In anticipation of their April 27 album release concert at Turner Hall, Juniper Tar and friends played a special residency gig series at The Hotel Foster. This past Wednesday was the final show.
We'll it came and went way too damn fast, and we are all quite sad that trekking all of our gear to a beautiful bar every Wednesday has come to a close. We can not express our gratitude enough to so many people we encountered over this four week experiment.
Yes, I am going to take a minute to mention a few of those people.
First, to John Revord and the entire staff at Hotel Foster. Thanks for opening your doors, and being so great throughout the whole month. Without you guys, this month would NOT have been as wonderful as it was.
Alan Herzberg has shown up every week to photograph the evening, but what is notable about Alan's insane generosity is that each week he showed up with a disk of the photos in hand, along with printed 11 x 18 photographs for us to take home with us.
Cal Roach and his wife Jen successfully made it to all 4 shows. Jen was great enough to join us on stage for 2 of the weeks, and Cal was great enough to share his kind and encouraging words about our night with the world at his blog You-Phoria.
Blaine Schultz, a veteran of the Milwaukee music scene (Aimless Blades being our favorite), and someone we continue to admire provided really great insight and feedback that has kept us excited about playing music. (Doing this sh*t without feedback can get you down from time to time).
Matt Wild who is a terrific writer for The AV Club, watched quietly is the shadows each week. Don't think we didn't notice.
To everyone that made it out one time or each night of the party, we can't say thank you enough. We didn't plan on this adventure turning into a weekly love fest, filled with clanking mugs, hugs and fives, and an abundance of shots tossed around, so we appreciate everyone who helped turn Wednesday nights into something special for us five dudes and the resident guests we played with each week.
Mark and CJ, I'll get to at the end of this rant. Finally, thank you Bobby Tanzillo from OnMilwaukee for allowing us to ramble on about how much fun we've had the past four weeks. Makes me really respect what it takes to do this every week. Being a long form journalist is an art form that goes unappreciated every day!
Wednesday, April 18 residents Trapper Schoepp (and some of the Shades), BJ Seidel of Decibully, and Shane Hochstetler of Call Me Lightning.
Sickness again made this week interesting. Jason was victim in week three. Ryan's wife Amy is convinced that Ryan has meningitis, which he so kindly passed on to me this week. So after recovering from the 102 degree fever bug, this may be a bit disjointed. Even though he was sick, Ryan provided the best part of the evening. Black Sabbath on vinyl, and A LOT of it.
I decided to start the night off with a song I'd learned the day before, with Chris Demay on drums. Let's just say no matter how fun it was, we won't be doing that again any time soon.
After the first song of the night we usually play a couple of our own songs before bringing up the first guest. This proved to be difficult to do without our drummer Tuc Krueger. Nowhere to found! Is he out throwing up in the back alley? Did he get kidnapped? Did he just quit, and not let us know? Ten minutes is a long time to stand on stage in silence. Luckily, he was camped out in the van with Trapper learning the drum part to "Tracks" that he would play with the band for the evening.
So let's just skip right to Trapper Schoepp and the Shades. They had just gotten back into town from a week stint opening up for Tommy Stinson (of Replacements fame), so we didn't have the opportunity to have a practice with the young gentleman. Let me tell you that this is a band that should be on your immediate radar. The musicianship and sheer energy that these guys bring to the stage is something that gives us hope for the up and coming Milwaukee music scene. These guys may not be doing smaller shows in the city for too long, so get out and catch them in an intimate setting before that is no longer possible. Also, they are incredibly sexy. Trapper's about as easy on the eyes as young men come.
The next guest to join us on stage was longtime front man Decibully, BJ Seidel. Out of any guest that we've had the past four weeks, this might be the one that meant the most to us as a band. Decibully called it quits last year and that brought tears all our, and many others admirer's, eyes. BJ is hands down one of the best song writers to come out of the Milwaukee music scene, so to see him in front of a microphone again was something of a wonder for us and about half of the audience. From the opening line of "Tables Turn" it was hard for most of us on stage to keep it together. Thank you BJ for giving us the opportunity to bring what you do back to life, even if only for one night.
The final guest of the evening was the most fun, and most disappointing of the night. If you can find a drummer in Milwaukee with more energy and skill than Shane Hochstetler of Call Me Lightning, I'd be impressed.
Shane was an interesting guest to have because he's a drummer. We couldn't sit back while he performed a few songs to the audience as was the case with every other resident. Back to the disappointing part. He took the night to an entirely new level. Shane demands attention when he's behind the drum kit, so after plowing through "Soft Skeletons" like a two ton Mack Truck hitting your face, it was disappointing that we didn't have time to learn and play five or six more songs for the audience. Once song just wasn't enough. For that we apologize for the teaser.
After a couple more JT songs, we brought up the residents for what would be the last time we would play "I Shall be Released" on a Wednesday night. Blaine Schultz and another local hero Jack Rice joined us, as Jason made a special dedication to Levon Helm, who lost his battle with cancer the following morning. I decided to step off stage for the final go to see just how moving the song is from a listener's perspective, and boy the energy that comes from 13 people on stage singing and playing that song makes every hair on your body stand at attention! It's sad to think that we won't be doing that again in such an intimate, loving environment.
Well, that about wraps everything up. If you weren't able to make any of the shows, or don't want this little journey to come to an end, we will be doing this one last time next week as part of our "First Waltz" album release show at Turner Hall on April 27.
We've got as many of the residents that don't have shows of their own joining us on stage for one last hurrah, and we'd love to see as many of you there as can fit into the venue. The night's co-headliner Surgeons in Heat will kick off the night in support of their brand new record. Fingers crossed, you can pick up a 2xLP vinyl release of our new record "Since Before" if you feel so inclined. We owe our eternal gratitude to Mark Leitner and CJ Krawczyk for co-producing something we are really proud of. Without you guys none of this would be possible! We love you more than you know.