Archive for November, 2008

Review: Yes at Riverside Theater

November 30, 2008

Words by Andrew Falk

My friends give me a hard time when I go to see old bands. When I mentioned I was going to see Yes, I got the same response from them as when I went to see Steely Dan, the Zombies, Cheap Trick, and Rush in the last few years: “How old are those guys?” I think that question is kind of irrelevant – I belong to the school of thought that gives aging artists the benefit of the doubt. A once-great band always has the potential to be great again. At the very least, seeing them perform their great material with fervor can be just as satisfying as if they were a young band.

That said, I was still a little nervous that I would hate this show.
I haven’t heard any Yes albums that were recorded in the last thirty years (full disclosure: Close to the Edge is the only album of theirs that I’ve given my full attention.) To add to my apprehension, this tour is not your standard Yes tour because it’s their first tour since 1981 without original vocalist Jon Anderson – and they hired a guy from a Canadian Yes cover band to take his place, Rock Star-style. So, with trepidation, I took my seat at the Riverside and waited for the lights to dim.

Yes took the stage to a grandiose symphonic backing track and launched into the memorable opening riff from “Siberian Khatru,” and my disquiet began to subside. The new singer, Benoît David, sounded startlingly like Jon Anderson circa ’72 and clearly loved and respected the band’s canon. Guitarist Steve Howe killed it all night, playing real pretty when he needed to and tearing a hole in the sky when the songs called for something with sharper edges. They also played the other two multi-part suites from Close to the Edge album, which was great for me since I was worried I wouldn’t recognize any of their material. But even the songs I hadn’t heard from albums like Drama and Time and a Word sounded great and kept my attention.

The near-capacity crowd predictably skewed older than most concerts I attend and they were seated for the majority of the two-hour show. However, during particularly righteous or epic passages, many fans leapt from their seats and cheered with uncontrollable enthusiasm. The band was spirited, the fans were spirited, and the Cinemascope soundscapes floated grandly through the Riverside.


Meet the Jeanna Salzer Trio

November 28, 2008

Jeanna Salzer is a piano singer-songwriter mostly from the Norah Jones/Fiona Apple school, but personally I think her sound is like Ben Folds with a soul enima. That’s a compliment; I dig it. She was cool enough to send over a track from their debut EP Raindrops, which came out in September.

MP3: Jeanna Salzer, “Take it All”

TGIW: Our Holiday Weekend Picks!

November 26, 2008

TGIT is TGIW, because even bloggers need a holiday…

Image of Bob Dylan following a tire to Linneman’s courtesy of Google Images
Wednesday, November 26th
Nod To Bob: Bob Dylan Tribute, 7 p.m. @ Linneman’s (1001 E. Locust Street)
CBS used to say “Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan”, and of course they were totally right, but that certainly hasn’t stopped anyone from paying tribute to him. This Wednesday, Linneman’s pays tribute to Robert Allen Zimmerman for the tenth year in a row, along with the help of locals such as Lisa Gatewood, Chris DeMay, Blaine Schultz, Blonde On Blonde, Heidi Spencer, John Sieger, Mike Mangione and Jason Mohr. If you missed the real deal at The Riverside a couple of weeks ago, here’s your next best shot. 

Image courtesy of Myspace
Speedfreaks + El Gordo, Fres, DJ Shortround, 10:30 p.m. @ Lulu (2261 S. Howell Avenue)
Speedfreaks are Milwaukee hardcore veterans, skinning most fledgling hardcore punks in maturity (hey Milwaukee, where were you in ’84?) and sheer full-throttle energy. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed. The Speedfreaks bring on the mayhem the day before, so you can get all those closeted feelings of familial anger out before you visit the family. Milwaukee’s El Gordo, a sonically aggressive and incredibly catchy mix of hip hop, punk and Rock en Espanol, will undoubtedly leave its audience asking, ‘where did these guys come from?’. El Gordo won’t remain incognito for much longer. With Fres and DJ Shortround.

Image courtesy of Myspace
The Etiquette + The Response, 10 p.m. @ The Cactus Club (2496 S. Wentworth Avenue)
The Etiquette have been putting beer-swilling etiquette back into Milwaukee’s rock scene for quite some time, yet its also been quite some time that these beer-boppers have offered us a cold one. Thankfully, they’ve got both the bottle and the bottle opener for their pre-Thanksgiving, pre-official release show. Their forthcoming release Highly Unstable is not completely FDA approved yet, but there’ll be plenty of samples available. Smooth as Superdrag and with enough bite as Guided By Voices, The Etiquette always go down easy. With The Response.

Image courtesy of Google Images
Saturday, November 28th
Frogwater @ Linneman’s, 9 p.m. (1001 E. Locust Street)
Bluegrass, Celtic, Folk, Cajun, Americana and Blues are just a handful of genres that Milwaukee’s Frogwater graze over the course of a performance. Susan Jeske-Dermody (viola,vocals, mandolin) and John Nicholson (acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin) offer lively interpretations of  traditional classics and a couple of originals, thrown in for good measure. They’ve been honored with a WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) two years in a row for best band in the Blue Grass & Country category. Saturday, they bring their plucky arrangements to Linneman’s Riverwest Inn. With Lil’ Rev.


Does the new-format WKTI suck? Discuss.

November 25, 2008

Perhaps you’ve noticed that WKTI 94.5-FM recently changed its format away from “hot contemporary” in favor of a broader, more random playlist of rock and pop hits from 1965-2008. Station owners Journal Broadcast Group slashed the entire WKTI on-air staff and started from the ground up. Why the sudden change of format after 30-plus years?

“Radio listeners in Milwaukee told us they’re tired of the same old songs over and over again and it got to the point where you couldn’t distinguish one station from another. You’ll be able to distinguish this station from the others in Milwaukee and that’s really what the audience was begging for.” – Tom Land, Director of Radio Programming, Journal Broadcast Group.

Fan-Belt contributors Barry R. Garcia and Marco Esquandolas discuss whether or not the new format sucks …

Marco Esquandolas: Have you heard the new WKTI?

Barry R. Garcia: Yeah, it’s called The Lake now.

ME: Did you listen to a lot of WKTI before? Don’t lie.

BRG: Not since when I was riding around in my mom’s car.

ME: I don’t think I ever listened to WKTI.

BRG: You lived in Milwaukee your whole life. You listened to WKTI.

ME: Maybe on the bus in grade school.

BRG: Have you noticed how any time one of the stations “changes” its format, the whole goddammed city starts listening to it? The Lake, The Hog, The Brew …

ME: Apparently. WKTI bumped (102.9-FM) The Hog out of the Top-6 stations saved on my car stereo. It’s working on moving ahead of (96.5-FM) WKLH for the 5-spot.

BRG: Really?

: Imagine 96.5-FM + 102.1-FM + old-school QFM 93.3-FM. Get all the playlists together, hit shuffle. I heard “California Girls” by the Beach Boys, I heard “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen, then “Cool Like That” by Digable Planets in one 15-minute trip. Not bad.

BRG: I love how the tagline is ‘the widest variety of music ever heard on Milwaukee radio,’ but I’ve heard all those songs on multiple stations.

ME: Maybe they play the Bob Seger songs that WKLH doesn’t play.

BRG: I didn’t know such songs existed. Perhaps.

: Well, it’s a lot better playlist than the old WKTI.

BRG: Agreed.

Me: What do you think of the equivalent to iPod Shuffle taking over for on-air personality?*

BRG: Sign of the times. We’re in a whole new world now. The kids are just downloading all their music, playing it through their iPod.

Me: So a Podcast over the airwaves? How po-mo. What does this mean for DJs?

BRG: I like the idea of DJs picking out a song or two that other Podcasters find, and incoporating it into their own set. Then talk about the tracks like an old-school radio disk jockey would.

ME: I like that – but this new format appears to put DJs out of work.

BRG: So do bloggers.

ME: Touche. So does the new-format WKTI suck?

BRG: It doesn’t suck. It’s better than it was. But they’re crazy if they think they’re serious when they say they’re playing songs that aren’t already on Milwaukee radio.

ME: I agree – doesn’t suck. It’s easy to ignore, which I think is what they’re going for. People will put it on as background, that makes it easy to sell to advertisers while cutting down on staff.

: We have a lot to look forward to.

* The Journal Broadcast Group said it plans to eventually feature on-air staff.

Meet Pezzettino

November 25, 2008

Photo by Kevin Groen

Pezzettino (Margaret Stutt) is one of our favorite new faces on the Milwaukee folk scene; to quote ourselves, she ‘takes the folk ‘bellower’ down an entirely different avenue, using the best pop leanings to create a unique sound that belies a creative musician equipped with a firm grip on a new take of an old Wisconsin standby.’

She kindly took five to talk with us and donate a song.
MP3 “Pendulum,” Pezzettino

Fan-Belt: What does Pezzettino mean?
Margaret Stutt: Pezzettino is in reference to the children’s illustration book by Leo Lionni. It means little piece; the story is about realizing one’s self-worth and independence.

F-B: Who are are your squeezebox heroes?
MS: If I have to choose a squeezebox hero, it would be Yann Tiersen. My broader, true musical heroine is Billie Holiday.

F-B: What’s your song ‘Pendulum’ about?
MS: Pendulum is about the unexpected shift in feelings towards someone, from optimistic bliss to…”never speak to me again.”

F-B: Jolie Holland. Yay or Nay?
MS: Sorry, who? Honestly, I’m so out of the loop… I’m working on being more in touch.

Pezzettino plays 7 p.m. Wednesday Dec. 3 at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design; 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 at The 8th Note at UWM. Hear her interview and performance 10 a.m. & 11 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12 on WUWM 89.7-FM Milwaukee Public Radio.