By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 26, 2004 at 5:16 AM

{image1}Much like jazz musicians of a generation ago, a lot of contemporary American musicians are getting a better reception across Europe than at home, where their music seems, perhaps, a little old-fashioned.

But the European press is helping some of these artists sell their musical snow to us Eskimos and we should thank them for it. Because if we didn't know about or appreciate artists like Iowa's Ben Weaver, we'd be worse off.

That's because Weaver -- whose latest disc, "Hollerin' At A Woodpecker," was called the third best Americana album of the year by the respected MOJO, received a four-star review from Uncut and rave notices in Time Out and other publications -- is a gritty, rootsy singer and songwriter with a riveting style.

"I have gotten a little bit of national press such as (in) No Depression, but it has been pretty sparse," Weaver admits. "I think a lot of my European press is starting to flood over here in the States."

So, why do we need the English to tell us how good he is? As many Milwaukeeans can understand (the Bodeans and the Femmes were hardly considered cool here until they were discovered by outsiders), we often need others to tell us how good we've got it, before we come to a similar realization. The Euro-attention is paying off at home for Weaver.

"I have been noticing a lot more people at my shows, and the local press has been picking up on my international profile, so that has definitely helped," Weaver says.

What's the secret? Weaver's music is definitely down-home, country, folk, blues and bluegrass-inspired American roots music. Shouldn't we like it more than the French?

"I don't think that what I am doing is necessarily more easily understood, or (better) received in Europe," Weaver says, "I think that Europeans just have a better understanding of American music than Americans do."

But Weaver, who performs at The Bremen Café in Riverwest on Fri., Feb. 27, thinks we're starting to get the message when it comes to his music and that of other honest, no-nonsense performers.

"I think that people in the States are starting to come out and see my shows and realize that I am just singing about the human condition (and) that makes sense to them."

For more on Ben Weaver, visit

If down-home rural Americana isn't your thing, how about down-home urban Americana? Multi-platinum-selling rap superstar Ludacris is on the road supporting his third disc, "Chicken-N-Beer," which entered the Billboard chart at number one and has been flying off the shelf. The 26-year-old, Atlanta based rapper, who was named The Source's best new artist of the year and BET's best male hip hop performer in 2002, plays at The Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave., Fri., Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. Sharing the bill are Chingy, Disturbing Tha Peace Family and special guest Knoc-turnal. Tickets range from $20-40.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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.