Saturday, February 1, 2020

First Things First

First. February is Black History Month. Hard to imagine what a deprived, sorry state my heart and soul would be in having never heard Ray Charles, Leadbelly, Lighting Hopkins (pictured), Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, Jimmy Smith, B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Sam Cooke, Big Joe Turner, Monk, Miles, Coltrane, Willie Dixon, Muddy, Wolf, Ellington, Ella, Etta, Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone, Basie, Donny Hathaway, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Chuck Rainey, George Porter Jr., James Jamerson!… the list goes on and on and it keeps on growing. Year-round love, respect, and thanks to these and so many other great musical artists who stir my spirit and make me proud to stand with them as Americans.

Everybody wants to know, “where’s BIG WES?” And the answer is always the same: traveling.

After decades of performing up and down the highways and byways of the Midwest, Big Wes Turner turned his sights toward farther horizons. He hasn’t been everywhere, Man, but he’s getting there, even though the evidence provided by his infrequent cards, letters, and phone calls indicates that his path is that of a freewheeling wanderer.

Wes has always had a nose for new sounds and lately he’s been following that nose wherever it leads him. Slack-key guitar sounds were in the background when he called from Hawaii, but then the lava started rolling down and he left town. Was he headed to Mongolia to refine his Tuvan throat-singing technique, or to Australia to see some guy about a didgeridoo. We don’t know, do you?

Luckily, BIG WES Turner’s Trio is easier to track down. The surest way is to invite them to play at your establishment or residence for any event that calls for their eclectic selections of American musical classics.

Mark your calendars for May 1, 2020 when Tom, Rick, and Gary play at Mazomanie Music Conservancy (in Mazomanie), and check this space often for updates on the downbeats.

The McMusical Calendar

Thursday, February 13
The Sparks Band plays vintage 60s rock AND roll at The VintageBrewery in Sauk City. 7 to 9

Friday, February 14
The Sparks Band rinses and repeats their rock-tacular 60s stuff, this time at Chief’s Tavern on Cottage Grove Road (Yes! Right across from Buck’s Pizza, and, Yes!, they deliver.) 6:30 to to 9:30.

Saturday, February 22
The Cashbox Kings lay down Chess-era Blues at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills. Wisconsin’s premier beer and world-class Blues. 7 to 10 pm.

Sunday, February 23
The Birddog Blues Band entertains starting at 2pm, right after the last pin falls at the Madison Blues Society’s Bowling for Blues event at Schwoegler’s Park Towne Lanes.

Saturday, February 25
The Cashbox Kings set it up and lay down surrounded by delicious hors d-ouevres for the annual Porchlight fundraiser held at UW Madison’s Discovery Center. Chow down with Chess-era Blues in the background.

Check back for March dates.

Saturday, January 11, 2020


Hey. It’s been a while. Where have we been? Did we go into hibernation? Like you, many people have been wondering.

Well wonder no more. We’ve been here all along. Here in the midst of a deep and tenacious fug of seasonal depression. The news. The climate. The in-laws. What’s NOT to be depressed about?

But finally, the Feast of the Three Kings has passed. The “season” is officially over and the dried out pine trees appearing along the curbs are proof of it. Daylight lengthens. And, it finally snowed in Wisconsin! Who has time for hibernation? We gotta get out there and shovel. Hallelujah!

Taverns and bars and grills and venues aplenty are tempting you to venture out of your caves and into theirs for the sampling of food, drink, and musical entertainment. It’s what we-sconsin do.

Let the McMusical calendar (below) help you with your decision making processes.

Speaking of hibernation, we are thrilled to feature our very first "paid" advertisement (see below).

Saturday, January 18
The Birddog Blues Band holds forth at Kleeman’s Bar in New Glarus (Wisconsin’s Little Switzerland). Is the combination of Ken “Birddog” Olufs on harmonica, Mel Ford on guitar, Mark Haines on drums, and Tom McCarty on bass the hands-down best blues band in Madland? Yes. Downbeat at 7 pm.

Friday, January 24
The Birddog Blues Band gets down and dirty at Madison's home of the Blues, The Knuckle Down Saloon. Music starts at 8 pm.

Friday, January 31
The Sparks Band persists with their list of 60s hits at Rex’s Innkeeper in Waunakee. Do you wanna dance? Here’s your chance.

Thursday, February 13
The Sparks fly again. Big hunks of burnin' love, Baby. This time from 7 to 9 at Vintage Brewery in Sauk City.

Friday, February 14
And again. The Sparks and their 60s schtick return to Chief’s Bar & Grill on Cottage Grove Road. 6:30 to 9:30. 

Check back for updates and additions.

Does a bear shit in the weeds? No. It shits in the woods.*
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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Present Posting of Posts Past

This publication is a small publication. Even smaller than that, really. Minuscule is more like it. Perhaps smaller yet. Micron-microscope minusculity. But that’s good, in a way. Because we can say whatever we want. We can take liberties. We can purport to coin words like minusculity. We can get downright mouthy, and mean, and indulge in all manner of impetuousness and impropriety. Though we mostly don’t.

What we can’t do is say nothing. We are compelled to regale our imaginary readers with something or other. Having no time or little inclination are poor excuses. Post or perish, as it were.

This post marks the Nth anniversary of our first innocent McMusical meanderings. Our intent has never been more than to entice a few sociable souls out for an evening’s entertainment. If there were an appropriate pictogram to represent how much cash value these efforts have earned us over all this time it would bring to mind the words “diddly squat.”1 

Yet, we persist. Is anyone listening? We have little evidence to suggest so, so we fall back on Faith, and trust that the few, the proud, the fewer, are mildly entertained and only occasionally misinformed (as with our recent post that had BIG WES Turner’s Trio playing some right place at some wrong time). Whadaya gonna do? Our proofreader/fact-checker has been fired and rehired so many times that heads spin. What remains incontrovertibly true is that the sole means of supporting this publication is for you to attend one or more of the events listed below.

1 Yes, I know about the poop emoji, but we’re here to tell, not show.

McMusical Calendar
Friday, November 8
BIG WES Turner’s Trio at The Club Tavern in Middleton. Note that start time is now moved up to accommodate early-to-bedders. 8 to midnight

Sunday, November 10
The Madison Blues Society’s Bowling for Blues event at Schwoegler’s Park Towne Lanes has been canceled. It may be rescheduled for a later date.

Tuesday, November 12
The Sparks Band (with special guest Mel Ford!) plays a (private) party in Middleton. By invitation only. Contact The Sparks if you'd like an invitation. Music from 6:30 to 10 pm

Friday, November 15
The Cashbox Kings lay down Chess-era Blues at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills. Wisconsin’s premier beer and best blues band. 6 to 9 pm

Wednesday, November 20
BIG WES Turner’s Trio facilitates another “Harmony Hump Day,” food, fun, and music on the middle day of the middle week of the month at The Harmony Bar & Grill. 6:30 to 9:30 pm

Friday, November 22
BIG WES Turner’s Trio rocks out and R&B’s on at Chief’s Tavern on Cottage Grove Road (right across from Buck’s Pizza—they deliver). 6:30 to 9:30

Sunday, November 24
Faux Fawn (singer/songwriter Paul Otteson’s quintet) perform on a bill that includes Free Dirt and the inimitable Robby Schiller at (soon to be renamed) The Winnebago. Check back for show time.

Wednesday, November 27
The Birddog Blues Band plays Tofflers annual Thanksgiving eve customer appreciation celebration. Hang with this friendly New Glarus crowd and save the in-laws for later. Sounds start going down at 8 pm

Thursday, December 5
The Sparks Band rocks AND rolls at The Vintage Brewery in Sauk City. 7 to 9

Check back for additions and updates!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Who, What, Wherefore Art Thou, Wes?

People ask us all the time: Which one is Wes? 

To which we answer: None of us. We're Big Wes Turner's Trio

Yes, it can be confusing. And things don't clear up much after answers to questions about who and where Big Wes is.

It begs the question: how does someone become both renowned and unknown?

Back when ALL bands were bar bands, Big Wes Turner somehow became both legend and wraith. Despite the swath he cut from Midwest beer joints to all points of the compass, no head shots or 8 x 10 glossies appear to have survived and, though some claim to have a candid, none that we have seen are clear enough to verify.

Even we, (his Trio), find that memories of our encounters with him conflict, as if he were the original six-string mesmerist who takes his bows, waves once, and somehow wipes clean all traces of himself.

Almost all traces. He IS out there. We'll get a call from halfway around the world, and it might break up or break off, but not before that unmistakable rumble of laughter comes over the line. I got a postcard last year, but, wouldn't you know, I can't find it now.

No matter. We remember the songs, a lot of them anyway, and do our best to keep the Big Wes legacy rolling (and rocking).

Check out Tom, Rick, and Gary (BigWesTurnersTrio) (the "biggest little band in Madland").

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Remains of the Days

Days of summer, that is.

The sun is shining and a soft breeze is blowing. The grass still needs mowing. Plenty of warm (or warmish) weather left to enjoy. What's not to love?

Well, plenty, as it happens, but we're not the daily news. We're here to keep you up to date on some of the musical diversions that abound around this corner of the great state of Wisconsin.

McMusical Calendar

Friday, August 23 (Tonight!)
The Sparks Band replays the 60s at Chief’s 6:30 to 9:30

Saturday, August 24
Big Wes Turner’s Trio plays a fond farewell gig at Me&Julio on Fish Hatchery Road before the line-up of live music comes to an end. 
6 to 9
(Tom, Rick, and Gary pictured.)

Saturday, August 31
The Birddog Blues Band rocks Toffler’s in New Glarus. In the backyard, if weather permits. 8 to 11

Friday, September 13
Big Wes Turner’s Trio at The Bulquarian Brew House in Monroe. Come for the beer, stay for the music, or vice versa. All good. 6 to 9

Saturday, September 14
Big Wes Turner’s Trio plays a CAP (Customer Appreciation Party) in New Glarus from 1 to 4 (pm). If you’re a customer, you know where to go.

Friday, September 20
Big Wes Turner’s Trio plays the historic The Club Tavern in Middleton. 9 to 1

Thursday, September 26
The Sparks Band is back at it at The Vintage Brewery in Sauk City. 7 to 9

Friday, September 27
The Sparks Band reloads their 60s for a salvo of nostalgia at The Atwood (on Atwood Ave., formerly Mr. Roberts). 8 to 11

Check back for October dates and updates.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Short Notice

Madison Wisconsin has a Blues tradition going back at least as far as big Blues names appearing at a crowded campus corner bar called The Nitty Gritty. From there the nexus of Blues performances in Madison kept moving. To The Church Key, The Club De Wash, Luther's Blues, and now Madison's new "Home of the Blues", The Knuckle Down Saloon.

And this Saturday (August 10), longtime, grizzled veterans of the Madison music scene,  "Madison's Biggest Little Band," Big Wes Turner's Trio, gets down at the Knuckle Down. Be there! The "Rockin' RHYTHM & Swingin' BLUES" starts rollin' at 9 pm.

Big Wes's chosen three will rely heavily on their Blues and R&B repertoire, but there's no way they won't be trotting out favorites from further out, such as: Mickey Baker's classic guitar instrumental Lullaby of the Leaves, or Jimi Hendrix's Up From The SkiesAfter all, Blues and R&B has always been Big Wes's meat and potatoes, but, as the big Man himself would say, "What about dessert?"

Tom McCarty (bass), Rick Becker (drums), and Gary Hendrickson (guitar).

Check back for updates to the McMusical Calendar.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Where and Now

Now what? 

Summer time is busy time. Everybody's in a hurry to get somewhere so they can relax. But haste can not only make waste, sometimes it delivers downright dangerous results. So chill.

Big Wes Turner says, "Slow down. You'll get farther." And he ought to know. World traveler Wes is never too busy to pull over and listen to live music, especially if it's something he's never heard before.

That said, if you've already heard any of the bands listed below, don't let that stop you from attending. It's live and always never exactly the same twice. Hmmm. Always never? Got to think about that.

McMusical Calendar
Friday, August 2
The Birddog Blues Band at The Knuckle Down Saloon.
8 to Midnight

Friday, August 16
The Sparks Band plays 60s songs at The Hody Bar & Grill in Middleton.
9 pm to 1 am

Saturday, August 17
The Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Bar & Grill in New Glarus.
8 to Midnight

Thursday, August 22
The Cashbox Kings bring Chicago blues to Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills.
6 to 9 pm

Friday, August 23
The Sparks Band keeps 60s sounds alive at Chief’s Bar & Grill on
Cottage Grove Road (right across from Buck’s Pizza--they deliver).
6:30 to 10 pm

Saturday, August 31
The Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Bar & Grillin New Glarus.
8 to Midnight

Friday, September 13
Big Wes Turner’s Trio keeps the legacy of their namesake alive
at The Bulquarian Brewhouse in Monroe.
6 to 9 pm

Thursday, September 26
The Sparks Band rocks out 60s style at The Vintage Brewery in Sauk City.
7 to 9 pm

Friday, September 27
The Sparks Band keeps on rocking at The Atwood (on Atwood Avenue, formerly Mr. Roberts). 8 to 11 pm