Sunday, December 5, 2021


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


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

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Cancel Culture?


(Bop Reunion On Back Burner)

Before we say any more, let’s check with Mr. Webster to make sure that we know what we’re talking about when we talk about “culture.”

He says: n 6 a) the ideas, customs, skills, arts, etc. of a people or group, that are transferred, communicated, or passed along, as in or to succeeding generations b) such ideas, customs, etc. of a particular period; civilization c) the particular people or group having such ideas, customs, etc.

Well, sure! When I think about it, I generally think of musical practice and performance as falling into the “arts” parts of culture, and here at McMusic Inc. we concentrate on mid-twentieth century American music, making us simultaneously students of and participants in the creation and continuation of such. Yup. Sounds good to me.

So why cancel our culture? It’s all a matter of taste. Right? You take it or leave and time puts the rest to the test. Why get worked up?

Now when a gig gets canceled, that’s another thing, and it’s been a very real thing since COVID arrived. Most musical endeavors were canceled last year (the exceptions being outdoor events) and, despite high rates of vaccination in our immediate neighborhood, and the brief sigh of relief that resulted, the backwash that is the Delta variant is complicating our musical lives once again.

So it is that the musical memorial gathering of former members of Dr. Bop & the Headliners scheduled for August 21. Travel difficulties and uncertainty about viral variants has pushed this gig into the future.

So it’s a good thing you checked back in. Keep it up.

McMusical Calendar

Wednesday, August 11
The Sparks Band plays 60s hits and one-hit-wonders at The Fest Haus in New Glarus (106 Third Avenue) from 6:30 to 10 pm.

Friday, August 20

The Birddog Blues Band brings Mel Ford, Ken Olufs, Rick Becker, and Tom McCarty to Camp Beef Butter (where The White House restaurant used to be on Hwy M) for boogie-ing and imbibing from 6 to 9 pm.

NOTE: Weather dependent; if it rains the performance is canceled.

Saturday, August 21

CANCELLED! Former members of Dr. Bop & The Headliners (Ena Anka, Al Kraven (The White Raven), Troy Charmel, Cleveland St. James, and others) planned to return to Madison for a concert in memory of recently departed members at The High Noon Saloon. Postponement is the new plan, perhaps to Spring of 2022.

Saturday, September 11

Jimmy Buffet Night at the Harmony Bar & Grill with Chuck Bayuk & the Drunken Sailors, 8 to 11 pm. Fundraiser! Bring funds.

Friday, September 17

The Cashbox Kings at Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, 6 to 9 pm. Best Blues in the land.

Thursday, September 23

Faux Fawn at Bos Meadery (on East Washington Avenue). One set around 7 pm. Hip neo-folk music. Hip Bos booze.

Will other stuff happen? Or get canceled? Could be. Better check back.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Stuff Happens. Are You Checkin'?


Kudos! You’ve checked back. “Checking back in is good,” I said last time. And many times before. And now, here’s proof that my advice is good.

Because THIS Sunday, Mel Ford & The Fairlane will be plinking and plunking and crooning and warbling Blues music from 2:30 to 5 pm on the patio stage at Toffler’s in New Glarus (Wisconsin). (See Calendar below.) NOT a private performance! Totally open to the public!

See? If you hadn’t checked back, how would you know? Well, yes, you could have checked the Music Calendar at (still the go-to source for arts and entertainment goings-on). Or you could have received BIG WES Turner's Newsletter via email, if you are on his mailing list. (If you’re not, why not? You are missing out on an infrequent and therefore mostly welcome and rewarding source of musical tidbits, heads-ups, and whatnots. Sign up already!)

The McMusical Calendar

Sunday, July 11

Mel Ford & the Fairlane (AKA Mel & Mc, AKA guitarist Mel Ford and bassist Tom McCarty) present classic Blues with swing and swagger, plus ballads and a Tin Pan Alley tune or two. Good food. Good music. Indoors if the weather turns nasty. 2:30 to 5:00 pm, Toffler’s in New Glarus.

Friday, August 6

The Birddog Blues Band, featuring guitarist Mel Ford and harmonica man Ken “Birddog” Olufs play The Capital Brewery from 6 to 10 pm. Hot young rhythm section Derek Hendrickson and Garrett Wartenweiler of The Family Business band hold down the grooves.

Wednesday, August 11

The Sparks Band revels in rockin’ hits from the 60s (mostly) for The Fest Haus at 106 Third Avenue in New Glarus. Early show, so don't be slow! 6:30 to 10 pm!

Friday, August 20

The Birddog Blues Band, (guitarist Mel Ford, harmonica man Ken “Birddog” Olufs, plus Derek Hendrickson on drums and Tom McCarty on bass) plays from 6 to 9 pm at Camp Beef Butter BBQ on Hwy M (where the White House restaurant once stood).

Saturday, August 21

Former members of Dr. Bop & The Headliners return to Madison for a concert in memory of recently departed members. The Sparks Band will anchor and accompany. Performances from Ena Anka, Al Kraven (The White Raven), Cleveland St. James, and many MORE!!! From 2 to 6pm at The High Noon Saloon. Open to the public.

Will other stuff happen? Could be. Probably will. Better check back. But why wait for stuff to happen when you could be making it happen? Plan your party and call on BIG WES Turner’s Trio or any of the bands mentioned above.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Private Practice

Congratulations! You’ve checked in again, just as we encouraged you to do. (Unless you’re here for the first time, which would beg the question: Are you lost?)

Checking back in is good, because things DO change. Heck, they’re changing all the time, even when we don’t notice. And we, too, are ever a-changing, belonging as we do to the general “thingyness” of the universe.

It’s easy to forget about that. We wander off to our own little corners, engrossed in our private pursuits. But now and then we are thrust out and about, answering the call of a calendar freshly rearranged. Thus with the revised calendar below, featuring the annoying inclusion of THREE private events. Yes. Unless you are already on the guest list, you’re S.O.L.

So why include this information here? Not to engender frustration and resentment (you have “social” media for that). No. Rather to illustrate that all those previous reminders that Mr. McMusic and colleagues ARE available for private functions (at surprisingly reasonable rates!) was not merely idle chatter. So what are you waiting for? Give us a shout and let’s start the party planning NOW.

The McMusical Calendar

Tuesday, June 29

Mel & Mc (that's guitarist Mel Ford and bassist Tom McCarty) provide classic Blues with a Kansas City-style swing for a certain group’s gathering around fine wine and food. If you’re part of said group, we’ll see you there.

Thursday, July 1

The Sparks Band revels in rockin’ hits from the 60s for a select gathering of individuals at an iconic Madison venue. We can say no more. Except that you’ll be pissed that you couldn’t be there.

Saturday, July 3

The Birddog Blues Band entertains at a reception for a pair of Blues-loving newlyweds in a bucolic southwestern Wisconsin setting. If you’ve been invited, we’ll see you there.


Wednesday, August 11

The Sparks Band revels in rockin’ hits from the 60s for The Fest Haus at 106 Third Avenue in New Glarus. Early show, so don’t be slow.

More stuff is likely to come up, so keep checking up. Better yet, make something happen! Plan your party and call on BIG WES Turner’s Trio or any of the above mentioned musical menageries.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Here and Barely There

 If a tree falls in the forest, did I chop it down?

Not if nobody saw me, I didn’t.

Just like if nobody heard it fall then it didn’t make any noise (and you can’t prove it did). And the same could be said if I had planted the seed and nurtured the sapling and had come back year in and year out to witness its transformation into a mighty oak. Only me and the acorns will ever know.

There ya go, Grasshopper.

Don’t forget! BIG WES Turner’s Trio has severed all ties with Mark Zuckerberg and his evil enterprise (Facebook). It’s not that we’re not sociable, or that we oppose networking. It’s just that our mentor and main-man Big Wes has a policy against aiding and abetting such anti-human assholery. We urge all to free themselves of the FB tyranny.

Keep up by checking in. Right here. Or get yourself on the mailing list. It’s easy.

The McMusical Calendar

Friday, June 18

The Birddog Blues Band plays Camp Beef Butter BBQ from 6 to 9 (weather permitting!). The “Camp” is set up right behind the location of the old White House restaurant on Hwy M (next to the Summit Credit Union branch). If it rains, the event is canceled. If it doesn’t rain, grab some great food, choose from the selection of Wisconsin beers, grab a picnic table and enjoy some funky Blues from mouth harpist Birddog, guitarist Mel Ford, bassist Tom McCarty and drummer Mark Haines. Plenty of parking, people!

Wednesday, August 11

The Sparks Band plays rockin’ hits from the 60s (mostly) to The Fest Haus at 106 Third Avenue in New Glarus. Early show, so don’t be slow.

More happenings in the works. Check back.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Good, The Bad, The Better

Where wisdom prevailed in our fair state of Wisconsin, the taps of live music performance were shut off right around about a year ago. The close quarters of those favorite taverns where so many of us feel warm and welcome were just too damn welcoming to the pesky pandemic virus. But for the few outdoor venues that could accommodate a dispersed audience, BIG WES and other noise-ical muse-makers would have been completely silenced in the year 2020. Instead, they were just mostly silenced.

That’s too bad, but the real bad news is that over 657,000 Wisconsinites have gotten sick, and 7,473 of those have died (!!!) as a result of contracting the COVID-19 virus (as of April 27). Chances are good that you knew at least one of them.

But there’s good news, too. You and I have survived thus far, and those of us who have been vaccinated have vastly improved their odds of aging to ripeness. And those that hang in with mask-wearing and keeping a reasonable distance from their fellow humans, especially indoors, are improving the odds that COVID illness and death will grind to a halt sooner rather than later. Perseverance, citizens!

Perhaps the best news of all is that Tyranena Brewing of Lake Mills starts up their summer series of outdoor musical performances on Friday, April 30, and on Saturday, May 8, BIG WES Turner’s Trio will be there (from 6 to 9 pm) with Grammy-winning guitarist and FOW (friend of WES) Billy Flynn.

Billy Flynn

The spacious, partially covered patio and sprawling grassy knoll area offer plenty of room for comfortable placement of people pods. It bears repeating that Tyranena's brews are the best in the state. (Best! In! State!) Mask up and line up at the service window for your pour. If you get hungry, one of a rotating array of food carts sets up on site.

The weather will need to turn most foul indeed before any cancellations. Do your double-checking at Tyranena’s website.

Friday, February 12, 2021


We might have mentioned the word “hibernation” in a previous post. Who knew then how deep and long the suspense of that inanimate state would endure.

Well, the snow is still deep and the thermometer is still reading single digits (some with a minus sign in front), yet signs of Spring are popping up. We’re not just talking about earlier sunrises and later sunsets; Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, has posted their schedule for a summer of entertainment for fans of fine brews. Check it out.

Portable heaters have kept the spacious Tyranena patio amenable to the hardiest of Wisconsin beer imbibers throughout the winter. Starting the last weekend of April, the same experience will require fewer layers of clothing and will be accompanied with LIVE MUSIC!!!

Tyranena’s expansive patio and grassy knoll area leaves plenty of room for keeping distance between people pods. You can bring your own food or sample tasty fare from the rotating cast of food cart vendors. Tasty Tyranena brews are served out of the patio-side service windows. Multiple porta-pottys allow discreet and distanced answers to the calls of nature. It’s as pandemic-safe a situation for enjoying an outdoor musical performance as we can imagine. Musicians perform under a permanent awning, so the shows go on except in the case of weather most foul.

Best of all, BIG WES Turner’s Trio will be there for a 6 to 9 pm performance on Saturday, May 8, along with our good friend, Grammy-winner and Chicago Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Billy Flynn playing guitar.

So stay safe. Put on your mask, wash your hands. See you there.

Note: If you’ve been looking for BIG WES Turner’s Trio on Facebook, stop it. Wes don’t go there no more. Why? Because Mark Zuckerberg pissed off the big fella one too many times.

S'okay. You can keep up with the world of Wes by checking back here, or by signing up for BIG WES Turner’s Newsletter. Just drop your email address in the bucket at any Big Wes Turner’s Trio gig.