Friday, May 24, 2013

Cream City Soundcheck’s Band-Centric Tours of Milwaukee

By Evan Rytlewski
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These days there are more filmmakers and videographers than ever covering the city. Every week seems to bring a new documentary or short film about Milwaukee, its institutions or its artists and residents to YouTube, and many of them are quite good—engrossing little features with an affectionate view of the city that can only come from actually living here. Some of the best of these recent short documentaries haven’t come from professional filmmakers at all, though. The Cream City Soundcheck series, which presents short documentaries following local and touring bands as they bum around Milwaukee for a day, is created by UW-Milwaukee film students.

“The students take a class where they’re responsible for every step of making these documentaries,” says Jenny Plevin, who oversees the project along with Ryan Sarnowski. “They film the bands performing at Turner Hall, and they do the filming of the bands on their adventures across Milwaukee, following the bands as they go different places, and then they edit the pieces with our oversight.”

For the most recent installment, the student followed Blessed Feathers as they played an in-store concert at Acme Records and visited Madam Chino’s Look Nook; the crew was also present when singer Donivan Berube proposed to his bandmate Jacquelyn Beaupre' on stage. Past installments have followed R.A.S. Movement as they ate fresh at the Riverwest Co-Op, The Fatty Acids as they biked the Oak Leaf Trail to the Estrabrook Beer Garden, and Generationals as they stomped around Bay View. An upcoming installment will trail Field Report on a brewery tour.

“The goal is to educate people, and not only people outside of Milwaukee,” said Plevin. “Sometimes people don’t know the places we’re taking these bands even exist. A lot of them don’t know about the Microphone Museum we took Allen Stone to, for instance, so it gives everyone a different view of the city. It’s also interesting for the students themselves, since some of them aren’t from Milwaukee.”

Between 12 and 20 students take the class, which recently finished its third semester. An archive of the videos can be found on Cream City Soundcheck’s website, which was also designed by students. You can stream the latest installment below.

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