By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 06, 2002 at 5:41 AM

Milwaukee Art Museum's First Friday series has been present local musicians for years now, but this month the series gets a boost from a collaboration between a Milwaukee duo and one of the Los Angeles rock scene's most enduring and talented figures.

Martha Davis, former frontwoman of The Motels, joins forces with Mrs. Fun for the 5:30 p.m. show in Windhover Hall at MAM, Fri., June 7. Admission is $15.

Davis and Mrs. Fun's Kim Zick and Connie Grauer got together as a result of some musical matchmaking by former Milwaukeean Cheryl Pawelski, who lives in Los Angeles and became friends with Davis when the two collaborated on projects at Capitol Records, where Pawelski worked.

"As we became friends I found that (Davis) wasn't just writing what one might expect Martha to be writing (pop songs)," Pawelski says. " In fact, I was so blown away by all the new things that Martha was writing that I just started to naturally think about collaborations."

And Pawelski's mind naturally dished up Mrs. Fun, an inventive duo that Pawelski has loved for a long time. Beyond that, she heard things in Davis' music that seemed a perfect fit for Zick and Grauer.

"Some things she had written fell into the area of piano/vocal ballads that I thought would work exceptionally well with Connie's piano and Kim on brushes," Pawelski says, adding that Davis' material is currently very stylistically diverse. And that's something that makes the adaptable Mrs. Fun perfect.

"My personal taste in music runs to the hybrids -- artists that take two styles (or more) and put them together to create something a little different," Pawelski says. "In the same way, I love collaborations between artists that one might not think will work but the end result is something that could only exist in that space. This was one of those cases and I'm really happy with the results."

The record is almost finished, according to Pawelski, who has served as executive producer on the project. Mrs. Fun spent a week in Los Angeles last fall, during which time Davis, Zick and Grauer they wrote, recorded and mixed the bulk of the disc.


"It's really a snapshot of that week," Pawelski says. "While Martha's in Milwaukee, they will be laying a couple extra things on tape just to see if we may have missed something. If the Milwaukee session yields anything near last year's sessions, I'm sure we'll add a track or two."

Pawelski is quick to point out that the collaboration has no long-term goals. It is a side project for everyone involved. A new Davis solo album is in the works, Pawelski says.

"This is just an experiment that turned up some very interesting and very fun results," says Pawelski, who returns home this week to attend the show. "When Mrs. Fun were touring the West Coast, I guess it was two years ago or so, I took Martha to The Mint to see their set. Martha really dug it so I naturally thought to put them together."

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.