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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

Thu
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Fri
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Sat
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Lo: 32
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The Decemberists played live at the Riverside Theater last night.
The Decemberists played live at the Riverside Theater last night. (Photo: Dale Reince)
The Riverside Theater was sold out.
The Riverside Theater was sold out. (Photo: Dale Reince)
The band played its entire new disc.
The band played its entire new disc. (Photo: Dale Reince)

The Decemberists blend old, new and add a bit of Heart

Consistently rumored to be an impressive live show, last night's The Decemberists show at the Riverside Theater delivered exactly what fans were hoping for. 

A thorough combination of old and new material, The Decemberists satiated the crowd with well-played favorites interspersed with a new self-branded style.

Blending a sense of traditional folk with anthems of historical triumph and despair, The Decemberists are nearly impossible to categorize or compare.

Overtly, The Decemberists claim to only have one official influence: Orangina. They don't take themselves too seriously and perhaps their light hearted accessibility is precisely the reason that everyone else does.

Taking the stage right on time, The Decemberists packed a full house complete with a standing audience downstairs and a relaxed seated upper level.

"Hazards of Love," released in March 2009, is epic and dramatic in nature reflecting the basis of the band's overall style and sound. Incredible talent, imagination and more descriptively true authenticity, mirror creative entertainment inventions previously undertaken by bands like Pink Floyd and Phish.

Opting to invest listeners in a full fictional experience, "Hazards of Love" plays out a character-rich torn story meant to be heard in its entirety from start to finish.

Many have dismissed "Hazards of Love" calling the album intense "rock opera" and relegating it to a genre outside typical Portland based indie music. But, I'm fairly certain last night's crowd would disagree.

No doubt, the album was a risk. It doesn't play to the typical scene and it certainly isn't going to lure poppy, catchy radio play. But it isn't the typical trend or industry approved sound that either The Decemberists or their fans have ever actively sought. And last night certainly proved it.

Playing two full sets, the first pulled entirely from "Hazards of Love" and the second drawing from previous works including "The Crane Wife"…

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Swig offers a turkey and brie hoagie sandwich plus size as one option for the second course.
Swig offers a turkey and brie hoagie sandwich plus size as one option for the second course.
Swig's first course is a choice of poached salmon or black bean cakes.
Swig's first course is a choice of poached salmon or black bean cakes.
Dessert doesn't get better than a mix of chocolate cake and cheesecake.
Dessert doesn't get better than a mix of chocolate cake and cheesecake.

Downtown Dining Week: Swig

Milwaukee's "Downtown Dining Week" kicked off yesterday with lunch and dinner specials at 40 restaurants in the Downtown area.

For the next week, restaurants cut diners a deal ($10 lunch or $20 dinner) to prompt a culinary exploration of the downtown dining scene. Here at OnMilwaukee.com, we'll be checking out a new spot each lunch and giving your our take on it the following day.

Yesterday was the first time I participated in a "Downtown Dining Week" meal and to be honest, I'd heard mixed reviews. I'd heard portions were small, service was slow and overall quality suffered.

But from substantial portions to on par service, each negative rumor I'd heard about "Downtown Dining Week" was dispelled with one lunch at Swig.

Hoping to avoid a wait, we headed to the Third Ward restaurant for an early lunch at 11:30 a.m. We were pleasantly surprised to find plenty of open tables and incredibly timely service.

Swig's lunch menu offered two options for each course. For the first course, we chose between a poached salmon salad on spinach, tomato and cucumber or black bean cakes with salsa, scallions and sour cream.

Dining with fellow OnMilwaukee.com worker, Julie Lawrence, we ordered one of each. The salmon salad was light and refreshing, perfectly poached and generously portioned. Likewise, the four black bean cakes remained crispy on the outside yet packed with dense, full flavor.

The second course offered a choice of turkey and brie or a crab cake sandwich with mango salsa. Again, we ordered one of each and were overly satisfied with what came to the table. Served on a full hoagie, the turkey and brie sandwich was a filling take on a classic French staple. The crab cake was incredible; sizable and stuffed with crab meat, it was topped with a spicy sweet mango salsa. Each came with the choice of French fries, salad or fruit salad.

Lastly, dessert brought a combination of dense dark chocolate cake and cheesecake topped with raspberr…

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Growing Power, located on the north side of Milwaukee, is one of few urban farms in the country.
Growing Power, located on the north side of Milwaukee, is one of few urban farms in the country.

Greener Milwaukee drinks to Growing Power

"Green" may very well be the buzzword of the year, but local Greener Milwaukee is proving to be no passing trend.

In addition to proposing "greener" environmental practices, Greener Milwaukee urges residents and businesses to consider sustainable practices focused on Fair Trade business, social justice and organic production.

Acting as a forum for discussion on everything environmental from transportation and food policy to wind energy and biodiesel, Greener Milwaukee invites members to bring community ideas and initiatives along with varied perspectives to the table.

Hosting two events per month, Greener Milwaukee kicks off May's activities this week with a benefit for Growing Power Farms at Café Luna on the riverfront.

Join Greener Milwaukee and members from Growing Power for drinks and networking Thursday night starting at 7 p.m. Then, expand your interest and knowledge with a tour of Growing Power Farm on Saturday from 2-4 p.m.

Victory Garden Initiative wants to spread the act of planting this spring.
Victory Garden Initiative wants to spread the act of planting this spring.

A blitz of gardening means victory

Why limit yourself to just one garden Memorial Day weekend when you can take part in the citywide planting "Blitz?"

Milwaukee Victory Gardens Initiative runs a "Memorial Day Blitz" of planting and gardening with efforts to construct and plant as many urban gardens as possible on May 22 and 23.

"We plan to start early in the morning on Saturday and move from garden to garden, showing the community great techniques but also starting some great urban gardens," organizer Gretchen Mead says.

Victory Gardens Initiative aims to cultivate as many gardens as possible, encouraging a swarm of volunteers to come out and participate. Plans include planting a raised bed garden at a private home as well as recreating a recently demolished garden at a neighborhood church.

"We want people to learn how to create a functional garden in their own yard or community by re-teaching them planting and harvesting skills," Mead says.

The Victory Garden Initiative emphasizes the use of backyards, patios and community green space to grow and harvest local produce. By infusing the community with sustainable practices and ideologies, Mead and her co-organizers hope to show the viability of Victory Gardening as a way of life for everyone.

"This is our first year doing this but we really hope it becomes an annual event. I think the time is right for environmental initiatives like this to take root," Mead says.

Volunteers can plan to meet at the first garden location and travel with the team throughout the day. Interested volunteers can find more information on registration on the organization's Web site.