Holiday Gift Guide for the Music-Obsessed

Words by Erin Wolf

Okay, you’ve been putting it off — the dreaded endeavor of holiday shopping. While the act of gift-giving is most-often pleasant, it’s the actual list making, the number crunching, the mind racking and attempted mind-reading that can be a headache. For those who have not yet succumbed to the unappealing environs of the mall, or who are practiced in the fine art of procrastination, Fan-belt is offering a short list of ideas that just might already be on your friends and family’s musically-minded wishlists…

This one’s a no-brainer. Everyone likes CDs and vinyl, so why not have the fun of hunting and searching rather than boring pointing and clicking? Scour the $2 record bin at Atomic to find little treasures of old-school Rod Stewart and Heart for your family and pick up a t-shirt for your boyfriend/girlfriend, head to Rush-Mor to pick up the Clash’s: Live at Shea Stadium for your cube-mate, and visit Bull’s Eye, Flipville and Lotus Land for groovy sounds that will keep your family too busy dancing to fight. 

Image courtesy of Google Images

Your favorite guitar player needs some new picks — picks so tuff they’ll scare their strings into submission. Your little sister will think these are killer shredding weapons. Find these skull picks at

Image courtesy of
For those who think music and learning go hand in hand, school ’em with theory and music history with a hook-up to some good reads. Learn how to record at home with Marc Schonbrun’s The Everything Home Recording Book, learn the reason behind the rhymes with Adam Bradley’s Book Of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop and all about the life of a New York Doll from Arthur “Killer” Kane in his book I, Doll: Life and Death With the New York Dolls. All available at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops.

Book images courtesy of Harry Schwartz
Image courtesy of Night Light Comics
Milwaukee’s very own Night Light Comics put out “Annie and her Indestructable Guitar” as a 24-Hour Comic, complete with its own mix tape soundtrack (the songs featured on the mix tape were played by the artist, Matt Chicorel, during the creation of said comic). The comic, itself, is sold out, but you can still snag the soundtrack mix tape filled with “deep cuts” by everyone from MC5 to The Shirelles, Devo, Hex Dispensers, Link Wray, The Ramones and Bill Cosby.
Image courtesy of Google Images
Because it’s not just practice that makes perfect. For those who benefit from music lessons, a gift certificate for instruction will jump-start the careers of those who wear pants that are too tight and have pockets full of holes. Maybe you are acquainted with more of the symphonic varieties with the crazy-haired, 17th century composer look? Fedoras and adidas? Whatever musical/fashion style your recipient steps to, there are lessons at an equal variety of places:  The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Cascio Interstate Music, and Top Shelf Guitar Shop are just a couple options.
Image courtesy of Little Friends of Printmaking
Poster art is a vivid documentary of historical musical moments. Milwaukee’s Little Friends of Printmaking have been specializing in bright, Edward Gorey-meets-Tara McPherson prints for a number of local and national shows. Score a few prints for your roommate, your cool, older brother and for the practice space. Walls have ears and eyes…
Image courtesy of Koss

A solid pair of headphones are not just entitled to the elitists of sound: DJs, recording engineers and studio musicians — they’re for every audiophile who wants to plug into a good stereo system and zonk out in surround-sound comfort. Milwaukee’s Koss Corporation makes some of the finest headphones to pump out the jams. From cushy heavy-weights to lightweight earbuds, Koss has got it.

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