Inside the residency with Juniper Tar: Week Three recap
Most everyone knows that we are extremely fond of Old Crow bourbon, and over the past seven years we've accumulated enough Old Crow bottles to build a small hut. Last night was, however, the first time that we'd ever been asked to sign one!
Yeah, it was one of those nights. If there is one downfall to having this residency on a school night, it's that we all have day jobs. Four hours of sleep on our aging brains takes its toll week to week, so this may not be the most coherent post you'll get today.
Next week we'll be bringing this fun little evening to a close, which has all of us pretty bummed out, but I'm pretty certain our bodies will be thrilled to not have Old Milwaukee taking over our blood streams.
In talking with a friend and fellow musician (who has done his part in doing innovative things with music/art in Milwaukee) this morning, it made me realize that the Thursday blues really are worth fighting through. The non-traditional approach to the night is accomplishing exactly what we'd hoped. Use the residency to create a community of great people, not to put on a rock show to promote our silly band each week. (Even though that is in essence what we are doing.)
It's been an amazing three weeks that have made us better as a band. We're meeting artists and musicians that we didn't know were doing great things in our own city, and we're almost going through withdrawal when we aren't together. I think those are really good signs that this was a good thing to invest our time in.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012, with resident guests Black Eagle Child and Hello Death
We're not going to lie, before arriving at Hotel Foster for Week Three we were really not "feeling it." Jason was sick and everyone else was just plain tired. But with any show, all it takes is to load up the van and the mental pre-show psych-up begins ...
Last week we met a great guy named Alan Herzberg who shot photos. He typically shoots sports and less rock 'n' roll-oriented events. But he arrived this time with a disc of the images he shot along with a great large-format glossy print of us. We were so happy to have a new friend back for another journey.
J Tar bassist and beloved brother Ryan Schleicher, Erin Wolf (The Altos, Hello Death) and Jen Schattschneider-Roach (who we didn't know has the voice of an angel) kicked off the night with a chilling rendition of Damian Jurado's "Working Titles," which did the trick to wake us all up.
With an intention of keeping the night really unscripted, we decided to select songs to play that we haven't performed in a while. We go through little spells of getting focused on newer songs that we forget there's two prior records with great songs we seem to put on the back burner for extended periods of time. We thought last night was a good time to pull a couple of those songs back into the mix.
Black Eagle Child took the stage for a great sonic journey of drone looped guitar. We were kind of hoping that Milwaukee music vet Jim Warchol (Sometime Sweet Susan) would just jump on stage and add to the wall of sound, but no luck. It was nice to just sit on the floor and add little textures and tones to his well thought out guitar pieces, and to have Nathaniel Heuer hop up on bass for the collaborative jam at the end of Michael's set.
It was probably a little strange for a musician who never plays with a band to have five other dudes muddy up his stuff, and it was the first time we'd really simply improvised in front of people, so we hope it went over well to the audience. It's not as easy as it seems.
It was really great having four members of The Altos show off their talents in their new project, Hello Death. The music is some of the darkest, brooding, yet beautiful music I've heard come out of Milwaukee. Nathaniel Heuer's bass vocal styling and lyrical phrasing are on the level with the likes of Bill Callahan and David Berman. That's saying a lot. Shawn Stefany adds the perfect amount of texture with his tasteful slide playing, and Erin Wolf and Marielle Allschwang just put us over the top with beautiful female voices.
Marielle let us all join them on stage for a beautiful song she wrote and played called "Settlers." We turned off the mics, Jason got the chance to show off his new banjo, and we simply let eight vocals roar through bar for five minutes. I haven't been able to shake the song from my head for 48 hours, and I think we all still have goosebumps.
In similar fashion we closed the night out the night with "I Shall Be Released." Jen was great and added an extra female vocal, and Michael played the hell out of the tambourine. It was the first show that we've had females doing melody lines, and I'm sad we didn't incorporate more women throughout the residency.
Thanks to everyone who made it out Wednesday night. It was great seeing some of you for the third straight week, and hope you come back to see BJ Seidel of Decibully, Shane Hochstettler of Call Me Lighting and Trapper Schoepp play with us next week.
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