So long, and Thanks for All the Trash

Voot's Last Stand by V'ron
Voot's Last Stand, a photo 
by V'ron on Flickr.
It was raining buckets on the South Side, in some places it was hailing. Nevertheless, Brian was readying for a Dr Chow set at Center Street Daze (is now a good time to whine about "clever" misspellings of words like "Days" or "Wings" or whatever?) and the kids wanted to see the annual Pushcart Races, so off we went. And in true Wisconsin Weird Weather fashion, the east side was dry. They hadn't gotten a drop. Not until we arrived, that is. Actually, it stayed dry enough for us to witness this years pushcart winner, Dead Birds, in a close to photo finish. The Art Bar had their annual political entry -- this year a Delorean, a flux capacitor, a disparaging remark about Scooter, and a near win. Actually, I don't think any of the racers (or much of the attendees) have a good thing to say about Scooter, but remember, this is Center Street -- what Locust street used to be 20 years ago. Dreary weather and all, this was where the cutting edge bands were and where the really good jewelry vendors were. I bought three pairs of earrings this year. Interesting, handmade jewelry vendors are back!. There was a stretch there where the jewelry vendors were really sucking -- either piles of factory cranked crap that I could get at Tar-Zhay, or the same old beads strung on some wire that I could teach my girl scout troop how to make. No, I found more than a few great vendors with interesting materials or new takes on standard materials.

an almost liquid pink reunion
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
I wish I could say the same for music, but it wasn't the musician's fault. I didn't see much new stuff this year but that wasn't for lack of available talent at Center Street. Heck, many of my favorite old standards (e.g., The Danglers) and new finds (e.g., Ahab's Ghost) were booked for the fest, especially at the (get this) Quarters stage.
And we took in a set from the wonderful Tim Cook and the Riverwesterners, of whom Stella admitted, "I didn't think I like country music, but I like them." (That's because, and I can't drill this into your head hard enough, they're for real.) But a midafternoon nap (that Sammy asked for, and I was more than happy to oblige) after a slight rain took precedence. Sammy and Stella were kind of bored after sinking the local alderman in the dunk take (emceed by Stoney Rivera), even though he's not our alderman and Stella didn't know who he was anyway, despite her spot-on fastball that landed him in the tank.

Originally uploaded by V'ron.
But I'm sorry, new local bands. I did not get to see you, but you need to understand something: You were in competition with what was our crowd's equivalent to Cher's Farewell Tour. Voot Warnings is moving to Maryland, and we're all pretty damn sure this will be his last musical appearance in the Fox 6 Viewing Area (at least for awhile) and we were not going to miss this.

Of course everybody was there, and of course Voot played a great set, filled with mostly his more recent work. In fact, except for obligatory set-ending rendition of Dance Motherfucker Dance, he didn't play anything from his Platinum CD. (I got to proudly tell Sammy that that song has ushered in more wedding first dances than I can remember counting, and it wasn't mine and Brian's first wedding dance, but it was in the set before we sat down). In fact, some of the songs were guitarist Peder Hedman's (himself a splendid songwriter). And Vic Demechi was as potent a drummer as ever. Thus, Voot's set was still as gut-grabbing as that first time I saw him years ago at the Uptowner (and how many people probably said that exact thing to themselves, even though we could all have been referencing totally different nights at the corner of Center and Humboldt) and I was on my feet the entire time.

Special guest stars included Rob McCuen, who looked genuinely surprised to be called to the stage for a duet with Voot (if that was planned, than McCuen's a better actor than I thought) and Steve Whalen, whose absence would have not just been conspicuous, it would have been the source of gossip. But he was there, in his appointed spot at the corner of the stage, and invited up for cowbell and singing and so all is good and well with the world.

There's really not much more to say: the guy so obviously influenced so many great bands in Milwaukee, his combination of trash and heavyness and pro wrestling and pure pop and downright heart touching songs shows up in so much of the underground scene here, that I would go so far as to call his "The Milwaukee Sound." Marriage and fatherhood have obviously been a big part of his slow exit from the scene (hey, we're all getting old, too), but that sound will be here for years to come, and it's one of the reasons I love this scene so much.

the hammerlock
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
And the only person who had even a prayer of even following Voot was Frank Chandek and his Love Medicine (Dr Chow style). Dressed in a T-Shirt and jeans, they delivered a set that Frank didn't have to embellish to be memorable -- Frank can put forth his regular set and hold his own after Voot. Sammy and I ducked into the Uptowner to use the restroom and when we came out, once again, it was raining buckets. "When the hell did this happen?" I asked incredulously. "Just now," somebody on the patio answered, sharing my disbelief. The stage was covered with tarps, and the sun came out almost as quickly. Dr Chow sprung right back into action, and ended their set with a duet with Voot (the pro wrestling tome "Do The Hammerlock!" -- what the hell else could they have done) and right when they were going to strike the stage, the rain struck it for them again. As a result, my drenched husband (and his drenched guitar pedals) called it a night and really regretted not finding Voot to say his goodbyes and wish him well. So Voot, if you're reading this, Brian says hi. And we all say, fondly and sadly, "So long, and thanks for all the trash."

Click here for more photos of the day.


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