During the early '80s, Marquette University's annual spring block parties were legendary. For years, students looked forward to taking to the streets for a night of mayhem and release after a long winter so in '86 when the school announced the party's demise, there was outrage.
"Well, mild outrage," remembers Jim Dier, who, as a MU freshman in '86, had been eagerly anticipating his block party induction. "We were college students, so we were outraged about everything."
So when senior Anthony Caroli decided to take matters into his own hands and organize his own festival, Dier was one of thousands of Marquette students in attendance at the inaugural Mr. Jiggles Spring Jubilee, later re-named Jigglesfest.
The music festival gained momentum for years through the end of the '80s and start of the '90s, hosting a breadth of newly formed Marquette bands, such Southbound, Surrender Dorothy, Big Sky and The Gufs. But by the early '90s, the gathering had again gone into remission, despite attracting nearly 3,000 people to the former Milwaukee Gun Club, located along Lake Michigan just east of Lake Park.
Dier and his band R. Mutt played Jigglesfest from '89 through '91, but kept in touch with his fellow Jigglers over the years and says the impetus for Jigglesfest's resurrection came when two years ago he joking signed off on a group e-mail, "See you in Jigglesfest 2008."
In this City of Festivals, that was about all it took to get the wheels spinning; the interest was clearly there. Teaming up with Surrender Dorothy vocalist Linda Bloszies, Dier has organized this summer's rebirth of Jigglesfest, set for Saturday, Sept. 20 at Bradford Beach.
The all-Marquette lineup includes a few bands from the original festival, as well as new groups with current student members. Here is the lineup:
11-11:50 a.m. -- Groovy Sparrow
12:05-1 p.m. -- Planet Dastardly
1:15-2:10 p.m. - Free Zone
2:25-3:20 p.m. -- Surrender Dorothy
3:35-4:30 p.m. -- R. Mutt
4:45-5:40 p.m. -- Surrender Dorothy
5:55-6:50 p.m. -- The Nodes
7:05-8 p.m. -- Southbound
"It is important for (us) to be a part of Jigglesfest because of the original being a Marquette event," says Harrison Dole of The Nodes, an original band influenced by the Flaming Lips. "As far as I'm aware, all or a majority of the members of the bands playing were at one time students, so it's also nice to show what it was 15 or so years ago and what it is like today."
Dier agrees. "It was a really important thing at Marquette. I was a freshman, not in any bands, when I went to the first Jigglesfest and it was sometime during that day, watching all these bands and students play music, that I said, 'This is stupid, I need to be in a band.' It was the reason, Paul (Leckie, drummer) and I started the band."
Some of the bands reuniting this weekend, like Free Zone, have been inactive since the last Jigglesfest, thanks to members spread out between Colorado, California, Illinois, Minnesota and the U.K. Dier says when he got the word that Free Zone's guitarist Pat Greene, who is living and performing in San Francisco, was on board for the Milwaukee show, he knew the event was a go.
As for the future of Jigglesfest, Dier says he hopes to pass the torch now that it's up and running again. Dole and his bandmates are seniors with plans to graduate in May '09, but encourage the next generation of Marquette students to carry the tradition forward.
"Hopefully we get many younger students to attend Jigglesfest so that they can be inspired to start making music of their own and they can continue Jigglesfest."
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”