There are reunion gigs and there are reunion gigs. It's certainly no secret anymore that Milwaukee's great Semi-Twang has reunited for some gigs and even a new record in recent years.
But when the band – featuring some of the city's top musical talent, including John and Mike Sieger, Bob Jennings, Bob Schneider and guitarists Mike Hoffmann and Jason Klagstad – takes the stage at Turner Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 29, it mark a reunion of another kind.
The group, which released its sole Warner Brothers disc, "Salty Tears," in 1988 will reunite backstage with former labelmates The Del Fuegos, a Boston-area garage rock outfit that issued its final WB release, "Stand Up," in '87.
"The Del Fuegos and Semi-Twang were not only both in the Warner Brothers family at the same time," says Hofmann, "but were both produced by Mitchell Froom.
"Mitchell's stock could not have been higher at that point in time," he recalls. "We did dates and shared a few A&R and promotion teams (with the Del Fuegos)."
The Del Fuegos recently reunited with its original lineup after a 20-year hiatus.
While the New England quartet gets itself back up and running, Semi-Twang has been chugging along like it never missed a beat.
"We recently recording 10 new song for the upcoming follow-up to the 'Wages of Sin' CD," says Klagstad. "We'll record up to 30 and cull back to 11."
He anticipates the as-yet untitled record will be ready for release by the middle of the year and expects that there will be a record a year in the near future.
"John Sieger has a catalog of over 300 great songs," he says.
At the same time Semi-Twang has inked a management deal, further suggesting that "Wages of Sin" wasn't simply a one-off reunion project. No, this all-star country-infused rock and roll band is here to stay.
Before his recent move to Milwaukee, Rob Kos managed the likes of Lucinda Williams, John Hyatt, Rusted Root, Rick Springfield and Mexican star Thalia.
"He'll manage a small roster of complementary artists," says Klagstad, "and Semi-Twang is proud to be on the roster."
As for the gig, Semi-Twang expects it will be a memorable affair, with two great bands back on stage. And with their common history and re-claimed friendship, the good vibes will likely emanate through the room.
The band has hired Milwaukee- and Nashville-based photographer Deone Jahnke to capture the magic of the evening, before, during and after the show.
"We think Deone has a fine-tuned understanding of the band, our music and the venue," says Klagstad. "We are excited to be bringing all of this together and capturing it with a great visual artist."
It might be a stretch to call the gig historic, but it will be an interesting intersection of three entities – two bands and a venue – that were dormant for too long, but are now back in the game.
"Semi-Twang, Del Fuegos and Turner Hall all went away and came back stronger after 20 years' hiatus," says Klagstad.
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.