Sweet Tarts refuse to melt away
Look at any "short list" of preferred cover bands and entertainers for local events and festivals, and the Sweet Tarts are on it.
Delivering an upbeat mix of retro dance, current hit music and updates of longtime favorites, the Sweet Tarts have always worked to pump up their audience and ensure a good time, whether playing a neighborhood block party or the Miller stage at Summerfest.
The dual lead singers, one male, Mark Uselman, and one female, Cheryl O'Hara, allow the Sweet Tarts a high degree of flexibility with both sound and presentation. Their drummer Brian Wirt, keyboardist Adam Theisen, and guitarists Mike O'Hara and the new guy Steve "Wags" Wagner, combine with the leads to generate a multitude of sounds. Longtime fans are familiar with their variations of popular covers, including the reggae-influenced "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and the ska inflections in their version of "Hungry Like The Wolf". Their pumped-up version of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" gets people dancing. Their playlist ranges from the likes of Madonna, ABBA and Elton John to Yaz, KMFDM, Save Ferris and No Doubt.
Named, of course, for a favorite candy (which means, yes, there was a chance they could have been "The Zagnuts" or "The Oh! Henrys"), the Sweet Tarts have played hundreds of shows all over the region since their 1996 inception. As each band member kept up a frantic pace of shows combined with hectic work and home schedules, thoughts of moving on and retiring the band surfaced. Last year, they announced their final show would be played by December 1 at the Richfield Chalet, and they hung it up for good after that.
Or so they thought.
Uselman, a lead singer and occasional tambourine player, describes it this way: "We needed a break. Some of us wanted to spend time with -- or even start -- families. So we stopped. But after three months, we all missed it so much we came back."
The announcement of their return caught everyone by surprise, though some reactions were negative.
"Some people were upset with us for retiring and then un-retiring -- pulling a "Michael Jordan," as some put it," Uselman quips, "but it wasn't a stunt or anything; we really meant to stop at the time. We never imagined we'd miss it as much as we did."
The group's first show back took place on February 9 to a full house and the Sweet Tarts have been keeping a busy schedule ever since. They've been stocking their Web site,
Their upcoming shows include Optyx in Racine on April 12, and JD's Fieldhouse in Caledonia on April 20. A busy summer is pending as the weather warms up and outdoor shows appear on the horizon.
And what are the future plans for the Sweet Tarts now?
"One more summer," Uselman says. "No plans after that."
janet oostdye said: I got a chance to see the preformance on sat.evening at Brat days in sheboygan wasnt really going to go but at the last moment decided to go. I thought you guys really rocked and got the crown rocking as well any time i can catch a preformance of theirs again i'll be there thanks for a great show come back to sheboygan
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