By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Nov 01, 2004 at 5:15 AM

{image1}Buffalo, N.Y. might have Ani DiFranco, but Milwaukee has JoAnn Riedl. Both women channel their political frustration through music -- and both play a mean guitar -- but whereas DiFranco blows through town once a year, Riedl regularly rips it up at local open mics.

"It's possible to find an open mic or somewhere to perform every night of the week," says Riedl, 26, who lives in Riverwest. "This city seems very responsive to women performers, but things don't just happen. You need to be bustin' your ass."

And Riedl is doing just that. When she's not gigging or serving food to pay the bills, Riedl is writing, playing guitar and recording. She will release her third album, which features bassist Nick Matthes and drummer Ben Hans, in December.

"There is a lot of energy on the album. I hope that some songs will give you goose bumps while other songs will make you dance," she says.

Her three-song demo, called "Restless," is a tease; a taste of what's hopefully to continue on the next record. In true DiFranco spirit, she wages love and war on her guitar and explores issues that are as heavy as steel-toed boots, including the environment, sexism and revolution.

But Riedl isn't simply a DiFranco rip-off. She's more of a risk taker with her vocals and has a simpler playing style for an overall sound that's edgier than any of DiFranco's material.

Always eager to road trip, Riedl has played shows in Ireland, Canada and throughout the East Coast and Midwest. She performed at the prestigious Ladyfest in Lansing, Mich., three years in a row, from 2001 to 2004.

Growing up in rural Wisconsin -- outside Jefferson -- deeply affected Riedl's personality, and her music.

"I didn't have many kids to play with, and very seldom could I get a ride into town to play with friends, so I spent most my childhood entertaining myself. I went for walks through forests, fields, bike rides and built things out of wood," she says.

Being accustomed to doing things by herself allowed the folk-punk poet to self-record and produce her first album, "Refuse to be a Robot," a message that is very near and dear to her heart.

"Don't live behind another reality TV show. Get out there and spread your messages. Whether it's playing music, painting, writing, taking care of little people -- whatever it is -- share your stories and information," she says.

Add Riedl to the short list of righteous babes.

JoAnn Riedl will play a free show on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at The Highbury Pub, 2320 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., at 10 p.m.

JoAnn Riedl's Web site is

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.