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