- How much does the Milwaukee Ballet rock? This is how much: their production of Peter Pan was engaging and compelling enough to inspire two six year old boys to exclaim “It was awesome” afterwards. It didn’t hurt that the story was full of pirates, boys who could fly, an adorable puppy dog and a likable Wendy making sense of it all, but still. You had no spoken dialog, music that, while comfortable, wasn’t something the boys recognized, and a story line you really had to pay attention to and presumably already know. (The boys had caught wind of the Disney version.) Yes, I took Sammy and his best buddy and they were wonderfully gentlemanly enough and even said “excuse me” as we slid our way through the row to our seats. We got to see the impish Marc Petrocci play the title role (originally the Friday performance was going to be his off night, but the other guy got sick…) and yeah, this is one of those parts that seems to be written for him. And I’m glad I got to see one of the fabulous Tatiana Jouravel’s last performances with the Milwaukee Ballet, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I looked through next year’s season book, and she’s not pictured. A little digging around, and, well, at least we’re not losing her to some other ballet – apparently she’s retiring from full-time ballet. What a loss for us. Still, this company rocks, and the fact they could attract and keep an elegant, world class talent like Jouravel through to the end of her career pretty much underlines that fact.
- I – and a pile of other parents – took our girl scouts camping the weekend before last. That 80 almost 90 degree weekend. That weekend we couldn’t find a red cross certified lifeguard so that we could go swimming. Still, the nights were cool, and we cooked almost all our meals over an open fire, coming home, smelling like a fireplace and exhausted from staying up all night in a tent. I passed out by midnight, but the girls? It was like a weekend long slumber party.
- Before the memorial day really kicked in, I ventured out to Club Garibaldi to once again check out the loungy/rocky sounds of Lovanova, this time for a CD release party (oh, and vinyl too – they had it all on a genuine vinyl with an Album Cover and everything!) and they were as wonderfully tight and delightful as they were the first time I saw them. Paul Kneevers has added a touch of fun kitsch to his Hammond organ – this time a screen implanted with lights that went on and off in time to the music. They have a strong element of jazz fusion going here, but it’s good, mid to late 70s jazz fusion, not that sucky jazz fusion the emerged in the 80s that everybody hates. They keep the suckieness factor out by bringing in guests (on sax and violin) that actually add to the music – particularly fun was bringing in the Danglers' Jason Loveall for a piece that ended up sounding like you just got off the plane in Istanbul and turned on a boombox.
- They opened for a relatively new afro-beat group called Tristan Royalty Squad that had peaks and valleys for me. Peaks: Esh the Singer – marvelous voice, compelling stage presence, and flat out physical beauty. She’s got those huge, “Look at Me Cos I’m Lookin’ At You” eyes that make every word she sings pop, even when she’s just tapping percussion instruments together during a break or intro. Also like the huge percussion section (required in an afro beat group) and almost metronome-like unshakablity that delivers on their promise to keep an audience dancing all night. Valleys? I could use a little more dynamics, both in rhythm (pretty much the same tempo and time signature all night) and in volume (pretty much on medium all night, too). As such, since I was a little too tired to dance, they didn’t hold my attention too long for just the music. But again, this is a powerhouse dance party band (an early song had the refrain, “Ain’t Nothin But a Party” – that’s exactly what they promise and deliver. So once you get folks on the dance floor happy, a consistent tempo and volume will keep them there. And it’s the kind of dancing you can do in a niteclub, with your slinky dress and high heels, which made this a really good pairing with Lovanova.
- Stayed home on Sunday to watch the Indy 500 and I’ll just echo the thousands who believe that Indycar should have a Green-White-Checkered rule and shut up now.
- Hit Cool Waters with the kids on Monday. Monday was a great day to go because it was grey and dreary, but it was still muggy and warmish, so it was a good temperature to go swimming. As such, since it didn’t look like a good day to swim, it wasn’t packed and we could have lots of fun hitting the waterslides and the tube slides without waiting 15 minutes for a turn. They’ve got some helpful lifeguards who would actually give kids a ferocious pushoff the tube slide – I mentioned to one, “You’re gonna have some ferocious pecs by the end of the summer,” which I guess is sort of the point in LifeGuard world, eh?
- And finally, I took the kids on a walk near the lakefront that involved climbing down (and back up) a huge cliff. "That was some adventure," Stella said afterwards. It was the kind of thing that reminded me how old I'm getting to be, but how young these kids keep me.
Coming up: a huge summer of really good outdoor, kid-friendly and FREE musical offerings in the country parks and other venues. As far as I’m concerned, the season starts with Locust Street festival, with favorites including the Danglers, Dyna Flor and Her Roadmasters, the Grand Disaster, Matt Hendricks, Lovanova, Drugs Dragons and a bunch others on the stages.