Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summerfest Day Ten, A Recap

Summerfest Day 10 was to be a rather short stroll through the grounds, cameras in-hand, snapping shots of a few of the more unusual sights that one might see at the world's largest music party. For the most part, that's what we did, however, as things are wont to do, we ultimately strayed from our mission after running into friends.

In my 11-day run at Summerfest, I figured this 10th day would be my last "party" day, i.e., day to have a few beers. When I attend on Sunday, the final day, I've self-imposed a one-beer maximum. I've got too much going on Monday to overindulge or indulge at all. With that said, we started out our festing in our traditional manner: with a stop at O'Lydia's on First Street. We knew the Brewers were heading into the final innings against the Yankees and we aimed to watch the outcome over a beer and Irish Potato skins. Well the beers were good and cold (Oberons) and the skins delicious, but dammit if the Brewers' reliever, Corey Knebel, didn't give up a 3-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth. Darn it. He's an all-star too. That's not supposed to happen. Oh well, get the series from 'em today, crew.
With David Myles

After the blown save it was off to the fest upon our Harley. We no sooner entered the main gate and turned left when we saw an unusual sight: a dapper slender fellow hanging out in front of the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage. He looked out of place and I figured he had to have a story so I asked him, "What's a handsome fellow like you doing in a place like this?" Turns out he was musician David Myles, who was set to perform at the World Sound Stage at 5:30 (roughly an hour and a half from the time we met him). David had a funny story. He said he came from a family of doctors and his dad was concerned about his career choice to become a professional musician. David replied, "Don't worry, Dad. Someday I'll have a job where I wear a suit to work every day." And thus his career as a suit-wearing musician began. To honor his father, he wears a sharply tailored suit during every performance. Very nice. We committed to returning the the stage to see him play and off we ran.

After wandering around the north end of the grounds for a bit, we hopped on the Skyglider for our first ride of the season. It's always nice to fly above the madness and look down below. The day was perfect too, so it made the views extra sweet.

At the south end, we made our obligatory stop at Saz's lakeside restaurant for a Miller Lite. Like the Skyglider allows one to escape the madness of the fest, so, too, does a stop at Saz's. It allows one to sit, be waited on, and enjoy the day. I've always liked this stop and the service has always been great.

If there was ever a home base for us at Summerfest it's been Fred's Too Much Metal shop at the South End Marketplace. It's a rare Summerfest day when we don't stop in and say hello to Fred who always
treats us with a friendly smile and some good laughs. Saturday was no different, however, what was unusual was that both my wife and I were wearing shirts designed by Fred. So a picture of us together was mandatory. Fred's the designer of the 414 shirt and hat. Whenever I wear mine people ask one of two questions: either "What's 414 mean?" Or "Where can I get one of those?" The 414 is the Milwaukee area area code. It used to be a much larger zone covering the entire Eastern side of the state, but as the number of phones and numbers increased, it contracted to become unique to the Milwaukee area. As for where you can buy one, Fred's got a shop in the 3rd ward and is omnipresent at any number of festivals, but the simplest way is just to Google "Too Much Metal." That'll lead you to a place where you can buy one online ( Easy peasy.

Hangin' with Too Much Metal Fred
After touching home we made our way back to the World Sound Stage for David Myles' show. It was great and I'm really glad we met him and came back for his music. He described it as "bluegrassy," but to me it had a very familiar tone: it sounded a lot like the more up-beat versions of Justin Townes Earle's songs. It was very enjoyable and you can see that David and his band have honed their stage craft over 10 years of touring. Interestingly, their touring has been primarily in Canada and Europe with very few forays into the US. They're just starting to tour the US now. I'm not sure why it took them so long, but I wish them all the best. They're a good bunch.

Brett Newski on the Miller Stage
After Mr. Myles, we were near our exit from the grounds, but then, as the saying goes, shit happens. We discovered that Milwaukee's own Brett Newski was playing at the Miller stage and as we made our way for a final beer and the start of his set, we ran into my old colleague and now friend, John, and his wife,  Jenny. This means we wind up watching Brett's entire set and we enjoy at least one more beer more than planned. Brett's show was fun, but the big stage seemed huge for him and this 3-piece band (himself included). I was glad we were close and up-front. It made his lyrics more accessible and he's a good song-writer. His songs are laced with humor and a peculiar take on the world.

A lakefront encounter with David Myles and band
By the time Brett was done, darn it if you didn't know it was time for Whitney to play back over at the World Sound Stage. This was the show that I had my eye on because I listened to their debut album a lot. Back to the Johnson we went, but this time, of course, the seating area was packed and all were standing on the benches. So seeing the band well was not an option. We elected to stand on the south side of the stage and who did we wind up standing right next to? Why, David Myles and his bandmates! Seems I was destined to discover this guy. After a few songs by Whitney, my wife came back from a short walk around the stage and said, "You guys have got to see the moon rising over the lake right now. It's incredible." And she was right. We made our way to the lagoon shore and ooh'd and ah'd over the most perfect full-moon rising. The color palette was Easter, with an array of pastel blues and pinks filling the eastern horizon. It was really cool to see this with David and his band -- I don't believe I've yet mentioned they are from Nova Scotia -- who really seemed impressed with everything Milwaukee. At that moment, it was hard not to be impressed with our city. It was beautiful.

Okay.  Finally it was time for a little more walking and a ride home before the crazies all came in. As it was, it was later than I wanted to stay, but it was worth it to see that gorgeous moon-rise. We still made it home with faint strains of sunlight in the sky.

Today's the final day. I'll go late and take it easy. If things go according to plan, I'll meet with a reporter from Milwaukee's Fox 6 TV station at 6:00 and be on the news at 9:00. I have no idea what I'll say, but let's hope I don't make a bigger fool out of myself than I already do. ;)

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