As part of its celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Wisconsin Area Music Industry is launching a new way to honor the folks who have made the biggest impact on the music industry in the state.
While it already has a Hall of Fame, WAMI is kicking off a Wall of Honor to, in the words of WAMI President Zoy Begos, "recognize the excellence of musicians more broadly known as entertainers. It will also recognize the organizations and people who often work behind the scenes to enrich Wisconsin through music.
"While those behind the scenes are not often in the position for accolades, those named to the Wall of Honor have made incredible contributions to Wisconsin music and played significant roles in the strength and success of our music scene."
The wall – like the WAMI Hall of Fame – will exist virtually, on the WAMI website, an update of which is due to launch soon, says Begos.
The first group of honorees includes:
- Bob Babisch, who has been the lead talent buyer at Summerfest since 1978.
- Eddie Butts, drummer and leader of the Eddie Butts Band, which has been performing across the state since 1974.
- Vic Thomas, Summerfest associate entertainment director, who has been a key part of the Big Gig since 1974.
- Marilynn Mee, on-air personality at 96.5 WKLH, who has been a fixture on Milwaukee radio for more than three decades.
- Gary Shaw, guitarist, who was also the manager of Henri’s Music in Appleton for more than 30 years before working at Island Music in Neenah.
- Madison Area Music Association nonprofit which has supported and honored Madison-area musicians since 2003.
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.