In November 1961, while in New York City, but before the March 1962 release of his debut LP, Bob Dylan wrote a lyric called "On, Wisconsin" that never made it to the light of day and when our own Trapper Schoepp heard about it, he decided to take a shot at finishing it.
"I just connected with it immediately," Schoepp has said. "It's so obvious. I knew immediately that I had to finish the song. I just thought it's got to be done."
Dylan's management – and, presumably, Bob himself – signed off on the long-distance "collaboration" and now the song is on Schoepp's upcoming album, "Primetime Illusion," recorded in Milwaukee and produced by Pat Sansone (Wilco, Robyn Hitchcock), due for release on Jan. 25.
"Publishing a song with Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan! – put wind in my sails," Schoepp has said, and that led to him writing dozens of new songs, which, in turn, led to "Primetime Illusion."
"I think a lot about the folk process," Schoepp has said about the Dylan track, "how things are passed down to the next generation and are reinvented and evolve. That's really important to me, to keep the spirit of what someone might consider old new.
"Dylan, in his MusiCares speech a few years ago, made the point that his role in music is simply extending the line. That's my whole M.O. as well. I want to push this music forward like my life depends on it. It's all I have."
Here's a mini-documentary about "On, Wisconsin" ...
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.