Sign in | Register now | Like us on FacebookLike Us | Follow us on TwitterFollow Us

Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

Fri
Hi: 77
Lo: 61
Sat
Hi: 80
Lo: 62
Sun
Hi: 81
Lo: 65
Advertise on OnMilwaukee.com
"People comment on my very serious expression when I'm holding the computer. I've been telling people I was aiming for deadpan. Got it half right," says Scott.
"People comment on my very serious expression when I'm holding the computer. I've been telling people I was aiming for deadpan. Got it half right," says Scott.

A Wooldridge brother's solo debut

Singer-songwriter Scott Wooldridge has a new single and accompanying video called "Hard to Go Quietly."

I digress, but for me, it's hard to read a press release that begins, "Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Scott Wooldridge..."

Wooldridge wasn't ours to start with – he moved to Milwaukee from Indiana in the early 1980s with his band at the time, the Squares – and he's long since moved north.

But he still feels like ours. In a sense he is, because he still performs periodically in town with his brother Brian in The Wooldridge Brothers, which has released six CDs.

For "Hard to Go Quietly," Wooldridge worked with mandolinist Sloan Hamilton and guitarist Mike Senkovich, who plays with several Minneapolis bands, including The Humbugs, The Bazillions and Atomic Flea.

The mostly acoustic tune – which Wooldridge says will be on his first solo album next year, and which I find myself playing over and over again – is a song that reflects the vocally partisan age in which we live. But, says Scott, it's not defending the left or the right.

"It's about wanting to express yourself at a time when there are so many voices, so much data, that many people just feel overwhelmed.

"In August I began work on my first solo album and it seemed like it might be good to put out 'Hard to Go Quietly' early, just because it seemed relevant to the election season," he says.

"It was pretty much inspired by political discussions that I've had on Facebook. That theme is part of the video."

Wooldridge made the video himself and though it may not win any cinematography awards, it's a very respectable effort that reflects the song's lyric, starting off with a hamster running in a wheel, red and blue Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots duking it out, political rallies and footage of Wooldridge and his fellow musicians working in the studio.

"It's my first time trying something like this," says Scott. "People seem to like it. I get a lot of comments about Fluffy the hamster, of c…

Read more...
The Shops of Grand Avenue were abuzz with activity today.
The Shops of Grand Avenue were abuzz with activity today.
The Westown Wednesday indoor market drew vendors and browsers.
The Westown Wednesday indoor market drew vendors and browsers.
The holiday spirit was in evidence.
The holiday spirit was in evidence.
I got into that holiday spending spirit with an egg nog latte.
I got into that holiday spending spirit with an egg nog latte.
I still can't get used to seeing merchandise in the middle of the Plankinton Arcade walkway ...
I still can't get used to seeing merchandise in the middle of the Plankinton Arcade walkway ...
... but it sure beats this.
... but it sure beats this.

How I visited Grand Avenue and got a nice surprise

Something is going on at the Grand Avenue these days. Actually, I think a lot of little things are going on and it's got folks walking the mall again.

For my first 17 years in Milwaukee, I was Downtown pretty much every day. Every job I held was Downtown and I spent a lot of time at Grand Avenue Mall. In fact, two of those jobs were located in the mall. But, like most Milwaukeeans, I haven't spent much of the past decade in The Shops at Grand Avenue.

On most of those visits, I've found it depressing.

So, imagine my surprise today when I wandered over to see what's up and found the mall alive with foot traffic and what appeared to be, gasp!, customers patronizing businesses.

Sure, the "glory days" of the sparkly new Grand Avenue Mall, with its long list of nationally known shops have long since ended. In the intervening years, the mall has become weighted down with a toxic reputation that has seemed to play out like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Grand Avenue has been trying lots of approaches and it looks like lately some of them are taking hold.

A number of pop-up shops have arrived, which is creating some buzz.

Some long-term tenants like TJ Maxx, Stone Creek Coffee and Brew City Beer Gear are making a go of the Grand Avenue.

A number of former retail spaces are now home to offices.

Today, the mall was downright bustling. Folks were drinking coffee and reading at Stone Creek, the Wednesday Westown indoor market found a number of vendors set up in the walkways in the "new mall" side, salons were tending to customers, browsers were eyeballing electronics in Radio Shack.

To get into the holiday spending spirit at the mall, I took a moment to enjoy my annual egg nog latte at Stone Creek and watch the passersby ... and there were indeed passersby.

The mall felt alive. Certainly, it doesn't appear to be doing 1985-era business again yet, but, I had the definite feeling today at the mall – for the first time in a long time – that it's too soon to write an obituar…

Read more...
The Kohl's Art Generation Studio at Milwaukee Art Museum is a great place for kids and adults to work together creating art.
The Kohl's Art Generation Studio at Milwaukee Art Museum is a great place for kids and adults to work together creating art. (Photo: Milwaukee Art Museum)

Free family art fun is on tap at MAM's Art Generation Studio

This weekend, I took the family to the Kohl's Art Generation studio at Milwaukee Art Museum for the first time.

We'd been up to the old, smaller space a few times, but this was our debut at the swanky new studio on the first floor, and it was a blast.

There were a few families working hard and having fun with construction paper, creating autumn projects to take home and to share on the murals in the studio.

One of my kids made an awesome, three-dimensional autumn scene with grass, a pumpkin and more. The rest of us worked more two-D, cutting and pasting to make variegated corn- and squash-themed decorations and other fun stuff.

We really had a great time and doing projects in the Art Generation studio is a treat for parents. All the supplies are at hand, the staff is friendly and we don't have to worry about making a mess of the dining room table. And it's all free (though you have to pay to get into the museum, of course).

This Sunday, Dec. 2, from 1o until 4, the Art Museum will team with Kohl's for Kohl's Art Generation Family Sundays: "Home for the Holidays."

At the free (again, with museum admission) event, kids of all ages can make unique holiday gifts in the art studio, watch Irish dancers, hear holiday music and more, all inspired by the current "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London" show on view at the art museum through early January.

The LRB allows the public to make use of its knowledge and its stacks of materials chronicling the history of our fair city.
The LRB allows the public to make use of its knowledge and its stacks of materials chronicling the history of our fair city.

Getting acquainted with the Legislative Reference Bureau

As in most cities, Milwaukee has a wealth of sources for uncovering its history. In addition to the collections at Milwaukee Public Library and the Milwaukee County Historical Society, there are two fine universities with libraries and other sources, too.

One of the most pleasurable in which to work is the Legislative Reference Bureau, tucked away in the basement of City Hall, next to the mouth of the tunnel that runs under Market Street and connects to the Zeidler Municipal Building.

It's an unassuming space – or, it would be if there wasn't a floor-to-ceiling glass wall displaying Milwaukee books, like the world's best local-interest bookshop.

There are just a couple worktables in the main entrance, where the librarian on duty sits. That's because though folks come in to do research, a lot of work is transacted over the phone, via email or behind the scenes for municipal departments.

To quote the bureau's own brochure, "LRB research analysts attend all Common Council and Common Council standing committee meeting to assist the Council and other city departments in formulating city ordinances and policy. In addition to drafting city ordinances and resolutions, research analysts also research and write report for the Common Council dealing with governmental concerns."

The LRB also conducts surveys on municipal issues, provides budget analysis for the Council and, yes, allows the public to make use of its knowledge and its stacks of materials chronicling the history of our fair city, from census reports to newspaper clippings to city directories, books, city code histories, database services and more.

I stopped in today to say thanks to the bureau for displaying my book in its window, to make a donation of a Milwaukee book it didn't yet have in its collection and to spend a few minutes paging through a couple volumes of Milwaukee School Board proceedings to get a sense of what can be found at LRB.

While I was there, a woman at …

Read more...