Each edition of The Avenue annual compilation album creates a snapshot of the year. 2021 was the year live music returned. Not exactly as it was before the pandemic, still it was back with an energy and urgency that was hard to miss. Once events re-started, artists and fans crammed in as many live performances as possible – at outdoor venues and precaution-laden indoor gigs. Voices 2021 captures some of that magic.
Recorded at Avenue concerts, monthly August Haven broadcasts, studio visits, or during our Mile of Music coverage, the following 23 exclusive tracks create a document of a most unusual year. We’re grateful to the talented and generous artists who live and perform in our area. Their music always makes life better and that was never more true than during the last year.
Thanks to Nicolet Bank for making this collection possible with their support. Many performances on Voices 2021 were recorded for our August Haven Live broadcasts. We thank them for their on-going support of our local music community. Thanks to the Meyer Theatre stage and Brandon Johnson at Fox Valley AV who helped to capture the tracks from Avenue concerts. And thanks to our listeners who support The Avenue and make independent radio a reality in our community. Let it play!
“Lovers for Life” 7000Apart 7000apart is the husband-and-wife duo of Amelie Eiding and Jon Kresin. This track was recorded in Avenue studios just ahead of their first Mile of Music appearance. They would go on to win a WAMI for New Artist of the Year 2021.
“East TN G*ddmn” Adrian+Meredith The Nashville duo of Adrian and Meredith Krygowski definitely put their own spin on Americana music. It’s sometimes a little punk, folk, polka, gypsy or swing. But it’s always a good time. This track comes from Adrian+Meredith’s August Haven Live performance which was recorded as one of our virtual editions. A+M and set up a socially distanced stage in their home – including putting their band in an adjacent room to give a live preview of their latest album for our listeners. By the way, if you’ve liked our past Mile of Music broadcasts, Adrian and Meredith have been a big part of curating and scheduling the artist interviews.
“Hello Heartbreak” Arts Fishing Club Appleton native, now Nashville-based leader of Arts Fishing Club, Chris Kessenich was our musical guest for a virtual edition of August Haven Live. Chris always comes loaded with lots of great stories to tell – like accidentally flirting with Taylor Swift or trying to book a gig at the Mars Cheese Castle. As always, we had a great visit with Chris and came away with this stripped down version of “Hello Heartbreak”.
“Lies of the Devil” Ben Mulwana We were introduced to Ben at this year’s Mile of Music. Born in Uganda and now Wisconsin-based, Mulwana’s music has a soulful, storytelling quality that connected with Mile audiences. We interviewed Ben as part of our Mile of Music coverage and later that same day were stopped on the street by festival goers raving about his live performance. In our studio, Ben played this version of what he described as his wife’s favorite song.
“Dreamer” Brother Elsey Brother Elsey had just rolled into town from their home in Detroit for Mile of Music 8. After a quick visit at The Avenue studio they were headed for a swim in an area quarry they had taken a liking to during a past visit. The three brothers may look like roughnecks but they sing like angels. They took their seats in front of our studio microphones, and when they hit the chorus the harmonies gave us goosebumps.
“Leather Jacket” Feed The Dog Getting Feed The Dog on an Avenue concert bill has been a bucket list item for a while. We finally did it in April 2021 at the Meyer Theatre. Postponed twice because of the pandemic, this performance was the perfect way to get back in the concert saddle. We’ll never forget the energy and enthusiasm the audience showed these guys that night. We’re grateful to have captured some of that with this track.
“Fire Under Water” Girl Blue The pandemic shut down our on-location broadcasts at August Haven for 17 months. The upside? By pivoting to a virtual broadcast we could feature artists from anywhere – like upstate NY’s Girl Blue. This beautifully stripped down version of her hit “Fire Under Water” is from her June 2021 August Haven Live broadcast.
“Next to You” Hillary Reynolds This area is home to a wealth of musical talent, and Hillary Reynolds is a fine example. A busy songwriter, Hillary splits here time between Appleton and Los Angeles. We were very lucky to get her back home for The Avenue’s Summer Sunday Concerts at LedgeStone Vineyards. On that beautiful September day, she performed her song “Next to You” – a song that landed on Little Big Town’s Grammy-nominated album.
“Wagon Train Lover” King Margo These ladies breezed into Avenue studios during Mile of Music and laid down this toe-tapper and had us grinning like fools the whole time. King Margo’s sound spans from intricate arrangements and soaring harmonies to straight-up rowdy bar tunes. We hope you caught one of their sets at Mile of Music, but just in case you missed them, we’ve got this for you.
“Paper Champions” Kurt Gunn How do we even begin to talk about Kurt Gunn? He’s simply a great songwriter. In 2021, Kurt was named Singer/Songwriter of the Year by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry. Frankly, you could just hand him that title every year and we’d be alright with that. Kurt writes beautiful songs faster than he can get them recorded. This version of “Paper Champions” was captured live at The Heist in Ripon. And like several of Kurt’s songs, Avenue listeners write and call asking about it every time we play it.
“The Ballad of Isabelle and Marion” Leading The Blind Leading the Blind has been part of the Appleton music scene, in one form or another, since 1990s. We figured it was about time that we got Marty Paschke and Eric Krueger into The Avenue studio. We caught up with them just ahead of Mile of Music. It’s rumored that Eric may hold the record for most Mile of Music sets. We can’t verify that, but we did have a lot of fun talking about it. We do know that both of these guys have great stories to tell from the festival. They recorded this acoustic version of “…Isabelle and Marion” just for us.
“Second Coffee” Marielle Kraft We interviewed the Nashville-based indie-pop singer/songwriter as part of our Mile of Music coverage. Her gift for storytelling was immediately evident – relatable and full of raw emotion, with poignant word choices that describe moments exactly as they feel. Thanks Mile of Music for putting her on our radar.
“If I Knew” Megan Slankard Ever since Megan jumped on stage to join Bascom Hill’s August Haven Live set back in July 2019, we’ve been wishing we could feature her on our monthly broadcast. Not easy since she is based in California, but we made it happen as one of our virtual editions. She was a blast to interview and we can’t wait until we can see her again in person. In the meantime, Megan’s warmth and enthusiasm comes through in this recording.
“Better Angels” Michael Grabner We’ve had our eye on Michael Grabner for awhile. So when he released his first album we were excited to finally get to talk with him. With a powerful voice and accomplished guitar picking, his unique sound is rooted in the traditions of country, folk, and rock and roll. He graciously agreed to play one of our favorites, “Better Angels.”
“Breathe In, Breathe Out” Sarah Clanton Sarah Clanton was one of many cello-centric artists at 2021’s Mile of Music. Her style has been called unexpected, innovative, eclectic, captivating yet approachable, and she calls it a “Cello-bration.” We wouldn’t argue with any of that. Sarah visited our studio during Mile of music and introduced us to her unique style of playing her carbon fiber cello. And when she finished we looked around the room in awe and simply said, “Wow!"
“Call My Name” Seth Walker We interviewed Seth Walker and bandmates Rhees Williams and Tommy Perkinson during Mile of Music and we are still swooning. We were already big fans so it was tough to “stay cool” during their visit. They gave us this beautiful version of “Call My Name” and put some extra hot sauce on it. We cannot wait to get them back for another visit.
“Lionheart” Sirsy Another outstanding husband and wife duo from Mile of Music. We interviewed Melanie and Rich (too) early on the third day of the Mile festival marathon – they were better than a cup of coffee! Melanie has an incredibly powerful voice and charisma all day long. Both she and Rich are multi-instrumentalists who leave you scratching your head as to just how the two of them produce so much sound. Definitely one of our favorite finds from this year’s Mile of Music. This track was recorded in The Avenue’s studio.
“Get Low” Smooth Hound Smith Husband-and-wife duo Zack Smith and Caitlin Doyle-Smith shook the Meyer Theatre stage with their raucous clash of backwoods folk, raw blues and underground rock for our April concert. Paired with openers Feed The Dog, this was billed as The Avenue’s “2-Dog Night.” And the audience howled in delight when Smooth Hound ended the night with this fan-favorite.
“Always You” South For Winter Nick Stone, Dani Cichon and Alex Stradal were another one of our Mile of Music in-studio interviews. South For Winter is the “Folk-Renaissance” trio from Nashville, who reminded us that our work puts us together with some of the nicest people! We loved their Mile sets, and especially loved seeing them enjoy the festival as fans themselves. Maybe you caught a glimpse of them enjoying the festival from the rooftop of their van! Here’s a cut from their in-studio performance.
“Heart of My Hometown” Szlachetka & Jamie Kent It had been 2 years since we’d seen these two. And when they showed up at our doorstep one September morn in flip flops, baseball caps, guitars strapped on their backs, and big grins… well, it was a welcome sign that we had returned to a bit of normalcy. Adopted by this town since their many Mile of Music appearances, for good reason – they are two of the most talented, affable, and generous humans we’ve come across. Later that evening, they spontaneously auctioned off Jamie’s boots at their gig to raise money for The Avenue’s pledge drive. They teamed up on this acoustic version of the song that has become a bit of a Mile of Music anthem.
“The Silence” The Lone Canary We interviewed Jesse Fox and Heather Camacho, one early morning during Mile of Music. The folk duo out of Rockford IL have been singing together since high school and it showed in their perfectly blended voices and harmonies. This version of “The Silence” was a beautiful and gentle start to our day.
“Midnight Manifestos” Them Coulee Boys What a thrill it was to present Them Coulee Boys on stage as part of The Avenue’s Summer Sunday concert series at LedgeStone Vineyards. We knew it was going to be a great show when the crowd was up and dancing with the very first song. These guys are on quite an upward trajectory and it’s easy to see why. Here’s their live performance (August 2021) of an Avenue fan favorite.
“Do Crimes” Walt Hamburger Walt has been on the Appleton music scene for over 20 years. His trademark blue hair is a sign of his punk rock roots. On stage he’s a true entertainer. And off stage, he’s a tireless warrior for animal welfare. It was high time we got to visit with Walt and it was worth the wait. Did you know that he regularly golfs with Steve March-Tormé? We didn’t either! During his visit to the Avenue studio, he laid down this gorgeous love song.
91.1 THE AVENUE 2021 MUSIC THAT MATTERS, INC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ALL SONGS RECORDED EXCLUSIVELY FOR 91.1 THE AVENUE FOR PRIVATE USE ONLY. NOT FOR BROADCAST OR FOR PUBLIC PERFORMANCE. MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION.