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Cold Fusion

in Middleton, WI
by Mike Huberty - March 2015

Photo Caption: Middleton's Cold Fusion

Middleton's Cold Fusion

Cold Fusion. It’s a cool science fiction-y sounding name for a venue in Middleton that’s doing their best to put on a new face. While Middleton only has a handful of live music venues, they tend to last longer than the ones in their larger neighbor, Madison. Probably because they don’t tie their entire fortunes to live music and downtown landlords can put the squeeze on small businesses when there’s a chain just around the corner looking for a foothold (how often do you see live music on State Street?) The Branch Street Retreat was around forever. I was friends with the last owners and they did their best to make it a family-friendly neighborhood bar, almost like an Up North supper club. The keys have passed again, though, and this time they’re going for something completely different.

First of all, the Fusion in the name comes from the culinary style of combining influences from a variety of cultures. For an example (and I doubt this is on the new restaurant’s menu), think of Taco Bell’s Taco Pizza. Now that’s a combination of traditionally Mexican and Italian styles formed into an atomic gut bomb that’s meant to lay waste to your GI Tract. The stuff you’re going to find at Cold Fusion, though, is a whole lot tastier and more interesting. The chef/owner, Joe Perkins, already founded a Cold Fusion Platteville restaurant and is looking to expand after opening the Middleton location, which means that people dig his food and it’s exciting to get something unique in Middleton.

So, they’re focusing on the restaurant business, which would make you think that live music is going to be its ugly ginger cousin, but nay nay nay. Not only has Cold Fusion recently purchased a PA system (Can I get a “Praise the Lord” from every band that used to have to bring their own to the Branch Street?) but there’s also a local musician in charge of booking.

Here’s how Blythe Gamble describes how she got her job, “I was across the street at the Bristled Boar singing the blues and announced to the crowd that I quit my job thirty minutes earlier” she says, “so when I came down off the stage one of the waitresses asked me if I needed a job because they just opened up across the street.” So fate brought Gamble to the booking job, and as the frontwoman for both BLYTHE GAMBLE & THE ROLLIN’ DICE and RETROBUS, she’s in a position where she knows a plenty of musicians who can fill the stage.

For the kinds of musicians that are welcome at Cold Fusion, Gamble says that they’ll be featuring both original and cover bands. “With being a new restaurant we need to focus on bands that can bring some kind of a following.” she says, “We’re establishing a regular clientele and that’s growing. But we’ll definitely be doing both original and cover bands.”

Contact through the Cold Fusion Facebook page is currently the best way to book a show and if you’re looking to play there and you’re not that well known yet, it might be a good idea to create a night of music with your friends’ acts.“Bands can design their own show, if they’re an original band and they only have an hour’s worth of material, we can match them up with some similar bands, but the more seasoned groups with 3 or more sets can definitely do that.” Since Cold Fusion doesn’t charge a cover, that means you’re looking to split a guarantee from the venue. Although, there’s a killer bar/venue space upstairs that would be perfect for an acoustic show or DJ set, so if you want a space to have that kind of show, that’s what I would recommend.

Either way, fresh blood in the entertainment scene is always exciting and even more so because they’re taking live music so seriously. Local entertainment is too often an afterthought and it’s nice to see a bar that’s trying to make it a priority. After all, people love coming back to places where they have a great time they can’t get anywhere else, and there’s no experience more unique and unreplicable as live local music!

Cold Fusion
2644 Branch Street
Middleton, WI (608) 836-7750

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