THE LISTENING ROOM
Sponsored by East Wisconsin Savings Bank
Executive Director Fox Valley Warming Shelter
If you attend live music in the Valley, it’s likely Scott was in the crowd. Not only is he one of the regulars at live music, he is the Executive Director at the Fox Valley Warming Shelter and hosts several music-filled benefits for the local non-profit. He shares some of his listening habits with us ahead of Mile of Music 6.
I've always loved live music, but over the last couple years I’ve been seduced by the Mile of Music and the Fox Cities’ burgeoning original music scene. Some of our local artists (Kurt Gunn, Stephanie Tschech, Kyle Megna) are as talented as anyone you’ll see on the Grammy’s. Some people turn on their TV and watch a movie three or four nights a week. I’m more likely to drive five minutes to a local venue and hear one of our great local or national touring artists. With so much music locally, I rarely drive to Milwaukee or Madison to see an expensive show anymore.
What's on your turntable?
Since I got my first stereo at the age of 12, I’ve always had a turntable. For most of the next 41 years, the Beatles’ White Album has been close at hand.
There are 30 songs on this album and I know most of the words to all of ’em. My favorites might be “Blackbird,” “Dear Prudence,” “Cry Baby Cry” and “Mother Nature’s Son.” I’ve played “Birthday” for people at least two dozen times since I got the album as a Christmas present in 1978. Matt Rosensweig warned me that “Revolution #9” is horrible… unless you listen to it with headphones. “Bungalow Bill,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and “Piggies” are three of the funniest songs ever written and, in the days of mix cassettes, I inserted “Why Don't We Do it In the Road” right after Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” more times that I care to admit. “I Will” was the song I told my 8th grade girlfriend was ours. “Helter Skelter” is one of the greatest hard rock songs ever written and when I hear “Savoy Truffle,” I picture George Harrison eating loads of candy with Eric Clapton, who plays lead guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” You'd never know McCartney was from Liverpool if all you heard was “Rocky Racoon.” “Honey Pie” evokes a 1930s night club. In 30 years, I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than a month without listening to this record on my turntable. “Ob-La Di, Ob-La Da,” life goes on with the White Album, John, Paul, George and Ringo’s collection of songs that most influenced my life, musically and otherwise.
Paul McCartney has always been my favorite Beatle and I’ve enjoyed following his career to this day. Only McCartney could get away with releasing a single called “Come Onto Me” at the age of 76.
Paul McCartney “Come Onto Me”
What’s your favorite digital medium?
Other than researching bands on youtube or websites, I don’t use digital media. I don’t have music on my phone or computer.
What are you listening to in the car?
I listen to The Avenue a lot because of the uncanny variety of genres and the commercial free format. I also have a stack of CDs to listen to when I’m driving. Right now I’m listening to the Foo Fighters’ self titled release from 1995, I Love You Honeybear by Father John Misty, 19-year old Genevieve Heyward’s debut, “It’s Not Like Anyone’s Listening” and the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman.
remember loving how unlike Nirvana the guitars sounded on the first Foo Fighters’ record. A lot of people say Dave Grohl is a musical genius. I can’t argue with that.
Foo Fighters “Big Me”
Nicholas Raymond introduced me to Father John Misty and I’ll never forgive him for that. It’s Elton John if Bernie Taupin and Sid Vicious were collaborating on lyrics.
Father John Misty “I Love You Honeybear”
Genevieve Heyward is a coy but charismatic bright light from Lake Geneva who belts out original songs in the spirit of Carole King and The Beatles. The first time I saw her, a few weeks after her Mile of Music debut last year, I was a bit awestruck when I found out she was only 18. Over the past year, she has improved her guitar skills and toured extensively on her own and with Mike Wheeler. Both of them will be Mile 6 next month. Her voice echoes with the maturity of a seasoned crooner and songs like “Singing Bridge,” “We’re Not Okay” and, especially, “Mona Lisa,” showcase her songwriting ability and vocal range. Her 2017 debut is titled It’s Not Like Anyone’s Listening. The truth is we all are.
Genevieve Heyward “It’s Not Like Anyone’s Listening”
My wife Mary and I bought the Greatest Showman soundtrack CD because we wanted the song “This is Me” for our daughter Jenna’s graduation slideshow in June. We all loved the movie and our daughter sang the song with her high school choir this year. “Never Enough” is another great track from the CD.
Mile of Music 6 is Aug. 2-5. Do you have any recommendations?
Writing about bands to see at the Mile of Music has become almost as fun as actually attending the festival. As Mary Willems says, I like to drink from the fire hose, listening to every minute of music from the Wednesday night First Songs show to the last note played on Sunday night. A few years ago, I decided to review and recommend three bands a day for 15 days and post them on Facebook. I’m in middle of that process right now. Here are a few of my top picks this year.
Lizzie No 10-year old Lizzie Quinlan started playing the harp in her New York church choir and discovered Boy Dylan much earlier than Elizabeth Cotton. But instead of discarding her early influences, she kept discovering them. The 27-year-old (who performs as Lizzie No) now plays guitar, along with the harp, and has become an exceptional singer and songwriter. Her 2017 debut, Hard Won champions her emergence as a strong, self-determined woman. When she sings, “There’s no telling our shapes apart when the killing season starts,” her spoken word vocal twists into an eerie, but subtle, make-racism-wrong again message.
Learn more http://www.lizzieno.com
Andrew Leahy and the Homestead Looking at his flowing blonde locks, you’d never guess this young man survived a 12-hour brain tumor surgery a couple years ago. When I chatted with him at Mile 5, he admitted he hit the road again much earlier than the doctor advised. In the fall of 2016, he subsequently released the Homestead’s debut, Skyline in Central Time. On “When the Hinges Give,” the Virginia native recounts how he and his wife processed his diagnosis. “So if we burn to the wax / We’ll make the most of the heat / And keep the devil knocking like it’s Halloween / Until the hinges give in, and we’re a bottle deep / Singing one last song about the things we keep.” Musically, Leahey channels Tom Petty with less snarl and more velvet. In concert, his vocals puncture perfectly through the band’s raucous guitar bursts in songs that reflect Leahey’s storied journey from choral music to glowing praise from Rolling Stone Magazine.
Learn more at http://andrewleaheymusic.com
The Crane Wives Acoustic folk swashbucklers, The Crane Wives swoop back into Appleton for their fourth Mile appearance in five years. While I pick and choose which bands to see a fourth or fifth time, I will always be married to all four of the Crane Wives. Emilee Petersmark and Kate Pillsbury lead the quartet known for waggish harmonies, pensive lyrics and gutty, dynamic performances. Make sure to listen to “Unraveling.”
Learn more here http://www.thecranewives.com/
Calliope Musicals In the scheme of things, Carrie Fussell’s green arm pit hair didn’t even stand out. That was my impression after seeing Calliope Musicals grind out a dozen delightful tunes eliciting a sea of stunned but joyful faces at last year’s Mile concert. Equal parts clown party and free-to-be me TED Talk, the award-winning six-piece band from Austin performs hippy-infused psychedelic pop/folk tunes that build to a frenzy. At one point last year, Fussell floated off her carousel into the Washington Square crowd and grabbed an unsuspecting soul mate for a 25-second skip and a dance. National Public Radio calls their shows “a spectacle of concentrated celebration.” Don't miss this party. Listen to “Party Master and the Space Brigade.”
You can learn more at www.calliopemusicals.com/
Mammal Dap Ebullient keyboards and pinpoint drums propel this four-piece instrumental band in a blissful feast for the ears. Only the second instrumental only performing band in the history of the festival (Steelism played Mile 3), Mammal Dap comes from Northhampton, MA, home to Mile favorites The Sun Parade and local music luminary Taylor Greenwood. They’ve been honing their craft since their 2015 debut, Rockmeir. A friend told me a Mammal Dap is an understated fist pump. Watch these virtuoso mammals rock.
Find out more at mammaldap.com/
Favorite album of all time?
Apart from McCartney and the Beatles, I might say U2, The Unforgettable Fire. I still remember listening to most of those songs for the first time in a steamy, non-air conditioned apartment the year after I graduated from college. “MLK” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” inspired my passion for diversity, inclusion and advocacy around those issues.
See you at the next show!
The Belle Weather
Eric Cox is one half of the Wisconsin indie-duo The Belle Weather. Equal parts modern folk and indie rock – their music is a fusion of inspired anthems and the art of simple storytelling. The Belle Weather will be playing Mile of Music 6, and are part of The Avenue’s Spotlight on The Mile series. Check avenueradio.com for a complete schedule.
Eric spends a lot of time behind the wheel and he talks about the music that keeps him company while he drives to gigs. He offers up lots of good listening. And speaking of good listening - you can catch The Belle Weather at The Stoneyard on July 15. For full live schedule and more about the band go to https://www.thebelleweather.com
The Belle Weather - “Unbound” https://youtu.be/v1x1yo5fqVk
I take the back roads and side streets home from work every day. I slow down on yellow lights, hoping to catch the red. I don’t mind traffic jams (unless I’m on my way to a gig!). At the end of any trip – long or short – I typically end up sitting in my driveway, listening until the very last note of whatever song is playing. I’ll take any opportunity I can find to add another song to my day…
I logged over 28,000 miles on the road last year – the majority of which were traveled with a car full of guitars and amplifiers. Music is a constant presence in my life. I’ve always been an “album listener.” I’m not a fan of playlists, compilations, or “Greatest Hits.” I love being able to spend an hour or so with an artist in their time and space, and an album captures that in a very unique way.
Here is what I’m listening to at the moment…
On the turntable at home is Brandi Carlile’s new album, By the Way, I Forgive You. It’s a stunningly personal collection of songs, and a fine addition to the stellar collection of albums she’s released to date. I was fortunate to catch her first album in rotation at a music store about 13 years ago – her voice caught my ear immediately. Since that time, I’ve see her live more than any other artist. My wife and I even drove out to Red Rocks to see her on the Firewatcher’s Daughter tour in 2015. She’s on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of musicians! I absolutely love her voice, her sound, and her songwriting.
Brandi Carlile - “The Joke” https://www.youtube.com/user/BrandiCarlile
Last weekend, I saw Brandi Carlile play shows in Chicago and Milwaukee. The opening act both nights was a duo called The Secret Sisters. I purchased their new album, You Don’t Own Me Anymore, and that is playing on my phone at the moment. The Sisters’ close harmonies are incredible. Beautiful. Haunting. Ethereal. The richness of their intertwined voices tangles spectacularly with their dark, melancholy songs and biting lyrics. It’s an experience. My favorite track at the moment is murder ballad called “Mississippi.”
The Secret Sisters - “Mississippi" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkfFNVtlquI
When music first became universally digital, I struggled with trying to keep everything organized in one place. My brain likes things tidy. It’s been an exercise in futility, to say the least! Over time, I’ve come to enjoy having different music in different places. It’s expanded my listening… the turntable… my phone… my iPod…the cd player in my car…
On the Cd Player, at the moment, Milwaukee singer/songwriter Micah Olsan’s latest EP, Open Space. We’ve had the great pleasure of sharing a stage with Micah quite a few times over the years, and I’ve loved his music from the first time we heard him with Micah Olsan & The Many. His latest release is a solo effort, and these are some of his finest songs to date. He really lets his creativity and songwriting chops shine on this EP! My favorite is a track called “Dollar,” which gets stuck in my head (in the best possible way!) for weeks at a time.
Micha Olsan - “Dollar" https://www.micaholsan.com/music
Finally, the iPod. This is my “go-to” device for road trips. 120 gigs of mile-grinding sonic bliss. My most recent spin has been Less Is More from Milwaukee/Appleton folk trio Listening Party. I love their music. Their latest single, “Bones,” is a hit waiting to happen.
Listening Party - “Bones” https://soundcloud.com/listeningpartymusic/sets/less-is-more
I also have some standards that get me through the less inspiring trips. If I know I have a long day of work ahead of me (my days start at 12 hours and get longer from there), I’ll start the day with Lisa Hannigan’s latest album, At Swim. Her voice is absolutely breathtaking, and at the very least I’ll have that to carry my morning! If I need a dose of reality and brilliant songwriting, I head toward anything by Jason Isbell. He might just be the best songwriter of our generation. On late night trips after shows when I’m fighting to stay awake, my remedy is The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists. It is perhaps the most creative album since Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and it’s engaging in a way that always gets me home.
I could go on for ages, perhaps I already have! There is so much great music in the world. The art of staying young is to keep searching, and discovering, and learning. I love to travel the roads with music I know, but there is nothing quite as exciting as hearing a new song that absolutely floors you on the first listen. I keep searching. I fully intend to be an embarrassing old man still attending rock concerts with the kids someday. In fact, I intend to play shows until my fingers won’t move and my voice won’t make a sound! I hope teleportation has a good sound system. I will probably choose to take the long way home!