THE LISTENING ROOM
Sponsored by East Wisconsin Savings Bank
Local Live Music Enthusiast - Avenue Supporter
Yes, that’s me in front of the stage at many local performances. Nothing will make the stresses of the day disappear faster than seeing magic being created in front of us on an almost daily basis here in Appleton. The best thing we can do to support the local music community and the musicians is to buy their music and merchandise. The added benefit of still buying a CD is discovering a new song that maybe hasn’t been played live or will never make it to the radio. More often than not, there is a hidden gem buried within the songs or is the last song on the album. That is the focus of this Listening Room.
First up is Dead Horses. If you haven’t seen them live yet, I can’t recommend them enough. The best way to describe seeing them in person is their performance is like a long hug dipped in tequila. It just keeps getting better. The last track on their album, CARTOON MOON, is “Peace My Soul.” When the day is challenging, pour yourself two fingers of your favorite whiskey, and this song will bring you back around.
Dead Horses “Peace My Soul” https://youtu.be/nvp-f-s96cE
Another favorite, with Appleton as their second home, is Listening Party from Milwaukee. Weston, Joshua and Jacob never disappoint and are in town almost every month. Each performance is different with variations being done on many of their original songs. And when they do a cover, they make it their own. “The Rock,” the sixth track on their self-titled album, is what got me hooked. These guys should be more famous and it’s only a matter of time. Be sure to check them out before their visits become less frequent.
Listening Party “The Rock” https://youtu.be/ZaF_728gi-c
Next is Auralai, the genius of Nate Lehner and Stephanie Tschech really shine with their album, SONGS FOR DOGS. I attended the CD release concert at Rock Garden Studios and have been a fan ever since and just saw them recently when they opened for Shawn Colvin in Oshkosh. The second to the last track is one where Nate takes over as lead singer with, “Already Always Yours.” If I could sing, this is the song I would sing to a significant other.
Auralai, “Already Always Yours” https://youtu.be/i6aI03jCkr8a
Another favorite, well-know in Appleton, is The Belle Weather. Not only do Eric and Tom have full time jobs, they manage to play over 100 gigs a year. I’m honored to call them friends and they have performed at my house three times. On their last studio album, SUITCASE, the fourth song from the end, “Unbound,” is now my go-to song. The lyric, “I want to be your lost and found,” gets me every time. Give it a go. Another favorite is ninth track on their first album, HOLD ON, is “Portland.” A tale about old friends reuniting.
The Belle Weather “Unbound” https://youtu.be/vVms-uUnx-Q
The latest album by The Mascot Theory, DAWN AND WHAT COMES AFTER, is their best work to date, in my opinion. The last track, “Unstick The Words,” is hauntingly beautiful. The moment I hear it, the hair on the back of my neck stands up and when it’s finished, I’m hitting the repeat button. Sonically delicious!
The Mascot Theory “Unstick The Words” https://youtu.be/XHUefWzXYQ0
This leads us right into Christopher Gold & The New Old Things with their 2016 release, WHICHEVER WAY HOME. As a person who has moved many times in the last 15 years, some by choice, some not by choice, the last song, “Coming Home,” really resonates. I’m a big fan of acoustic songs with a searing electric guitar in the background. And this song does not disappoint.
Christopher Gold & The New Old Things “Coming Home” https://youtu.be/T1bksQ1rn5s
On this journey, we can’t leave out Wild Adriatic, Mile of Music favorite. Their album, Feel, contains two must-listen-to songs. The first track is a song called “Appleton” a nod to their home-away-from-home and the song they end many of their local performances. The other is the third track, “Come Back Baby,” and will get you grooving. This song has it all. Listen for yourself.
Wild Adriatic “Appleton” https://youtu.be/PPcehORLn-M
Lastly, and for me personally, no Listening Room is complete without mentioning Wisconsin’s own, Willy Porter, based in Milwaukee. I may be a bit biased. Back before he was famous, we were students together at UW-Eau Claire and I was there from the beginning. If you asked me my top three bands/performers in the world, he is one of them. Each song is a favorite. He has an EP that came out in in 2012 called CHESSEBURGERS & GASOLINE. The third track is “Digging in the Dirt,” a seven minute Peter Gabriel cover. This comes with me on road trips. It starts out slow and methodical and builds up. And before you know, you listened to it four times and can’t get enough.
Willy Porter “Digging in the Dirt” https://youtu.be/0PTg91R5Y0k