In recent years, Geoff "Stinky" Worman -- who died of cancer on Friday at age 53 -- was known to a few select Milwaukee music fans who happened upon his Flipville record shop next to Koppa's at 1936 N. Farwell Ave.
Some likely didn't realize the quiet, unassuming Worman was a local music scene legend for his years in record shops and for his association with landmark Milwaukee bands like the Violent Femmes and The Ghostly Trio, for whom he played guitar.
Word was out this weekend on the Internet, leading fans to post tributes to Worman and to Flipville.
"Pretty bummed. Flipville is one of my favorite things about Milwaukee," wrote Claire Dactyl on terminal-boredom.com.
"Yeah, I feel like I just got punched in the gut about this one," wrote Swampy, on the same site. "Especially since it had been a long time since I'd been there and was hoping to go there soon with bags of cash. Great dude. It was always funny when some douchebags would go in there looking for or trying to sell CDs. The look of scorn on his face was priceless. You could see his beard hairs turn into thousands of venomous snakes. He will certainly be missed."
Some have said that the shop will re-open, and veteran local scenester Lars Kvam was quoted online as saying that Worman's sister Eileen promised the shop would remain open, but his brother, Matthew, wrote me an e-mail saying that the store closed a month ago and will not open again.
"The business was officially closed on April 1, 2010 and will not be reopening," wrote Matthew Worman. "What some of my sisters may have been referring to is a possible estate sale at the storefront location.
"Upon Geoff's request, notice had been given to the management company to end his rental agreement prior to him losing his battle with cancer."
One commenter on Facebook called Worman, "a true Milwaukee music and cultural legend."
My friend Luke Lavin, who runs Bull's Eye Records around the corner on Irving Place broke the news to me in an e-mail.
"I'll miss that crusty, crotchety old bohemian. I sold him a lot of records before I got in the business ... bought a bunch, too," he wrote me. "Always a straight shooter. One less record store in Milwaukee. And I know it was kind of a rite of passage for some folks to survive a visit to that place. People are pretty broke up over it and so many people seem to be saying 'I wish I knew.'"
At Worman's request, there will be no funeral.
In happier news, the International Pop Overthrow Music Festival -- which takes place in a number of U.S. and Canadian cities and in Liverpool, England -- returns this weekend for its third Brew City installment. The event is back at Linneman's Riverwest Inn, 1001 E. Locust St., May 6-9. Admission each night is $8.
Thursday's show features Ryan Leech, Magatha Trysty, Certain Stairs, The Desperate Club, Single Serving Friends and Disaster March. Friday has The Argyle Wishlist, The Mike Benign Compulsion, The Love Money, The Color Truth, The Nice Outfit and Dave Rave.
Saturday features Litmus Vinyl, Arkady, Fun With Atoms, Elusive Parallelograms, The Reckless Hearts and Dairyland Youth. On Sunday, the fest closes with Peter D'Amore, Van Go, The Ray Kings, The Pond Hawks, World Minus One and The Romeros.
Showtime on Sunday is 3 p.m., 8 p.m. on the other days.
Two Milwaukee bands have reached the top 10 in the Briggs Battle of the Bands, which had nearly 300 entries from around the globe. Two of the finishers are from Finland and Italy. The two-month, online contest winner, gets a Summerfest gig. The Brew City advancers are acoustic rockers The Siege Perilous and Little Bribes, a group of local college kids who play gigs via Skype!
A 15-member panel of Briggs & Stratton employees will pick the top three.
It's all at briggsbattleofthebands.com.
Musician Mathew Haeffel and Matt Koch, lead talent manager at Genre Good Inc., launch an open mic showcase at Paulo's Pizza, 5121 W. Howard Ave., on Wednesday, May 5 that will be Webcast on haeffel.com. The event will take place every Wednesday, except the final week of the month, from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. All the performers can get DVDs of their sets, too.
"I respect that the city has a lot of open mics, but I doubt any of them are broadcast live on the Internet," says Koch. "Mathew and I think the ability to give area musicians the opportunity to showcase their talents on a world stage live and for free, is a valuable tool not only for the artists, but for the city in general. Milwaukee has an amazing array of musical talents."
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.