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I was tempted to bumrush the stage, but I didn't.
I was tempted to bumrush the stage, but I didn't.

DiFranco brings it to NOLA's Blue Nile

NEW ORLEANS -- A lot of music lovers I know are able to brag about rare concert opportunities or when they saw such-and-such a band before they were famous. Until last night, I was not in this elite club. Sure, I have seen some really great live performances in my life, but seeing Ani DiFranco at the Blue Nile -- a New Orleans’ venue that’s smaller than the second floor performance space of Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach Club -- was by far the high point of my concert-going history.

The show was sold out and the only reason I eked my way in was because of my OnMilwaukee.com credentials. I stood in line for an hour before the show and was rewarded with  floor space about five feet away from Ani who gave an acoustic performance -- switching between three guitars -- for just over two hours.

It was the second night in a row Ani played an intimate show at the Blue Nile, located in New Orleans’ Marigny neighborhood. She seemed a little mellow at first, but "the lil’ folksinger" got spunkier as the show rolled on.

Currently, she is not promoting a new album -- her last was "Red Letter Year" that came out on her label, Righteous Babe, in 2008 -- although she admitted to working on one.

Life for Ani, who is 40 and the mother of a 3-year -old, has changed. A decade ago she was cranking out an album every year (she has 20 studio releases and dozens of EPs) and was touring continuously. In 2005, severe tendinitis curbed her ability to tour vigorously and altered the way she approached music.

"Now that I take my time working on shit, it takes me a little longer," she said, smiling.

Ani drew material randomly from many albums old and new, opening with "Anticipate" and rolling into "Untouchable Face," "Swan Dive," "As Is," "Names and Dates and Times," and a sing-a-long of the folk classic "Which Side Are You On" which she had recently played for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday. Midway through the show, she invited Cyril Neville from the Neville Brothers on stage to play drums on a…

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'Til death do us part, Milwaukee.
'Til death do us part, Milwaukee.

My Milwaukee tattoo

I threatened to honor Milwaukee with permanent skin ink for many years, and admired others who boldly adorned their bodies with Brew City devotion. In 2007, I even wrote an article about Milwaukee tats, and last week, I finally got one.

I went to Adambomb, 2028 N. Martin Luther King Dr., and owner Adam Werther tattooed the Milwaukee Tool logo on my left forearm. I know I am not the first Milwaukee patriot to pick this, but it has appealed to me for many years.

After owning four houses in Milwaukee, I spent a lot of time (and money) in local hardware stores, and every time I saw the red-and-white Milwaukee Tool logo on a sign or box, I admired its jaggedy font and the badass lightning bolt beneath it.

My tattoo was done entirely in black ink and it took Adam about three hours to complete the six-inch indelible image. I have numerous tattoos, but I have never had this much black ink applied. The process ranged from almost painless to annoying -- especially near the wrist -- even though I have a pretty high threshold for pain and am one of those wack-a-dos that actually likes the feeling of getting tattooed.

The healing process, however, has been painful at times. My tattoo went from weepy to scaly and my entire arm is so sore I joked with a friend about wishing I was born with detachable limbs.

But for the love of a town that Alice Cooper calls "Mila wau kay," it is worth it.

Run over to RunUp!
Run over to RunUp!

Still time to RunUp to the Runway

RunUp to the Runway unfurls in the Milwaukee Art Museum for the fourth time on Friday, Oct. 15 from 5 p.m to midnight.

The runway portion of the evening kicks off at 9 p.m. with the work of up-and-coming senior fashion students from Mount Mary College, followed by celebrated designers at 10:30 p.m.

The event also includes live music by I’m Not A Pilot and Jordan Lee from 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, cocktails. appetizers from Cafe Calatrava and beauty bars from Groom, Erik of Norway, Neroli and Well Spa.

Tickets are $50 for front row seating; $35 for reserved seating and $20 for standing room. Members can receive reserved seating for $25 or standing room for $10. Click the link below to buy tickets.

Crusts on or off? One should be so lucky to have the choice.
Crusts on or off? One should be so lucky to have the choice.

Share the PB&J love

October is the fourth-annual Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2010."

Crunchy, smooth, grape, raspberry or strawberry?

Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin kicks off the eighth annual PB&J Challenge at Catholic East Elementary School, 2461 N. Murray Ave., on Tuesday, Oct. 5. The challenge runs throughout the month of October and asks students to donate jars of peanut butter and jelly for hungry children.

The public can also donate these goods at any area Pick ‘N’ Save by putting them in barrels featuring Bango, the Milwaukee Bucks Mascot. Or they can make a donation via the Website.

Approximately 330,000 people in eastern Wisconsin rely on food supplied by Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin each year.  The food bank is the largest, private, non-profit distributor of food in the state.