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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

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A sound British pub is the best place to watch the games.
A sound British pub is the best place to watch the games.
European and American sporting events alike draw big crowds.
European and American sporting events alike draw big crowds.

God save the British pub

I love the Olympics. I also love England, English history and all of the English things in the entire world. All of them. Even Voldemort. 

Because of this, I’m especially loving the 2012 Olympic Games, held this year in London (in case you hadn’t heard). Having Kate Middleton, Prince William, Michael Phelps and Bob Costas all appear on my television screen within the same half hour? That, mates, is brilliant. 

Watching the Olympics is something that should be done, if at all possible, in groups. Who wanted to watch solo in 2008 when Michael Phelps and Team USA beat the French in the Men’s 400m relay by eight-hundredths of a second? Ditto for Kerri Strug’s amazing sprained-ankle vault performance in the ’96 Olympics.

For these priceless feel-good, triumph-of-the-human-spirit moments, you’ll feel less like a dork if you’re in a room full of other people who are freaking out as much as you are. 

And aren't the Olympics all about community anyway?

Last Friday I went out to the Three Lions’ Pub in Shorewood to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and I realized that this is the perfect place to watch the games. We happened to be there during the Women’s 200m Butterfly, sitting next to the 100" screen in the back of the pub, noshing on mushed peas and sipping Strongbow. Oh, and our waiter was Australian.

What’s better than watching very British Olympics while sipping on very British cider and being served by a citizen of the Commonwealth – next to a picture of Harry Potter? I'll tell you what. Nothing.

Co-owner David Price told me that the pub is "a good destination for all fans to come and feel as close to being in Britain as possible, from this side of the pond." I couldn’t agree more. 

The fare is a lovely blend of straightforward English dishes and American favorites. I had the fish and chips (fantastic – they also have a Wisconsin version) but was tempted by the Welsh rarebit. The extensive beer selection also impressed me; as the Brit…

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Steve Lippia got his start as a roadie and now tours the country performing classics by Frank Sinatra and other legends. He'll be in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Steve Lippia got his start as a roadie and now tours the country performing classics by Frank Sinatra and other legends. He'll be in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

He's got the world on a string

Steve Lippia sounds a lot like Frank Sinatra – eerily so – but he’s no lounge-act impersonator. Not only does his repertoire includes a lot more than the Chairman of the Board – he sings  standards by Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin and more – but he’s also made an art of interpreting Sinatra’s music. 

"People sometimes forget – they think of it as just being Sinatra," he told OnMilwaukee.com. "But obviously you have somebody who wrote the lyrics and wrote the melody and who built an arrangement around that. And they’re almost inseparable from (Sinatra’s) persona." 

Lippia will be bringing his "Simply Sinatra" show to Milwaukee on Tuesday at 7:30 as part of the Live @ Peck Pavilion summer series. 

He chatted with OnMilwaukee.com about Sinatra, his start in music, his favorite songs – and why he owes his career to Bing Crosby.

OnMilwaukee.com: How do you so closely replicate the Sinatra sound?

Steve Lippia: "With a 10-piece band, which is what we’re bringing to Milwaukee, it’s a little different size than what Sinatra recorded with. So we have to make some adjustments but it works great. He was such a great interpreter of his music, but he needed to have really great music to interpret and have really great arrangements to put together the ultimate package.

"A lot of times it’s not just his voice but those versions of his songs by those specific arrangers that you long to hear. My musical director Steve Sigmund will be conducting; he was with Ray Charles for 17 years. We’re fortunate to have Michael Arens on the bandstand playing drums – he’s a big force in the percussion and drum realm not just in Wisconsin but around the country."

OMC: How did you go from being a part-time roadie and businessman to having a successful singing career?

SL: "I was a roadie for Bobby Kay and his orchestra in Hartford, Conn., where I’m from. My night started at about six o’ clock and I’d get back home at around three in the morn…

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It only takes a little preparation and some quick thinking to unearth some great finds at a summer flea market.
It only takes a little preparation and some quick thinking to unearth some great finds at a summer flea market.

How to be a picker

It’s flea market season in Wisconsin. From Maxwell Street Days in Cedarburg to the Antique Flea Market in Elkhorn to the 7 Mile Fair in Caledonia, virtually every weekend you have a chance to indulge your inner picker and find a hidden gem in a junkyard. 

So what are the secrets to a successful trip to the flea market? I asked the expert. Jeanine Burkhardt is the owner of Chippy Shabby, a vendor of vintage furniture, knick-knacks, accessories, pieces of architectural reclamation and pretty much anything that has a charming, timeworn patina.

A former L.A. interior designer, Burkhardt can comb a flea market like nobody’s business, and she has it down to a science.  "There are bargains to be had out there," she said. "You have to have an eye and you have to be quick." 

Here are Burkhardt’s secrets to being a successful picker. 

Be prepared. "A lot of those dealers don’t take charge cards. I go to the bank the day before and get a lot of cash. I want to wear some really comfy shoes and sunscreen. Dress in layers because you get there early in the morning and then you’ll want to change when it gets hotter. Bring some snacks – they have all sorts of food lines there, but that’s just it: lines! When I’m on the hunt I don’t want to spend time in a food line." 

Have a vision. "Before I leave for a market, I see if there are certain things I want to add to my collection, and I write that down. If I’m looking for, say, a cute little cabinet in a spot I have, I want to stick with what I’ve envisioned. If I envision something white and chippy, I want to stick with that – not get something blue or green. You can get overwhelmed and think, ‘Oh, I’ll take it home and I’ll paint it.’ But if you’re not a painter, it’s not going to happen. It’s going to get shoved in the garage." 

Know how to haggle. "It’s pretty common at the big markets. But there’s an etiquette to follow. Most dealers will mark an item with a little room to move. S…

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Justin Jagler draws inspiration from his surroundings as a young musician in Milwaukee
Justin Jagler draws inspiration from his surroundings as a young musician in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is songwriter's muse

Singer-songwriter Justin Jagler, 21, never set out to write songs about Milwaukee. But like any artist, he was inevitably influenced by his surroundings. 

"I live in the Milwaukee area; it just kind of happened," he said. "That’s where a lot of the situations took place." 

His song "Annie" contains a reference to Brady Street. "I’ve just always liked hanging out on Brady Street on the weekends and I’ve seen a lot of interesting people there. It’s a composite character; Annie’s a lot of people." 

Jagler’s been playing guitar and writing his own tunes since the age of 13, but in the last few months he’s been getting some major attention for his sound – an indie-folksy-rock mash-up heavily influenced by his idols Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

Jagler currently lives in Oak Creek and plays consistently around the area. Tonight he’ll be performing at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery at 6 p.m. It's one of his favorite haunts. "They’re really cool people there," he said. He also likes to frequent Oak Creek establishments like The Cellar Pub & Grill, where he often performs.  

So how does a kid barely out of his teens convince his parents to let him drop out of UWM to make music his full-time career? 

"There wasn’t anything I was studying there that was going to help me with my music career," he said. "I live for it (music). I don’t know what else I can do. So my parents weren’t against it. Of course it’s not the traditional career path, no parent is going to be 100 percent positive that their kid is dropping out of school. But they’ve been supportive." 

For Jagler, songwriting is partly intentional and partly incidental. 

"It’s a difficult thing to describe, for sure. It’s kind of something you can’t force. It just happens," he said. 

"When I write a song I think is good, I feel like part of it came from me but part of it was something I couldn’t control. I’ve heard other musicians try to describe it but …

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