We've written a few words here about the old Avant Garde Coffeehouse, which was open from 1962 to '68 at 2111 N. Prospect Ave., and which was the subject of a retrospective exhibition earlier this year at UW-Milwaukee's Inova Gallery in the Kenilworth Building, just steps from the old venue itself.
The place was a hotbed of folk and blues music locally and many of the performances at the Avant Garde survive today on tape.
One of those performances – a June 22, 1968 gig by bluesman Magic Sam recorded by Jim Charne on a Roberts 455 deck – is now set for release on Chicago jazz and blues label, Delmark Records, on Nov. 19.
"Live at the Avant Garde" has more than 65 minutes of music recorded at the show, which featured Sam and his band – Big Mojo Elem on bass and Bob Richey on drums.
"Delmark did a great job with my tapes," Charne told me in an email.
There is a lot more in the archive and I know for a fact that at least one other label has expressed interest in issuing some of this music. So stay tuned.
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.