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Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009

Fortune’s Farewell

One of Milwaukee’s longest EDM residencies comes to an end

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As one of only a few underground dance music promoters in Milwaukee, Jessica Fenner (aka Fortune) has kept a visible presence on the city's scene at one of its most visible venues. What started as a bi-monthly, Saturday-night residency in October of 2002 evolved into an ongoing relationship that would eventually see Fenner booking all of the Wednesday and Saturday talent at Milwaukee Street's first nightclub.

But after six years, Fenner is stepping out of the spotlight at Three. Milwaukee's first lady of house says she isn't bowing out of the promotion game for good, but instead finding new ways to inject energy in a scene that has seen its ups and downs in recent years.

Fenner took a moment to sit down with Club Noise and share some thoughts on the state of Milwaukee's EDM community as she prepares to bid farewell to Three with her final show on Saturday, Jan. 31.

The question everyone wants to know is why quit now when it seems you are really one of the most active organizer on Milwaukee's nightlife scene (at one of its most visible places as well)?

Well, I'm not quitting organizing, just at this particular venue. Our (Three owners and mine) visions of what should be prioritized in order to maintain success positively has clearly diverged over time. Venue owners, staff, promoters, DJs and audience are all key components of a club and the relationship between them directly impacts a club's character … I think Three and I are in agreement that we have reached the ceiling of what we can do together and to push beyond that would not benefit anyone.

So if not at Three, where can club audiences find organizing events?

Right now I'm focusing on doing that through bigger themed events and crossover parties that bring together different styles of music-house, turntablism, electro, hip-hop, techno ... With the current economic situation people will be looking for more bang for their buck but wanting to spend less often, this makes it a good time to give people bigger, exciting, one-off events on a less regular basis, and at the same time hopefully reach a broader audience.

Looking at the overall state of Milwaukee's underground dance music scene, do you think things are moving in a positive direction?

Since I've lived here Milwaukee has always had an amazingly healthy underground pool of talent-large, diverse and enthusiastic, and that seems to pull in new blood against the odds. However it is crippled by a complete lack of adequate venues with truly invested and educated venue owners … Milwaukee also lacks support for commercial dance music. Mainstream radio and clubs rarely play even the most well-known, world-famous producers. Commercial interest in dance music feeds the underground scene-most cities that have a thriving underground also have a prominent commercial dance industry.

What other venues are you going to be working now?

There's a couple of things in the works. I can say I am working with Wherehouse for several bigger events and will be working closely with Hilo Lounge in the Third Ward. It's different from what Three audiences are accustomed to. It's very comfortable and elegant without being pretentious; it's a club for grown-ups and the music there will reflect that.

What are you looking forward to most about this final show at Three?

This show will be the most bittersweet and personal gig I've played! My hope is to share the night with the people that music has brought into my life … Reflecting on my friendships today, every single one began at a concert, a club, a record store or an after party, and has deepened through a mutual love of music and the dance floor. I think every one of us has shared time together at Three.

Fortune plays her final show at Three (722 N. Milwaukee St.) on Saturday, Jan. 31 with a solo tech house set all night. Music 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cover charge: $5 after 11 p.m.

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