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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

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Juniper Tar began its residency at The Hotel Foster March 28.
Juniper Tar began its residency at The Hotel Foster March 28. (Photo: Ryan Findley)
The band plays weekly every Wednesday night through April 18.
The band plays weekly every Wednesday night through April 18. (Photo: Ryan Findley)
The night featured special guests Sat. Nite Duets and John Sieger.
The night featured special guests Sat. Nite Duets and John Sieger. (Photo: Ryan Findley)

Inside the residency with Juniper Tar: Week One recap

Why should you care about what you are about to dive into? Well really we don't expect you to, but we really love Milwaukee and have gotten an opportunity to see our city in a different light, one that has us really freaking excited. So every week, we will share some things with you about our music residency happening at the Hotel Foster on the East Side of our city. Buckle in, there are English majors in this band. (They didn't all graduate, but that's neither here nor there.)

So, where to begin? Well, we were a little hesitant to attempt a residency in Milwaukee. It's not something rock bands in Milwaukee really do. But we really wanted to do a residency in Milwaukee because it's not something rock bands in Milwaukee really do! Last night was the first night of a month-long weekly gig at Hotel Foster and we're going to tell you a little bit about how joyous the experience was for us.

March 28: Special Guests Sat. Nite Duets & John Sieger

Pulling the van in the back alley behind the Hotel Foster was a bit nostalgic for most of us who'd spent a lot of time loading in through back of The Globe in the old days. We expected to see Rocker Pat setting up mics or asleep on the sound board. We've never played the Hotel Foster before. Most of us haven't spent a lot of time at Foster, either, so we didn't know what to expect. Let us tell you, those guys have something pretty great over there! Sometimes it's hard to convince a fairly unconventional music venue in Milwaukee to allow you to play music in their establishment at all. Allowing a single group to set up shop every week for a month is practically unheard of.

Loading in the back door, you weave your way past the stacked vintage couches and tables that they'd moved themselves to allow us to play for the night. Past the stacked couches unveils beautiful, ornate chandeliers, under which we were very pleasantly greeted by owner John Revord the minute we entered. We knew then that it was going to be a pretty great place to call home for a month.

In our minds, we kind of imagined that the attendance would slowly increase each week, that the last night of the residency would have the largest crowd. We thought if we played really well and had an enormous amount of fun doing so, people would talk, people would bring friends, people would write about it (we didn't imagine writing about it ourselves), and so on and therefore and such and such.

What we really didn't imagine was just how damn fun and well-attended the FIRST night would be. It didn't feel like a rock show. It felt like an experience. We brought along a portable turntable to play records between short sets. Chris was the DJ for the first night. Since we just had one turntable Chris decided that we were going to play entire sides of records that night. It started with ZZ Top's "Tres Hombres" (You might not believe this, but it was perfect) and ended with Strand of Oaks' "Pope Killdragon." Now, don't worry, this isn't going to be a play-by-play of the entire evening. But, if you weren't there it was a hard thing to try to recreate with words.

Now that the mood is set, what we CAN say is that it was a pleasure to play songs with both resident guests. Everyone should go see their shows the first chance you get. Andrew from Sat. Nite Duets had this amazing 1971-era David Bowie thing going on, and John Sieger became an honorary Schleicher (he kept referring to himself as Johnny Schleicher). Both of them kicked our faces in.

The whole night was full of great little unexpected goodies. We are all beginning to get up there in years, so having young, drunk girls buy us shots at regular intervals throughout the night was something we don't normally experience. There were so many new faces that we've never seen before – new faces that already seem like new friends who shared incredible insights about our music, shared in conversation about our favorite new bands, talked about The Globe days, and so much more.

The environment certainly helped everyone connect. At Foster you feel like you're hanging out in your uncle's souped-up basement or some rich guy's living room drinking whiskey and mason jars full of Old Milwaukee. All in all, so many genuinely kind people ended up in the same place Wednesday night.

As for the performance, we were told good things (some great things), but to be honest, we all got a little stage fright throughout the night. This was the first time we've ever tried to pull off something like this. It's bound to happen again this coming Wednesday because we're looking forward to making every night a new experience for us and the audience. Plus, this coming Wednesday there are three special guests instead of two, and one of them is Paul Cebar. We don't want to butcher a Paul Cebar song.

So, you get the picture: hugs, friends, really fun music experiences, booze, pretty girls. But we have yet to tell you our personal highlight. That came when Damian Strigens hand delivered the physical copy of our album artwork layout. It felt like he brought a newborn baby with him we were so excited. He could've emailed it, since today he and his wife Betty are hopping on a plane to join the rest of Field Report (an amazing Milwaukee group of pals) for their west coast tour with Megafaun. Thanks mister, we love you.

Well that about sums it up. We are really honored to share the stage and back up the legendary Paul Cebar. Have a feeling we'll be in the company of a fair amount of cougars next week. It will be great to reunite with Joe Crocket of The Championship (who we've loved since Championship wasn't even a band. Long live Skyler!), and for all you Foster regulars, the night wouldn't be complete without Hugh Masterson of Hugh Bob and the Hustle, and the Wildbirds. So, see you next Wednesday.

Say hi, give us hugs. Kindly, keep the free booze to a minimum!

XO – Juniper Tar

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