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Category Archives: Music

For the good times

I watched the sun set behind Charlie Parr

An Evening with John Paul Roney and his dad’s cool guitar

Five reasons “all I wanna do” is listen to Sheryl Crow

Civil dissonance

The Call of the Wild … bagpipes

Every day is perfect if you let it be one

Until I saw a small boy with “J-Council” carved into his haircut, I thought I had become the biggest J-Council fan.

Turns out, there are plenty of us. We gathered Sunday at Timber Rattler Stadium for “Keep it Wisconsin”, featuring Cory Chisel, J-Council, Adriel Denea and the Bodeans.

The weather, theme, music, talent and crowd combined to make it a perfect afternoon at the ballpark. Of course, according to J-Council’s “Sun to Sun,” every day is perfect if you let it be one.

But, really, yesterday we didn’t even have to try. We just sat back in the sun and let the music wash over us.

Opening act The Priggs got things rolling with a lively set, followed by Adriel Denea and J-Council. Fun fact: uber-talented keyboardist Alex Drossart and bassist Matty Day played in four of the five bands. That means they spent roughly three straight hours on stage.

Everybody joined in the fun once Cory Chisel got rolling, including the crowd. Special guest Hillary Reynolds jumped in for a few tunes and the whole stadium sang “I’ll Fly Away” and “You are my Sunshine.”

All that happened before the headliners even took the stage. The Bodeans used to be called Da Bodeans, which is another fun fact and one my sister Kathy did not believe when I told her yesterday. In any case, it was fun to head down to the field and cap off the afternoon/evening dancing to the Bodeans.

The whole event was a fundraiser for the Refuge and, if J-Council, the first product of the Refuge’s artist in residence program, is any indication, it’s a very worthy cause indeed.

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We thought we were the biggest Jon Wheelock fans, until we saw this little boy with J-Council carved into his hair.

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We’re not going to shave our heads, but we’re all J-Council fans too.

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We like his unique style of music, and the passion with which he sings it.

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We enjoy the whole band, two of which played four separate sets Sunday afternoon.

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It was a perfect day for a Keep it Wisconsin concert.

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We love that Jon Wheelock’s guitarist is also his dad and a legendary musician in his own right, Steve Wheelock.

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Cory knows how to work a crowd and, at one point, had us all singing a spiritual on a Sunday afternoon.

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It was pretty cool to see the Bodeans up close and personal. Molly especially enjoyed the accordion.

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DJ Tra has his own gig this coming Thursday night..

And a little child shall lead them

Choose Your Own Festival Favorite (a post by Molly)

You decide to go to a music festival in downtown Appleton. There are a lot of different artists, but you’ve only heard of a few of them. As you approach College Avenue you hear the sounds of many voices, guitars, basses, and drums all mingle together in a communal cacophony, but one sound cuts through the rest: the twang of a single banjo. Do you follow the sound or continue on your way?

You follow the sounds to a busy cafe. A hush falls over the crowd as a man at the front of the room launches into another impossibly fast folk tune. You take a seat and try to follow his hands as they fly about the instrument. As the set progresses, you can’t help but wonder who this man is, and how you never realized how much you love the banjo before.

The man at the front of the room is Hubby Jenkins, Brooklyn native and member of the Grammy award winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. Between the amazing banjo and guitar pieces, Hubby engages the inner child of the audience by reading aloud from a choose-your-own-adventure book and making each decision based on audience votes. He also gives a crash-course on the history of African American folk music (aka American folk music) throughout each set. The freedom and levity of his children’s books contrasted the limitations and difficulties of African American musicians throughout American history. As the audience members progressed through the adventure of the book, they also followed the adventure of African musicians as they traveled across an ocean, through slavery and oppression, discrimination and appropriation, to the present day. The banjo, as I learned, was a slave instrument adapted from traditional African instruments. By the time white musicians began playing the banjo, slave musicians had been cultivating that music for centuries. Still most people associate the instrument with white Appalachian music, and fail to realize the role black musicians played in that movement, a trend all too common in American music.

While the audience at Lou’s Brew last Friday night managed to emerge unscathed from the Haunted House on Chimney Street, we also gained a new understanding and appreciation for those original folk musicians who managed to maintain their culture while in bondage, and the modern artists who bring that culture to new audiences.

The man begins to tell you a story, do you choose to listen?

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Hubby Jenkins also brought his folksongs to life with his great voice

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Easily one of our favorites of this year’s Mile of Music

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The audience at the City Center Atrium also got to go on an adventure with Hubby

A Mile of Music, a measure of pride