard work he’s put into making a fifteen-track album with bizarre yet evocative song titles like ‘Goliath Shards.’ WC is serious about having a sense of humor as his voice gives fun inflections over lines that make the crowd laugh and then changes gears to rattle off complex verses with grace. He best explained this range of tonality in his work by saying that, “My dad says it’s a comedy routine, but I see it as a performance art.” WC Tank finished his set and the crowd enjoyed chattered and bobbed heads to the beats of the Wax Addicts vinyl selections. At the bar there was one gentleman who was shouting to everyone that he was not in a band, but that he would be up on stage soon, shaving his head.
In the back of the venue, where the stage is located, the crowd hushed and the music faded out. The screening of the trailer for “Savage Land,” a [Mid]-Western film by the local production company, Farmland Dynamite, grabbed everyone’s attention. The trailer gave us brief, but impressive, shots. “Savage Land” depicts a town of Western folk that have settled into the remains of a broken society. The plot revolves around the character of Sheldon Miller, a man set out to get vengeance for his murdered friend and stolen horse. The movie becomes even more engaging when Sheldon Miller’s path crosses another’s, whose dangerous mission is to reform a society of restive people. The trailer’s beating drums and reeling scenes evoked curiosity about the stakes its story raises, excitement with cuts from various action scenes, and wonderment about how the film would unfold and when we’d be able to see it. After the trailer ended, the excited crowd was treated to a spectacle. The man shouting who had been earlier at the bar, turned out to be Adam Gillmore, the writer of “Savage Land”. His intentions were to spread awareness about funding needed for the film’s postproduction and also to celebrate a benchmark in the fundraising goals the film had reached. Just as he promised, he shaved his head. In the slideshow below are pictures of it, captured by Cole Quamme.
Next to take the stage was the talented four-man, awe-inspiring band, Canopies. Their set started off with their drummer laying down a driving rock tempo with his kick drum, joined along by their keyboard player with a floor tom of his own. Canopies charged the crowd with energy with catchy synth rifts, hip bass lines that moved its spectators to dancing, and vocals that stretched themselves over the sounds with notes and words that clearly sounded in place and well executed. The most intriguing aspect of their set was the versatility that the members shared, as nearly all of them traded instruments and delivered songs with confidence. With a performance like this, Canopies let us know that they are a talented and inventive group to be watched, as we can only expect good things to come from them.
Aurals + Optics stayed up on its delivery, consistently getting the next work ready for screening. Even though Canopies had brought everyone into an ecstatic hunger for more music and dancing, the crowd immediately shifted gears and quieted down for the screening of “Commit,” by Andrew Nordstrum, the film’s maker who was also there celebrating his birthday. “Commit” is a short film that centers around a male character’s self-inflicted struggle of infidelity. The short film juxtaposes the man’s true relationship with blurs of sincere happiness with his girlfriend to various other scenes of nights on the town with other women, with multiple instances shame, sex, and despair.
“I wanted to show a cycle of sex and emptiness,” said Andrew Nordstrum, when asked about the concept of the film. Nordstrum accomplished demonstrating his concept, as the film ended with its beginning shot with the naked back of the male character. When seeing the scene the first time, it appears as if hands of someone in front of him are shown hugging him. Only upon taking us through the cycle, “Commit,” gives us more contextual meaning at the end, where the audience realizes that it is not a woman hugging the man, but the man hugging himself in loneliness. “Commit” dazzled the viewer with its camera work, editing, and amazing selection of score, composed by Josh Evert, the lead singer of The Fatty Acids.
Bringing the night to its pinnacle of celebratory excitement, The Fatty Acids took the stage. The six-man band rocks with addictive keyboard melodies, fun accents of trumpet notes, group vocals on choruses, and an overall stage presence that induces the crowd into full-blown dance. All acts this evening have shown impressive work, but The Fatty Acids capped it off, having its audience moving to its songs, from the front of the stage, to the back of the room.
At the close of the night, everyone trailed out of Linneman’s with an energy of fulfillment. People grabbing drinks at the bar, already talking amongst each other and revisiting the awesomeness of what it is they had just experienced. You could look at anyone in the crowd, and when your eyes met, you both shared a smile and eagerness that said, I can’t wait until we go to another Aurals + Optics again!
And we will.
Written by: Phil Haebig
Photos: Jordan Kalb
Edited by: Anne Conway
Yet another great night of rock and roll at Linneman’s on Friday when some of the Midwest’s finest musicians showed us what they can do. The intensity that started with the first song lasted straight through the night, and I know I wasn’t the only one who’s musical needs were satisfied.
Chicago’s Archie Powell & the Exports started the night off with a bang and they maintained their high energy throughout their entire set. It didn’t take long for the room to fill, and with the caliber of music that AP&E bring to the table, the fact that this was just the first band showed us what kind of night we were about to enjoy. Chicago isn’t far, and it would be well worth the drive to see Archie Powell & the Exports if you can’t wait for them to come back to Milwaukee.
Next up was Trapper Schoepp & the Shades who were recent winners at the 88.9 music awards. This was the first time I got to see them live, so I was really looking forward to it. Sometimes with a larger outfit (they’re a five-piece with three guitarists), harmonies run the risk of sounding muddled. This is certainly not the case with Trapper Schoepp & the Shades. Each member knows exactly where they fit; knowing just when to pull back or add a little something extra. Their sound is laid back without feeling sleepy and there’s just a “feel good” vibe surrounding the whole band and their music. Archie Powell & the Exports were the sprinters at the beginning of the race, passing it off to Trapper Schoepp & the Shades who found a good stride and maintained a good musical momentum.
The Ragadors were the perfect way to end the night. Their set was a mixture of songs from their album “Black Inky Swells”, some covers and a few new songs that I hope will soon be part of a new album. While maintaining the essence of the Ragadors’ sound, the new songs aren’t quite as bluesy; they include more harmonies and a slightly more up tempo vibe. This little taste of what’s to come makes me very curious as to the direction they will take with the next album. Probably my favorite part of their set was their cover of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. You could almost feel the collective excitement in the crowd after the first few licks. When Ben puts down his guitar his voice shines even more, and this song couldn’t have complimented his vocals better. And there is never a dull moment when Kevin has his guitar in hand, and this show was no exception. Just when you think he couldn’t possibly impress you any more, he goes ahead and does it anyway. A great venue, a night of great music, what more can I say? If I had to describe in one word what my favorite thing about Milwaukee is, the answer would be easy: music.
Linnemann’s is one of my favorite places to see live music, it’s one of those comfortable neighborhood bars with cheap drinks and good company. And more importantly, Jim Linnemann has great taste in music, treats bands & customers well and even handles the soundboard himself with excellent quality. You always know you’ll have a good time and with a lineup like last Friday, I was even more excited to head to Locust & Weil than usual.
Since we arrived early the bar wasn’t too busy and the crowd in front of the stage not too big and Tiger Mouth, a local rock band, kicked off the night. Made up of lead singer Brad Lee Curtis, guitarist Greg Mitchell, Spencer Powers on drums and Ryan Blundon on bass, Tiger Mouth has a loud, classic rock style that gets in your face. A fairly new group, Friday was one of their first times playing out and while the members still need to fine-tune that comfortability that only comes with time and experience, their musical talent is obvious and their sound enjoyable. They have a stage presence (and confidence) that gets in your face and I’m looking forward to see them grow as a band. See their next show at BBC’s Upstairs stage this Friday if you’re curious yourself!
Following Tiger Mouth was Noah Sugarman, a solo musician who hails from Cincinatti, Ohio originally but has been playing music all over the country for a while now. He was accompanied by the drummer from his full band, 500 Miles to Memphis, and played an invigorating, funky set infused with bluesgrass and soul. While I unfortunately missed most of his set while I was hanging out in the green room with some friends in the next two bands, what I heard from there was great. And when we came upstairs, the crowd was much larger and everyone was dancing along to Noah’s music. While a two-piece can sometimes sound a little hollow, these two guys pulled it off without a hitch. I’m truly sorry I missed a good chunk of their set so hopefully they’ll make it back to Milwaukee soon.
Shoot Down the Moon was up next, with a late start that only meant Linnemann’s was packed and everyone was a little bit drunker. One of the main reasons I was there, Shoot Down the Moon is made up of some great musicians who I’m lucky enough to have recently become friends with. Their music style spans several genres of rock from classic-ish to alternative to folk, blending them together into their own unique sound. Their last album is mostly made up of relaxed, “stoner rock” tunes with catchy melodies that will get stuck in your head for days (in a good way). Their next album is recorded and will be released in the next couple months and Friday they played a mix of songs both new and old. The newer tracks are a bit louder & more complicated musically while still maintaining that laid back overtone that Shoot Down the Moon has perfected. And don’t take laid back to mean that their music isn’t loud because even if the song starts out slow, you know that eventually the guitars will come in hard & heavy. The band consists of vocalist/guitarists Jake McDonald and Matt Flanagan (aka Fizz), guitarist Justin Cohen, drummer Zak Ihlenfeld and bass player Jon Taglienti. Jake & Fizz share the role of “lead singer”, splitting the songs equally, something not typically seen. Their voices are different yet both still have a dreamy quality to their style so it works, even if they switch mid-song. That “sharing is caring” vibe carries over to their entire sound. Each band member is dynamic & talented, yet it never seems like they’re fighting for the spotlight. That sort of understanding only comes from playing with musicians (and best friends in their case) long enough that they know how to play off each other well enough so that everyone gets a chance to shine. Their music hits that perfect balance between jam band & alternative rock, between making you want to head bang & contemplate life & love. And the crowd did on Friday, with a large group of fans who were in front of the stage all night, singing along to each song & headbanging to every note. If you have not seen this amazing group yet, they’ll be playing Friday at the Riverwest Public House with Temple & Good Grief AND Saturday at Localplaylist’s official launch party at Tonic Tavern, alongside Ikarus Down & much, much more!! It’s a free show, see our calendar or Facebook page for more details!
Last but most certainly not least was one of Milwaukee’s favorite pop-rock bands, The Delta Routine. The crowd was amped up by this point, ready to keep dancing and knew what they were in for. Delta has been around for quite a few years now and while they’ve had a few lineup changes over time, they’re another one of those bands where the friendship is obvious as is the musical bond. This show was a special treat as the band featured not one but two guest musicians. Lead guitarist Kevin Topel recently departed as an active member of the band but played Friday, while the band’s producer, Mike Hoffmann filled in for bassist Evan Paydon. Lead singer & guitarist Nick Amadeus was on point as always, filling up the room with his instantly recognizable & raspy voice that switches seamlessly from sweet ballads to full out rock tunes. Drummer Kyle Ciske provided the rhythm section along with Mike, the two playing together naturally enough as if Mike actually was his normal band counterpart. Delta Routine is upbeat and pop enough to be on the radio, without losing their rock’n’roll roots. Whether they’re playing one of their originals or a cover of “Twist & Shout”, it’s always quality musicianship that gets everyone on their feet and grooving. Before Kevin officially left the band, they recorded an EP that will be released shortly & all of the songs are sure to be hits. Look for more information on that coming soon. Also, the band is up for several awards at the upcoming 88.9 Radio Milwaukee Music Awards so be sure to vote at radiomilwaukee.org and also check out their performance at the awards show March 6th at Turner Hall! And don’t miss Nick & Kevin playing a special acoustic set at our launch party this Saturday, it’s going to be a great time!
One last comment and I swear I’m done, but I just wanted to give a shoutout to the wonderful community vibe going on in the Milwaukee local music scene. I saw members from several other bands (I’m Not A Pilot, Kane Place Record Club, Undercover Organism & Boy Blue to name a few) out on Friday, supporting their fellow musicians and friends. It’s so refreshing to know that people realize this isn’t a competition but a movement, for both Milwaukee and music in general. Keep up the good work, kids!
Whenever I go to Linneman’s in Riverwest I know I’m in for a night of great music, and Friday, September 30th was no exception. The night began with the band Hero Jr, a three piece who hail from Indianpolis. Being the first act of the night while also being from out of town can be daunting for some, but their vibe immediately began to pull people from the bar to the stage area to get a closer listen. Their original material and solid rock & roll sound made them a great kick off to the night, and I plan on familiarizing myself with their music in hopes that we see them again in Milwaukee. They have a few shows in the future when The Delta Routine tours this fall, and the two bands compliment each other very well. Next up were Crooked Keys; a Milwaukee band that I hadn’t yet seen live, but after their performance on Friday I will definately make a point of seeing them more. Great female vocals are a rare treat, and lead singer and keyboardist Leah Kowalewski really grabbed my attention. They’re a full outfit with a fun, upbeat variety of music; a great fusion of rock, pop, folk and country that certainly perked up the ears of this music afficionado. The Delta Routine rounded out the night and brought down the house like I knew they would. Playing a variety of new and old original material as well as the occasional cover, they had the crowd dancing up a storm from beginning to end. Though I probably won’t make it out of state for any of their upcoming tour dates, I’m excited for others to experience the awesome music and energy they bring to every show. Last but certainly not least, I’d like to recognize Jim Linneman and thank him for what he does for all the great local talent we have in Milwaukee. From a fan’s standpoint, he provides a welcome, comfortable atmosphere with great service, great music, and plenty of room to groove to it. I know from bands that I’ve spoken with that he also provides them with a great venue with great sound, and his love of music and support of local talent is unmistakeable. Keep your ears and eyes open, kids, Milwaukee continues to be a well of great music and you can always experience it at Linneman’s!