Letter To The People

Publisher's Commentary
by Rökker

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Results  Lizzie and the girls, look out boys! - photo by Allison Rocker Lizzie and the girls, look out boys!
photo by Allison Rocker

Letter To The People - October 2014
by Rökker
October 2014
(3338) Page Views

Get Out the Vote, Food A Rama, Halloween Spööktakular, Rökker Vodka, Adventures with Lizzie and Nikko


author David Kulczyk author David Kulczyk

Letter To The People - September 2014
by Rökker
September 2014
(3973) Page Views

Author David Kulczyk and his new book, The Isthmus meets the Packers?, Evil Dead Rökker Cupcakes by Cupcakes A Go-go, Aventures with Lizzie


Rökker with gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke backstage at AtwoodFest 2014 in Madison - photo by Allison Rocker Rökker with gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke backstage at AtwoodFest 2014 in Madison
photo by Allison Rocker

Letter To The People - August 2014
by Rökker
August 2014
(4025) Page Views

AtwoodFest 2014: By all accounts AtwoodFest 2014 was an “out of the park” success. Both stages were amazingly packed and very well attended at every other time of the day. I heard positive feedback on almost every facet of the new festival from the new staging (thank you Intellasound) to the placement in Monty’s Blueplate parking lot and in front of Tex Tubb’s on Atwood, to the greater selection of food and vendors (thanx Gary Kalas/Wil-Mar Center), not too mention the Kid’s Stage!

The music lineup was mentioned in almost every comment and special thanx go to our entertainment crew including Steve & Zach at the Barrymore, Dan Stoffels, Jimmy K, Jacob Hoang, Joshua Schmook, Brian McKay and Madison Media Institute interns Ian Mahone, Robert Horne, and Brittany Derr. They all kicked some serious butt getting over 110 musicians on and off the stages.

And most special thanx to my mom & dad (Michelle & Jerry) who are crucial to the backstage hospitality for bands. Her Famous pasta and meatballs fed all the afore mentioned musicians plus a ton of crew and personnel. I think it was around 600 meatballs. A side thanx to Banzo and Jamerica who also helped with vegan plates.

Not to be left out is Kevin and the staff at Monty’s Blueplate who really stepped up to the plate to assist us during insanity that took over their parking lot. I knew we had moved our stage to the right place when I showed up in the morning and the Intellasound guys had a pitcher of Monty’s special coffee blend. Monty’s assistance to our backstage and use of their facility was a tremendous help to us.

Ben Anton needs special mention as his efforts in organization and sponsorship were so crucial in saving the festival.

Another special thanx to the local celebs that showed up to introduce bands including Pat Gallagher, Bridget Maniaci, Teri Barr, Dannika Lewis, Dave Leucinger, Sal Serio, Marsha Rummel, Ledell Zellars, Rick Tvedt, Gabby Parsons, Jimmy K, Eric Stimson, and Vanessa Anderson who performed a Superbowl version of the National Anthem before the two mainstage headliners on Saturday and Sunday.

And to all 110 musicians, you rocked! I can’t name you all!

There were also a few interesting side stories.

Sonny Knight and the Lakers got stuck in NASCAR traffic coming from Cincinnati. They called and told us they were a little behind, leaving us with an unplanned gap to fill. We called up She She (Julia McConahay and Dana Perry) and said “Can you be here in a half hour and play our stage until the next band gets here?”. They were on stage and plugged in before you could say Sonny Knight and the Lakers who showed up, played an stellar set and amazingly were off stage in time for Steely Dane to take the stage on their scheduled time. Wow, sometimes it flows!

Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke happened to show up to catch VO5 in action. As I was on the stairs up the stage overlooking the crowd the band announced they were going to take a quick bathroom break after the next song during their 2 hour set. As the words were hitting the audience (people as far as you could see) I saw Mary boogie-ing in the crowd. I got her attention, waved her back stage and asked if she would like to take up a few minutes of time while VO5 was on break. She didn’t have anything planned, but said “sure.” She had a great mini-speech and was treated to much cheering. To any naysayers who might have felt grumpy I will tell you, had the Governor showed up I surely would have afforded him equal time!

Adventures with Lizzie and Nikko: Summer camp is ending for Nikko and Lizzie has Poms starting up later this month as football season gets underway. Are you ready for some football? go Madison East Purgolders.


Nikko and Nick at the Vilas Park Zoo in Madison - photo by Rökker Nikko and Nick at the Vilas Park Zoo in Madison
photo by Rökker

Letter To The People - July 2014
by Rökker
July 2014
(3026) Page Views

AtwoodFest 2014: The music schedule for the first annual AtwoodFest is online at AtwoodFest.org. Click on “music” and it will take you to the schedule for both stages on both days (July 26 & 27) as well as give you full bio’s, music, video, and links to the performers’ Facebook, Reverb Nation and website.

If you are planning to use your smartphone, once you get to the music schedule page, click the word “Mobile Site” and you will be swept away to a smartphone enhanced site.

For the first time, you will be able to take the schedule around with you at the festival so that you don’t have to miss the artists you want to see, or try to find a banner or poster.

And give it up for my mom, she’ll be feeding over 110 musicians backstage at AtwoodFest. Viva la Meatballs!

Edward David Anderson: We weren’t able to get a story done with EDA and he’s playing our stage at AtwoodFest, so I’m pasting a little tidbit from his bio. “Best known for his work with the revered Midwestern rock band Backyard Tire Fire who released a string of acclaimed albums in the previous decade, Anderson returns to the national stage with his highly anticipated solo debut, Lies & Wishes. Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, it finds Anderson creating his own mythology through a collection of songs that embrace vulnerability, while remaining grounded in his working class roots. Anderson sings, “I’m the son of a plumber, from a God fearing mother.” The lyric says much about where his story begins as an artist. He was born and raised just west of Chicago and lives a simple life, spending winters in an RV alongside the Gulf of Mexico in lower Alabama. Anderson’s an American songwriter on an existential quest who seeks and who searches through song.”

Chris Aaron Band with Jim Schwall: Just added to AtwoodFest lineup on Saturday, July 27th. Two legendary Wisconsin blues guitarists from two different generations join together to bring a unique spin on rockin’ blues! Jim Schwall gained fame in the ‘70s with the Siegal-Schwall Band, and Chris Aaron has been slining it for well over 20 years with bands like American Standard and Bandallmas! Add Pauli Ryan (Garbage, U2, Clyde Stubblefield) on percussion, Aaron’s wife Lisa Bethke on vocals, and pull a bassist and drummer from Chicago and you have a really fun, powerful blues band.

Rökker Vodka: I hit the Nautigal on Thursdays by 5pm for the music series. They feature a bunch of Rökker Vodka drinks on special and it carries over to their Saturday night music series as well as the Shrimp Boil on the first Thursday, 2nd Friday, and 3rd Saturday. Bands and dining on the patio and a plate of steaming shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn bread and dessert. All cooked to perfection by Chef Kris Eckles. I spoke to Kris and we will be doing another Rökker Vodka Chef’s Table at the Nautigal in the fall! www.Nautigal.com

Eastside Club: The Sunset Music Series on Thursday nights at the ESB is a whole lot of fun! Live music by the water’s edge, a Tiki Bar serving Rökker Vodka on special, and a sunset taking form behind the capitol. Hard to beat that!

Jimmy K Show: Hey Folks, remember we’re back at the Wisco on Willy Street on Tuesday nights from 7-10pm broadcasting live on Max Ink Radio! Maxinkradio.com

Adventures with Lizzie & Nikko: Lizzie has been elected one of the team captains for the Pom Squad. She worked very hard to get there and I am very proud of her. She is very motivated and a good leader who leads by example.

Nikko is back in summer camp along with his best bud Nick. They get to swim, go on hiking trips, scavenger hunts, laser tag…. I think when I went to camp they had masking tape, construction paper, crayons and Elmer’s Glue. There weren’t even friendship bracelets back then.

Enjoy this pic from the Vilas Zoo.


Lizzie and Lexi strinking the Angel's pose during recital break - photo by Rökker Lizzie and Lexi strinking the Angel's pose during recital break
photo by Rökker

Letter To The People - June 2014
by Rökker
June 2014
(2538) Page Views

Jimmy K Show: The live show is moving back to the Wisco this month. A few format changes, a few new wrinkles and lots of fun! Make sure to find the Jimmy K Show on Facebook to keep up with all the changes and listen in at Maxinkradio.com.

Atwood Fest: Big changes for Atwood Summerfest. First, a name change, Atwood Fest. Second is that a triumverate of the Barrymore Theater, SASY Neighborhood Assoc., and the Wil-Mar Center will be hosting the festival. Third is that I was retained to do the booking and stage management by the new team for my 12th year and this year’s music lineup is better than ever before.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the spoils: What would Atwood Fest be without VO5? We don’t want to know, so they’re booked and will close our Saturday night, but a new surprise will be the 20 piece local all-star-band STEELY DANE. They will close the festival on Sunday to music of Steely Dan.

Other highlights include Chicago’s Steepwater Band who will play the fest just days after returning from a 2 month European tour, Edward David Anderson of Backyard Tire Fire, Kwamikaze reggae from Chicago that features West African vocalist Kwame Bediako, local Madison funksters The Mustache, and Barrelhouse Chuck who will be performing with local blues legends Westside Andy and Mel Ford.

There are many more, but I would really like to highlight a r&b band from Minneapolis called Sonny Knight and the Lakers. This amazing band featuring Sonny on vocals sports a killer horn section and seriously, they know how to bring it! We are incredibly excited to announce this!

Other notables include local Rastabilly jammers Mad Polecat’s, blues outfit Altered Five, local Whiskeypreneurs Mighty Wheelhouse, our own local rockstar Kyle Henderson, and the local slide blues sound of Lazy Dead Poet, and Mojo Radio.

There are still more to announce and we’ll feature more on what’s happening next issue, till then, mark July 25-26, 2014 for the first edition of ATWOOD FEST.

Adventures with Lizzie: I had a great time at the Virginia Davis School of Dance’s 2014 recital. Lizzie had three performances this year in ballet, jazz dance and a duet with her BFF Lexi. Every performance was amazing and the audience roared in appreciation. All of her grandparents made it to the recital and we all went out to Salvatore’s Tomato Pies afterward (Lizzie’s favorite pizza).

This coming year, Lexi is joining Lizzie on the Madison East Poms Team, and they will compete as team for the first time. Everyone is very excited.

Happy father’s day to my dad, Jerry.


Lizzie is turning Sweet Sixteen Lizzie is turning Sweet Sixteen

Letter to the People - May 2014
by Rökker
May 2014
(2881) Page Views

Phox, Salvatore’s Tomato Pies, Rökker Vodka, Adventures with Lizzie


Madison East Poms 2014 Madison East Poms 2014

Letter To The People - April 2014
by Rökker
April 2014
(3178) Page Views

Max Ink Radio: Happy 3rd Birthday to MIR! And give it up for Jimmy K too! He has worked with our team of DJ’s to reformat Max Ink Radio. The new format still allows for our anchor shows like the Jimmy K Show, Burn Baby Burn with Jake Boyardi, The Record Store, and BS Live Rocks in the evenings and weekends, but Monday through Friday from 6am-7pm central time will have consistent DJ’s in two hour slots, slightly themed. Go Maxinkradio.com.


Nikko on the drum kit - photo by Rökker Nikko on the drum kit
photo by Rökker

Letter to the People - March 2014
by Rökker
March 2014
(2624) Page Views

Max Ink is 18 Years Old: I’d like to thank the readers around the state…..
We started Maximum Ink so that we could bring the artist’s story to the people, give them a voice. 18 years later, we are still doing just that!

Smart Studios Documentary: Smart Studios, Madison’s legendary recording studio owned by Butch Vig (Nirvana producer/Garbage drummer) and fellow Garbage guitarist Steve Marker. After the studio was closed a while back, Wendy Schneider, local film maker, recording engineer/owner and producer decided it was time to tell the story on film. Interviews include Dave Grohl ...

Willy Wash: a musical Yahara: The movement is gaining steam! I recently participated in a class study with ...

Bash in the Bluffs 3: Rökker Vodka, We Make Music Happen and Max Ink Radio will be out in Baraboo at the Pumphouse Bar & Grill ...

Adventures with Nikolai: My drum kit is in the house! Nikko is practicing beats, hitting fills and listening to Led Zeppelin….



Madison East Poms team in Zombie costume (guess which one is Lizzie), and Rachel out on the floor performing a halftime routine. Madison East Poms team in Zombie costume (guess which one is Lizzie), and Rachel out on the floor performing a halftime routine.

Letter to the People - February 2014
by Rökker
February 2014
(2799) Page Views

Willy Wash: A Musical Yahara, Equality Love Fest, Bash in the Bluffs III, Local Love Fest, Distill America, White Empress, Adventures with Lizzie and Nikko….


Lizzie in her Zombie Pom Pom outfit for a basketball game halftime performance - photo by Allison Rocker Lizzie in her Zombie Pom Pom outfit for a basketball game halftime performance
photo by Allison Rocker

Letter to the People - January 2014
by Rökker
January 2014
(3135) Page Views

Hey Everybody!

Willy Wash: Willy Wash is a movement of people who stand behind the idea that the area from the Yahara River to the Capitol, from Willy Street to E. Washington, be re-developed with the consideration of a music zone, a musical Yahara if you will…

It all started with a group meeting at the Memorial Union over a few beers wondering what Madison would be like with a world class music zone, bringing economic prosperity to a very old area while paying homage to Madison’s musical history as well as the city’s strong values of arts, culture, and education.


Letter to the People - December 2013
by Rökker
December 2013
(2312) Page Views

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Peter Streicher. I first met Pete around the time he and his brother Todd were starting up a music magazine that included a whole lot of humor called the Rock n’ Roll Probe, if memory serves correctly, in 1994.

Editorial meetings in the garage were fun times and the most memorable headline was their infamous “STONES CANCEL” just a few days before the Rolling Stones were to play Camp Randall in Madison. Nothing gets you famous faster than controversy!

Of course, the newspaper industry is not for everyone, believe me, and the brothers moved on to other ventures. Pete worked at Sleepless Nights Studios in the early days of duping, producing CD and cassette covers for a zillion bands.


Nikko - photo by Rökker Nikko
photo by Rökker

Letter to the People - November 2013
by Rökker
November 2013
(2553) Page Views

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Chris Williams. Chris worked the door of many venues and bars over the last 30 years in Madison including the Black Bear, Barrymore, Paradise and Genna’s. He was a no bones guy, very good at his job. He lost his life in an apartment fire in Monona, a tragic loss.

RAWARDS: I’ve been telling you about Raw Madison: Natural Born Artists for the last few months, and after working their events, I have met some wonderful and talented people. Now they went and made me a judge for the Rawards. I had to vote, along with other judges, to get down to 3 finalists after the public voted for the top 5. Now, the winner in each category (hair style, make-up, photo, music, etc) will move on to regional and national competitions, as Raw is a national organization.

Rawards will kick off at the High Noon Saloon in Madison on Thursday, December 5th. Come down to be a part of the experience and find out what RAW is all about! Cocktail dress is suggested, so get your suit or dress on and come find me at the High Noon, I’ll be doing complimentary Rökker Vodka tastings. Go to RawArtists.org/Madison or RawArtists.com/Milwaukee for more info.

THE RED ZONE: You can find plenty of Rökker Vodka at the Red Zone in Madison (formerly the Regent Street Retreat for those who are still in the dark), they’ll have two nights of Rökker Vodka tastings and drink specials coming up in November. Find me sampling during the Wookiefoot show on 11/22 and Wheelhouse on 11/27. Wheelhouse is the band made up of ex-Mighty Short Bus meets ex-Lucas Cates band guys. They’re really good and releasing a cd this month. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Frank will give us a call for an interview! And if you’re in the area, stop into Regent Street Liquor and pick up a bottle…. they just picked us up!

TREKSGIVING: Rökker Vodka and Ale Asylum are sponsoring this show coming to the Frequency on Friday, November 29th. The show will be the last for The Killer Dolphin With Rabies. The bill also includes War of Abaddon, The Unessecary Gunpoint Lecture, The Circuit Theory, Poppa Bear, and the Pussy Vultures. Presented by Trex Promotions, the show will feature Rökker Vodka mixers for $4, Free Beer (till it’s gone), and a Free Raffle. Bring your earplugs, this one’s gonna be loud!

CONTROLLED CHAOS: One of my favorite Rökker Vodka fans, Sheila Shera, runs a Facebook group called Controlled Chaos and every year she throws a big, debaucherous party. This year, that party will be held at the Frequency in Madison on Friday, December 6th. Bands will include Sexy Ester, Shane Shane, Cowboy Winter, and Royal Station. Rökker Vodka tastings and specials, no doubt!

MAD MARCUS: Tune in Saturday nights from 10pm to midnight on WORT 89.9fm for the Mad Marcus Rock and Soul Revue. Marcus spins rock, funk, soul, and R&B like no other. I guess he bought Clyde Stubblefield’s old record collection some years back, and now he’s spinning stuff the Funky Drummer was inspired to listen to. If you’re out of town, go to wort-fm.org or get the Tunein.com app.

ADVENTURES WITH NIKOLAI: Nikko and his friend Maya planned a party for their fellow 5th grade friends. Party goers filled themselves with pizza and lemonade while listening to music. I’m not sure how many hit the dance floor under the disco ball, but I do know that the Cupcakes from local cakester Cup Cakes a Go Go were a huge hit, and it was Nikko who took the first hit in the face with a frosted cupcake… oy! Foooooood Fiiiiiiight!

Lets just say his face was still crusty the next day. What a fun time!


Lizzie and Sophie, BFF Lizzie and Sophie, BFF

Letter to the People - October 2013
by Rökker
October 2013
(5125) Page Views

This Month: Halloween Highlights, Maximum Ink’s Spooktacular, RAW Madison, Sal Serio turns 50!, and Adventures with Lizzie and Nikko.


Lizzie's ponytail  Lizzie's ponytail

Letter to the People - September 2013
by Rökker
September 2013
(2471) Page Views

This issue is dedicated to the memory of the Regent Street Retreat/Annex. Also, Red Zone Madison, Funk’s Pub, The Music Zone, and Adventures with Lizzie.


Momma Rökker - Dancing Queen - Atwood Summerfest, 2013 - photo by Dan Schneiderman Momma Rökker - Dancing Queen - Atwood Summerfest, 2013
photo by Dan Schneiderman

Letter to the People - August 2013
by Rökker
August 2013
(2477) Page Views

In Memoriam of Genevieve Breton, Guy Bolduc, and Yves Boulet. Plus: Sky Road Fly Cd Realease, Farewell to Keith Daniels, Atwood Summerfest, and Adventures with Mama Rökker!


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