By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 10, 2010 at 8:40 AM

"Bar Month" at is back for another round! Thewhole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articleson bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid barreviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Reading Andy Tarnoff's Milwaukee Talks with veteran Milwaukee DJ and classic rock guru Steve Palec -- during bar month -- got me thinking about how before the advent of Internet jukeboxes, classic rock seemed to almost invariably rule at bars of almost every stripe in Milwaukee.

East Side, Bay View, West Side ... didn't matter. There was Led Zeppelin, there was Hendrix, there was Rod Stewart, there were the Beatles, the Stones and The Who.

Having started out early as a music fan in the mid-'70s, it was natural that I was drawn to what is now called classic rock -- and I still love a lot of it now. At that time, many of those bands were still together and still making great records.

Those records became the standard jukebox fare. Perhaps because they were so familiar to such a wide swath of American music fans. Who doesn't know the biggest hits of The Doors and David Bowie?

And the ongoing influence of classic rock isn't a mystery.

Certainly, everyone from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones to Hendrix to Led Zeppelin blazed trails. Most of them arrived when rock and roll was still young.

The blueprint was sketchy at best. The rockers of the '50s blazed a trail through the forest of jazz, r&b and pop, but it was paved with a fairly simple, not terribly varied sound. It's a sound we've called "oldies" for years now. It was exciting and new when it arrived and it left the door open for the next generation.

So, when John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and others mixed blues and rock, they created something new. When Fairport Convention played added folk to rock, they created something new. Once the Beatles moved past the Carl Perkins covers, nearly everything they created was revolutionary.

When Jimi Hendrix left behind R&B session work and hit swingin' London, he blazed a new trail with his sizzling guitar. When Pink Floyd created its two-minute psychedelic pop -- and later its 30-minute abstracts -- it was doing something new.

The problem with classic rock is that it's become a crutch for too many music fans afraid to veer off the path. As important and revolutionary as that path was, music did not end in 1975. (None of this is meant to reflect negatively on Palec, of course, who creates an amazingly polished and interesting radio show that highlights the importance of classic rock.)

But the history of 20th century music is the story of revolutionists solidifying into conservative old fogeys.

Louis Armstrong was a breath of fresh air in New Orleans in the 1920s and the old cats thought he couldn't play. When Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie packed smoky clubs in Harlem, Satchmo and his brethren scoffed. Only a few -- like Coleman Hawkins and important guitarist Charlie Christian -- encouraged the young cats.

When Miles Davis hired John Coltrane, the bebop crowd thought he was nuts. Coltrane, you see, couldn't play.

When rock and roll tore up the world in the 1950s, Steve Allen sarcastically read out lyrics to rock hits on his TV show, mocking the new music. When the Beatles arrived in America, their long hair upset even their rock and roll ancestors.

When punk happened, the likes of Phil Collins and Eric Clapton balked. "They can't even play," they said. And so it goes.

Nothing says old like the inability to see and appreciate progress.

Show me somebody with classic rock records interspersed with new jazz LPs, punk classics, gems and records with a 2009 copyright date and I'll show you someone who is a real rock and roll fan; someone juiced by the thrill of great music.

Show me a record collection filled only with classic rock and I'll say, "pleased to me you, Stegosaurus. I hope you'll come visit me in the modern age and see what there is to experience."

Music is like "Saturday Night Live." Doomsayers are always bemoaning how things aren't like the "good old days." But, there has always been great music out there (just like SNL has always had its ups and downs). If you haven't found it, then you're simply not looking.

Next time you hit the bar, slip your dollars in the slot and check out something new; it doesn't mean you have to abandon the music of your youth (or your dad's).

You'll find a whole world of great music out there. Now, at taverns everywhere -- thanks to those Internet jukeboxes -- you can enter the world more easily than ever before.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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.