Check the listings and event calendars, Milwaukee's fall music scene is back on track.
After a summer focused on street festivals, Bradford Beach shows and jazz in parks, each and every fall Milwaukee returns to theatres, bars and venues for local, regional and national music acts. Just take a quick look at Pabst Theater, The Rave or Turner Hall Ballroom line-ups and you'll realize Milwaukee's on the map for dozens of the most coveted tours this season.
We all like a good concert. Laid back or hyped up, nothing beats the intensity of a live show. But what if you don't want to make a whole night of it? What if you're looking for a less expensive show that you can drop in on at the last minute? What are Milwaukee's small scale options? Let's take a look.
When it comes to local bars and venues booking bands, places like the Cactus Club, Club Garibaldi or Points East Pub dedicate a private space with a separate cover for individuals vying to see the stage. If you're there and you'd rather sip a beer at the bar, you can. The layout lets you go to the bar, see your friends and decide if you're up for the show; anyone can hang at the bar regardless of whether or not there's a show and regardless of whether or not you want to see it.
Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave., is Milwaukee's only dedicated live music club and is celebrating its 20th year in business this fall with a slate of shows including reunions by popular local acts.
This weekend Whiskey Bar, 788 N. Jackson St., unveils its new venue, a live space formerly utilized by Metropolis and Park Bar. Renovated and upgraded, a sneak peek revealed an elevated stage, second bar, high-top table seating and an open floor right in front the stage. The thinking? Maximize your appeal by offering a little bit of everything; room to dance, seats to relax and a bar for drinks. For a bar themed with '60s heroes Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, the carpet covered walls rounds out the motif to a tee. What's more, the cushy layer absorbs and contains the excess sound.
G-Daddy's BBC, 2022 E. North Ave., hosts bands, poets and events on the second floor of its North Avenue location. Likewise, a venue in the back of Mikey's, 811 N. Jefferson St., allows patrons to sit for drinks in the front bar or go to a show in the back.
Other small scale music venues offer great line-ups but place musicians mid-bar. Stonefly Brewery, 735 E. Center St., is one of few places to recruit small- and big-name hip-hop acts, as well as indie bands from Chicago, Madison and Minneapolis. It's a huge open space, perfect for dance parties, but requiring anyone who enters to pay the band's cover.
The Up and Under Pub, 1216 E. Brady St., solidified its blues niche over the years. Hosting live music Thursday through Saturday, it's become the home base for local blues artists and the go-to venue for out of town musicians.
And of course there's the legendary Jazz Estate, 2324 N. Murray Ave. Small and tucked away, the Jazz Estate boasts a rotating list of drummers, bassists, sax and trumpet players, including locals Dan Trudell, Berkeley Fudge and Manty Ellis five nights a week. Clyde Stubblefield, Cedar Walton and Conrad Herwig have all made Jazz Estate appearances warranting its prominence within the regional jazz world.
Moct, Mo's Irish Pub, Frank's Power Plant or Bremen Café have at one point or another all been converted into makeshift music venues; some better than others. What's your take? Is there a venue that gets your ticket weekly? Use the Talkback feature to vouch for one I've mentioned or add to the list.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.