Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012

Stream Jay Flash's Milwaukee Music Sampler

By Evan Rytlewski
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This week's issue of the Shepherd features my annual Essential Milwaukee Albums list, and if you've paid even a little bit of attention to the local music scene, there's a good chance you'll recognize some (or perhaps even most) of the names on it. It's a common complaint about local music coverage, in both the Shepherd and in other outlets, that the same handful of artists bogart most of the coverage, and though there are lots of reasons for why that is, it's a valid criticism: A lot of deserving music really does get overlooked.

In part to correct that, songwriter Jay Flash has curated a Bandcamp compilation featuring some of the artists that he's known and played with over the last five years. Some of them are pretty well known—word is that Conrad Plymouth guy did alright for himself—but most of them don't have much if any press coverage to show for their time in the scene. In his liner notes for the release, Flash makes the case that great local music goes unrecognized all the time.
The songwriting displayed here rivals some of my favorite songwriters ever and I’m hoping others will feel the same way. I put this together as a reminder that ordinary people make things happen. The music industry can only do so much and promote so few people that a lot of music gets lost or goes unnoticed and it is up to the public to find it, to search it out and to support it, because there is no one else who will. All of these songs came from people working regular jobs: café baristas, delivery drivers, college students, telephone captionists, carpenters, etc. People who received little reward for what they did and who got very little attention from it. But they did it for the sake of doing it and because it came from their hearts and felt good to do. So this is kind of a reminder to everyone that ordinary people are the ones who produce great works of art and if you’re interested in finding it, that’s where you should look.
Since many of these artists run in the same Riverwest open-mic circles as Flash, the compilation is also a great snapshot of a scene that Milwaukeeans may have heard about, but may not have much first-hand experience with. Many of these artists haven taken inspiration from each other or collaborated with each other, building on ideas that their peers introduced. Perhaps more than any of Milwaukee's micro-scenes, then, it's a scene in constant conversation with itself. For outsiders or the curious, this compilation makes it easy to eavesdrop.

Stream it below.


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