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by Dave Leucinger
To a generation of Milwaukeeans, Claude Dorsey was the musical centerpiece of the city’s nightlife. For 40 years, he entertained diners as the house pianist and vocalist at the Clock Steak House, a downtown crossroads of politicians, entertainers, and reputed mobsters. “It had great food, and the entertainment was pretty good, too,” Dorsey quipped. “The best meals were when Miss Addie was cooking. Whatever she made, it was the best.” In many ways, The Clock became the crossroads where Milwaukee met the Vegas Rat Pack culture. “All the cabbies recommended it to touring acts – that’s how Bob Hope came to see me a few times. [The] same with Nat ‘King’ Cole , Tony Bennett, and others. The cabbies were great at networking.”
Dorsey traces his roots to Gainesville, Georgia, about 40 miles north of Atlanta. “My daddy was the main minister of a church there,” he said. “I wanted to follow him – I tried, but I was always playing music.” Dorsey came to Milwaukee as a teen in 1928. “My dad became minister at Calvary Baptist Church,” he said. The approval of his father was an important factor in Dorsey’s career. “When he heard me play, he said, ‘you’re ministering here; you’re reaching people. That’s what it’s all about.’ I was so happy that my daddy approved of what I was doing; that he was proud of me,” he said. Read More...
an interview with Allison Robertson
by David A. Kulczyk
The Donna’s were formed in 1997 in Palo Alto, California when high school outcasts Brett Anderson (vocals), Torry Castellano (drums), Maya Ford (bass) and Allison Robertson (guitar) picked up their instruments and started rocking out in a raw, in-your-face, aggressive AC/DC Ramones style. They all used the first name Donna. Since then they have released 5 full length CD’s and are now filling up the big halls with their devoted fans, but still the press has not taken them to their heart, dissing their songs, appearance and playing. I spoke to guitarist Allison Robertson via telephone when the Donna’s were on tour in Chicago. She was smart, funny and talkative. Read More...
by Dave Leucinger
“I’ve got a good mind; I don’t forget nothing, you know?” That understated self-assessment by David “Honeyboy” Edwards is characteristic of the 88-year-old blues guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. A native of Shaw, Mississippi, Edwards retains the purist links to seminal acoustic country blues. He’s witnessed or worked with virtually every blues musician of note since the late 1920s, from Delta legends Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, and Robert Johnson to Chicago blues icons Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson #2 (Aleck “Rice” Miller), and the Myers Brothers (Louis and Dave). Beyond his eyewitness accounts, however, is the Edwards’ musical retention: subtle yet captivating in a manner that appears simple, but in reality belies awareness of musical intonation and interplay.
Music was a fundamental part of the rural southern culture in the early 20th century. “We had guitars, pianos, violins, mandolins; most of the string music,” he recalled. People used to give country dances on Saturday night, and the musicians would come out and play. Through the week they would sit around the house and learn how to play guitar, and what they could do with it.”
by Adam Wrathkey
The sign on the door read, “REPTILE PALACE ORCHESTRA appearing every weekend this month. Please come and enjoy their eclectic mix of traditional and original world music that rocks. Elvis + Armenia + Funkadelic + Bulgaria = RPO.”
I didn’t recognize the band name, but I decided to check it out anyway. They were already on-stage. Dancers grouped in front of the stage as the band launched into their next number, which the lovely lady singing, announced as “Kochari.” The dance floor came alive as body parts were swung to and fro. More numbers followed fusing world music and ethnic styles. One song was in Spanish, the next from Bulgaria, then another in Armenian. Then Turkish, Finnish, English, Italian, Greek, and occasionally a song in a gypsy dialect. As the band played on, I tracked down a bartender and asked him to tell me more about the band. Read More...
by David A. Kulczyk
The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are one of the oddest, yet enjoyable musical units to come down the pike in a long time. Jonathon Richman’s early work, like “Ice Cream Man,” “Hey There Little Insect” and “Rockin’ Rockin’ Leprechauns” is about the only music you can compare to the TFSP.
Formed a couple of years ago in Seattle by Jason [guitar, piano and singer], his wife Tina [projector] and seven year old daughter, Rachel on drums after Tina found and bought some old slide photos at a yard sale. The box was marked “Mountain Trip to Japan 1959 and that was what was on the film, someone’s color slide photos of a trip to Japan in 1959. Jason , who was a mild mannered struggling singer/songwriter in a city filled with aggressive and thriving singer/songwriters, put his talent to work and wrote songs around the slideshow and The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players were born. Read More...
by Andrew Frey
The official Blue Man Group website, Blueman.com, states, “Blue Man Group is a creative organization dedicated to creating exciting and innovative work in a wide variety of media.”
Sometimes musicians are creative. Other times they are original. Occasionally they smash thru the basic trapping of genre rules and create category defying experiences unlike any other. The critically acclaimed Blue Man Group is just such a performance experience.
Perhaps you first saw BMG on those unique Intel Pentium television commercials, or maybe you have seen them on one of their numerous “Tonight Show” appearances, (13 to date, see www.bluemanlibrary.com). Or maybe you were one of the lucky ones to see their crowd pleasing set on “Moby’s” AREA 2 tour in 2002. Perhaps you have visited one of their permanent locations and witnessed their great theatrical performance. Where ever you may know them from, their trademark cobalt grease paint faces, funky yet technical performances and PVC drums leave an indelible impression.
The founding three members of BMG, Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton started creating their own unique brand of multisensory experiences as early as 1988 on the streets of New York. Then, after a breakout run at LaMama (New York’s most prestigious experimental theatre) in 1990, they landed in the Astor Place Theatre in 1991 and have been there ever since. With this flagship venue in place, BMG kept expanding into more major market areas. To date BMG has permanent locations in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Las Vegas, with plans for a new Berlin troupe set to open in 2004. The organization has grown into a franchise comprised of over 500 employees including nearly 100 performers and musicians. Read More...
by David A. Kulczyk
This year, one of the best CDs of all time, “2” by Portland’s All Girl Summer Fun Band, was released on K Records and in a great feat of resolve, I drove 140 miles, first stopping in San Francisco to pick up my friend Gray Six and then to San Jose to my cousin Dan ‘s place. Dan then drove to Los Gatos, where at an all ages club nestled in a lush park in the Santa Cruz Mountains to see “The All Girl Summer Fun Band” who by all accounts was the best live band in the world that day. Read More...
by Sarah Klosterbuer
If you’re looking forward to Sevendust hitting you with the kind of high-energy rock show that’s made them famous, you’re going to have to wait a few weeks. Before hitting the road with Staind later this fall, Sevendust will be through the area with a handful of acoustic shows. “It’s the quiet before the storm,” says front man Lajon Witherspoon.
Sevendust’s latest album, “Seasons,” emerges in the wake of three successful albums, but nothing that has dominated the charts or mainstream radio. When the band chose Butch Walker , an artist and producer who is best known for his pop rock work, to produce the album, many speculated that it was an attempt to gain a cross genre appeal. Witherspoon takes offense to the suggestion. “We worked with Butch because he’s coming from where we’re coming from,” Witherspoon says. “We’ve known Butch since the beginning of our career.” Read More...
by Andrew Frey
“I suppose anything, whether you like it or not, is an influence,” begins Clutch front man and vocalist Neil Fallon when queried about where the band’s inspiration comes from. “We try to be wide open to many different types of music. I think we find non-rock music the most interesting. After all, one can only do so much with drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. Most music in the world doesn’t use that setup and for us, those are the most interesting musics. But of course, Led Zeppelin never fails.”
So how about the style of music then? Why has Clutch chosen play the style of music that they play? “Because we are the products of our time and environment,” replies Fallon matter of factly. Read More...
by David A. Kulczyk
Jackie Greene has often been called an overnight sensation, but his overnight success took six years. “I don’t want to say that I’ve paid my dues, but I kind of have,” said Greene. “I’ve played since I was 16 in stupid little clubs, just myself, and got paid shit to do it. I had to go outside on breaks because I wasn’t 21.”
Now 22, Jackie started playing piano when he was very young, took a few lessons, but eventually quit and taught himself. Then, after a Metallica-Guns and Roses-Nirvana preteen stage, he started listening to the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles . Working his way backwards, he went through his parent’s record collection and discovered Ray Charles, Muddy Waters and Mississippi John Hurt. His life changed completely. He dove into American roots music and never looked back. Inspired by Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, Greene decided to start writing his own material. Read More...
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