Friday, August 12, 2011

Random ramblins after a weekend at State Fair

Random ramblings over the past few weeks:

  • Through all the stormy weather, I didn't see much music. I was looking forward to seeing the Aquanots, a trio of adolescent boys playing the blues at Chill on the Hill last week, but by the time I found out that the storm had moved them into the safety of the Bay View Brew Haus, I arrived in time for 1 song and an encore. They were good. I'm always reluctant to even report on kids age because it's always tinged with the "you play pretty good... for kids" and I always have to ask myself, "Was I blown away because they were really that good or was it because they were kids?" Ion the case of the Aquanauts, it's both. Close your eyes, and they sound like a seasoned blues guitar trio, in the vein of Hound Dog Taylor or George Thorogood or that ilk. Open them, and you see an understatedly cocky adolescent boy on top of the tables, showing off stage antics while riffing on standard blues. As kids, they're terrific. As bluesmen, well, from two songs I can say that I hope they broaden out their repertoire as they gain more experience. I mean, what the heck is the blues to a 13 year old? (Then again, adolescence kind of sucks. I can totally understand why a kid need to wail on a I-IV-V now and again.)
  • I don't get out all that often to see this band my DH plays in, Dr Chow's Love Medicine, but the ripped it up on Brady Street for the festival. They have a slightly new lineup: Ron Turner has moved to lead guitar, Fly is slowly bowing out to attend to other pursuits. Frank, the lead singer, is still the centerpiece and draw for this band and as usual, he did not disappoint. Highlight this evening was a gut-wrenching "I Put A Spell On You" as well as a new one, for the #wiunion movement, called "I Shall Walk."
  • Down the block there were bands and DJs paying tribute to Cosmo Cruz, who would succumb to cancer two days later. I didn't know ol Pat Cummings personally, and enough deservedly wonderful words have been written about him in the past week. I just know that I loved his voice on the radio-- both soothing and knowledgable -- and listening to him on WMSE was like listening to a cool big brother who would constantly be turning you on to great music. A lot of Milwaukee music greats have been leaving us lately: and all i can do is realize I and my peers are getting to the age where this is going to be more and more common.
  • Hit the Wisconsin State Fair this past Sunday. Don't worry kiddos, it was peacefully packed with people who want to eat bacon, and that was about it. One thing I noticed though, was the amount of young (and, yeah, older) girls who thought it would be a good idea to wear flip-flops or flip-floppy type sandals. Um, there's horse manure and cow chips and sheep dip and whatever all about, and I saw at least two piles of throw up in the midway (witnessed one being made) from people who didn't wait long enough after eating before going on a ride that was going to twist their stomachs. I can't tell you how many times I told the kids to "More than ever, watch where you're going!" Really, teenagers-- at what point did you think those flip flops were a good idea? Can you tell that while I waited for my kids to be done with a ride, I counted at least seven clueless chicks walk straight into the regurge, and then get grossed out? Even after I tried to warn people?
  • We sat in front of the WORST family at the movies the other night. This wasn't your average crunching-popcorn-loudly crew. No, they were fidgety kids who liked to kick the seat in front of them (where Stella was stuck), a dad who never shushed the kids even though they had a conversation-level comment to make about Every.Single.Scene. The dad really lost me when his cell phone went off in the middle of a quiet scene. I have to get less passive-aggressive about these things,because just giving them the stink-eye didn't seem to do the trick.
  • Chill on the Hill continues to be hit-or-miss musically, but always wonderful in terms of a great community gathering. Just this week we had Reilly, an Irish band that chalks up some nice Irish-flavored covers as well. They succeed because they can actually play in time signatures other than 6/8 and they don't affect a faux celtic accent. They do, however, maintain that intimate storytelling feel that makes Irish/Celtic music fun, and turned Chill on the Hill into some neighborhood pub in County Clare or wherever. The Red Hot Chili Pipers are at Pere Marquette next week and I'll want to check that out for sure.
  • Speaking of Pere Marquette park, they're not doing River Flicks this year and I was quite disappointed about that because it was a wonderful night out with movies, but Veterans Park is, and so is Humboldt Park. The Humboldt Park offering next Saturday night is Pee Wee's Big Adventure and that's perfect for Bay View combination of hipsters, kids, and regular folk. (PeeWee's line in the biker bar, "I'm TRY-ing to use the PHONE" is my cell phone ringtone, BTW.)

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