Whether you were a part of the Milwaukee music scene or not during the late '70s and 1980s, this weekend's "Lest We Forget" mega-gig at Turner Hall Ballroom is a must-see.
With performances by a baker's dozen Milwaukee veterans, the show will either be a walk down memory lane or a lesson in Brew City beat 101.
The concert grew out of a Facebook page created by Mike Podolak (of Sacred Order) at the start of the year to commemorate a number of friends and fellow scenesters who had passed away. Sadly, the since the group was started, more have gone, including just last week Mark Shurilla, who was scheduled to play the Saturday show with his band The Blackholes.
Veteran drummer Ron Faiola put together the gig.
"Mike had started the Facebook page in late January and I had posted about an idea I had to show some of my archived videos, maybe get a band or two to reunite," he recalls. "Small scale, but then the group page was really active with new members and memories and interest in the show really grew, so I called Marc Solheim at Turner Hall and they had May 26 available and I thought it would be perfect: our memorial on Memorial Day weekend."
Faiola says that although he had a few ideas for bands to invite, it was at an event for yet another fallen friend that the plans began to coalesce.
"It was at Larry Kennedy's memorial at Von Trier when things started to come together. Most of the musicians from the late '70s early '80s were there talking about the show. Shurilla was all for doing a Blackholes set, Caleb (Lentzner) was talking about the possibility of the Oil Tasters playing. Then Richard (LaValliere) passed away a few days later and it seemed like May 26 couldn't get here fast enough, sadly it didn't for Mark Shurilla."
On the bill are Liv Mueller (of The Lovelies), who kicks things off at 6 p.m., Xposed 4Heads, The Blackholes, Rock-A-Dials, 3XCleavers, Dominoes, 3 on Fire, Tense Experts, Sacred Order, Die Kreuzen, Lubricants, Dummy Club and St. Bernard.
"The list of bands changed back and forth a bit and after a while, Mike and I realized we had 13 and we had to stop adding," says Faiola. "So a couple bands that weren't sure if they would play dropped out. The thing was that many of the bands had lost a member over the years so there was some hesitation, whether they should still play. Tom Tiedjens wanted to play as the 3XCleavers with John Graham filling in for Terry (Tanger) but they will only be doing songs that Tom wrote.
"Die Kreuzen was a band I really wanted to be in the show – in addition to the Oil Tasters – and I was so glad they worked things out with Brian (Egeness) to have Jay (Tiller) play in his place. Jay is using Brian's original aluminum neck Kramer and his Marshall half stack."
Faiola, who has created documentaries about fish fries and supper clubs in Wisconsin, is busy collecting and piecing together video clips from 1978 through 1986. Those clips will be screened at the show between performances.
Faiola isn't alone in his eagerness to see a Die Kreuzen reunion. That performances, slated for 10 p.m., has had the internet a-buzz since the show was announced a couple months ago. It's the band's first hometown gig since 1992.
But, says, Faiola, the show is more than a memorial for lost friends and a tribute to a time long since passed.
"For the current scene, I hope some band members come out to see what I consider the last original music scene – the post punk, pre-MTV era when cities around the nation had very unique bands. Minneapolis with Husker Du, Replacements; Athens with B52s, REM, D.C. with Bad Brains and Fugazi; Chicago with Effigies, Naked Raygun and Big Black," he says, noting that even a long-time scenester like himself will see some bands for the first time.
"There's a lot of personal music history covered here which will be great to see. Having been a dj at WMSE, I must have played that St. Bernard single, 'My Baby Went to the Bahamas' a couple dozen times by request and I don't think I ever saw them live, so it will be a first."
Tickets for the show are $20. A portion of the proceeds benefits the American Liver Foundation.
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.