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Off the Cuff
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Nik Kovac was sworn in as Milwaukee alderman for the diverse Third District more than a year ago. This area on the East Side ranges from condos on the lake to the UW-Milwaukee campus to the bohemian streets of Riverwest. Kovac spoke about his first year in office over a drink at the...
Local Music
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
"It all just worked out really well," Crystal Rausch, also known as "Critter," says about the formation of The Barrettes' lineup. The four members include Joey Zocher on guitar and the melodica, JoAnn Riedl on guitar and uke, the mononymously named "Joolz" on drums, and Rausch on cello and French horn. They explained the band's origin over drinks...
Off the Cuff
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Michael Coleman began his path in martial arts at the age of 4, instructed by his uncle in karate. Nineteen years ago he opened the Futen Dojo at 1338 E. Brady St., and a second dojo followed at 2234 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Coleman was the subject of the 2008 documentary The Gift of Traditional...
Music Feature
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Kyle Denton tells me he is the manager and spokesman for Rocktopus, Milwaukee's eight-armed, aquatic rock 'n' roll machine. One can safely assume, though, that Denton and the mollusk are one and the same. Take the story of Rocktopus' first show. The band Elephant Walk, which features Denton, had to cancel a show, so Rocktopus quickly put together six songs in about a week and showed up as a replacement act. As a solo act, Rocktopus appeared to be a guy in a Hawaiian shirt with a plush octopus tied to his face...
Concert Reviews
Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009

Jan. 20, 2009

As a tape loop played recordings of people saying "I love you," Eat the Mystery began walking around hugging audience members. "That's right, Eat the Mystery loves you folks … but we don't love Bush," said Paul Setser, the band's singer and keyboard player. A modest crowd had shown up, eager to celebrate the last day of "W." Part perform...
Local Music
Monday, Jan. 5, 2009
The .357 String Band has come a long way from playing on street corners and basement shows since they formed four years ago. They've recorded two albums, 2006's Ghost Town and last year's Fire & Hail. They've also toured both coasts and gone on three European tours, taking their high-octane acoustic act as far as Serbia. The String Band is where new meets old. It is cowboy hats and nose rings, a hootenanny with a mosh pit. The songs play like...
Local Music
Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008

Bilgemunky broadcasts on Internet “arrrr”-waves

"Avast, you scalawags. Bilgemunky Radio is preparing to air…" A robotic female voice with a British accent repeated this a few times shortly before 8 p.m. on a recent Monday night. Meanwhile, Gerard Heidgerken was cueing up to broadcast his weekly Internet pirate radio show. In this case the term "pirate" doesn't refer to a broadcast that taps FCC-sanctioned airwaves, but rather to literal, swashbuckling pirates. Bilgemunky Radio features songs about pirates from mainstream bands and a surprising number of songs from...
Local Music
Monday, Dec. 15, 2008
For the 5 Card Studs, every show is a festival, but the holiday season is a favorite time for the band and their fans. "We have our act, our shtick," lead singer Cesar Palace says. "For some reason with Christmas you can just go that much more over the top with it." The Studs' only two recordings, in fact, are Christmas albums. The Christmas Wishes album features the Studs covering classics like "Blue Christmas" and "Merry Christmas, Baby." North Side of the Pole, a CD EP...
Local Music
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008
Jonathan Burks says his songs are mostly about Milwaukee's drinking culture. It's a subject that pervades his material, evoking both good times with your drinking buddies and introspective moments of clarity. On the song "20 Dollar Bill," Burks celebrates taking full advantage of $1 beer specials, while "Brew City Blues" describes Burks' difficulty with staying out of the many bars between his day job and his home. "Drink My Mind" tells of going to the bar to mend a broken heart...
Off the Cuff
Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008
It was 1960 when Jose Ortiz began his career as a “barber extraordinaire.” Besides practicing his brand of “hairapy,” he has also become a politician, teacher, community activist, musician and baseball aficionado. He is the father of musicians Christopher and Nicolaus Ortiz. Christopher...

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