I won't do an interview with him and I won't review his show, but I will do a shameless plug for my friend Justin Currie who plays at Shank Hall on Friday, April 18 at 8 p.m.
Justin and I became friends when his band Del Amitri was signed to Chrysalis Records and needed help promoting their record in the U.S. Their manager Barbara Shores sent me some promo stuff and I brought it over to WMSE and, naively, to commercial radio stations in Milwaukee. The latter was no better an idea in 1985 than it would be now.
As the Chrysalis deal crumbled the Dels decided to take America by storm, with the Glasgow quartet, guitarist Iain Harvie's sister, their manager and their friend Kevin McDermott (then late of Suede Crocodiles) piling into a rented van and driving from New York to California and back, stopping in places like Milwaukee and the South in between.
In Milwaukee, the Dels played with the Squares and my band The Blowtorch (hey, I booked the gigs, I can play one of 'em!) at Cafe Voltaire and also at The (new) Underground. Alas, Die Kreuzen was already booked that night, so the Dels opened for them (while The Smiths played up the street at the PAC). I love Die Kreuzen (as people and as a band), don't get me wrong, but it's hardly a match made in heaven.
The band also did a live in-studio at WMSE, an in-store at Atomic and busked outside Irish Fest and the old Beans and Barley. My mom cooked for them and they were spread out on the floors of every room, with my golden lab Frosty making the rounds to welcome everyone.
One day, Justin accompanied me on my rounds as a delivery person for a Downtown pharmacy. So, he really got to see Milwaukee circa 1986 and it looked a lot like Glasgow circa 1986.
After that, the Dels played at Shank a couple times -- having notched a Top 40 hit from each of its first three A&M discs -- but it's been 10 years -- maybe 11 -- since the band's last appearance here. In the meantime, Justin has released a solo disc, "What Love Is For," that was the unheard masterpiece of 2007 (even people that don't know him have said that ... see Jim Farber's rave in the New York Daily News for example. It was Farber's top CD of the year, beating out the Boss, M.I.A., Feist and others).
He's been playing a few U.S. gigs with the help of a multi-instrumentalist friend and in April there will be a short tour that includes a stop at Shank. Justin's an ace songwriter and great performer with a voice that can stop a truck. He's also got a grand sense of humor, so the show is sure to be worth at least the $20 cover.
OK, I've done my shameless promotion for the year.
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 an episode of TV's "Party of Five," 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.