By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 24, 2020 at 10:04 AM Photography: Kelly Michael Anderson

While you may know the work of Milwaukee musician Klassik, you might not be familiar with the struggles of Kellen Abston, aka Klassik. A new book, coming early next year, will change that.

Local author Joey Grihalva, whose most recent book is “Images of America: Milwaukee Jazz,” has written “The Milwaukeean: A Tale of Tragedy and Triumph.”

The book was announced on Sunday, the 20th anniversary of Abston’s father’s murder.

“It began as a profile of Kellen and evolved into an exploration of not only his life, but of the issues that have shaped his life: gun violence, trauma, addiction, anxiety, racism, therapy and creativity,” says Grihalva.

“For the project, Kellen and I spoke this summer at length on 10 different occasions. I also spoke with about 20 others, including family, friends, and Milwaukeeans with insight into the aforementioned issues, like Reggie Moore at the Office of Violence Prevention.

"On a personal note, having those conversations and working on this project have helped me get through this remarkably difficult year."

You can read more about the project, including an excerpt, here.

There is a link at the site to pre-order the book, which costs $15. Because the volume is self-published, says Grihalva, pre-sales will help fund its production.

All proceeds from the book will support the journalism class and the School Newspaper Club at Kellen's alma mater, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where Grihalva teaches.

Consider supporting this project, which is an important one, especially as we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with our loved ones this year.

“While Sunday was the 20th anniversary of Kellen's father's murder,” says Grihalva, “(Wednesday) night is the ‘spiritual’ anniversary, as he was murdered on the eve of Thanksgiving.”

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.