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Madison's Know Boundaries in Maximum Ink in April 2008

Know Boundaries


by Dan Vierck
April 2008

Know Boundaries, speaking simply, is indefinable. Calling them rap-rock is misleading because they’re, you know, good. Allowing for a more complicated definition, they describe their intention “[to] mix hip hop and rock and not make them two separate styles of music but just one music using the power in both.”

The six-piece, six-year Madison veterans have opened for groups as disparate as Cypress Hill and the Gin Blossoms. They’ve been sponsored by Budweiser’s True Music program, won multiple Madison Area Music Awards and have been showcased at numerous industry conferences.

The band is exceptional in that it follows through on its intention. The music of Know Boundaries has the energy and power of all exciting and powerful music, tastefully brought together in one sound. The rhythm is heavy - a deceivingly simple drum beat paired with an ambitious and audible, but not overpowering bass. This leaves the guitar to flit around on the high end mostly, ducking back into the general groove for the lush hooks and choruses. Out front the band flaunts a cooperative rap-rock ying yang. An easy symbol of the band’s musical ambition, the rapper and singer twist around with each other, always in support - never detracting from one another’s parts. Through all this the keys (a decked out and supplemented-with-gizmos Rhodes) steer this would-be chaotic ship through melodies that don’t get old when they repeat-they get stronger.

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Les Paul holding a copy of Maximum Ink backstage at the Iridium Jazz club in New York City - photo by Otto Schamberger

Launchpad

An interview with director and creator of Launchpad Dennis Graham
by Aaron Manogue
January 2011

“Some of the best original music today comes from high school garage bands.” –Les Paul

The Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) is about to kick off the seventh year of the one of a kind music competition called Launchpad, using the same idea that the late great Les Paul personified in his quote. Launchpad is a statewide alternative music competition for high school students in bands formed outside of the traditional music classroom. Maximum Ink caught up with director and creator of the competition, Dennis Graham to talk about how the competition got started and where he sees it heading in the coming years.

Maximum Ink: Tell us about how Launchpad got started.

Dennis Graham: I was approached by the WSMA, which presents this program, seven years ago to talk about raising awareness on raising funds for them. As a result of my discussions with Michael George, the current Executive Director of the WSMA, and I brought up a couple ideas and the first was to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize people who had a successful music career and were also impacted by a music teacher. The first ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Wisconsin was given to Les Paul. I hand delivered a letter that I wrote, which was signed by Governor Doyle, to Les inviting him back to Wisconsin (He hadn’t been back in twenty years.) October 27th, 2004 was Les Paul Day in the State of Wisconsin and it was just a marvelous day of honoring him. Steve Miller (Steve Miller Band), Les’ godson, came out and was part of it as well.

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hip hop reggaeton from Madison/Milwaukee, Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre


by Mike Huberty
July 2008

Madison hip-hop/reggaeton group, LUCHA LIBRE gives a nod to their home turf in their song, “Midwest Bang” on their new album, The Takeover. With a nod to Coolio’s “Sumpin’ New” (quickly followed by a Buffalo Springfield quote), they chant “There ain’t no party like a Midwest party ‘cuz a Midwest party don’t stop.” It’s an interesting statement. After all, this is Madison, where hip-hop is supposed to be controversial and problematic. Amid that, LUCHA LIBRE is creating their own success in a city where hip-hop and rap fans have complained for years that they haven’t gotten the same respect or opportunities. And with their new record, they’re confident and stepping up.

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the first Mifflin Street Block Party circa 1969

The Mifflin Street Block Party


by Mike Huberty
April 2010

The University of Wisconsin has traditionally held two giant student parties every year. One is Halloween (where out of town revelers caused so many problems, it evolved into Freak Fest, still a good party but one that turns State Street into a demilitarized zone each year) and the other is the Mifflin Street Block Party. Started in 1969 as a reaction to the Vietnam War (the event that seems to loom over every student activity or university story from that decade), the party has been an annual tradition some times at odds with the city and some times with the city’s blessing. After a long time of relative peace, in 1996, drunken and foolish partygoers decided to attack a fire truck that came to put out a bonfire started in the middle of the street. Next thing you know, there’s riot gear, people are screaming bloody murder, and lots and lots of arrests are made. Needless to say, the 1997 party was kind of a drag. But the fest has continued in the ensuing years, and now local music promoters DCNY PRO, Madison natives and longtime Mifflin Street attendees, David Coleman and Ny Bass, have taken the bull by the horns. They spearheaded the party in 2009 to one of its most successful years. On the fortieth anniversary of the festival and even with over fifteen-thousand people in attendance, arrests were down from the year before and in 2010, they’re bringing more changes to make it a friendlier and safer place.

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The Pimps (Goodyear Pimps)


by Jeff Muendel
March 2000

The Pimps from Rockford on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 2000.

When rock music and Rockford, Illinois are mentioned in the same breath, the only thing that comes to mind is Cheap Trick . Rockford is not known as a musical mecca, but as in any city, there are always at least four or five punk kids who come together, form a band, and create something worthwhile. It is now Rockford’s turn again to offer a group that demands attention on a national level, and this time the entity is called The Pimps. Originally christened The Good Year Pimps , the band was forced to drop half their name because the mighty tire company that has become synonymous with blimps didn’t like the quintet’s little word play. While this was a disappointment to the group, they realized that good rock and roll is about the, not the name. Indeed, the Beatles were once the Silver Beatles, Grand Funk were once music Grand Funk Railroad, and Chicago were once Chicago Transit Authority. On top of the historical justification, “The Pimps” is easier to remember, shorter to type, and has a bit more of a sting to it.

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Chicago Pitchfork Festival 2014

Pitchfork Festival 2014

A Reader's Guide to Chicago's 2014 Pitchfork Festival
by John Noyd
June 2014

A classic salad of new and established acts covering hip-hop, ambient-trance and indie-rock, this year’s Pitchfork Festival hosts rising stars, electronic giants and first generation legends reuniting over blue lakeside skies in a green oasis of metropolitan proportions. As in years past each day of the three day event brings a slew of possible you can’t go wrong strategies as well as the unavoidable conflicts inherent in festival logistics. While three color-coded stages offer an incredible spectacle of diversified styles that allows the participants to chill in one area for a reasonable length, those with eclectic tastes will be scurrying to stitch together the perfect string of musical trophies. Day by day let’s look at the highlights and pitfalls that is Chicago’s 2014 Pitchfork Festival.

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Brooklyn's Shinobi Ninja on the cover of June 2010 Max Ink

Shinobi Ninja

from Brooklyn by way of Madison
by Troy Johnson
May 2010

A ninja is a stealth mercenary agent who is a highly trained assassin and an expert saboteur.  Like their namesake, the six members of Brooklyn’s Shinobi Ninja are professional musicians with a broad set of skills ranging from turntablism, to hard guitar riffs to off-the-cuff street lyrics.  With an innate ability to rock a party and the musical knowledge to pay homage to a variety of influential artists, Shinobi Ninja has already built a fan following that grows each time they take the stage. 

I spoke with Maniac Mike the band’s lead guitar player while the group was rolling to Virginia Beach for a gig. I asked him him which albums he considered Shinobi Ninja’s biggest influences. He rattled off a diverse range of albums, including Pantera’s “Vulgar Display Of Power”, Janet Jackson’s“Control”and “In Utero”Nirvana’s less heralded follow up to ‘Nevermind.’  He also gave props to classic hip-hop albums by The Notorious B.I.G. and Beastie Boys, which came as no surprise.

The band’s MySpace page features three sample tracks that highlight this wide variety of musical influences. In these tracks, one can quickly identify metal, punk, grunge, electronica, hip-hop, dance, rave, reggae, beats, and Rock n’ Roll blended seamlessly together. This eclectic style lends itself equally to both live and studio music but performing in front of an audience seems to be Shinobi Ninja’s favorite medium. “We are fans of music before anything else,” Mike told me, explaining how a group with such diverse tastes can work so well together. “Half of us are producers and we are all cognitive of each other’s style. No egos.”

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