Monday, December 22, 2008

Dark, ADVENTuresome Roundup

No, dear readers, I haven't gone dark. I ran into some pals Thursday night who asked me, "Hey, has your blog gone dark? You haven't posted since the beginning of the month." Yes I HAD. But there's been some technical difficulties, and rather than bore you with the details, here's to hoping I got all the redirects right and all the backups fixed. Still having trouble with my domain (am I boring you with technical difficulties yet?) but you're here, so somehow you've found The Sixth Station. Lost a few posts in the backup shuffle, though, so I'm recreating from memory. And there was much to see in Milwaukee these past few weeks, so much that I missed a lot, and caught a lot of old favorites. So let's just round up this Advent season PowerPoint Bullet Point style:
  • Let's begin with my birthday weekend which started off with a fun, exciting, Bucks v. Charlotte game, which they almost blew, and then came back to decidedly win. It started out with a great anthem, delivered by this gospel-trained singer who just belted it out inspiring me to almost yell, "Tell it! Tell the truth! Testify!" by the time she got to "Rocket's Red Glare." She really set the tone, because there wasn't a dull moment all night at the BC. Even the Energee girls finally started to deliver -- they came strutting out in the 3rd quarter doing a routine to "Control" and they were even sassier than Miss-Jackson-To-You. Girls, this is the difference between sexiness and sluttyness. It's attitude. Keep this up. Because when you're like this, and my little girl says she wants to be one of you, I reply, "Then keep up with the dance and gymnastics training." When you act like a bunch of Airport Lounge rejects, both I (and her father) simply reply, "The hell you will."

  • We brushed off the snow (not knowing that the December 5th dusting with simply that, a brief dusting) and headed to Zad's Roadhouse to see a couple of bands for the birthday that continue to deliver. I've already written about how better Floor Model gets every time I see them; this particular evening they tried out new tunes that are reminding me that these guys are thoughtful tune and wordsmiths, who just happen to be working in the angry punk genre. Besides the fact that they do drop litererary, political and pop culture references in their songs, they musically drop plenty of cultural references too, not to show off that they can, but because it works. They played the "hits" too, and any band that can slip a Ramones cover into a set without missing a beat gets points with me.

    After the set, we shot the breeze with the boys, and I now have a macabre bet going with bassist Mark E Lee. The whole macabre conversation started when everybody (and I suspect this went on in a lot of bars where fine music is featured) started drinking toasts to Mitch Mitchell. We started wondering who would go next, and somebody had suggested Keith Richards. No, we said, not Keith. We already agreed on why betting Keith Richards to drop dead was a sucker bet but decided to roll the dice on drummers. Charlie Watts or Ringo? Who will outlast the other? I've got a free drink from Mr. E Lee that says Ringo. If Charlie outlives, I'll have to buy a round.

  • Opening that night was Danny Price and the Loose Change. He's sharpened up a lot since I last saw him, and one can tell he's been sitting in with Paul Setser and Eat the Mystery , as the songs seem to make light of melancholy. Consider the chorus of one of the earlier songs: "Take your sunshine, and stick it where the sun don't shine." Give it a happy melody, but sung by a guy who sounds like Tom Waits and dresses like a 70s TV detective. And then, give him a band that can just as easily jam out in a psychedelic way, and you have a combo that can (and should) share a gig with anybody from Floor Model to Jerry Fortier's Trance and Dance Band.

  • Stella and I trudged out to the BC on the 10th, racing after Girl Scouts was over, and got a great game again from the Bucks. Halftime entertainment were these professional trampoline artists that didn't just jump around like on the Olympics, but simulated extreme skiing and snowboarding. That was fun, but Stella was getting tired. It was a school night, after all, and the Bucks were down in the 3rd quarter, but I convinced her, "Look, if they don't make it to within 8 in the first couple of minutes of the 4th quarter, we'll go." And as you may have heard, there was reason to stay: they got their lead back, they got their moxie back, but they still lost. Her never-seen-a-loss streak came back, though, on the following Saturday, as she took home both a win and a "Luke Ridenour Growth Chart," which, as previously mentioned here, did indeed prove that he is not short.

  • So now we come to recent news. First, a huge shout-out of support to Andy Kochanski, whose concertina hall was hit by an armed robbery. According to Saturday's Journal-Sentinel everybody involved will be OK, but kudos to the JS for talking to a lot of the players in the story, and pointing out that Kochanski isn't going to let a random robbery wreck a special place. I know some people are going to be afraid to go there, but really, this awfulness could have (and has) happened anywhere in the city. Remember when Bay View was getting hit by those robberies? Did that stop people from going to Bay View for their nightlife entertainment? No, and I hope the Concertina Hall survives this, as well as "Doc" Pfaff, who was sitting in on harmonica that night, will survive his gunshot wound.

  • Friday night there was a lot to go see (including the interesting Collections of Colonies of Bees at the Cactus Club -- playing a show before going off to Japan for a tour), but my soul needed the family (well, my kind of warped family) that attending the CD release party for the Mighty Lumberhorn's "Nothing Ever Happened" provided. Yes, it's finally out! They had a wonderful collection of Riverwesterners openin up for them called "String 'Em Up" which featured a bass player who played mandolin (or was it a mandolinist who sat in on bass?). Either way, you had two ends of the musical spectrum, and it clearly influenced the sound he produced, as he played like he was very aware that there were several pieces to his band. As a result, most of the crowd agreed, he had a very sweet sounding approach to the instruments and to the genre, and it made Linneman's a very warm, friendly, and all over sweet place to be that night.

    Again, I just take the Mighty Lumberhorn for granted now. I go. I listen. They make me laugh. They make me chuckle. They make me appreciate down home music and attitude. They do songs with titles like "18 Wheels to Bethelem" and I can't wipe the grin off my face, during weather and economic times that would normally make that a difficult feat. Regular readers of this blog know I'm a fan. At one point during the show, somebody was whining that they weren't playing all the songs from the new CD: "Aw, that's an OLD one! I thought this was a CD release party," at which point I had to recite a verse from the Rock and Roll Gospel of Mark Shurilla: "You gotta play the hits." Indeed. What would a Lumberhorn show be without "What Would Jesus Drive?"

  • Oh, and traded a bit of gossip, as many of the former Wisconsin Citizen Action employees in the audience gushed about fact that Marquette and Wisconsin Citizen Action alum Mary Beth Maxwell was on Obama's short list for Secretary of Labor.
  • Finally, last night. We begin, as we have begun most of this month, with the Bucks. Last night was "Guinness Book of World Records" night at the BC. To be sure, there was a gentleman from the Guinness organization to judge and walk us through attempts to get into the book and "be a part of history." I have to ask, though, how long do you suppose one of the records we in the crowd set/broke, say, the "longest Mexican wave" (at over 6 minutes) will last? This wasn't an organic, crowd just came up with this, wave. (Oh, and yes, according to Guinness' Stuart Claxton, the "wave" is internationally known as the "Mexican Wave," BTW.) We were pretty much egged on, this crowd of us that barely filled half the stadium due at least to weather. They just led us in this until the clock ran out. How hard will it be to just go to some other NBA town, such as Chicago, and do the same thing, and just hold them out 30 seconds more?
    Anyway, the game. Anthem from the Brown Deer High School choir, and even though there were only a dozen or so of them, it was extremely well done. Standard choral arrangement, but well balanced and everybody was spot on pitch. Small, but effective group there.

    So the Bucks come out and from the get-go pretty much dominate. It's 8 points before the Clippers' bench sits down (giving up on their tradition not to take their seats until the team scores its first basket.) I'm pretty sure they never ever got within 8 of the Bucks the whole game. "Hon," I asked Brian. "I know they got beat in overtime last night, and they had to fly into this crap, but is it that? I can't tell if they suck, or if we're on fire." Answer: both. The Clippers DO suck, but the Bucks WERE on fire. You'd need both to have a 40-point lead that late in the game I guess. Even Seniorgee, the retiree's version of the Energee Girls could have probably held their own against the Clippers. Still, a win is a win, and I'll take it.


So, off to celebrate the win at Points East, where the Mighty Deerlick, (AKA known as The Reindeer Lick this time of year) had their annual Xmas show, where in addition to (recite the Shurilla verse again, brothers and sisters) playing the hits (because it's not a night with Dave Deerlick without "Choking the Chicken") they move on "Reindeer in the Sky", "Don't Believe in Christmas," and "Rasta Santa." Like the Lumberhorn the night before, I'm at the point where I just take the fact that they're going to deliver for granted. I still don't know how they do it, playing the same set and making it fresh each and every time. Opening the night was a reunion of a band called STaLL (mixed case intentional) and they did not wow me, nor did they turn me off. They were exactly that -- a good opening band for the Deerlick. I would like to have heard a bit more dynamic range from them -- they seemed to have a basic song formula that worked, so they never veered from it. Good vocals, and a terrific guitar player who knew when to stretch out and when to hold back, but maybe I need to see them in a setting where I'm NOT expecting to be shocked into laughter, which is what I pay for when I'm going to see the Deerlick.

Finally, I headed over to the Uptowner to cap off the pre-Christmas weekend with those masters of the poor stage, Eat the Mystery. Danny Price is with them, Angie is worldweary as ever, Paul Setser seems to be taking a back seat (which is strange for them), and Critter (of The Barrettes fame) is joining them on cello and fits right in. I'm there just in time for Angie to narrate on "Is That All There Is," and to be carried out in a trash bin while hollering "Good Night, Sleep Tight." Spotted in the crowd (and thus coming full circle) are Floor Model's Jeff Callesen, Mark E Lee, Marlavous and Dave, Paul "The Fly" Lawson, Lisa Mayhem, Danielle Champagne, and just about everybody else who's ever shared a stage with anybody who's eating the mystery. Neither Ringo nor Charlie are dead yet, there's a parking ticket on my car, it's blowing all kinds of snow, and it's time to go home and wrap Christmas presents, to complete this winter ADVENTure after all. As Angie sings, "Good Night. Sleep Tight. Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite." I'm off to the Nutcracker this week.

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