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Milwaukee's Willy Porter

Willy Porter

by Mike Huberty
August 2009

Wisconsin folk artist WILLY PORTER has been touring around North America for the past two decades, seeing national success that began with the release of his 1995 album, Dog Eared Dream, which led to opening spots for Tori Amos, Jeff Beck, Toad The Wet Sprocket, and The Cranberries and catapulted his style of folk rock meets Dylan-esque wordplay to the top echelon of modern singer-songwriters.

His new album, How To Rob A Bank, just came out in June of this year and he produced it himself, a process that he says was more difficult in some ways and easier in others. “I think that it’s harder in some ways”, he says, “especially when you’re singing to know if you have the right inflection or you’re capturing the feel of what you want to convey. But I’m a big believer in the things that are a mistake today are the things that you love tomorrow. If the musicians played something and the musicians think that it’s cool and if you respect them and trust them, then it’s good. I tried not to use technology to edit or fix things into a state of unrealistic perfection and that was very liberating. I’ve worked with some people who let the machines get in the way and I’m not feeling that at all lately.”


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Aerosmith caught live in Chicago - photo by Adam Bielawski

Aerosmith - Tom Hamilton

by Mike Huberty
June 2009

As the bassist for the best-selling hard rock band of all time, Tom Hamilton has been laying down the foundation in AEROSMITH for almost four full decades. In the process of working on their new album and fresh off the release of Guitar Hero: AEROSMITH which brings the songs of the band to gaming consoles everywhere, the band is embarking on a summer tour and Tom took some time to talk about it.

It’s been an extraordinary run for the band since forming in Boston in the early 70’s and Tom brings up his original influences that made him pick up an instrument in the first place.“ I was 12 when the Beatles came out and the British pop explosion,”, he says. “Then the Hippie era started and we were all extremely interested in what was freaky and weird. From England, there was Zeppelin and The Who, and we were little blank slates who just ate it all up.“ And with plenty of money and success behind him, he explains why they’re still going. ”We just want to be part of it and don’t want to let things go by. In the 80’s, the band broke in half. With MTV, I remember thinking we were going to miss that. We don’t want to miss anything! We hear the voices of all the people that still want to hear us play.“


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Madison's Vanishing Kids

Vanishing Kids

by Mike Huberty
June 2009

Keeping alive the torch of post-punk and new-wave, VANISHING KIDS started making noise when guitarist Jason Hartman and vocalist Nikki Nads met in Madison in 2000 and decided to form a band the following year where they could indulge in their love of artists like The Cure and Siouxsie and The Banshees. That path has since taken them to Seattle, back to Madison, and finally back to the West Coast to Portland, Oregon. They’ve achieved a good deal of success along the way, signing a distribution deal with Rykodisc and having industrial pioneer Martin Atkins take the producing reins on one of their albums.  This summer, they’ve released a brand new single, “Mother Earth”, and are hitting the road on a tour that will take them through the Western and Midwestern states.


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Great White

Great White

by Mike Huberty
June 2009

Emerging from the 80’s Los Angeles hard rock scene, GREAT WHITE has seen the highs of rock and roll success (Grammy nominations, world tours, multiplatinum albums, and heavy video rotation in the Golden Age of MTV) as well as the lows of tragedy (a Rhode Island show that ended in a fire that claimed the lives of 99 fans as well as their guitarist.) In the new Millennium, the band has gone through periods of breakup and relative dissolution but in the past couple of years has reformed their most famous lineup (sans original bassist). Now embarking on their fourth decade performing together, GREAT WHITE has released a new album, Rising, and vocalist Jack Russell is happy where the new music has been taking them.

“We’re getting real airplay on this record and that’s something we haven’t had for ten years”, he says. “It’s amazing to me. It’s always my goal to do one more record. Hopefully the voice will hang in there and keep going. I just want to keep doing this until it’s not fun anymore…


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Butch Vig - Producer, Drummer, Studio Owner, Madison Native

Butch Vig

by Mike Huberty
June 2009

A Wisconsin native who made his name producing records for bands that would come to define the alternative movement in the 90’s with Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins and then came to know rock success as the drummer and producer of multi-platinum artist, Garbage, Butch Vig is known as a sonic virtuoso who makes some of the best sounding rock music around. Playing in Madison bands through the 70’s and 80’s and founding Smart Studios, Butch has as of late relocated to the sunnier climes of California and started a family, but that hasn’t slowed him down. After recently producing records by The Subways and Against Me! his latest project is GREEN DAY’s newest album, 21st Century Breakdown.


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The Von Ehrics

The Von Ehrics

by Mike Huberty
April 2009

Seemingly effortlessly mixing the speed and aggression of punk rock music with the structure and twang of country music, Dallas trio, THE VON EHRICS, (named after the infamous Texas professional wrestling clan) write and play memorable cowpunk that veers between the heavy and the heartfelt in equal measure without ever sounding an untrue note (as one of their songs mentions, when you see a VON EHRICS show, you have an equal chance of hearing Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Rancid, or Bauhaus.) The two founding members, lead vocalist and guitarist Robert Jason Vandergryff (is there a more regal rock name in existence?) and bassist Jeffery Wayne Mosley (name checked in a song for being known to cause trouble south of the border), have been playing together since 2000. After a string of drummers, finally solidified the lineup in 2005 with San Antonian Gabe Aguilar on the drums.


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Milwaukee's The Buggs, doing Beatles Punk Style!

The Buggs

by Mike Huberty
March 2009

A Milwaukee original, THE BUGGS have been punking up classic pop and rock songs since 1999. As lead singer and guitarist, Lane Klozier, describes, “We were all from original bands and we were just tired of playing shows for eight people in the audience. We got a couple sets together of music anywhere from The Beatles to Badfinger, played out and it went very, very well.” Similar in vein to Punk rock super cover group, Me First and The Gimme Gimmes, Lane describes THE BUGGS as Milwaukee’s only “original cover band” taking classic songs and makes them their own with a hard rock/punk sensibility.


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Sue DaBaco & Wise Fools

Sue DaBaco & Wise Fools

by Mike Huberty
January 2009

An Illinois native whose star is on the rise in the Milwaukee blues scene, lead guitarist and frontwoman, Sue DaBaco came to southeastern Wisconsin a decade ago after playing in Chicago’s Buzz Kilman And The All Bubba Blues Band for years. She solidified the lineup of her band, WISE FOOLS, four years ago with Scott Walters on bass and Darrel Douglas on drums. A power trio that started off as primarily blues but has “morphed into a progressive rock-blues thing”, according to DaBaco.

Raised on the still-ubiquitous 70’s rock sound of bands like Fleetwood Mac, Rush, and Heart, DaBaco says Jimi Hendrix is still her favorite, but she also incorporates influences like Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Sonny Landreth. WISE FOOLS has been performing regularly throughout Wisconsin, being an annual Summerfest favorite, and even opening up for big classic rock names like Peter Frampton, Eddie Money, and Jefferson Starship, along with more straight-up blues musicians like Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.


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Madison's Blueheels

Blueheels

by Mike Huberty
December 2008

With an Americana sound that varies from alt-country to rock n’ roll to indie rock, Madison-based band Blueheels sound perfectly modern and vintage at the same time. The band has two recordings under their belt (2006’s Long Gone and Lessons in Sunday Driving released in April of 2008), a live album soon to come, and a third studio record in the works. They seem to be keeping themselves busy creatively, while also keeping a regular and extensive performing schedule.


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White Zombie

White Zombie

by Mike Huberty
December 2008

Formed in the mid-80’s in New York City, White Zombie would become one of the most popular metal acts through the 90’s. Their sound was heavy but with a groove and songs inspired from horror authors like Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) to classic muscle cars and cult films like Blade Runner and Night of the Living Dead. Their most visible member, Rob Zombie (Robert Cummings, Jr.), was not only a musician, but a filmmaker as well, who over the course of the past two decades would go from directing the band’s videos to being a sought-after horror movie director in Hollywood. Even though the band has been broken up for over a decade, Rob went through the entirety of their old recordings and came up with a new boxed set called Let Sleeping Corpses Lie which is a five-disc collection of everything the band recorded.

You can tell Rob Zombie gets asked about a White Zombie reunion all the time because the first thing he says is how the set has a perfect title, “it’s pretty self-explanatory because I didn’t want everybody to think the box set was the beginning of something. I wanted everyone to realize it was the end of something… I am not big on revisiting the past. I like to move forward all the time. So whenever anything else would come up, this would go in the backburner. I had a little bit of window, and just knocked it out. And I also figured that, if not now, when? By waiting longer, CDs aren’t even going to exist, so there will be no box sets.”


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