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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wed
Hi: 47
Lo: 38
Thu
Hi: 52
Lo: 34
Fri
Hi: 44
Lo: 32
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Nathaniel Rateliff was first up in a double dose of great national acts on Summerfest's opening day.
Nathaniel Rateliff was first up in a double dose of great national acts on Summerfest's opening day. (Photo: David Bernacchi)
Chicago's Fruit Bats, fronted by Kenosha native Eric Johnson, followed on the U.S. Cellular Stage.
Chicago's Fruit Bats, fronted by Kenosha native Eric Johnson, followed on the U.S. Cellular Stage. (Photo: David Bernacchi)
Rateliff and his backing quartet got into the summer spirit decked out in white jeans and, in the case of bassist Julie Davis, a red and white striped dress.
Rateliff and his backing quartet got into the summer spirit decked out in white jeans and, in the case of bassist Julie Davis, a red and white striped dress. (Photo: David Bernacchi)
Fruit Bats dished up a high-energy performance that was perfectly suited to the Big Gig.
Fruit Bats dished up a high-energy performance that was perfectly suited to the Big Gig. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Rateliff, Fruit Bats: best Big Gig opening day ever?

Nathaniel Rateliff and Fruit Bats both played before dinner time on Day 1 of Summerfest. In about 30 years of Big Gig action, I cannot recall a better start to the 11-day festival.

Perhaps best of all, the shows were in the afternoon, which meant plenty of great seats and no battling a throng to get up close. The downside for the bands was that the stage's seating area was only about a third full.

Rateliff has been a pretty frequent visitor to Milwaukee in the past few years. His most recent performance, in the wake of the release of his stunning "In Memory of Loss," was at the super intimate Club Garibaldi in March 2011. And that was his fourth Milwaukee gig.

If fans came hoping to hear Rateliff run through the 13 tunes on "In Memory of Loss," they may have left disappointed.

He only played a couple tunes from the record, including "Boil and Fight" and "You Should've Seen the Other Guy," the latter of which segued into a powerful version of "Shroud," released as a single and added to later versions of the album.

Rateliff and his backing quartet got into the summer spirit decked out in white jeans and, in the case of bassist Julie Davis, a red and white striped dress.

The set started with a simmer and exploded open with "I Am" – for which Rateliff traded his acoustic for a gritty electric guitar – and its bombastic triple-bass drum percussive blasts.

And that's how most of the all-too-brief 40-minute performance went. From quiet lows to booming highs, Rateliff is a master of dynamics. Whether or not that translates to a sprawling Summerfest stage is open to debate. I was happy to see Rateliff again, regardless of the venue.

Fruit Bats, which got started in Chicago, played a number of Milwaukee gigs in the early days, according to frontman Eric Johnson, a Kenosha native, mostly at the Cactus Club. On Wednesday, it put on a slightly longer, higher-energy performance that was perfectly suited to the Big Gig.

Playing for 45 minutes in advance of a gig by Mi…

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Ken Chrisien opens his vinyl-focused Acme Records & Music Emporium on KK Avenue in Bay View this summer.
Ken Chrisien opens his vinyl-focused Acme Records & Music Emporium on KK Avenue in Bay View this summer.

Acme Records coming to Bay View

Though it's been in the works for a little while, Ken Chrisien, also known as Shopkeeper Ken, has officially announced the opening of his new Bay View record shop.

Chrisien, a long-time Bay View resident, will open the shop – called Acme Records & Music Emporium – sometime later this summer at 2341 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The location is three blocks north of Rush-Mor Limited Records, 2635 S. KK. Are we headed toward a hot spot of indie record shops in Bay View?

Chrisien is a WMSE DJ and has worked for many years at Luke Lavin's Bull's Eye Records, behind Comet Cafe, on East Irving Place. His new shop will have some used CDs, he says, but the focus will be on vinyl.

An inveterate scourer of resale shops, rummage sales and other sources, Chrisien most certainly has stockpiled a great selection for his South Side emporium, which he will build out himself. He also built out much of Bull's Eye when it moved south from the Landmark Lanes building, where it was called Farwell Music.

We'll let you know when the shop is ready to open, but you can also follow its progress on the Acme Records & Music Emporium Facebook page.

And remember that Bull's Eye remains open and is still a great source for used, new and collectible vinyl and CDs.

Livan Hernandez was 8-13, with a 4.47 ERA last year for the Nats.
Livan Hernandez was 8-13, with a 4.47 ERA last year for the Nats. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Is Livan Hernandez headed to Milwaukee?

The Brewers may be receiving Major League help in their starting rotation, or perhaps their bullpen, from a veteran pitcher. This afternoon, former Brewers infielder/outfielder Bill Hall tweeted:

Brewers spokesman John Steinmiller would neither confirm nor deny that Hernandez is joining the team.

Hernandez was released by the Braves last Friday after going 1-1 with a save and compiling a 4.94 ERA this season in Atlanta. He surrendered five runs on seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays in his final appearance for the team. The save this year was the first of his career.

The Braves signed the 37-year-old Cuba native, a 17-year MLB veteran, a day after he was released by the Astros on March 30.

Hernandez has a career record of 175-177 and has played for nine teams, including the Giants, Mets and Diamondbacks, among others. He was 8-13 last year with the Nationals, with a 4.47 ERA.

Oops.

The Wisconsin Architectural Archive is a historical treasure trove.
The Wisconsin Architectural Archive is a historical treasure trove.
The collection is part of the library's Art & Music department.
The collection is part of the library's Art & Music department.

Urban spelunking: Digging into Wisconsin architectural history at MPL

Milwaukee has a rich history and, fortunately, a passion for preserving it, too. Take, for example the Wisconsin Architectural Archive, housed at the Milwaukee Public Library.

Founded in 1975 by Thomas L. Eschweiler – yes, of THAT Eschweiler family – and a few others, the collection, housed within the Central Library's Art & Music department, archives more than 20,000 architectural drawings by nearly 500 Wisconsin architects.

Recently, I heard about the collection and decided to check it out. Today, I went over to meet Gayle Ecklund, an archives technician at MPL, who told me a bit about the collection and showed me some stunning original plans, drawn by Hugo Schnetzky, of Walnut Street School, which burned and was razed in 1978.

The collection got started, Ecklund told me, when Eschweiler was trying to find a home for the drawings made by his family's famous Milwaukee firm, Eschweiler and Eschweiler.

That sparked Eschweiler and his cohorts to actively seek out items for the collection. "They'd drive around in a station wagon to pick up plans," Ecklund said.

Now, folks approach the archive with donations, too.

Sadly, and perhaps ironically since they designed the stunning Central Library building itself, there are few works by George Ferry & Alfred Clas, because, says Ecklund, the story (perhaps apocryphal?) goes that after a balcony collapsed in one of their buildings, the architects feared liability issues and burned all their drawings.

I was pleased to see that Henry Koch, who designed many prominent Milwaukee buildings, is fairly well represented. The collection holds Koch's plans for City Hall, Turner Hall, Gesu Church, the old South Division High School and a few other works.

There is a searchable, computerized index to the collection, however, it is not yet accessible online. To use the collection, call the Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Room at (414) 286-3061 to see if the archives has what you're looking for. If so, she can pull the drawings and ma…

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