By Tyler Casey Reporter Published Aug 07, 2006 at 5:09 AM
Milwaukee musician Jon Mueller has also kept busy. In addition to running his own record label, Crouton Music, he's also getting in touch with musicians from different parts of the globe to set up performances in Milwaukee. And now, one of his own local performances is being released as a live album via San Francisco's Formed Records. "Supershells" is a recording of a live performance by Mueller and Zurich-based Jason Kahn at Hotcakes Gallery on Aug. 25, 2005.

Hotcakes has hosted music consistently since it opened two years ago, but "Supershells" is the first album recorded at the Riverwest art gallery.

At the time, Mueller, who has played with Pele and Collections of Colonies of Bees, never considered releasing the Hotcakes show as an album. The idea didn't come until after Kahn had already gone back to Europe. The excellent sound quality that Hotcakes provided was a factor, as was the strong performances by both musicians.

"The echoes from the gallery tend to go away when there's at least a dozen people here," says Hotcakes owner Mike Brenner.

Mueller and Kahn also wanted to share the live performance with anyone who wasn't at the small gallery.

"That feeling you have when you're done playing is something you want to recapture," says Mueller.

Though Mueller has Crouton and Kahn also has a label -- Cut -- they decided to turn to an outside source for this project and found what they were looking for in San Francisco's Formed Records.

"Both of our labels were too crowded, and I'd rather release other artist's work (on Crouton)," says Mueller. "Formed wanted to put the record out right away."

With the release of "Supershells," Mueller can focus on more collaborations and concerts with other experimental musicians. Crouton is releasing a collaborative album by Steven Hess of Chicago and Robert Hampson of the United Kingdom. Mueller is also bringing Portland's David Menche to the Midwest for the first time. He will also hook up with Kahn once again for an East Coast tour, including a two-day stop at Wesleyan University in Connecticut that includes a performance and a talk.

He also has a label to run. Mueller describes it as both thankless and rewarding at the same time.

"You get the freedom to do what you want, though there is a flipside. Running a label, you have to do administrative work, which takes away from your own work."

Mueller has been running Crouton for seven years and says he's learned from previous mistakes to make the label strong.

"When you do everything yourself, you have control, but how much power do you really have over who hears your work? People start labels and don't think about things like distribution and just give up because it's too much work to get your vision out there. All the work you invest has to have a reason behind it."

"Supershells" is available via Formed Record's Web site.
Tyler Casey Reporter

Tyler Casey was born and raised in the Twin Cities, but he’s lived in Milwaukee for the last four years working and going to school. A senior at UWM with one semester left before he gets his print journalism degree, Tyler’s grown incredibly fond of his new city and hopes to stay here for good. He’s been with since June 2006.

Despite retaining certain customs of his fatherland (Tyler bleeds purple and gold), he considers Milwaukee his home. Spending most of his time on the East Side, Riverwest and Downtown (as well as wherever the nearest bus line can take him), Tyler’s always looking to experience what the city has to offer.