The waltz and George Jones. One gone as of a couple days ago, and the other nowhere, being shown the door in popular music.
That George Jones (who had been booked to perform at the Northern Lights Theater in Milwaukee in September) lived to the ripe age of 81 wasn't his fault. He spent a lot of his life trying to end it with alcohol, cocaine and serial heartbreak. In that last department, he gave as well as he got – his singing was a painful pleasure that millions endured repeatedly. It must be that real hurt is still more appealing than the kind of feigned fun a lot of popular music is trying to sell.
One of the great voices of the 20th (and part of the 21st) century, Jones had a special affinity for that lopsided and soon-to-be obsolete rhythm, the waltz. It probably only seems all his songs are in the key of G and in 3/4 time, but you would swear. His voice, which sounds vulnerable and wounded, probably needs the prettiness of a waltz to make it bearable.
One of his best came from a very unlikely source, James Taylor. Listen to "Bartender's Blues," a song he wrote specifically for Old Possum Eyes, and savor his uncanny delivery of this weeper – it's so good you might even be able to forgive Taylor for inventing the whole singer/songwriter genre.
In many cases a good song wasn't always found by his producer, Billy Sherrill. He probably knew that an average one sung by an instrument that good would be lifted up to higher stature and on those occasions where the writer really did his job, the sublime was a mere chip shot. Sherrill sweetened the tracks to the point of toothaches with strings and creamy background vocals. It's a far cry from George's early Starday hits that had a lot of spit and grit to them, but he applies just the right topspin to the lyrics to make you forget just how far uptown you've been dragged.
Listen to "Picture of Me Without You," and try to decipher whether it is the words, the melody, the rhythm or the singer. Does it matter? Prob…
Kelly Hogan is one of the busiest working musicians around and on Sunday night, she reminded The Pabst Pub audience of why she is so in-demand with a marvelous performance that showcased all of her talents.
Hogan has worked alongside a laundry list of indie rock superstars over her career and may be best recognized lately for her work as part of Neko Case’s backing band. It is easy to see why Hogan would serve as a collaborator with so many people. Not only does she harness an immense amount of talent, but she also has a very likeable personality.
After explaining that she was wearing pants that she bought from a discount website where returns weren’t allowed, Hogan made it clear that the pants were not terribly comfortable. After each song, she would hike them up and readjust and even was provided with suggestions from the audience on ways to make the pants fit better.
Hogan – who also played at the Cactus Club back in January – also made a point to reiterate how much she enjoyed being able to perform on Sunday night. "I love Milwaukee so much so I’m going to start playing before I start making out with all you guys."
Since the Atlanta-born Hogan resides in Evansville, she was able to weave in some humorous references to Wisconsin that added an extra layer of enjoyment. For example, Hogan told an hilarious anecdote about being judged while shopping at Piggly Wiggly since she was wearing a tucked-in shirt, as if that was a snobbish thing to do.
There haven’t been too many shows in the side Pabst Pub, but Hogan’s performance served as a great showcase of why it works as an alternate intimate venue. The sound quality matched the level that is expected at the family of performance halls. The only problem was from a pocket of the audience in the back who treated the concert more as a social event instead of a performance.
Since The Pabst Pub is such an immediate space, there were individuals who were seated in the very front who came back to remind t…
One of the greatest pleasures for an audience member is catching a performer when they are on their "A-game." That was the case on Friday as Kathleen Madigan returned to the Pabst Theater to deliver a killer set that had the whole crowd howling.
Madigan, who just has a genuine familial vibe automatically in her favor, reinforced her endearment to the crowd by beginning her set raving about her love of Milwaukee and Wisconsin in general.
"It’s a great state. People don’t know about you people, but I don’t tell them because I don’t want there to be a stampede."
After teasing the German heritage throughout the state, Madigan then expressed her amazement that somehow Wisconsin hasn’t landed on the list of the top five fattest states. "Whatever you’re doing, you’re laying low. You’re chubby and nobody knows, you’ve kept it a secret."
While the evening didn’t have a central theme, a good deal of Madigan’s set was tied to her Irish Catholic heritage and how that factored in to her perception. Hailing from Missouri, Madigan turned the tables on her home state making fun of Anheuser-Busch’s sale to InBev and the rise of crystal meth in Missouri. Topics for the night included the post office, her USO tour in Afghanistan, public television pledge drives and a good deal of time on the way her parents are changing as they get older.
The most impressive element of Madigan’s set was when she talked about political figures and managed to deliver material that didn’t alienate the crowd. Her criticisms of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were not about their politics, but rather the way they present themselves.
By utilizing this approach, there wasn’t much need for her to walk a tightrope to avoid offending anyone as what she said was just keen observations about their approaches.
After telling The Pabst audience that if they’d had anything to drink to make sure to drive extra carefully, Madigan closed out the night by ripping into celebrities an…
One of the most interesting aspects of the state Department of Transportation's $278 million Hoan Bridge rehabilitation project in Milwaukee has been largely ignored by the media and the public, so far.
The DOT plans to add LED lights along the golden arch structure of the bridge. The cost for the aesthetic lighting for the bridge will be between $500,000 and almost $1 million, said Ryan Luck, chief construction engineer of southeastern Wisconsin freeways for WisDOT. The aesthetic lighting plans were on display at the Hoan Bridge public open house held this week.
"The plan is to light the arch," Luck said. "It's in our plan. We're taking feedback on it."
Many of the world's most iconic bridges, such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, are architectural marvels and are lit up at night, which enhances their status as major landmarks in their cities.
But, other than the lights along the roadway, the Hoan Bridge structure is not lit up and essentially disappears into the darkness of a Milwaukee night.
The Hoan Bridge is certainly not in the league of the Golden Gate Bridge or the Brooklyn Bridge, but it is a prominent Milwaukee landmark that would be greatly enhanced if it is lit up at night. WisDOT considers the Hoan Bridge to be one of the state's eight most iconic bridges, Luck said.
Some have made a compelling argument that the Hoan Bridge should be torn down and the entire Lake Freeway should be replaced by a grade-level street. That makes a lot of sense and would help attract development along the lakefront south of downtown. Prime lakefront real estate is no place for a freeway.
However, that ship has sailed. The Lake Freeway and the Hoan Bridge have become an important route from the south side to downtown and beyond. Residents and political leaders of the south side have adamantly fought any plans to eliminate the Lake Freeway and Hoan Bridge. WisDOT's rehabilitation project for the Hoan Bridge is scheduled to begin by the end of the year.