Friday, November 6, 2020

Heads Poke Out

We are fine. But many fellow Wisconsinites are less fine, having contracted the virus, and some are very much less fine, having died of the virus. Condolences.

Meanwhile, Mr. McMusic's musical endeavors have necessarily turned to study and practice, two of the many things on the to-do list we've all been meaning to get around to. (Am I right? Of course I'm right.)

Who won? 
We think we know, but it's not official. Not at this time. Not yet.

What's going to happen? Don't know that either. Not when it comes to live music and the welcoming places where we were hearing it last year.

While we're waiting to find out, here's a snippet, produced by Chief's Tavern with images and sound featuring BIG WES Turner's Trio.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Using Our Outside Voices

As of right now, Wisconsin has NOT solved its COVID problem.

For real. Until Wisconsin gets its infection rate down, down, down, hanging out at our favorite night spots is a bad idea.

That’s bad news for those of us who love the vibe and camaraderie of our local watering holes. It’s bad news for us musicians who were playing there until about seven months ago. Those places and spaces where we sharpened our chops and earned a few bucks are irreplaceable. Online just ain’t the same.

Most bars and restaurants are hurting. A few have been better positioned than others to adjust to outdoor service. Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, with a huge patio area facing a grassy natural amphitheater, is one of the few venues around that can accommodate a big crowd and still keep everyone safely distanced. (And the beers are superb.) Since restarting in late May, all performances have been outside and therefore subject to the whims of the weather, but most have managed to dodge the raindrops.

Because of the extreme circumstances, Tyranena has extended their season for outdoor music into October. Which leads us to the McMusical calendar.

The McMusical Calendar

Saturday, October 17, 4 to 7 pm
The expansive patio at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, Wisconsin is partially covered, enough so that a light autumnal drizzle is unlikely to deter BIG WES Turner’s Trio from capping off Tyranena’s outdoor music season with their signature Rockin’ RHYTHM & Swingin’ BLUES. Check the weather, then dress appropriately and come on down.

Tuesday, October 20, early voting starts
Things can change. They will change. But it’s up to us to make sure they change for the better. Let’s do that. Start by VOTING.
If you feel you can do it safely, Vote at your polling place on November 3, Election Day.
If you’re concerned about safety, Vote early (in-person absentee). Many polling places will open from Oct. 20 to Nov. 1 and are less likely to be crowded. Check with your local Clerk of Courts.
Vote by mail only if you're sure you can get your absentee ballot filled out, witnessed, and mailed in As Soon As Possible. Find answers to questions about registration, polling place hours and locations, etc. at

And, as long as the weather allows, consider hosting a driveway concert or exclusive patio party featuring BIG WES Turner’s Trio. Leave a message.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Word One

Wait! It's been a whole month since we said word one about the whereabouts or goings-on related to things McMusical? Sorry to keep you waiting (especially you, Ukraine), but goings or doings have been scarce. Like most sane folk, Mr. McMusic and colleagues have been keeping their physical distance and donning masks on those occasions when stepping outside their respective bubbles is called for.

The Madison area is awash in striving musical artists. Normally, only the cream of the crop could be expected to eke out an existence in their chosen field, but without liquor sales to undergird musical incomes, well... not only the players but the bars and other venues that hosted them are experiencing existential whiplash. Online performances may be arguably better than nothing, but I find even the best of them ultimately unsatisfying (especially if it requires Facebook).

Face it. Outdoor performances are where it's at. Like this evening's (July 17) from 6 to 9 pm at Tyranena Brewing featuring The Birddog Blues Band (BBB) featuring Mel Ford (MF) on guitar. With spacious grounds, plenty of pod-placement spots to go around, Tyranena offers one of the currently rare opportunities available to relax and enjoy some live music whilst safely sipping a delicious Wisconsin-brewed beverage. Bring a mask. Wear it (except when sipping).

McMusical Calendar

Until further notice, Bupkis. 
But things CAN change, so DO check back. And, if you would like to host a driveway, or drive-by, or exclusive patio party event featuring BIG WES Turner's Trio, leave a message.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Weather Watchers

The sun shines, a breeze stirs the leaves. It looks and feels like perfect weather for spreading out in the open air and relaxing to the sounds of live music while sipping a hearty Wisconsin brew.

But this is today. What about Saturday, June 20, when BIG WES Turner’s Trio is scheduled to perform at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills? Our fine forecasting friends rate the chance of a scattered thunderstorm better than even. When will we know for sure? Probably sometime Saturday afternoon. This is just the way it is. The Trio will be ready for our 6 to 9 pm gig, and only a downpour will keep us quiet, so check with Tyranena on Saturday to be sure.

Tasty Tyranena beers are sold and served out of the patio-side service window. Dr. Anthony Fauci would approve of Tyranena’s expansive patio and grassy knoll area--plenty of room for physical distancing. Bring your own food or sample tasty fare at the Cafe Costa Rica food cart. (Muy bien!)

If the rains DO come, fear not. Plan for the next big event at TyranenaFriday, July 17, with none other than The Birddog Blues Band (featuring Mel Ford on guitar) playing the patio. Same hours: 6 to 9 pm. Same great beers. Different food cart: Doyle’s Dogs (authentic Chicago-style hot dogs and sandwiches). Same disclaimer: (Shine? Yes. Rain? No.)

And, as long as we can keep winning the weather lottery, consider visiting Vintage Brewing in Sauk City on Thursday, July 23. The Sparks Band revives 60s hits and wonders on Vintage’s spacious deck overlooking the Wisconsin River from 7 to 9 pm.

Note: Looking for BIG WES Turner’s Trio on Facebook? Save your clicks. Big Wes has ceased to humor Mark Zuckerberg. Q: How many billionaires does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: None. They’re too busy screwing you to be bothered.

Keep on keeping up with all things related to Big Wes Turner and his Trio by checking back here, or by signing up to recieve the newsletter. Just drop your email address in the bucket at any Big Wes Turner’s Trio gig. Better yet, invite the Trio to a drive-by performance in your driveway or backyard. It's easy; we're cheap.

Stay safe. Put a mask over your pie hole, then wash your hands. And repeat.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Play as Weather Permits

In a previous post we sadly announced that the BIG WES Turner’s Trio performance scheduled for May 15 at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills was cancelled (due to COVID-19). We were disappointed because we love to make music, especially at Tyranena where the folks are fine and the brews are robust.

Well, now we can happily announce that Tyranena is (conditionally) reopened for beer consumption and music appreciation, and that BIG WES Turner’s Trio will be there from 6 to 9 pm on Saturday, June 20 (weather permitting).

Tasty Tyranena beers are sold and served out of the patio-side service window. CDC-approved recommendations for face-covering, hand hygiene, and physical distancing are strongly encouraged.

Lucky for all, Tyranena’s patio and grassy knoll area is expansive, and the staff is working hard to make it all work. And, food will be provided by the Cafe Costa Rica food cart. (Yummm!) So grab a table or bring a blanket for your quar-pod.

AND, while we’re at it, let’s mark calendars for the next big event at TyranenaFriday, July 17, with none other than The Birddog Blues Band (featuring Mel Ford on guitar) playing the patio. Same hours: 6 to 9 pm. Same great beers. Different food cart: Doyle’s Dogs (authentic Chicago-style hot dogs and sandwiches).

In other news, have you looked lately and failed to find BIG WES Turner’s Trio on Facebook? You can stop trying. Truth is, Big Wes and Mark Zuckerberg had a falling out. Let’s just say, "words were exchanged." Let’s just say, "it don’t matter how big a billionaire you are, you don’t mess with WES." Keep track of Turner tales here, or sign up for the newsletter, or scan the events listings in your local sources for entertainment news. They need your patronage and deserve your attention much moreso than the Zuckface.

Stay safe. Keep it hygienic. Check back.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Monthly Manifesto

This little mote of dust in the universe of online publications serves as a herald for the "artistic" endeavors of Mr. McMusic. Chief among those endeavors for the past five-plus years has been BIG WES Turner's Trio, a modest effort to carry on the musical traditions of it eponymous mentor. Some of a certain age might call us a "bar band," and we would take that as a compliment. It has always been a hand-to-mouth kind of venture (the hand invariably holding a glass of beer) and any chance to promote the venture for little or no cost is hard to turn down. Thusly, damn near any band you can name has a Facebook page. It has become damn near a necessity; who can afford NOT to have a Facebook page?

Most of us can't afford the time it would take to go down a list of all the people we know and update each of them on how we are and what we are up to and in turn hear the same back from them. But so-called social media, Facebook in particular, makes doing that kinda possible, in a way, sort of. It enables quick contact with friends and acquaintances and it only costs some of your time. You give your time; Facebook sells your time.

That may seem like a fair exchange, but Mr. McMusic is suspicious. Because there's more to it than a simple this-for-that. Your time is the commodity that makes Facebook rich, so naturally it wants as much of it as can be gotten out of you, and its notorious algorithms have found that getting you pissed off is a great way to keep you logged on.

Well, Mr. McMusic doesn't need an algorithm to get pissed off. Which is why you will no longer find BIG WES Turner's Trio on Facebook. Even now, when it has become difficult and even dangerous to meet with others in person, when the digital space seems like the only safe space, even now, Evil is still Evil, and to the extent that we can avoid participating in or enabling Evil, we should. No more Devil's bargains, thank you.

But more updates on the return from COVID-19 quarantine of BIG WES Turner's Trio and other noteworthy items. Check back.

P.S. A shout out to all our fans in Ukraine! Don't be strangers. Leave a comment. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Me and You and Ukraine

Warning! This post is NOT intended for viewing by Ukrainians!

To all others, know that BIG WES Turner's Trio will NOT be playing for happy beer-drinking, music-loving party people on May 15 at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. As recommended by Wisconsin's Secretary of the Department of Health Services, Tyranena and all other non-essential businesses are closed to close-quartered social drinking until (at least) May 24.

But window service is still open for anyone who wants to bring home bottled beer or to have their growlers refilled. No need to distance yourself from those delicious, nutritious Tyranena brews.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Into the Great Alone

Last we heard from Big Wes Turner, he was still sheltered in place on the leeward side of a remote island. (If I knew which, I'd say so. He doesn't give a lot away.) BIG WES Turner's Trio has no gigs booked before the month of May, and those may happen or not depending on the shape of "the curve." When we know, we'll let you know.

As for the way things are? Well, dogs are loving it. It seems like everybody in our neighborhood is out taking walks, with or without dogs, sometimes with the kids on their kiddie bikes. It's an idyllic suburban scenario from our window, but of course it ain't like this everywhere. New York comes to mind. But getting outdoors into spaces where physical distancing is practical is a great thing. Take advantage. Savor it. 

Other than the daily stroll, lives are slowing down to a near standstill (because it's the only move we have to slow down the COVID virus). At that pace we start to notice things. What is essential and what's not? What has changed and what hasn't? 

For musicians, one thing doesn't change; you still have to practice. Musicians are "small muscle athletes." We may not break much of a sweat, but we still need to work out. A great pianist (might have been Rachmaninoff) said, "If I skip a day's practice, I notice; if I skip two days, my friends notice; if I skip three days, my audience notices." Musicians such as I are far below Sergei's pay grade, but the general rule still applies: use it or lose it. A live audience can create a feedback loop of artistic energy, but the players still have to bring some chops to the show. So the work continues. The sudden befalling of "The Great Alone of 2020" makes the practice room that much more a logical place to spend time.

But Hey! You don't have to be a musician to have something better to do other than stream shows over the interweb or listen to the inane droning of "the daily briefing." There are better ways to pass your time or focus your mind. Here are some recommendations: Pull out some of those albums you listened to over and over again years ago. Or some you never really paid much attention to. Close your eyes and give them the "test of time." Or read that book or three you've been meaning to. Or take up that craft you put down. Darn some socks, darn it. Hell, learn how to sew your own face mask. There's a practical skill. Once you get going you'll likely discover endless possibilities, many of which will require zero bandwidth or even electricity! Imagine!
Now shut me off and get to it.
P.S. If you're not a Ukrainian bot, please post a comment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

March March March

Great Snakes! Is it March already? Where have we been? Marching? Are we in Pretoria yet?

Personally, I detect a haze of malaise, a miasma of morning-after Super-Tuesday stupor. Do you feel it, too? Hope it’s not a touch of the COVID 19. But, if it were, how would you know? Have you soiled yourself? Are you spewing sputum? Are you self-quarantined? Or just overreacting, like most of us?

Well, buck up, Buttercup. The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day in Wisconsin. Take an invigorating walk, or mix up a fortifying cocktail. Ahhhh, that’s better.

Now we’re ready to join in the celebration of Women’s History Month—Call your Mom, write to your sister, and most importantly, tell that special lady, “I love you!” AND “I respect you, and all that you and your sisterly half of humanity has accomplished. Here's looking at you, Kid.”

There! See how much we’ve accomplished already, and it barely noon. Congratulations to us!

One more question, though: Where’s Wes?
The safe answer is: Off the grid.
However, BIG WES Turner’s Trio is easy to track down. The surest way is to invite them to play at your establishment or residence for any event that calls for eclectic selections of American music.

Mark your calendars for Friday, May 1, 2020 when Tom, Rick, and Gary play at Mazomanie Music Conservancy (in Mazomanie), and two weeks later at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills (Friday, May 15). Check this space often for updates on the downbeats.

The McMusical Calendar

Thursday, March 5
The Birddog Blues Band keeps Thursdays bluesy and funky at Tofflers in New Glarus. If you’re on Madison’s West side, Tofflers ain’t no further Madison’s East side. Music starts at 8 pm. See you there.

Saturday, March 7
The Birddog Blues Band gives you a second chance Main Street Music in Brooklyn (Wisconsin). Rockin’ Blues in the outer orbit of the greater Madison area. Early show. 6 to 8 pm.

Thursday, March 19
Madison College Big Band helps raise funds for Stoughton Schools music programs with a performance in Stoughton. Details to follow.

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.

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