Friday, July 24, 2009

Quick Gallery Night weekend picks

It's going to be an arty weekend, but duh, it's Gallery night and it looks to be a beautiful night for it. Our family will kick off the night at BYO Studio to see "Reflections on Recession", and among the artists showing will be Cream City Photogs own Jake David Rohde. He's started an amazing photo business with Simon McConico with beautiful portraiture, but this promised to be his street work and I'm looking forward to it. Maybe we'll get some art and food while the StreetzaPizza truck drives around, carrying 'za and art And we'll hit the third ward for the usual suspects. Might end up at the Bradford Beach Carribean Music festival -- it's free and we'll catch King Solomon. Probably the thing to do is to check both MLSchumacher in the Journal, and the Onion's Decider list has great picks too, including a stop at the Borg Ward, which always has interesting stuff.

The Women's Artists Resource Network is having their show, A Glamorous Gallery Night, on Saturday which could work for or against them. Several women will be exhibiting their work at Live Artists Studio 228 S. 1st Street, but on one hand, it's not on Gallery Night proper. On the other hand, they won't have the typical Gallery Night crowd breezing in and out because there's so much to see. So it's definitely going to be on the visit list.

Friday, July 17, 2009

She's a lady who rambles before the weekend.

The panties Tom Jones left behind
Originally uploaded by V'ron
  • Well, first, let's gush about Mr. Tom Jones. The man is pushing 70 and yet he still has the voice, the moves and the stage presence. We middle aged grrls piled into a booth at the Rock Bottom Brewery to meet beforehand, and even our waiter knew where we were going and saw to it that that we were quickly liquored up. We then climbed our way into the nosebleed seats at the Riverside. (We learned later that last minute floor bargains were to be had.) But oh well. Part of the fun of a Tom Jones show was not only watching this 70-year-old guy electrify the fans even up in the cheap seats, but watching the fans themselves. As I tweeted, the first pair of panties hit the stages three songs into the set, during the chorus of "Delilah." That seemed to break the dam, and everybody started swaying and screaming, like we were pre-teen girls at a Jonas Brothers concert. (I'm fairly convinced now that the similarity of names might be more than coincedence). Because that's what it was -- a place where we had permission to scream and yell and not be out of place.

    I wore just a tank top and some yoga/hippie capris, but let me tell you, lotza women were dressed to the nines that night. Some were in packs of middle aged glory - a girls' night out, but some were out on a date with their sweeties. So, just a word of advice to the latter: I don't care if the guy you're with is your husband, your boyfriend, or just some fella you picked up at Victor's. It's bad form to ask your date to throw your panties at Tom Jones. Geez, girlfriends, if you don't have the arm to fling your knickers up on stage, how long do you think you're gonna last with Tom Jones?

  • From blue-eyes soul to souful blues we went: to Linneman's to catch the debut of the Sandmen, a Morphine Tribute band that did indeed capture the spirit of that wonderful band, from the dimly lit stage, to Dave Bolyard's jazzboo goatee frosting his spot-on vocals and drumming. "Vocals" is the correct word to describe what he was doing: not only singing those tunes, but chatting away between songs like he was reading poetry at a Tom Waits/Charles Bukowski convention. Oh, and I didn't know that Don Turner played the sax! "Well, I was a band geek," he later explained with a shy smile. Band geek, pshaw. Give him a bari sax and that cat can blow.

Stoney cuts 'em down to size
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Further, Dr Chow's Love Medicine wrapped up the night. It was Miss Amber's birthday and what she wanted more than anything in the world was to hear the Grand Dame of Milwaukee GrrlPunk, Miss Stoney Rivera, come out of retirement and belt out a few songs -- and Stoney delivered. She took the stage commandingly and dueted with Frank Chandek on "Somebody Else" as well as a few great standards (such as "Lonesome Train"). Any woman working the punk or rockabilly genre in this town owes Stoney a spiritual debt, and anybody who was at Linneman's last Friday night saw why.
  • One of those women is Ginny Wiskowski, who is now playing guitar with Crazy Rocket Fuel -- an all-girl rockabilly outfit that dueled the stages at Kochanski's Saturday night. Problem is, because of other committments on some band member's parts, it wasn't a duel. I didn't get there until 11:30 ish (kids and all), and instead of getting a half hour set from two bands, I guess I just missed Crazy Rocket Fuel, but I've heard their stuff on Myspace and these chickies are on fire. Definitely on my catch list.

  • Still hungry for some live music, I made my way the Uptowner and again and learned I just missed Floor Model and Danny Price had gone on first. However, Mr. Price sold me his CD for two bucks and it hasn't come out of my car's CD player since. OK, it's not like Todd Rundgren produced it -- it's rough recording wise, but it highlights Price's schitzo songwriting/storytelling/singing skills. One minute, he sounds like a troubled folkie in a coffeeshop, the next he's drinking whiskey with (there's that name again) Tom Waits. Wish I'd caught the set.

  • Spotted in the crowd: Steve Whalen and Keith Brammer, whose Cherry Cake has been gigging a little more since the Atomic Valentine show, or so I'm told. I bring them up because Whalen's animated stage presence came to mind when I watched the one band I did manage to catch, Fight Suit. Whalen, like Rivera, declared a genre in this town -- and his is the anguished emotive singer. The singer of Fight Suit was equally anguished, he was spazzed out, he writhed and cranked all over the Uptowner's back stage. Problem was, the sound in the Uptown is shit. (Note to self: do not debut a relatively new band in the Uptowner becasue nobody will hear your lyrics.) So I couldn't discern any lyrics, which might have been the things that distinguished Fight Suit's songs from one another. They weren't bad, but these guys are in love with a syncopated/emphasised proggy fast 6/8 beat. The guitarist and bass player were just as spastic as the singer, but the problem was, they were like that all the time. It's like dropping the f-bomb all the time, after a while it loses its impact. So, I really wished I could have heard/understood the words so I could find out what the singer was all anguished about. I need to see them in a different room, with a real sound man, because these guys seemed to know what they were doing, they could play their instruments, but overall they didn't grab me, and I need to tell if its the room, or if they need to work a little bit on the variety thing.

  • Polka partners
    Originally uploaded by V'ron.
    Earlier in the day, however, I stopped by St Helen's Polka Fest, partly because it's in my neighborhood, and partly because this is one music festival that is completely devoid of any kind of ironic posturing. The polka bands they get aren't hip and groovy, they're genuine polka bands headed up by guys who know how to spell Frankie Yankovic. And the crowd of people who dance (median age 58) aren't jumping around randomly. They know how to polka, and you can see that there's an absolute joy of memory of doing a dance they've known since they were little. These are couples whose marraiges are as old as dirt, who wear bright red pants because it's fun, who don't care who Michael Jackson was or that he's dead. The music itself has a sweet sadness that recalls oldschool weddings, european festivals, and absolute mastery of musical instruments that band geeks like me are familair with: clarinet, saxophone, and of course, the accordion, fronted by men whose tenors are almost altos. It was a nice warm up for the South Shore Frolics fireworks show that night -- a nice place to take the kiddos to see fireworks shot off by professionals, instead of stupid ass amateurs who might have blown up a whole town's economy if not for the heriocs of local firefighters.
  • OK, one more thing about the McBride-Flynn affair and I'll let it rest already. The Journal-Sentinel, through the Freedom of Information Act, obtained a ton of correspondence between the lovebirds. And why was this so easy to do? Because said correspondence was on Flynn's official city email account. So now I'm taking back any defense of Flynn, because he clearly isn't fit to be, what is in effect, the Chief Security Officer at a major corporation (that corporation, being of course, the City of Milwaukee.) What else to say about a guy who name checks his boss (the mayor) and suggests that he didn't get the job according to Hoyle, discusses company policy, and conducts private correspondence with his mistress on the company email account? Did he not know there were probably a pile of MSExchange administrators giggling in the basement and they easily scanned the messages to provide to inquiring reporters off this very public account/server? Did he not know that the online correspondence is subject to the FOIA? I expect this from somebody who may not be up to snuff about computer mumbo jumbo, but Police Chief? It's 2009, dude, get with the program. As we say in M'Wky, bodayas. Really, is this the smartest guy we could get? No wonder we have crime issues.

OK, done ranting about the politics of this town. I swore off politics years ago because all it gave me was tsouris. Oy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's Not Unusual For Me To Ramble

maribel caves
Originally uploaded by V'ron

  • One fine day a few years back, on my way to the optometrist's to pick up my very first pair of bifocals, I popped one of my favorite discs into the CD player in my station wagon. All of a sudden I had to pull over and get my heart rate down. Bifocals...Station Wagon...Tom Jones in the CD player. Dear God, I'm MIDDLE AGED!
    But dammit, Reload is a great CD. You haven't heard Portishead's "All Mine" until you've heard it crooned by Jones' operatic voice, rendering it the Bond soundtrack it always should be. And Stella and Sam love "What's New Pussycat?" from his Greatest Hits album. Shit, who doesn't love "What's New Pussycat?"? But back to "Reload." Of all the people who have covered the Kinks' "Sunny Afternoon" who better than welshman Mr. Jones? And then he turns around and duets with Van Morrison on "Sometimes We Cry" and that's when you stop laughing. The man always could sing. Sometimes he's over the top in drama (like my other obsession, William Shatner) but still.

    Anyway, I have tickets with my girlfriends to see Tom Jones tonight. I can't wait. The End.

  • After Tom Jones I'm headed to Linneman's -- not just for Dr Chow's Love Medicine, but for the Sandmen -- a Morphine tribute band. (Named for the late, great leader Mark Sandman, get it?) This will be a perfect comedown from Tom Jones, just some good psychedelic blues and the cool cool jazzy blues of that wonderful band. I loved Morphine, and I love the Twinemen (the band formed of the survivors and this one woman singer they found with a great aloof coolness.)
  • Saturday night it's another of those great dueling stages shows at Kochanski's -- this time is the Uptown Savages vs Crazy Rocket Fuel. CRF features Ginny W on guitar. She was my replacement in the Psychobunnies -- and she's a damn good axeslinger. All-girl rockabilly -- I'm there.
  • Otherwise, there's a free show with Floor Model and Danny Price and the Loose Change at the Uptowner on Saturday night.
  • And I'll be talking the kids down from the fireworks at the South Shore Frolics. As we were up north for the 4th (as is our tradition), we missed the big independence day shows. We could have gone to a show in Alpha, Michigan, but last time we attempted that, let's just say the locals go a bit overboard. I felt like I was in Beirut or something. I actually feared for my life, or at least my eyesight. Last straw -- a 6 year old kid throwing a firecracker two feet away from 6 year old Stella -- and teh family getting mad at me for "overreacting." Whatever.
  • Finally, as you can see, we wrapped up our vacation stopping by Maribel, WI, to see the Maribel Caves. You couldn't have told me that these way cool caves were only a mile off the interstate between Green Bay and home. From the highway, it just looks like just another treeline amongst the corn pastures. But drive in, and you've got this magnificent natural beauty, that apparently was once carved out by the sealine. And it's just a county park -- not even a state park! Beautifully conserved, and clearly a party spot for the local teens, the larger caves now require a guided tour. Supposedly it's for our safety, but the locals we talked to said the real reason was that they were getting vandalized. Sheesh.