Isthmus | The Daily Page | Scott Gordon on Evolution of Madison Music 2012

How Madison venues, labels and performers have evolved in 2012

– Isthmus | The Daily Page

“Year-end lists tend to be nice and trim, while local music is messy: provincial yet sprawling, repetitive yet ever-changing, frustrating yet exciting. To provide some perspective, I’ll discuss a few factors that altered Madison’s music community in 2012, and what these changes mean for the future.

Changes at local concert venues — from the most ornate old theater to the scrappiest little DIY space — touched almost everyone this year. After struggling with structural decay and feuding management, the Orpheum Theatre landed in foreclosure. As great as the Orpheum is, it’s brought us some horrors in recent years, such as a shoddy, awkwardly high concert stage and dead-of-winter movie screenings with the heat turned off. I’m thankful that the competent, Madison-based concert promoter Frank Productions is at least temporarily taking over. Frank will reopen the venue with a New Year’s Eve show featuring local rock band Hometown Sweethearts and DJs VONMad Major Melvin and Wyatt Agard, and has booked some big-name acts for 2013, including Passion Pit and Yonder Mountain String Band. But it remains to be seen if the company will tackle the costly, long-term renovations the Orpheum deserves.

The uncertainty hasn’t spared small venues, either. The all-agesProject Lodge left its East Johnson Street space this fall and has yet to find a new location. The tiny Dragonfly Lounge became a surprisingly important venue for local and regional bands, thanks to a few musicians’ dogged booking efforts, which will continuewith the Lost City Winter Series.

Darwin Sampson, owner of the small downtown club the Frequency, recently announced a business partnership with Matt Gerding and Scott Leslie of the Majestic Theatre, who have funded a sound-system upgrade and will assume a greater role in booking. The Majestic has already started booking and promoting shows at small local venues such as Redamte Coffee House, the Loft at the Goodman Community Center, and East Main Street’s Anglophile-themed joint, the Rigby. It’s not clear how much they’ll shift the Frequency’s offerings away from local bands and toward more lucrative touring acts.

Sampson recently told me that Madison musicians may have too many opportunities to perform, and that shows booked too close together can dilute the draw of these acts. Often, he says, a local band will play for free at a place like Mickey’s Tavern just a week or two before a Frequency show, making it harder to bring in cover charges and alcohol sales that, ultimately, keep live music afloat. Still, I sense that local bands are frustrated with traditional venues. As the year went on, I noticed more and more shows at houses, the bike shop Revolution Cycles and the new art space Bright Red Studios. A recording studio, Audio for the Arts, also brought in a small but dedicated following as it hosted the Surrounded By Reality experimental-jazz series.

Whether I was attending a show at the Dragonfly, Mickey’s or someone’s apartment, I found it hard to overlook the productivity of Madison’s avant-garde musicians. One of the acts I saw most frequently was Spiral Joy Band, who use fiddles, harmonium and sometimes even gongs to summon drone-based pieces of exhausting length. During a residency at the Dragonfly before two members moved away from Madison, free-jazz trio Glacier collaborated live with all sorts of musicians, from sax and flute improviser Hanah Jon Taylor to tabla player Todd Hammes. At State Street’s Dobra Tea, I kicked off my shoes and sat on a pillow to watch Madison throat-singer DB Pedersen and the avant-classical Watercourse Quartet perform an improvisational one-off.

Madisonians should also take heart in the music community’s entrepreneurial spirit. While everyone and their mother have started a record label, the folks behind Madison’s Brave MysteriesKind Turkey and Mine All Mine labels behaved like true go-getters, recruiting artists from our city and beyond. Madison’s Ankur Malhotra helped launch Amarrass Records, a label centering on traditional Indian musicians, and trekked into the deserts of Rajahstan to record them. Even theMadison Mallards delved into live music in August, successfully launching the Pondamoniumfestival, which featured the Flaming Lips and Garbage.

As always, a strange, mismatched bunch of people steered Madison music in 2012. That can make things unpredictable, but it might also be our town’s greatest musical asset.”

~ Scott Gordon 12.06.12 Isthmus | The Daily Page

12/8 2pm | Brothers Grimm + DB Pedersen @ HEAT AID

| KWWF | Heat Aid 2 fb.event | Isthmus | 77 Square | Madison Arts Extract |

MadCity MusicDB Pedersen | GrimmusiK |

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KEEP WISCONSIN WARM/Cool FUND

HEAT AID #2

12/8  2pm  @ MadCity Music Exchange

Brothers Grimm + DB Pedersen

Spires That in the Sunset Rise

DJ Evan Woodward

suggested $5 (or more) donation

https://i1.wp.com/www.kwwcfcornmaze.com/images/kwwfblackandwhite_logo.png?resize=541%2C600

More Info >

11/29 | Andy Downing of 77 Square writes |

“Ebenezer Scrooge needed visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to uncover his charitable side. One imagines it was far easier to convince a gang of local musicians to come together for Heat Aid, a new performance series designed to benefit the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund.

The three-week series, which kicks off on Saturday December 1, was put together by Arts Extract, a weekly podcast focused on the Madison-area arts scene, and features performances by a diverse array of local acts, including one-man jug band Boo Bradley and mellow singer-songwriter Dietrich Gosser.

All of the shows are scheduled to take place at MadCity Music Exchange, 600 Williamson St. Admission to each all-ages event is free, though there is a suggested donation of $5 to the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, a non-profit organization that helps local residents maintain heat and power in times of emergency — an absolute necessity as the temperatures continue to plummet into the winter.

Attendees will also be able to purchase raffle tickets for prizes donated by the Fund and MadCity Music Exchange, with all proceeds going to the charity.

Visit madisonartsextract.com for more information about the event and kwwf.org for more information about the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund or to make an online donation.”

Here is the full schedule of performers:

Saturday, Dec. 1, 2 p.m.: Boo Bradley

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2 p.m.: DB Pederson, the Brothers Grimm and Spires That in the Sunset Rise

Saturday, Dec. 15, 2 p.m.: Dietrich Gosser and the Tiny Band

11/30 | Austin Duerst of Isthmus writes |

“Sorry, Wisconsin, but your winters are brutal. Beautiful as they might be the day after that first snowfall, the rest of the season is, for most, a struggle to stay warm outside. For an unfortunate few, the fight continues indoors, as heat is a luxury they can’t afford. That’s why, beginning this Saturday, the Madison music community will gather to launch a free concert series called Heat Aid.

Taking place at local record store MadCity Music Exchange three Saturdays in a row — Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. — the performances will feature a variety of Madison musicians, with all proceeds going to the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, a statewide nonprofit that helps low-income residents get the heat and air conditioning they need.

Presented by the hosts of local podcast Arts Extract, the concert series was a straightforward way to bring together various cells of the music community while supporting a worthy cause. Scott Gordon (an Isthmus contributor) recruited the series’ musicians. The mention of helping needy neighbors rallied several local musicians almost immediately.

“The whole [music] slate is just a testament to the generosity that Madison musicians have when it comes to supporting a good cause,” says Arts Extractcontributor Mark Riechers.

Featuring a half-dozen performers and various music styles, the lineup includes Dietrich GosserThe Tiny BandDB PedersenThe Brothers Grimm and Spires in the Sunset Rise. Also featured are blues stompers Boo Bradley, who’ll kick-start the series.

Boo Bradley’s singer, Scott “Boo” Kiker, once received financial support from the Fund himself.

“It made it that much easier for me to help out,” he says, recalling how the Fund helped him fill propane tanks with gas to keep warm during a winter in the country. “Winter is a real issue here. I grew up down south, and there you can live through winter without heat. You wouldn’t be comfortable, but you could do it. Here, you just can’t. It’s a life-and-death matter.”

The Fund forges community partnerships and relies on the support of private donors as well. They work hard to spend every penny effectively.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we keep our administration costs at 5% or less, meaning that every time you donate a dollar, 95 cents of that is going to help somebody literally stay warm,” says the Fund’s events director, Angela Flickinger.

In other words, Heat Aid attendees can step into a cozy shop filled with good music, and they can leave feeling a bit warmer inside.”

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WALT 2pm today at WI Film Fest!

WALT

USA | 2011 | 11 min | DVD

narrative | section: Wisconsin’s Own | World

directed by: Thom Anthony
screenplay: Thom Anthony
editor: Nicklaus Reichel
cinematography: Jacob Lipke
production assistant: Jennifer Claire Ruetten
music: Brian Grimm
producer: Nicklaus Reichel
cast: Arthur Noble, Dominique Chestand, Alan Struthers, Morgan Boland, Thom Anthony

synopsis: In the days prior to Halloween, Walt tinkers in his basement, plays chess in a laundromat with his friend Rhonda, and becomes lost in classical music. Art, friendship, and the ability to see things differently all intertwine in this touching film shot right here in Madison.

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WALT made the Isthmus WI Film Fest Highlights list ~ check it out!

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Stream the original BC Grimm soundtrack below!