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Dessa Darling - photo by Aaron Wojak | aaronwojak.com

Dessa


by Justin Beckner
April 2010

Most monocle wearing, high brow music scholars would tell you that rap and hip hop are nothing more than a senseless spat of Thom Foolery. But in Minneapolis, a group of musicians have brought the modern music of the streets to the world of academia, and rightly so. Over the past two decades, no form of music has grown in popularity and influence more than Hip Hop. I also understand that McNally Smith now has the only Hip Hop Diploma Program in the country!

No place but Minneapolis has such a diverse and groundbreaking group of rappers. Not only groundbreaking in their music, but in their actions within the community as well. This is an interview with Dessa Darling, a prominent member or the Doomtree Crew and an instructor at McNally Smith. Dessa has just released her first full length album entitled A Badly Broken Code and is currently on tour with another Minneapolis born rap powerhouse P.O.S. You can check out www.doomtree.net for more dates and info! 

MAXIMUM INK: What is your least favorite interview question?
DESSA DARLING: I like talking about rap. And I don’t mind talking about being a woman. But the question “What’s it like being a woman in hip hop?” is too broad to evoke an interesting answer. It’s like being asked, “What’s it like to be a person on Earth?” I just haven’t been anything else long enough to speak intelligently on how it might compare.

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2340 ViewsPermalinkDessa WebsiteDessa MySpaceDessa Wiki



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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Minneapolis' Heatbox

Heatbox


by Andrew Frey
May 2009

Vocal organists are a hard lot to find. Humans may all be born with mouths, but what emanates from that orifice varies greatly. Babies tend to be the most creative but also unrefined when it comes to their vocal expressions. Some folks however take the time to refine their vocal tool and the results can be spectacular. Case in point HEATBOX, the one man beatboxing sensation from Minneapolis, MN who describes his music as sounding like a “funky a’ capella group from outer space.” 

His new release is called “System” and drops on May 5, 2009, necessitating a tour and therefore a fantastic opportunity to see him live and in top form. I’ve seen HEATBOX several times over the past several years and he is always extremely interesting and entertaining as a performer.  I was pleased when he recently had a moment to answer a few questions. Since the amount of solo beatboxing performers is a slim one at best, I was curious as to how he chose his musical path.  “I have always had a nerdy spot in my heart for a’ capella music… and funk!” Heatobox begins. “But really I think it chose me.”

When performing, Heatbox is far more than just a simple a’ capella performer. Hums, whirls, squeaks, scratches, thumps and bumps are but a paltry attempt to semantically replicate the types of sounds in his arsenal of vocal slurries. I questioned if certain sounds are harder to generate than others?

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2081 ViewsPermalinkHeatbox WebsiteHeatbox MySpace



Wiz Khalifa

Wiz Khalifa

Keepin' it on the Level
by John Noyd
May 2011

Washed in champagne and sensimillia bravado, smooth-talking rapper, pop upstart and lifestyle compiler, Wiz Khalifa slings off-putting epithets, suave posse politics and pussyfooting bragging rights glamorizing a cushy life of sleeping in and going out.  As a son of two military parents Wiz is no stranger to discipline or duty but his allegiance to his fan base, the Taylor Gang, and his, success is the best revenge, work ethic are a far cry from dawn patrols and reveille.

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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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Aerial photo of Summer Camp 2011 - photo by Jason Kaczorowski

2012 Summer Camp – Where Musical Memories Are Made

Summer Camp 2012 - remember that one time, at band camp?
by Sal Serio
April 2012

Ah, Summer Camp. Two words that kickstart memories of canoe races, archery, roasting marshmallows, painting t-shirts… hula hoops, glow sticks, and Jane’s Addiction. Wait, what?! Those last three don’t sound like the summer camp you remember? Then you must not have been to the Summer Camp Music Festival!

Now in it’s 12th season, Summer Camp is the brainchild of Jay Goldberg Events, JAM Productions, and the bands moe. and Umphrey’s McGee. Taking place near the Illinois River on Memorial Day weekend just outside the sleepy rural burg of Chillicothe, Illinois, this three day festival features an exceptional line-up of bands and artists from multiple genres, plus more fun activities than you can shake a tambourine at. In fact, it’s near impossible to take it all in!

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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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