Playing It By Ear

Tonight the Rhythm Club plays At Pere Marquette Park as part of the weekly River Rhythms series. Hope I can get there in time to catch enough of The Rhythm Club's set. If there's such a thing as a Milwaukee Women's Jazz supergroup, this is it: the amazing Connie Grauer and Kim Zick of Mrs. Fun on piano and drums, the incredible Juli Wood on sax, and incomperable chanteuse Robin Pluer at the microphone. I can't believe I've never seen this combination before -- they've been off and on gigging together pretty much as long as I've lived in Milwaukee. What I particularly like about all these musicians is you don't get all that "women's music" crap about any of them. They can and do play, they entertain, they're marvelously innovative in their genre busting approach, and their enthusiasm spills over to the audience. They just happen to be women -- strikingly strong, visually beautiful, musically inspiring women whose talent is so magnanamous their seeming effortlessness would imply they're playing it all by ear. I'll be there after I pick up my little woman, in her girly skort, from some rought and tough soccer and bring her here.

Thursday night starts Summerfest. Here's what I had to say last year about Summerfest, and nothing's changed. Actually, it's what I had to say a few years back, I just didn't have a blog then. I'm done with whining about the musical lineup (which, I'll give you fellow music snobs this, is especially weak this year.) But that's not why I go to Summerfest. It's Milwaukee, it's a church festival, its something to do during the dog days of summer, its fireworks, its hanging out, it's peoplewatching. That said, I'm not even going to try to shoot recommendations here. There's plenty of recommendations you can get from the MSM on what to go see at Summerfest. We'll hit it Thursday for the Big Bang fireworks, and, hmmm., who's playing Thursday? Any local favorites score an opening day spot? Ah, the Cocksmiths at 6:30! Very early in the day, if I even want to do this, is another Chris Lehmann project, Brother Louie.(Geez, that cat is everywhere! Six months ago I didn't know him from Adam, now it turns out he's known half my friends for years and years and years and is there any venue he doesn't have his fingers in?) But do I want to drag the kids around all afternoon (and empty my wallet out in the process?) If the kids don't poop out by 11, maybe I'll reminisce my youth with the Violent Femmes. There's a band called Wolfmother that's worth checking out for their badass name alone. But Dickey Betts will be on at the same time too, and my closeted love for the Allmans might bring me out to see that. Whatever. I'll just get there, with husband and kids in tow, which will require a fair amount of playing it by ear.

There's actually bands playing in the clubs during Summerfest, and Brian's in one of them: Dr Chow's Love Medicine has the Friday slot during the one-weekend-a-month-the-Circle-A-is-open. That whole deal is very sweet for Circle A proprietor Warwick Seay: instead of the drudgery of running a club full time, he opens his doors one weekend a month, and throws what amounts to a great little party for music lovers.

Oh, and I'm on vacation! I have no specific plans whatsoever! Maybe I'll head up to the Michigan Upper Peninsula for a few days, maybe I'll stay in town for a few days, maybe I'll see some bands, maybe I'll go bike riding. Maybe I'll help Bucketworks move, maybe I'll catch my kids playing soccer and learning to swim, maybe I'll hang with friends coming into town. Maybe I'll go and see Blue Oyseter Cult, but not at Summerfest. No, I've grown accostomed to seeing BOC at some kind of local fair, or or biker rally or something of that ilk. This year, it looks like the place to get more cowbell will be Beloit Riverfest, where Cheap Trick will also be on the bill! Rock!

I'll probably do all of these things. Definitely get a massage and facial in, that's for sure. But it will be so nice to not have to do any of these things. There's no schedule, there's no commitment, I'll do things only because I feel like doing them. My day job is planning, scheduling, managing, and to me the ultimate vacation is not doing any of that, following the mantra of Queen Ya-Ya Viviane Abbot herself: "I play everything by ear."


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