Advertisements

Blog Archives

My second most embarrassing Mile of Music Moment

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?

hubby1

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

hubby2

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

hubby3

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

A Mile of Music, a measure of pride

Neither rain, nor heat, nor threat of night will stop Mile of Music from its appointed rounds

If you need us, we’ll be on the Ave #MileofMusic3

I’ll fold the load of towels in my drier on Monday. I haven’t worked out in two days, and won’t cook a meal until next week.

Mile of Music is back in town and we intend to spend every minute we can prowling the Avenue welcoming back old friends and discovering new ones.

A song writer’s festival, Mile of Music celebrates original music and introduces us all to the artists who create it.

The discoveries we’ve made in past festivals have provided a year-long sound track to ours lives. We buy the CDs and download the songs to support these artists and to stretch the weekend’s entertainment into the cold winter months.

So far this year, we’ve seen Swear and Shake, Greg McMonagle, Ryan Hommel, Camille Rae, Maggie Thorn, Ross Catterton, Jordin Bass, Son Little, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Suitcase Junket and Crane Wives.

We’ll be back today, well-prepared thanks to both a spreadsheet denoting musical group, genre, site and refreshment capabilities Katherine put together for us, and to the slick Mile of Music app we highly recommend.

We’ve written plenty about Mile of Music in the three years we’ve attended.

Yesterday, I met a 13-year old girl who spent time between bands writing poetry and she generously shared her latest work with me.

Mile of Music

by Emily J. Karth

I sit and wait for what feels like hours.

Dying of boredom and anticipation

Then, all of a sudden, something magical happens…

Magical sounds begin emanating from musical instruments

Guitars, drums, pianos and beautiful voices

Makings hundreds, millions of smiling faces, grinning because of this magical sound.

Everyone stops and stares at the amazing sights of beautiful, wonderful, amazing music

Then it stops…and clapping starts…

Screaming, cheering, grinning people

Because of this magical thing called music.

 

Rock on, Emily. We’ll see you back on the Avenue today.

Mile of Music 084

We have every CD Swear and Shake has made and we try to see them every chance we get.

Mile of Music 107

My traditional Mile of Music picture of RaeAnn Blom, sandwiched here between our friends John and Melissa Ptacek.

Mile of Music 103

Ross Catterton played all of the instruments you see on that stage in a cool, layered sound.

Mile of Music 108

Austin Lucas brought his dignified dog.

Mile of Music 112

I don’t think these street musicians had any association with the festival, but I love the vibe that allowed them to feel comfortable strutting their stuff.

Mile of Music 113

Camille Rae played the Wooden Nickel and a pop up concert at Houdini Square.

Mile of Music 117

We loved running into our friend Hillary Reynolds and look forward to joining her in the Mile of Music sing-along on Saturday.

Mile of Music 119

Hillary took some time to read Emily’s poem and showed it to festival organizer Cory Chisel.

Mile of Music 123

A huge crowd turned out for Son Little.

Mile of Music 130

The Suitcase Junket is an amazing one man band. You have to see him in your lifetime. The crowd last night overflowed the Fox River House Patti-O, so we watched from behind the fence. We’re going to try to catch him from the front side later this week because we want to see how he gets such amazing sound.

Mile of Music 145

Molly and her friend Jacie spent 11 hours on the Ave yesterday, and they’re coming back for even more today. They both loved the Crane Wives (so did we).

We built this city on Rock and Roll

Mile Markers: Our top seven Mile of Music performances

A New Year’s rally with Swear and Shake

Please celebrate them home

We’re having a little music festival here in Appleton, Wisconsin. Maybe you’ve heard.

Mile of Music, featuring over 100 artists performing in 40 venues over four days, opens August 8 and includes a wide range of musical genre from all over the country.

Best of all, it offers a chance for some of Appleton’s biggest music stars to come home, and for those of us who knew them when they sang old choral music at the stately Lawrence Chapel, or earnest love songs at coffee houses like Copper Rock, or rowdy rock at kitschy places like Cranky Pats, to nod proudly and say, “I knew it. I knew they’d make it even back then.”

Mel Flannery was a six-year old walleybird in a production of Hansel and Gretel when I first met her. Years later, I remember watching her senior recital and knowing that this kid was going to make it. Today, she’s lead singer for the Brooklyn based Mel Flannery Trucking, a group that will headline the festival.

I lost count of the number of times I saw Hillary Reynolds perform; often I sat next to her mother Trina Reynolds as we heard Hillary’s distinctive music echo through chapels, auditoriums and coffee houses. We both knew Hillary was destined for musical greatness and while, sadly, we lost my friend nearly two years ago, her daughter Hillary has developed a depth of voice and song that would have made her mother proud. The Boston-based Hillary Reynolds Band also will headline the festival.

One of the bands I’m most excited to see perform as part of this festival is the Austin based Tanya Winch and the Dirty Mercy. They know a little something about music festivals in Austin and I think it’s cool that the city is lending us one of its own for Mile of Music. But, also, I’m thrilled to see an artist who grew up just down the street from me and who has enjoyed an extensive music career that brought her from LA to Nashville come home.

There are plenty of ways to participate in Mile of Music, starting with purchasing the VIP pass, and I’d encourage you all to support this festival any way you can. But, I’d also like to suggest a way to support the artists who are performing in the festival.

I think we should all take some time to visit their websites, get to know their music and purchase their CDs. It takes a lot of money to support a band and the best way I know to raise that money is to invest in the music they create.

Buy their music and, in that way, you can celebrate these talented artists home.

Hillary Reynolds at Copper Rock

I snapped this shot of Hillary performing with the Hillary Reynolds Band the night I knew for sure that this band, which I had seen grow from a talented group of college musicians — all Berklee College of Music grads — into a world-class musical group, would make it. Hillary just returned from a tour of Ireland and Scotland.

Please support this cool festival in any way you can. How great would it be for Appleton to host a world class annual music festival?

Please support this cool festival in any way you can. How great would it be for Appleton to host a world-class music festival annually? Check out their well-designed website and, if you can’t make it to the festival itself, consider supporting the musicians playing in it by purchasing their music. It’s a win/win situation.

Sam Winch the Lullabadeer

Another group I can’t wait to see perform at the Mile of Music Festival is Sam Winch, the Lullabadeer. Currently an Appleton resident (and my very cool neighbor), he won’t have to travel far to perform, but he brings national experience and a unique voice to the stage. Check out his website for great music and a really unique collection of posters.

Mel Flannery Trucking

Somewhere, among my not-so-well-organized family photos, I have a picture of this talented artist as a tiny Olive Oil in a production of Popeye. She was a spunky, talented performer then and I’m looking forward to seeing Mel Flannery Trucking Co. now.

tanya winch

I took this shot of Tanya in a warm-up performance earlier this summer. Tanya is offering a special Mile of Music deal on her collection of CDs. She’s selling her latest CD Dirty Mercy, along with an EP she recorded with her brother Sam Winch and a choice of one of her previous CDs. That’s 3 CDs for $20 and that’s a great deal! Go to Mile of Music’s website for more information about these bands and pick up a CD or two. Think how much cooler this experience will be if you familiarize yourself with the music ahead of time. And, you’ll be supporting these great artists. See you on College Avenue!