Back when Milwaukee's Don't Records had a full stable of local bands of all kinds (disclaimer: including mine), Alex Ballard and Sugarfoot was one of the most promising.
After releasing the "Madeira" EP on the label in 1994, Musician Magazine called the band one of America's "Top 10 Best Unsigned Bands."
The group then released some CDs on its own, making a name for itself throughout the upper Midwest as a rock solid, American roots rock and roll band. But front man Ballard broke up the band in 1996, and reunited it two years later, only to split again – more definitively – in 2001.
Fast forward to 2012 and back in January Ballard and company played a Linneman's gig; it's first show in a decade.
Now, a mere seven months later, Sugarfoot performs at Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave., on Saturday, Aug. 25. Admission to the 8 p.m. show is $7.
Also on the bill is The Blinding Lights, a band fronted by Sugarfoot bassist Jeff Harrington.
I asked Ballard, what the band – drummer Victor Span and guitarist Jim Eannelli, along with Harrington on bass and Ballard singing and playing guitar – has been up to.
"There is a new record," he said. "We started it at Smart Studios (in Madison) and then went to five other local studios. Soon I'll be bringing it to my private studio, Top Secret Underground Bunker Studios, to finish it.
"One song dates back to the mid to late 1980s. Another song, "Million Words," was written before the last breakup of Sugarfoot, and was only played live a few times. Two other tracks were penned during this era but never performed live and the remainder of the songs I'd written post-Sugarfoot over the last 10 years. One newer song, "Lathe of Heaven," will be tracked, in addition to a song or two from Jim Eannelli.
Though Ballard declined to predict a release date for the new record, surely, you can expect to hear music from it at the show.
Some other gigs in town this week include:
The Rave hosts the Carnival of Madness Tour with Evanescence, Chevelle, Halestorm, Cavo and New Medicine on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. Tickets range from $37 to $174 for VIP balcony experience.
Country singer Elizabeth Cook plays at Shank on Friday, Aug. 24 at 8 with Tim Carroll. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
Murder By Death plays at Turner Hall Ballroom on Friday. Doors open at 7 and tickets are $13.
International chart-topping sensation Gotye headlines The Riverside at 7 p.m. Saturday. Missy Higgins and Jonti open the show, which will cost you anywhere from $39.50 to $59.50.
Meat Loaf plays The Riverside, too, the following night. Doors open at 7 and runs from $49.50 to $65.50.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.