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The Milk Carton Kids will perform tonight at The Pabst Theater as a part of Lampedusa: Concert for Refugees.
The Milk Carton Kids will perform tonight at The Pabst Theater as a part of Lampedusa: Concert for Refugees. (Photo: The Milk Carton Kids Facebook)

Indie folk duo Milk Carton Kids talks sharing the stage with legends

It didn't take much convincing to get indie folk duo The Milk Carton Kids on board Lampedusa: Concert for Refugees, a concert event featuring Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, Ruby Amanfu and special guest Robert Plant playing tonight at The Pabst Theater.

"We got a call asking, 'Emmylou wants to know if ...' – at that point, I said, ‘Yes,'" noted singer and guitarist Joey Ryan. "Then he finished the question."

All proceeds from the show go toward supporting Jesuit Refugee Service’s Global Education Initiative, designed to provide educational opportunities for refugees in camps and urban settings.

According to an estimate, there are 65 million refugees in the world, and the average time of displacement is 17 years. As Ryan sees it, there are two ways we can deal with refugees and immigrants: We can choose to view them in a place of fear and suspicion – or we can choose to view them in a place of compassion and open-heartedness.

Ryan, who grew up in a Jewish family in Los Angeles, said history like the Holocaust was part of his cultural history.

At a recent tour stop in St. Louis, he learned that in 1940, when the passenger ship St. Louis approached Florida, President Roosevelt did not respond to telegrams from passengers seeking asylum.

The ship returned to Antwerp, and many of the passengers were put to death in concentration camps. It is important to never allow this to happen again, Ryan says, noting how important immigrants and refugees are to the history of the United States.

"We don’t belabor the point in the shows," he said, "but there are songs that apply to the situation."

Politics aside, he realizes the thrill of playing music and touring with folks whose records he grew up listening to.

"Living on a bus together, you get to know these folks as parents or grandparents, and hear their wisdom," Ryan said. "It is nice to call them friends."

With everyone onstage together night after night, Ryan is aware of the incredible opp…

New Age Narcissism headlines the pedal-powered stage Saturday night at Rock the Green.
New Age Narcissism headlines the pedal-powered stage Saturday night at Rock the Green. (Photo: Courtesy of New Age Narcissism)

New Age Narcissism hip-hop collective rocks the green

Growing up, the members of the Milwaukee hip-hop collective New Age Narcissism always felt like misfits. They never felt they fit within their communities and groups. What they didn’t know was that, in the near future, they'd break away from what they were used to and create their own community in the world of local music.

Local producer Q the Sun and Chris Gilbert were once a part of Fresh Cut Collective. But it eventually faded away, leaving them to look for a new musical outlet.

It wasn’t long until they met local rappers Webster X and Lorde Fred33. The four of them started collaborating, performing around the city and doing what they love: making music. 

In the fall of 2014, Webster X's popularity started to build – both locally and even nationally – which created more performance opportunitie and forged more local industry connections with people like Lex Allen. As they made more and more connections, they knew they had to figure out some way to make the collective work.

"In order for it to grow [at that time] we needed to meet up," explained Q the Sun, so they started gathering together every Monday. This went on week after week until January of 2015, when they realized things were starting to come together.

"Things were looking solidified," Q the Sun said. As the collective was growing in 2015, it began picking up more national attention, playing more shows – including opening for Lupe Fiasco – and adding more members, like Siren, to its group of misfits. And as they became more established, they started to officially define themselves as a group.

"It’s about self-love and self-acceptance," Q the Sun said, adding they want to find "acceptance in [ourselves] by seeing [ourselves] in others." He noted that they support each other and build the community, with a mutual hope and vision for making Milwaukee better. All of the members of New Age Narcissism are very involved in their communities, especially with the youth of Milwaukee, in the hop…

Come out Saturday to see NO/NO on the pedal-powered stage at Rock the Green.
Come out Saturday to see NO/NO on the pedal-powered stage at Rock the Green. (Photo: NO/NO Facebook)

NO/NO says yes to Rock the Green and sustainability

After their previous project, The Delphines, split up and faded away, singer/synth player Cat Ries – along with Harrison Colby, Lucas Riddle and Jeremy Ault – rose to the occasion and assembled a new band. Thus, NO/NO was born, and, not even three months later, the quartet had produced its initial self-titled EP.

The band hasn't shown any signs of slowing down from that fast start in 2014 either, continually growing as a group and, most recently, dropping its first full-length album, "Sound and Light," this past May – one put together in an all new way for its members.

"The album grew out of experiments and loops, and then the songs were pieced together through recording and sampling," said Colby, the group's guitarist and vocalist. "There wasn’t any live recording; it was all being written as it was being recorded. So, no demos exist, I think, except for one song." 

Although they all have different musical tastes, the quartet found a way to bring its various musical interests together to create a unique electro-pop-rock sound that is like few others. When they first came together, NO/NO found common inspiration.

"We all really like a lot of different styles of music – I know Cat really likes goth and industrial – but we were all kind of inspired by late '70s and early '80s punk and new wave," Colby said, "bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order and Wire." 

The reconstituted group first graced the Milwaukee music scene two years ago, and, ever since, it's been embracing the city's diverse music scene and genres, as well as getting to know fellow local artists who've inspired the band over the last few years.

"It’s this city’s [music] scene that fuels a lot of what we do," Colby said. "It’s our support system."

Since hitting the scene, NO/NO has performed all over the city, but you can usually find the band performing at its favorite venues: Riverwest Public House, Linneman’s, The Mad Planet and Cactus Club. This weekend, however, yo…

Get a crazy-intense work out by heading to SPIRE fitness for its cycling class.
Get a crazy-intense work out by heading to SPIRE fitness for its cycling class. (Photo: Robyn Vining Photography)

My first spin through a SPIRE Fitness spin class

My alarm was screeching at 5 a.m., and despite desperately wanting to roll over and keep sleeping, after much deliberation, I finally got myself out of bed and rode my bike to SPIRE Fitness, located at 102 N. Water St., with no idea what to expect when I got there.

I walked in ready for the class. I went to the front desk and got asked what my shoe size was. They handed met these shoes with Velcro on them, then they had me go straight to the room. The instructor clipped my shoes into the pedals – yes, I did say clipped me in – and the class began.

45 minutes later, I walked out experiencing something like nothing I had before. It was very high energy and, honestly, kind of insane. Many thoughts ran through my head, but here are the ones that you too might have during a SPIRE Fitness cycling class:

Why do I have these shoes? And dear God, why do you have to be strapped in?

Before you even start the workout, you get your shoes clipped into the pedals of your bike, and for a first-timer, you can’t help but be freaked out by what you might possibly have to do to need to have your shoes clipped in. But once you've done the class for a while, you understand that you have to be clipped in or you will fall right off the bike. You have to do exercises that require to get off your seat and stand on your pedals. Meanwhile, you're cycling with such speed that you can easily just wipe out if you didn't have the crazy shoes on. 

This song is awesome, but why must it be so long?

The spin class plays such fun, upbeat songs that you will either know and love or not know and grow to love anyways. For instance, we got to exercise to "Hot in Here" by Nelly, an obviously amazing throwback tune that would completely pumped me up, kept me motivated and at least somewhat helped me forget that I was slowly dying from all the exercise. However, each type of exercise lasts for one song, making you hope and pray for when the song will mercifully end so you can finally catc…