Gear & Beer Fest II
an interview with founder Wendy Schneider
by Teri Barr
Gear & Beer Fest II
Musical gear, and craft beer. It doesn’t get much more Wisconsin than this event. The must-attend gathering is Gear and Beer Fest, and it’s happening at the East Side Club in Madison, starting at noon on Sunday, September 24, 2017.
And the brains behind it?
The fearless leader of Coney Island Studios in Madison, Wendy Schneider, best known recently for her work on the Smart Studios documentary. “Coney Island recorded bands for a long time, around 20 years ago,” Schneider says. “I’ve resurrected the idea of Coney Island as a brand for local music, but instead it’s now focused on presenting events, and producing films that include local or midwest-based music at the core.”
Schneider arrived in Madison to attend the U.W. via NYC, and never left. She interned with Butch Vig and crew at the legendary Smart Studios, then started her own studio, Coney Island. Schneider packed things up when other projects caught her eye. But it has always been about the Midwest, Madison, and the music. “Everyone is really connected here,” Schneider says. “We need to find ways to gather to ask, discuss, and problem-solve. It may be as simple as sharing information about where you made your last record, or how you did it, and what worked or didn’t during the process.”
Fast-forward, and we’re now at the early beginnings of what could grow into a great state, if not regional, festival. Schneider considers this the event of long-ago dreams. “This should benefit everyone—from those interested in, to those involved in and driven by the gear and the beer in Wisconsin,” Schneider says. “This will include people who really know their stuff. Local studio owners, record label owners, gear makers, and so much more, including vinyl experts selling records. This has never happened before, and I think it’s an important way to keep your current connections, but also to make new connections.”
The best part? It’s free, and open to anyone, and everyone. Schneider tells me it’s one of the things she’s learned during her years in Madison. A successful event is accessible to all, supports independent businesses, and brings people together. In this case, it’s focused on those who love music and the gear supporting it, along with craft beer. But feel free to wear your cheese-head for the full Wisconsin trifecta.
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