I've gotten news in the past two days of two suburban public schools that are rockin' some fun -- and inspiring -- musical news.
First off, over in Tosa, the school district bought new uniforms for the marching bands at Wauwatosa East and West High Schools. Sure, that's exciting for them, but what's more interesting -- and inspiring -- is what the student musicians asked the district to do with the old uniforms.
"Rather than just discard the old uniforms, the district has decided to allow the band departments at both high schools to donate the uniforms to schools that may be in need but cannot afford the cost of purchasing new uniforms," Wauwatosa School District spokesperson Chris Preisler told me in an e-mail.
"East High School has found a school in Mexico that is going to receive the old uniforms," Preisler says. "East High School band directors Rob and Robin Engl have a connection to the school in Mexico and are working out the details to get the uniforms down there.
"The old uniforms from West High School are going to a school in New Orleans," Preisler says, to, "a school that suffered major damage in Hurricane Katrina. There are a group of band boosters at West helping to facilitate the shipping of the uniforms from Tosa to New Orleans."
An awesome story, if you ask me. Let no one dare suggest that the holiday spirit of giving isn't alive and well in Wauwatosa.
Meanwhile, the seven-member Jazz Combo Band from Fox Point's Maple Dale Middle School will perform at Mason Street Grill, 425 E. Mason St., on Friday, from 7:30 until 8:15 p.m.
Maple Dale's Director of Bands is ubiquitous and ever-active local jazz trumpeter Jamie Breiwick, who has a weekly gig at the restaurant, located in The Pfister Hotel.
"I want to show these kids how their music studies can translate for others to enjoy, outside the school walls," he says.
So, Breiwick hooked up his kids with a real, public, off-campus gig that is free. Breiwick's own group also performs, beginning at 8:30 p.m.
Breiwick says the school jazz band will play music by Ellington and Herbie Hancock, among others, and that they are "beyond excited."
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.