By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 15, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Last week I interviewed former Violent Femmes frontman -- and erstwhile Milwaukeean -- Gordon Gano for an upcoming Milwaukee Talks centered on his latest project, a collaboration with The Ryans. Before we talked about the Mets -- don't worry, the recorder was off for that and it won't be in the article -- we talked about Richard Hell.

I asked Gano about what the "success" meant to the young Femmes and he replied that it was either the kind of modest but freeing success of the likes of Richard Hell and Johnny Thunders or the earth-shattering impact of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

Those three Milwaukee kids didn't realize there was a huge gulf between and that many bands find themselves swimming in the middle.

But hearing Gordon talk about being a kid enamored of Richard Hell struck a chord with me.  Not only did it finally all make sense in that Richard Hell is whose singing voice Gano's most closely resembles -- it reminded me of being a musician kid.

When I was 'tween and an early teen, I don't think I viewed musical success any differently than Gano, Ritchie and DeLorenzo did. 

The first time I rode the subway into Greenwich Village for a day of checking out record shops with my friend I remember emerging in front of the Waverly Theater on 3rd and 6th Avenue. We saw a lanky figure walking past and seeing Tom Verlaine in person, we followed him (discreetly, I think; although perhaps we were actually slack-jawed) for a couple blocks. Amazingly, people didn't even notice that this rock and roll superstar was walking down the street!!!

Maybe they didn't read New York Rocker and Rock Scene, but I did, and seeing Richard Hell's Television (and Neon Boys) bandmate Tom Verlaine on the street felt no different to me than spying Mick Jagger.

Of course, now I understand the gradations of success a little better. But I'd still enjoy having a beer with Verlaine as much as with Jagger.

Having said all that, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Television's Richard Lloyd will be at Shank Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 22. 

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 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.