Sunday, June 26, 2022

Sh*ts and Gigs

Some gigs are more “interesting” than others. A recent one was quite the head-scratcher. Far be it from us here at this menial media outpost to name names or otherwise speak out of school, and, having been repeatedly admonished in my youth that, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all,” we are left with little to say.

I can say this: I talked to the guitar player from this other band on the bill, a friendly young guy who seems genuinely devoted to his music-making. I like that in a musician. He was quick to tell me that pedal steel was his first love even though he left it at home when on the road with this outfit. “Cool,” I said, or words to that effect.

Had my wits been a little less dull that day I would have asked him how he felt about Speedy West. I’ve heard at least one other “steeler” dismiss Mr. West as a pedaler (get it?) of musical buffoonery, but for my money, even if Speedy were guilty of that, it doesn’t detract from his greatness.

Consider the StratosphereBoogie CD (on the Razor & Tie label), on which Speedy and guitar wizard Jimmy Bryant offer up 16 examples of high-energy hillbilly jazz. It makes me happy. Great music doesn’t need to be presented with glitter and bombast and painfully high decibels; all it needs is musicians devoted to their music.

The McMusical Calendar

Friday, July 1
The Birddog Blues Band takes the stage at Wisconsin Brewing (1079 American Parkway, Verona WI). Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band again, this time at Madison’s famous Club LaMark, on 51 just N of East Wash.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9

Sunday, July 10
Celebration and Commemoration for Ned Englehardt and Lonnie Bjornstadt! Two performers beloved for their parts played with Dr. Bop & The Headliners are fondly feted and fare-thee-welled by friends The White Raven (aka Al Kraven), Ena Anka (aka Ena), Troy Charmel (aka Bob Kenison), Cleveland St. James (aka Larry ‘3rd Degree Byrne), and others. At the High Noon Saloon from 2 to 6 pm.

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, August 6
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers in New Glarus, WI. 8 to 11 pm

Saturday, August 16
Birddog Blues Band plays Blues at the Waukesha Blues Fest (held in Hartland). Big bad Duke Robillard headlines.

Friday, August 19
Birddog Blues Band warms up the stage for some band called The Jimmys (?) at Mineral Point Blues and Roots Fest. Enjoy the surroundings at “Orchard Lawn” and the grounds of The Gundry House at Church and Pine in historic, picturesque Mineral Point.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Check back for updates and future fun opportunities.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Summer Air

 

Music is in the summer air, and that air is more likely outdoors, because that’s where that pesky COVID virus is less likely to spread. Yes, the nasty little bug (actually, a submicroscopic infectious clump of protein and smaller than any bug) is still around. Being vaccinated doesn’t mean you can’t still catch it or spread it, but being fully vaccinated does mean you’re less likely to get sick, and if you do get sick, more likely that you’ll be far less sick. 99.99 doctors out of a hundred say so, so take their word. Likewise for masking in close quarters.



Okay then. Now we can get out there and enjoy the summer music season. Let's go!


McMusical Calendar

Thursday, June 9
The Sparks Band rides again to Vintage Brewing in Sauk City, overlooking the mighty Wisconsin River. Weather permitting, we’ll be ruining the view out on the spacious patio. Eat, drink, and bop along to hits from the 60s (mostly). 7 to 9

Friday, June 24
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill New Glarus, WI. Evening in the backyard (weather permitting). Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs, Mel Ford, Derek Hendrickson, and Tom McCarty. 7 to 10

Saturday, June 25
The Sparks Band (with special guest Ena M.) opens up for WAMI winners Bella Cain at Celebrate Waupun at Tanner Park in Waupun (WI). 4:45 to 6:45 (or so)

Friday, July 1
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, at 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band rocks the Blues at the notorious Club LaMark, Madison, WI. Evening.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band grooves while you hang out on the roof at Lone Girl Brewery in Waunakee, WI. 7 to 9

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band samples great Wisconsin brews while playing the Blues at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, August 6
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Bluesmuzik in the backyard on the patio behind the deck with the guitar. 8 to 11 pm

Saturday, August 16
Birddog Blues Band warms up the stage for modern Blues star Sue Foley at the Waukesha Rotary Blues Fest held in Hartland, WI.

Friday, August 19
Birddog Blues Band warms up the stage for some band called The Jimmys at the Mineral Point Blues and Roots Fest. Enjoy the surroundings at “Orchard Lawn” and the grounds of The Gundry House at Church and Pine in historic, picturesque Mineral Point.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona. Spacious spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Check back often and frequently for more updates.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Catching Up




Time marches on, they say, and with a good drummer, the passage is a pleasure. Words to live by, say I. 

But, try as we may to stay in step as the world turns, we’re only human. Everybody misses a cue now and then. Right? (Mea culpa.)

For example, take ye old McMusical Calendar. New gigs to report and one or two that somehow escaped our earlier attentions. Thus we make amends directly. (Pictured: The 602.)


McMusical Calendar

Saturday, May 28
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Ken “Birddog” Olufs, Mel Ford, Derek Hendrickson, and Tom McCarty. In the back yard from 8 to 11 pm.

Saturday, June 4
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Beer Co. & Kitchen, 132 Market St. in Sun Prairie, WI. Beer? Check. Food? Check. Blues? Double-check. What more could you want? 7 to 10 pm

Sunday, June 5
Mel Ford & the Fairlane* Tofflers Pub & Grill, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Afternoon on the deck. 2:30 to 5 pm.
*(Mel Ford & the Who? Suffice it say that back in the day, ‘round about Y2K, guitar wiz Mel Ford carried around a quartet of sidemen cleverly monikered “The Fairlanes,” bringing Bluesmuzik to the bars, bistros and beer tents of the Midwest. That was then. These days the estimable Mr. Ford pops up on occasion with the last 25 percent of the Fairlanes, bassist Tom McCarty (aka Feral Lane). Hey. They sing. They play. They’re good enough and, gosh-darn-it!, people like ‘em.)

Thursday, June 9
The Sparks Band play hits from the 60s (and immediately adjacent decades) at Vintage Brewing in Sauk City. On the deck (weather permitting) and early (7ish to 9ish). Eat, drink, and watch the Wisconsin river flow.

Thursday, June 16
Birddog Blues Band plays Blues at the Cottage Grove Firemen’s Festival in Cottage Grove, WI. Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs, Mel Ford, Derek Hendrickson, and Tom McCarty. What time? Ask a fireman.

Friday, June 24
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill New Glarus, WI. Evening in the backyard (weather permitting). Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs, Mel Ford, Derek Hendrickson, and Tom McCarty. 7 to 10

Saturday, June 25
The Sparks Band opens up for WAMI winners Bella Cain at Celebrate Waupun at Tanner Park in Waupun (WI). 4:45 to 6:45 (or so)

Friday, July 1
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, at 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band at Club LaMark, Madison, WI.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 7 to 9

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, August 6
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers 8 to 11 pm

Saturday, August 16
Birddog Blues Band among a stellar line-up at the Waukesha Rotary Blues Fest held in Hartland, WI.

Friday, August 19
Birddog Blues Band warms up the stage for some band called The Jimmys at the Mineral Point Blues and Roots Fest. Enjoy the surroundings at “Orchard Lawn” and the grounds of The Gundry House at Church and Pine in historic, picturesque Mineral Point.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona. Spacious spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Check back often and frequently for more updates.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Being Up Front

 Words Up Front

In my opinion, keep your damn opinions to yourself. I could say more, but I have resolved to stop over-sharing. You’re welcome. (Bob and Gene's to the right. Calendar below.)

McMusical Calendar

Saturday, May 21
The Timber Lake Playhouse kicks off its 2022 concert series, and the Birddog Blues Band takes the stage at 5 pm. This “concert version” of the band led by singer and mouth-harpist Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs features guitar stalwart Mel Ford, bassist Tom McCarty, drummer Derek Hendrickson, and singer and keyboard man Warren Beck. Arrive by 3 pm to hear Kevin Burt, 2019 Blues Music Award nominee and triple International Blues Challenge winner. Stick around for the Chicago native and protege of the great Sugar Blue, Russ Green and his Band at 7 pm. Should hunger or thirst gnaw during this event, fear not; food and drink available on site.

Friday, May 27
BIG WES Turner’s Trio rides again, thanks to Grammy-winning guitarist and Chicago Blues Hall-of-Famer Billy Flynn, who literally dragged drummer Rick Becker and bassist Tom McCarty out of their respective caves. Hear them hop between hip musical genres (Blues, Country, R&B, Rock, Surf!) at Tyranena Brewing, 1025 Owen St. in Lake Mills, WI. Enjoy the spacious, welcoming patio and backyard, not to mention the best and boldest Wisconsin brews. (A light drizzle won’t stop this semi-protected outdoor show, but weather most foul will, so keep an eye on the sky.) 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, June 4
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Beer Co. & Kitchen at 132 Market St. in Sun Prairie, WI. Beer? Check. Food? Check. Blues? Double-check. What more could you want? 7 to 10 pm

Sunday, June 5
Mel Ford & the Fairlane* at Tofflers Pub & Grill, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Afternoon on the deck. 2:30 to 5 pm.
*(Mel Ford & the Who? Suffice it say that back in the day, ‘round about Y2K, guitar wiz Mel Ford carried around a quartet of sidemen cleverly monikered “The Fairlanes,” bringing Bluesmuzik to the bars, bistros and beer tents of the Midwest. That was then. These days the estimable Mr. Ford pops up on occasion with the last 25 percent of the Fairlanes, bassist Tom McCarty. Hey. They sing. They play. They’re good enough and, gosh-darn-it!, people like ‘em.)

Friday, June 24
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill New Glarus, WI. Evening in the backyard (weather permitting). Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs, Mel Ford, Derek Hendrickson, and Tom McCarty. 7 to 10

Saturday, June 25
The Sparks Band opens up for WAMI winners Bella Cain at Celebrate Waupun at Tanner Park in Waupun (WI). 4:45 to 6:45 (or so)

Friday, July 1
Birddog Blues Band at WisconsinBrewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band at Club LaMark, Madison, WI.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 7 to 9

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, August 6
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers 8 to 11 pm

Saturday, August 16
Birddog Blues Band at Hartland Blues Fest

Friday, August 19
Birddog Blues Band warms up the stage for some band called The Jimmys at MineralPoint Blues and Roots Fest. Enjoy the surroundings at “Orchard Lawn” and the grounds of The Gundry House at Church and Pine in historic, picturesque Mineral Point.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, March 18, 2022

Soapboxing

 

Perfunctory Preface

Here’s where we normally string out a few pearls of wisdom and/or wit to edify you and lead you to the calendar of musical events below.

It’s also an opportunity for me to consider this question: What’s on my mind? Well, in addition to handling the basics of food, shelter, clothing, and the makings of music, these days the old mental landscape is laden with a fair amount of fear and loathing. 

The fear is for the future, as in, will there be one for our children? The loathing is for bullies, be they on the street corner or across an internationally recognized border, and for the tendency among some to cheer bullies on, or convince themselves that it’s none of their business, or that the victims had it coming. Anyone can be human, but being humane takes courage.

I hope we can all enjoy some summer fun very soon (suggestions just below), but I hope even more that we have the courage to do the right thing when it’s our turn.

McMusical Calendar 

Friday, April 1
The Sparks Band play the big hits from the 60s (and a few misses) at Chief’s Tavern, 300 Cottage Grove Road in Madison (right across from Buck’s Pizza, and, yes, they deliver!) Will the band be joined by a special guest? Word is, quite possibly. 7 to 10 pm

Saturday, April 30
The Gentlemen Reunion at Chief’s Tavern (see address above). Back in the day (the 60s), The Gentlemen were Wisconsin’s premiere purveyors of British Invasion rock and roll. Nobody played the Beatles repertoire better. They have long since scattered to the corners of the globe (and beyond, ask Mr. Shaw) but original band members Bob Kension, Bruce Shaw and Chuck Scalia are back in Madison for an evening of (mostly) Beatles music, joined by Mark and Tom from The Sparks Band. 7 to 10 pm

Saturday, May 21
Birddog Blues Band at the Timber Lake Playhouse outside of Mount Carroll, IL. Sponsored by The Crossroads Blues Society. The ‘Dogs’ set runs from approximately 3 to 4:30 Details on other artists performing will be available soon. Check back.

Friday, May 27
BIG WES Turner’s Trio rides again, thanks to Grammy-winning guitarist and Chicago Blues Hall-of-Famer Billy Flynn, who literally dragged drummer Rick Becker and bassist Tom McCarty out of their respective caves. Hear them hop between hip musical genres (Blues, Country, R&B, Rock, Surf!) at Tyranena Brewing, 1025 Owen St. in Lake Mills, WI. Enjoy the spacious, welcoming patio and backyard, not to mention the best and boldest Wisconsin brews. (A light drizzle won’t stop this semi-protected outdoor show, but weather most foul will, so keep an eye on the sky.) 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, June 4
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Beer Co. & Kitchen at 132 Market St. in Sun Prairie, WI. Beer? Check. Food? Check. Blues? Double-check. What more could you want? 7 to 10 pm

Sunday, June 5
Mel Ford & the Fairlane* at Tofflers Pub & Grill, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Afternoon on the deck. 2:30 to 5 pm.
*
(Mel Ford & the Who? Suffice it say that back in the day, ‘round about Y2K, guitar wiz Mel Ford carried around a quartet of sidemen cleverly monikered “The Fairlanes,” bringing Bluesmuzik to the bars, bistros and beer tents of the Midwest. That was then. These days the estimable Mr. Ford pops up on occasion with the last 25 percent of the Fairlanes, bassist Tom McCarty. Hey. They sing. They play. They’re good enough and, gosh-darn-it!, people like ‘em.)

Friday, June 24
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill New Glarus, WI. Evening in the backyard (weather permitting). Ken ‘Birddog’ Olufs, Mel Ford, Derek Hendrickson, and Tom McCarty. 7 to 10

Saturday, June 25
The Sparks Band opens up for WAMI winners Bella Cain at Celebrate Waupun at Tanner Park in Waupun (WI). 4:45 to 6:45 (or so)

Friday, July 1
Birddog Blues Band at WisconsinBrewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band at Club LaMark, Madison, WI.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 7 to 9

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, August 6
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers 8 to 11 pm

Saturday, August 16
Birddog Blues Band at Hartland Blues Fest

Friday, August 19
Birddog Blues Band warms up the stage for some band called The Jimmys at MineralPoint Blues and Roots Fest. Enjoy the surroundings at “Orchard Lawn” and the grounds of The Gundry House at Church and Pine in historic, picturesque Mineral Point.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, 1079 American Parkway, Verona WI. Spacious indoor and outdoor spaces for roaming around or imbibing brews. 6 to 9 pm

Saturday, September 17
Mel Ford & the Fairlane, PRIVATE PARTY, Madison, WI.
(WAIT! Why are we telling you about a party if you’re not invited? Just to remind you that Mr. McMusic and associates are happy to bring live music to your neighborhood hall or your very own home, at surprisingly reasonable rates.)

Saturday, October 8
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile in Sun Prairie, WI.

We fill in details here as soon as we hear about them, or when we get around to it. So check back.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Wake Up!

Hey you! Wake up!



Yes, it’s still winter, but the days are getting longer, so let it snow, let it snow. The fields and forests know what to do with it, and the aquifers will gladly take whatever seeps down.

Time to shake off the dullness and doldrums of an exceptional hibernation season, induced by frigid weather but also by the risks of the virus and its variants sloshing back and forth through our communities.

We mourn those we have lost. We applaud the healthcare workers and caregivers who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to save lives and fight against the COVID pandemic. We appreciate family and friends more than ever.

Have you heard talk about how great it will be to “get back to normal”? Have you thought it yourself? I have. But now I am hoping that instead of going back to whatever “normal” was, we can move ahead to something better. I am hoping that we can all agree to work together to make a world that is safer, healthier, and fairer for everyone. If we want it, we can make THAT the new normal.

I am also looking forward to hearing some live music. And making some.  Things are looking up in that department, as the calendar below will show. Come on out!

McMusical Calendar

Friday, April 1
The Sparkz play hits (and misses) from the 60s at Chief’s Tavern, 300 Cottage Grove Road in Madison (right across from Buck’s Pizza, and, yes, they deliver!) Will the band be joined by a special guest? Quite possibly. 7 to 10 pm

Saturday, April 30
The Gentlemen Reunion at Chief’s Tavern (see address above). Back in the day, the 60s, that is, The Gentlemen were Wisconsin’s premiere purveyors of British Invasion rock and roll. Nobody played the Beatles repertoire better. They have long since scattered to the corners of the globe (and beyond, ask Mr. Shaw) but original band members Bob Kenison, Bruce Shaw, and Chuck Scalia are back in Madison for an evening of (mostly) Beatles music, joined by Mark Loder and Tom McCarty from The Sparkz band. 7 to 10 pm

Saturday, May 21
Birddog Blues Band 
plays from approximately 3 to 4:30 at the Timber Lake Playhouse outside of Mount Carroll, IL. Details on other artists before and after the BBB set is coming soon. Check back.

Friday, May 27
BIG WES Turner’s Trio rides again, thanks to Grammy-winning guitarist and Chicago Blues Hall-of-Famer Billy Flynn. He single-handedly dragged drummer Rick Becker and bassist Tom McCarty out of their respective caves. Hear them hop between musical genres (Blues, Country, R&B, Rock, etc.) at Tyranena Brewing, 1025 Owen St. in Lake Mills, WI. Enjoy the spacious, welcoming patio and backyard, not to mention the best and boldest of Wisconsin brews. (A light drizzle won’t stop this semi-protected outdoor show, but weather most foul will. Check the forecast.) 6 to 9 pm.

Further into the future. Check back for more detailed info.

Saturday, June 4
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Beer Co. & Kitchen at 132 Market St. in Sun Prairie, WI.

Sunday, June 5
Mel Ford & the Fairlane at Tofflers Pub & Grill, 200 5th Ave. in New Glarus, WI. Afternoon on the deck. 2:30 to 5 pm.

Friday, June 24
Birddog Blues Band at Tofflers Pub & Grill New Glarus, WI. Evening in the backyard (weather permitting). 7 to 10?

Friday, July 1
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, Verona WI.

Saturday, July 2
Birddog Blues Band at Club LaMark, Madison, WI.

Thursday, July 7
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI.

Friday, July 29
Birddog Blues Band at Tyranena Brewing, Lake Mills, WI. 6 to 9 pm.

Thursday, August 25
Birddog Blues Band at Lone Girl Brewery, Waunakee, WI. 6 to 9 pm.

Friday, September 2
Birddog Blues Band at Wisconsin Brewing, Verona, WI.

Saturday, September 17
Mel Ford & the Fairlane, PRIVATE PARTY, Madison, WI.
(WAIT! Why are we telling you about a party if you’re not invited? Just to remind you that Mr. McMusic and associates are happy to bring live music to your neighborhood hall or your very own home, at surprisingly reasonable rates)

Saturday, October 8
Birddog Blues Band at Full Mile Brewing in Sun Prairie, WI.