Friday, March 16, 2018

Tune In With Turner

(Note: Scroll down to “Happenins” for McMusical news notes.)

Reading this? Then you’re in touch with Big Wes Turner’s Trio.
Big Wes himself is not so easy to click on, call up, or pin down. You won’t find him on “social media.” The man doesn’t own a computer. Never has. And cell phones? “Ain’t those just itty bitty computers?” He’s never owned one of those, either.

If you want to connect with Big Wes you just have to keep your eyes (and ears) open. If you’re in a crowd and you sense a big presence, if you spot a certain kind of “man of substance,” you know, a big fella, height-wise and girth-wise, dressed clean but not fancy, who seems to be taking his sweet time but somehow moves in and out of the moment with surprising speed (Wait! Where’d he go?), someone who is obviously in-step with the rhythm section of the universe, who looks like he could be humming himself a tune, who looks like he knows exactly where he’s going and like he’s already there, well...
might be Big Wes.

Although he has been known to eagerly share photos of friends and family, the Big Man is one of those folks who seem to have talent for evading cameras. Evidence of his presence remains rare, but at ease or in action, Big Wes gets around. He’s traveled the world, and for all the miles he’s logged up and down the backroads of the Midwest, he could easily have circumnavigated the big ball a few more times. A lot of people have seen him here or there, and a lot more say they’ve seen him, but seen or unseen, when you hear some sweet pickin’ on a guitar that sounds like it’s been down the road for more miles than most can imagine, well... rest assured that you’re on the same wavelength as Big Wes. Set your worries aside and hum along.

And herewith, the aforementioned Happenins:

Friday, March 30
Big Wes Turner’s Trio shakes off the last remnants of hibernation and roars back onstage at Middleton’s Club Tavern (Ribs, brisket, and pulled pork, oh my! Not to mention... “Moose Balls!”
Also, Friday Fish Fry!) 9pm to 1am

Friday, April 13
Lucky you! (Get it?) Big Wes Turner’s Trio is back and boppin’ the Blues, appropriately at The Blu Room at Breezer’s Pub in Dubuque, Iowa.
8 to midnight

Monday, April 16
Faux Fawn folks it up in support of headliner Kiernan Mcmullin, and local hero Brandon Beebe at the High Noon Saloon. 8 pm start

Wednesday, April 25
The Sparks Band indulges in 60s nostalgia at Me&Julio down dere on Fish Hatchery Road in Fitchburg. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, April 28
Big Wes Turner’s Trio plays blues and samples brews (“Best in Wisconsin,” says Big Wes) at Tyranena Brewing. 7 to 10 pm

P.S. Big Wes Turner’s Newsletter has added an amazing new option: POSTCARDS! Whaaaaa? Yeah, you heard right. Most well-informed Turnerites receive their sporadic action updates via email, but now they can alternately (or additionally) get a scrap of cheap cardboard with information scribbled thereupon... FOR FREE!!! Just ask us.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Top Ten

(Note: Skip the blather and get directly to McMusical events by scrolling down.)

That Evil Omnipresent Disseminator of Distraction whose name starts with an F and ends with a K and contains the words “ace” and “boo” (sorry, but I would rather utter out loud the name Voldemort than spell out that which is the means by which Mark Fuckerberg has sucked our wallets and our wills dry) is what it is, at least in part, because of the opportunity it provides to actual friends you actually like, and sometimes to “friends” you've "liked" and probably would actually like should you ever actually meet them, to blithely and unwittingly send you down a deep rabbit-hole of reminiscence. Know what I mean?

So it recently happened when a “friend” started a chain challenge to identify all-time favorite albums. Thus challenged, most folk will recall records whose grooves they wore out while still in high school. So did I, but not without much wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth, and chewing of cud. (mmmmm, cud!)

For instance. Someone once said, “Geography is destiny.” In other words, where you are born overwhelmingly influences who you will become and how far you will go. I have come to accept that there is much truth in this, and because physiognomy is the geography of our corporeal selves, that too has a strong influence on the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the selfhoods that we accrue over our lifetimes. But there’s more.

Someone else said, “we are defined by the things we own.” If so, then to the extent that we have actively acquired the things we own, more so than things we inherit or pick up off the sidewalk, we define ourselves. Or, to paraphrase Descartes, “I shop, therefore I am.” Am I right?

Rightly or wrongly, one of my early shopping experiences involved the Capitol Record Club. After an even earlier purchase of 101 Civil War Soldiers for some ridiculously low price as advertised on the back cover of a comic book, said soldiers turning out to be tiny figures stamped out of a flat sheet of brittle blue or grey plastic, then mounted on tiny plastic stands, then immediately or subsequently broken off of the stands, you might think I’d have learned more circumspection.

Or not. But either way, the Capitol Record Club advertised loudly and boldly and persistently in the Sunday paper and thus looked to be perfectly reputable. The offer was enticing. Too good to be true? So the wise consumer might have considered. Seven-or-so stereo albums for dirt cheap! Sure, that came with the agreement to buy seven-or-so more within a year at “regular” club prices, but so what? Either I calculated that it was still a good deal, or I didn’t think. Don’t know. Can’t remember.

Point is, the fruit was dangling there and it looked irresistibly sweet: a few records I REALLY wanted and some others that might be good if given a listen. So I bit. Filled in the card. Sent in the money. And the initial high was delectable. Of course, it soon turned out that the regular record club selections weren’t nearly as enticing as those listed in the special introductory offer. Eventually I fell behind in meeting the Club’s purchasing obligations, started accruing alarming penalty fees, and then receiving letters threatening debtors prison. Lucky for me, there was a lawyer in the family, and a sharply worded rebuke to the Club’s collection bullies, typed beneath a law firm’s letterhead, freed me from a life of indentured servitude.

My fling with the Capitol Record Club left me an armful of prized vinyl, newly acquired pieces of my destiny-defining cache, among them: Equinox, Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66; Soul Sauce, Cal Tjader; California Dreaming, Wes Montgomery; Organ Grinder Swing, Jimmy Smith; and others. I played them all. Repeatedly. The melodies and riffs settled into my consciousness.

Some of these albums have stood the test of time better than others. Individually, perhaps only the timeless Soul Sauce could merit current Top Ten status. But collectively, I’d include the lot. And I wouldn’t hesitate to give any one of them another spin. If, that is, I still had any of them; if they, like those early Beatles albums, hadn’t succumbed to moving days, house pets run amok, weather, worn needles, theft, and other vicissitudes of time. But that’s another story.

Here’s that list of the nightlife entertainments for which you should be on the lookout:

Saturday, March 3
Once again, that venerable eastside Madison watering hole, The Crystal Corner Bar, hosts TheCashbox Kings. The Kings bring that Chicago Blues thing, and the Crystal pours the libations. 9:45 ‘til late.

Friday, March 9
The Sparks Band starts up on the stage at The Hody Bar & Grill in Middleton with a heap of 60s hits. 9 ‘til late.
(Note: A special guest appearance from a founding member of The Fabulous Flemtones is expectorated.)

Wednesday, March 14
The Sparks Band facilitates your dining and drinking pleasures during the happy hours of 6 to 9 at Me&Julio in Fitchburg.

Friday, March 23
The Sparks Band at
Chief’s Bar &Grill. Friendly folks, great tap beers, and Buck’s Pizza delivered from right across Cottage Grove Road. 6:30 to 10 pm.

Check back for April McMusical happenings, including the return of BigWes Turner’s Trio.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mid-Winter Amazements

That l’il ole blues band from Chicago, The Cashbox Kings, is helmed by sovereign soul men Oscar Wilson on vocals and Joe Nosek on harmonica. They do jaunt around—east coast, west coast, sometimes Europe—and when they head north to Wisconsin you will often hear guitarist Mel Ford, drummer Mark Haines, and Big Wes bassman Tom McCarty in the mix.

Such occasions are soon upon us.

Tuesday, February 20
The Cashbox Kings help YOU help Porchlight raise funds for their worthwhile cause. Pay up and chow down on delicious dishes from a heaping helping of Madison restaurants. Yes, we missed the official Mardis Gras date, but, hey! It's never too late to laissez les bon temps rouler!

Saturday, March 3
Once again, that venerable eastside Madison watering hole, The Crystal Corner Bar, hosts The Cashbox Kings. The Kings bring that Chicago Blues thing, and the Crystal pours the libations. 9:45 ‘til late.

What about BigWes Turner’s Trio? Yes, it’s the question quivering expectantly on the moist edges of virtually every pair of music-loving lips. Work is underway on what will be the band’s first recording since Big Wes went AWOL. Demos are done and studio time is booked. Tentative title is “Walk the Talk,” and the marketing department is gamely getting ahead of the game. (see sample art below).

The band has also started lining up gigs for the first leg of their “Basement Full-o-Blues Tour,” so if you have a basement, get in on the ground floor of this exciting “down-and-dirty” musical endeavor. Make contact.

Also. Have you heard? The Big Wes Turner’s Newsletter has added an amazing new feature: POSTCARDS! Whaaaaa? Yeah, you heard right. Most well-informed Turnerites receive their sporadic action updates via email, but now they can alternately (or additionally) get a scrap of cheap cardboard with informational notes scribbled thereupon... FOR FREE!!! Just ask. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Where-ing Out

Oh where, oh where, is “the Big One’s” band?

It’s a more common question than you’d imagine, though not nearly so often posed as the myriad musings over the whereabouts of that monolith of musical mystique nonpareil himself, (Big) Wes Turner.

Call it hiatus or hibernation, Big Wes Turner’s Trio is scheduled not to see nightlight until April 28, appearing at that apex, that epitome, that Holy Grail of beer-drinking destinations, Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, Wisconsin (the Tyranena Tasting Room serves up good vibrations AND great libations). 7 to 10 pm.

But why wait that long? Call! Big Wes’s boys will get down with the sounds that move you. The price is reasonable, and therefore right. Pass the hat and don’t let the beer go flat.

Meanwhile, check out these approaching opportunities to soak in some lively LIVE MUSIC!!!

Saturday, February 10
The Cashbox Kings return to Milwaukee’s storied Shank Hall. Sovereign soul men Oscar Wilson on vocals and Joe Nosek on harmonica bring along guitar-slinger Mel Ford, drummer Mark Haines, and Big Wes bassman, Tom McCarty. 8pm. $10 advance/$12 at the door.

Sunday, February 11
Neo-folkers Faux Fawn open up for KUINKA (“An electronic jolt into modern folk and Americana, waltzing along the grooved edges of dream-pop, synth-pop, and Brooklyn’s mid-aughts guitar-rock revival.” According to Vanyaland.) at The Frequency, E. Main St., just off the Capitol square in downtown Madison. Ages 18 and up. $7 advance/$10 at the door. Show starts at 8pm.

Tuesday, February 20
The Cashbox Kings help YOU help Porchlight raise funds by sampling delicious dishes from great Madison restaurants. Yes! On 
Mardis Gras! Laissez les bon temps rouler! Celebrate New Orleans tradition via Chess Studios-era Chicago sounds.

Saturday, March 3
Once again, The Cashbox Kings bring that Chicago Blues thang to venerable eastside Madison watering hole, The Crystal Corner Bar. It ain’t far, so make sure there’s where you are! 9:45 ‘til late.

Check it out and check back for more McMusical news.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Here’s a list of the things we can talk about without risking offense: The Weather.

Yes, it's a short list, and Politics is definitely NOT on it. We live in fraught times. Conversations can feel like a walk along a slope both steep and slippery. One false step and we’re taking a tumble into four-letter-word land.

Luckily, it snowed recently, inches of lovely, fluffy white stuff. Let’s talk about THAT. Wisconsin is still way behind in its ideal accumulation of winter precipitation, but there’s still time to catch up. Keep your fingers crossed. Also, if you don’t know the difference between Weather and Climate, consult your dictionary or encyclopedia, or repeat the fifth grade.

Also, leave early for your next appointment so you have time to take ‘er slow on those slick roads. This friendly reminder to exercise Common Sense, is brought to you by the following events, all of which you should consider attending:

Saturday, January 20. Faux Fawn folks it up with opening act Twin Brother and headliner Old Earth in an evening of intergenerational artistic aspirations at Company Brewing in Milwaukee. Show starts at 10 pm.

Saturday, January 27. The Birddog Blues Band gets down to The Blu Room in Dubuque, Iowa! (It’s over the border!) Ken “Birddog” Olufs on mouth harp, Mel Ford on guitar, Derek Hendrickson (of The Family Business) on drums, Tom McCarty on bass. Show starts at 8 pm.

Saturday, February 10. The Cashbox Kings bring the authentic sound of traditional Chicago Blues to Milwaukee’s storied music venue, Shank Hall. Show starts at 8 pm.

Check back for more (mostly)innocuous preambles and McMuscial news.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Weather Retort

Weather or not, we Wisconsinites work it out. Call it a dip into the deep freeze or just “seasonable,” us wizened ones know enough to keep the woolens handy and allow extra layers and extra time. All that may make an unwieldy wintertime mantra, so whittle it down if you will, but keep on keepin’ on, and keep on coming out to hear music made without mediation by the digital overlords. We’re talkin’ LIVE MUSIC! 

Here are some suggestions.

Wednesday, January 10. Big Wes Turner’s Trio aids digestion for the dinner crowd at Me & Julio (Fish Hatchery Road, Fitchburg). Good taps, comfort, companionship, plus Rockin’ Rhythm and Swingin’ Blues. 6 to 9 pm.

Thursday, January 11. The Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers in New Glarus. Like the name says: BLUES. Ken “Birddog” Olufs on mouth harp, Mel Ford on guitar, Mauro Magellan (of The Georgia Satellites) on drums, Tom McCarty on bass. 8 ‘til late.

Sunday January 20. Faux Fawn folks it up as opener for Old Earth in an evening of intergenerational artistic aspiration at Company Brewing in Milwaukee. Paul Otteson writes, plays, and sings, Audre Rae Krull sings, Luke Bassuener drums, Doug Brown fiddles on fiddle and guitar, Tom McCarty basses. Check for show times.

Saturday, January 27. The Birddog Blues Band gets down to The Blu Room in Dubuque, Iowa! (It’s over the border!) Ken “Birddog” Olufs on mouth harp, Mel Ford on guitar, Derek Hendrickson (of The Family Business) on drums, Tom McCarty on bass.

Come back for February info. On tap soon.