Thursday, May 12, 2022

Being Up Front

 Words Up Front

In my opinion, keep your damn opinions to yourself. I could say more, but I have resolved to stop over-sharing. You’re welcome. (Bob and Gene's to the right. Calendar below.)

McMusical Calendar

Saturday, May 21
The Timber Lake Playhouse kicks off its 2022 concert series, and the Birddog Blues Band takes the stage at 5 pm. This “concert version” of the band led by singer and mouth-harpist Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs features guitar stalwart Mel Ford, bassist Tom McCarty, drummer Derek Hendrickson, and singer and keyboard man Warren Beck. Arrive by 3 pm to hear Kevin Burt, 2019 Blues Music Award nominee and triple International Blues Challenge winner. Stick around for the Chicago native and protege of the great Sugar Blue, Russ Green and his Band at 7 pm. Should hunger or thirst gnaw during this event, fear not; food and drink available on site.

Friday, May 27
BIG WES Turner’s Trio rides again, thanks to Grammy-winning guitarist and Chicago Blues Hall-of-Famer Billy Flynn, who literally dragged drummer Rick Becker and bassist Tom McCarty out of their respective caves. Hear them hop between hip musical genres (Blues, Country, R&B, Rock, Surf!) at Tyranena Brewing, 1025 Owen St. in Lake Mills, WI. Enjoy the spacious, welcoming patio and backyard, not to mention the best and boldest Wisconsin brews. (A light drizzle won’t stop this semi-protected outdoor show, but weather most foul will, so keep an eye on the sky.) 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, June 4
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Beer Co. & Kitchen at 132 Market St. in Sun Prairie, WI. Beer? Check. Food? Check. Blues? Double-check. What more could you want? 7 to 10 pm

Sunday, June 5
Mel Ford & the Fairlane* at Tofflers Pub & Grill, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Afternoon on the deck. 2:30 to 5 pm.
*(Mel Ford & the Who? Suffice it say that back in the day, ‘round about Y2K, guitar wiz Mel Ford carried around a quartet of sidemen cleverly monikered “The Fairlanes,” bringing Bluesmuzik to the bars, bistros and beer tents of the Midwest. That was then. These days the estimable Mr. Ford pops up on occasion with the last 25 percent of the Fairlanes, bassist Tom McCarty. Hey. They sing. They play. They’re good enough and, gosh-darn-it!, people like ‘em.)

Friday, June 24
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill New Glarus, WI. Evening in the backyard (weather permitting). Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs, Mel Ford, Derek Hendrickson, and Tom McCarty. 7 to 10

Saturday, June 25
The Sparks Band opens up for WAMI winners Bella Cain at Celebrate Waupun at Tanner Park in Waupun (WI). 4:45 to 6:45 (or so)

Friday, July 1
Birddog Blues Band at WisconsinBrewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band at Club LaMark, Madison, WI.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 7 to 9

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, August 6
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers 8 to 11 pm

Saturday, August 16
Birddog Blues Band at Hartland Blues Fest

Friday, August 19
Birddog Blues Band warms up the stage for some band called The Jimmys at MineralPoint Blues and Roots Fest. Enjoy the surroundings at “Orchard Lawn” and the grounds of The Gundry House at Church and Pine in historic, picturesque Mineral Point.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, March 18, 2022

Soapboxing

 

Perfunctory Preface

Here’s where we normally string out a few pearls of wisdom and/or wit to edify you and lead you to the calendar of musical events below.

It’s also an opportunity for me to consider this question: What’s on my mind? Well, in addition to handling the basics of food, shelter, clothing, and the makings of music, these days the old mental landscape is laden with a fair amount of fear and loathing. 

The fear is for the future, as in, will there be one for our children? The loathing is for bullies, be they on the street corner or across an internationally recognized border, and for the tendency among some to cheer bullies on, or convince themselves that it’s none of their business, or that the victims had it coming. Anyone can be human, but being humane takes courage.

I hope we can all enjoy some summer fun very soon (suggestions just below), but I hope even more that we have the courage to do the right thing when it’s our turn.

McMusical Calendar 

Friday, April 1
The Sparks Band play the big hits from the 60s (and a few misses) at Chief’s Tavern, 300 Cottage Grove Road in Madison (right across from Buck’s Pizza, and, yes, they deliver!) Will the band be joined by a special guest? Word is, quite possibly. 7 to 10 pm

Saturday, April 30
The Gentlemen Reunion at Chief’s Tavern (see address above). Back in the day (the 60s), The Gentlemen were Wisconsin’s premiere purveyors of British Invasion rock and roll. Nobody played the Beatles repertoire better. They have long since scattered to the corners of the globe (and beyond, ask Mr. Shaw) but original band members Bob Kension, Bruce Shaw and Chuck Scalia are back in Madison for an evening of (mostly) Beatles music, joined by Mark and Tom from The Sparks Band. 7 to 10 pm

Saturday, May 21
Birddog Blues Band at the Timber Lake Playhouse outside of Mount Carroll, IL. Sponsored by The Crossroads Blues Society. The ‘Dogs’ set runs from approximately 3 to 4:30 Details on other artists performing will be available soon. Check back.

Friday, May 27
BIG WES Turner’s Trio rides again, thanks to Grammy-winning guitarist and Chicago Blues Hall-of-Famer Billy Flynn, who literally dragged drummer Rick Becker and bassist Tom McCarty out of their respective caves. Hear them hop between hip musical genres (Blues, Country, R&B, Rock, Surf!) at Tyranena Brewing, 1025 Owen St. in Lake Mills, WI. Enjoy the spacious, welcoming patio and backyard, not to mention the best and boldest Wisconsin brews. (A light drizzle won’t stop this semi-protected outdoor show, but weather most foul will, so keep an eye on the sky.) 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, June 4
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Beer Co. & Kitchen at 132 Market St. in Sun Prairie, WI. Beer? Check. Food? Check. Blues? Double-check. What more could you want? 7 to 10 pm

Sunday, June 5
Mel Ford & the Fairlane* at Tofflers Pub & Grill, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Afternoon on the deck. 2:30 to 5 pm.
*
(Mel Ford & the Who? Suffice it say that back in the day, ‘round about Y2K, guitar wiz Mel Ford carried around a quartet of sidemen cleverly monikered “The Fairlanes,” bringing Bluesmuzik to the bars, bistros and beer tents of the Midwest. That was then. These days the estimable Mr. Ford pops up on occasion with the last 25 percent of the Fairlanes, bassist Tom McCarty. Hey. They sing. They play. They’re good enough and, gosh-darn-it!, people like ‘em.)

Friday, June 24
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill New Glarus, WI. Evening in the backyard (weather permitting). Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs, Mel Ford, Derek Hendrickson, and Tom McCarty. 7 to 10

Saturday, June 25
The Sparks Band opens up for WAMI winners Bella Cain at Celebrate Waupun at Tanner Park in Waupun (WI). 4:45 to 6:45 (or so)

Friday, July 1
Birddog Blues Band at WisconsinBrewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band at Club LaMark, Madison, WI.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 7 to 9

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, August 6
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers 8 to 11 pm

Saturday, August 16
Birddog Blues Band at Hartland Blues Fest

Friday, August 19
Birddog Blues Band warms up the stage for some band called The Jimmys at MineralPoint Blues and Roots Fest. Enjoy the surroundings at “Orchard Lawn” and the grounds of The Gundry House at Church and Pine in historic, picturesque Mineral Point.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, September 17
Mel Ford & the Fairlane, PRIVATE PARTY, Madison, WI.
(WAIT! Why are we telling you about a party if you’re not invited? Just to remind you that Mr. McMusic and associates are happy to bring live music to your neighborhood hall or your very own home, at surprisingly reasonable rates.)

Saturday, October 8
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile in Sun Prairie, WI.

We fill in details here as soon as we hear about them, or when we get around to it. So check back.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Wake Up!

Hey you! Wake up!



Yes, it’s still winter, but the days are getting longer, so let it snow, let it snow. The fields and forests know what to do with it, and the aquifers will gladly take whatever seeps down.

Time to shake off the dullness and doldrums of an exceptional hibernation season, induced by frigid weather but also by the risks of the virus and its variants sloshing back and forth through our communities.

We mourn those we have lost. We applaud the healthcare workers and caregivers who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to save lives and fight against the COVID pandemic. We appreciate family and friends more than ever.

Have you heard talk about how great it will be to “get back to normal”? Have you thought it yourself? I have. But now I am hoping that instead of going back to whatever “normal” was, we can move ahead to something better. I am hoping that we can all agree to work together to make a world that is safer, healthier, and fairer for everyone. If we want it, we can make THAT the new normal.

I am also looking forward to hearing some live music. And making some.  Things are looking up in that department, as the calendar below will show. Come on out!

McMusical Calendar

Friday, April 1
The Sparkz play hits (and misses) from the 60s at Chief’s Tavern, 300 Cottage Grove Road in Madison (right across from Buck’s Pizza, and, yes, they deliver!) Will the band be joined by a special guest? Quite possibly. 7 to 10 pm

Saturday, April 30
The Gentlemen Reunion at Chief’s Tavern (see address above). Back in the day, the 60s, that is, The Gentlemen were Wisconsin’s premiere purveyors of British Invasion rock and roll. Nobody played the Beatles repertoire better. They have long since scattered to the corners of the globe (and beyond, ask Mr. Shaw) but original band members Bob Kenison, Bruce Shaw, and Chuck Scalia are back in Madison for an evening of (mostly) Beatles music, joined by Mark Loder and Tom McCarty from The Sparkz band. 7 to 10 pm

Saturday, May 21
Birddog Blues Band 
plays from approximately 3 to 4:30 at the Timber Lake Playhouse outside of Mount Carroll, IL. Details on other artists before and after the BBB set is coming soon. Check back.

Friday, May 27
BIG WES Turner’s Trio rides again, thanks to Grammy-winning guitarist and Chicago Blues Hall-of-Famer Billy Flynn. He single-handedly dragged drummer Rick Becker and bassist Tom McCarty out of their respective caves. Hear them hop between musical genres (Blues, Country, R&B, Rock, etc.) at Tyranena Brewing, 1025 Owen St. in Lake Mills, WI. Enjoy the spacious, welcoming patio and backyard, not to mention the best and boldest of Wisconsin brews. (A light drizzle won’t stop this semi-protected outdoor show, but weather most foul will. Check the forecast.) 6 to 9 pm.

Further into the future. Check back for more detailed info.

Saturday, June 4
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Beer Co. & Kitchen at 132 Market St. in Sun Prairie, WI.

Sunday, June 5
Mel Ford & the Fairlane at Tofflers Pub & Grill, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Afternoon on the deck. 2:30 to 5 pm.

Friday, June 24
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill New Glarus, WI. Evening in the backyard (weather permitting). 7 to 10?

Friday, July 1
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, Verona WI.

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band at Club LaMark, Madison, WI.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI.

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm.

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, Verona, WI.

Saturday, September 17
Mel Ford & the Fairlane, PRIVATE PARTY, Madison, WI.
(WAIT! Why are we telling you about a party if you’re not invited? Just to remind you that Mr. McMusic and associates are happy to bring live music to your neighborhood hall or your very own home, at surprisingly reasonable rates)

Saturday, October 8
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Brewing in Sun Prairie, WI.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Timelines

Trying to live through a pandemic can disrupt familiar habits. Take bar hopping. Wisconsin has always had a very active tavern culture, and this native admits to having felt very comfortable in any number of watering holes. It was easy to feel connected and convivial without a lot of fuss. More often than not I was there to make music or listen to other musicians. Our passing parade of COVID strains has been seriously disruptive to that scene.


On the other, things are always changing. We’re just too busy to notice. What was “the scene” like, say, 15 years ago? I could guess, but memory is unreliable. Or I could look through this issue of Isthmus that was at the bottom of a box of junk in the basement. Whadaya know? Clyde at The King Club. Restaurant Magnus. Rock Star Gomeroke at The High Noon Saloon. Westside Andy & Mel Ford Band at The Harmony!


Those were the days. But, then, so are these. The world is what you make it, and the aforementioned Mel Ford (pictured above) is still alive and kicking. And picking. As he will be with The Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Brewing in Sun Prairie on Saturday, December 11, from 7 to 10.


I hear good things about Beer. And I am told that Full Mile has plenty. Bring a mask. The band is fully vaccinated and you should be, too.


McMusical Calendar

The Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Brewing in Sun Prairie on Saturday, December 11, from 7 to 10.

The Mel Ford & Feral Lane duo play a private party on January 15. Where? I can’t tell you. It’s private.


As per always, if you want good music for any kind of event, public or private, contact Mr. McMusic. Duos? Trios? Quartets? You bet! 



Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sunny Afternoons, Past and Present

 





When COVID hit in mid-March of 2020, The Knuckledown Saloon took a knockout punch. Chris Kalmbach, proprietor and tireless supporter of the Madison blues scene, did the only thing he could do; cut bait and hope to wait out the worst. It was an abrupt end for a warm-and-fuzzy club, a haven for local and touring musicians, and music lovers. 

If the universe delivers any justice, Chris will be back in business in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, for a taste the Knuckledown's backyard festival atmosphere of year's past, check out this snippet from The Cashbox Kings (on that day, Joe Nosek on vocals and harp, Joel Patterson on guitar, Mark Haines on drums, and Tom McCarty on bass). Use your headphones, and enjoy this backstage view. Check out the crowd for usual suspects and local blues royalty.

Fraulein On Paulina

And... last item on the McMusical Calendar for 2021 is 

The Birddog Blues Band at BAM Festival in Belleville on October 2. BBB starts shufflin' at 2:30. Stick around for Wayne Baker Brooks!!

Check back for new dates and updates. Contact us for booking BIG WES Turner's Trio or Mel Ford & the Fairlane.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Yes, No, Maybe



For those of you (family, friends, and Ukrainian spider bots) who check in here now and again, Do you sense a trend in development?

For those of us who keep a part of our lives set aside for the intentional making of, or listening to, or thinking about Music, the worldwide health crisis begat by COVID-19 has been both boon and bane: more time to practice, or rummage through the collections, or beseech the Muse, but fewer live gigs, those irreplaceable opportunities to test one's ability to sync with other players and to feel the energy that can flow when a live audience attends.

Every now and then I run into a fellow music maker who is more booked up than ever. Are they fearless? Foolhardy? Or just fully vaccinated and calmly weighing their risks and benefits while the rest of us cower?

Come to think of it, I don't think any of the few people I'm thinking of have children. That makes a big difference. Even when your children are grown, care and concern can't help but color decisions.

All my 2021 gigs have been outside, with only a handful of exceptions and those were in very large, well-ventilated halls. The several indoor gigs scheduled for fall (didn't we all think we'd be home free by now?) have dropped away. Another one just bit the dust: Faux Fawn, the band that showcases the singing and songwriting of Paul Otteson, will NOT be performing at Bos Meadery on September 23rd. Alas. Three band members have young children and I understand and respect and their caution.

Which leaves us with...

The McMusical Calendar
Friday, September 17
Stalwart scions of Chess-era Chicago Blues The Cashbox Kings perform outdoors at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills. Note to appreciaters of guitar players; both Billy Flynn and Mel Ford are on the bill. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, October 2
The Birddog Blues Band (Mel Ford on guitar) opens up for contemporary Blues greats Larry McCray and Wayne Baker Brooks at BAM Fest in downtown Belleville, WI. Noon to 8 (or so), and FREE admission!

After that? Well, we'll see. Check back.
Or take advantage of any glorious fall day by bringing in BIG WES Turner's Trio or Mel Ford & Fairlane for your backyard party. We'll all be glad you did.




Friday, September 3, 2021

Breezin'






Fresh air! 

A breath of it is always considered a good thing. Right? 

These days, fresh air is a lifesaver and the outdoors is the best place to find it. Generally. Exceptions must be made if you're downwind of a coal-fired power plant or downwind of the large and numerous wildfires raging out West. (Aren't we all?)

The "music-biz" in the Midwest was pushed outdoors when COVID began blowing through last year, and now, after a tease of a reprieve early this summer, the Delta variant is forcing us back out into the open.

In Mr. McMusic's corner of the ring, things are coming and going. Gone are two gigs we had been eagerly anticipating: The Sparks Band's return to Chief's Tavern (on Cottage Grove Road), scheduled for Friday, September 10, but now canceled, and an annual fundraising event at The Harmony Bar & Grill featuring Chuck Bayuk & The Drunken Sailors, scheduled for Saturday, September 11. Also canceled.

Both of these great neighborhood bars have outdoor seating and both are deeply deserving of your patronage and support, so go out of your way to stop by for a drink and a bite. The Harmony has been hosting  acoustic/low-volume music in their parking lot/dining area. Check it out.

Here's what has NOT been canceled.

The McMusical Calendar
Friday, September 17, 6 to 9 pm
The Cashbox Kings at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills. Plenty of outdoor seating and plenty of fresh air on the vast patio. The beer is "legendary."

Thursday, September 23, 6 to 10 pm
Faux Fawn, plus Lunar Moth, Supper Club, and North by North at Bos Meadery (on E. Wash). Masks and proof of vaccination required!

Saturday, October 2, noon to late?
The Birddog Blues Band plays an early set at The Belleville Blues Festival. More details when we know 'em.

Wednesday, October 6, 7 to 9 pm
The Sparks Band plays the 60s at Vintage Brewing in Sauk City.

Will more musical events pop up in the brisk airs of Autumn? Check back. Or better yet, sponsor your own backyard party with BIG WES Turner's Trio or Mel Ford & Fairlane