Sunday, July 28, 2013

Milwaukee Music -- It's Up, and It's Good!

Quinn Scharber's Telecaster
There's many Milwaukeeans that could tell you a lot more about the local music scene than I could, but in the past few weeks I've seen a few of our up-and-coming bands and I must say, there's plenty to be encouraged about.

In no particular order or preference, here's a few that I've seen that require your attention...

Ethan Keller and the Ethan Keller Band

We caught these guys at Port Fish Day, 2013. Their music style is described at Ethan's website as Midwest Americana R&B. That's a music category that I've never heard of! Doesn't matter. Ethan's brand of music is smooth, melodic and expertly performed. Watching the band perform while standing in the Summer sun alongside Port Washington's lovely harbor, it would have taken a team of wild horses to drag me away. (Thanks for the reference, Mick and Keith.) Also, as a fan of the look of guitars as much as the sound of guitars, Ethan plays a few that are truly drool-worthy: a lime green Gretsch and ashen gray Gibson Hummingbird. Both ... WANT.

Hugh Bob and the Hustle

Total pros, these guys. Last Summer I had their self-titled album on near constant repeat. Hugh Bob, from Butternut, Wisconsin, makes high quality Americana music with a distinct Milwaukee touch.

Americana. Milwaukee. Milwaukeecana? What the heck -- if there can be Midwest Americana R&B, I don't see why there can't be a "Milwaukeecana" category!

By the way, what's a distinct Milwaukee sound, you ask? To me, Milwaukee has a long history of cleverly crafted Americana music. The reference list is long: Paul Cebar, The Mosleys, The Spanic Boys (I LOVED them; where'd they go?), Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo, John Sieger, BoDeans, and, of course, The Violent Femmes. There's many more, and that's not to say Hugh Bob and the Hustle sound like any of them, but they're cut from similar cloth and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order.


The way these two have been rolling up great press lately they scarcely need my endorsement, but I'm a sucker for melodic pop and their music hits me right in my sweet spot.

Thanks to our common appreciation of Milwaukee artist Dwellephant, I learned of the release of their 2012 EP, for which Dwellephant did the album cover art. I picked up the release and instantly fell in love with it. I played it often in 2012 and continued to do so right up until their 2013, full-length release "Love of Mine."

There's a lot to like about Vic+Gab. They write great melodies, play expertly, sing lovely and they're very nice people; however, there is an unsung hero in the band: drummer Jesus Enrique NaƱez. I often find my ears listening to his rhythms as much as the vocals, guitar and bass. His drumming reminds me a bit of Ringo Starr's. The Beatles claimed that Pete Best's heavy-footed drumming prevented their music from growing and living. When they heard Ringo playing in another Liverpoolian band, they knew he was their man. I imagine Vic+Gab must've had another drummer before Jesus--I don't know--but without question Jesus's drumming gives the music of Vic+Gab wings like Ringo's gave those three other guys'.

Here's another endorsement: I watched Vic+Gab yesterday while standing alongside Milwaukee music legend Paul Cebar. Throughout the entire show Mr. Cebar was smiling and toe-tapping. I said to him near show's end, "If you like it, it must be good," and he replied, "They're great. I love it!"

Also, I've yet to see this band that I've only heard of a few hours ago, but Buffalo Gospel has instantly grabbed my aural attention. Their new album "We Can Be Horses" dropped July 27th and is quite lovely.

Lastly, Trapper Schoepp & The Shades and Ivy Spokes are making great original music too. The only reason I'm not dedicating a paragraph to each of them is typing fatigue. (My right hand is in a cast; all functions normally carried out by 4 fingers are now entirely being carried out by my thumb!)

Gonna take this blog out with a great Nick Lowe song covered by Paul Cebar. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. I often see Paul Cebar at concerts around Milwaukee, and it always makes me feel like I have chosen well. Thanks for the tips!