Solo Night at Cactus Club


photo by CJ Foeckler

photo of Mark Waldoch by CJ Foeckler

Words by Erin Wolf


Solo nights are notorious for pandering to the musical wallflowers and those looking for their shot to jump in and get used to the sunburn-inducing lights of the stage and the likewise burning eyes of a real, live audience. Obviously, all musicians must start somewhere, but it’s a rush when one chances to see a dynamic musical moment; that diamond in the rough performance out of numbers of uninspired musical diaries. Thankfully, when the Cactus Club decided to take a stab at its own solo, singer/songwriter night, it already had a roster of that diamond in the rough talent to go on. Pulling from several of the city’s most stellar acts, Cactus Club initiates its first solo night of a series monthly stints. Mark Waldoch of the Celebrated Workingman, Mike Skorcz of John the Savage, Quinn Scharber of Quinn Scharber and the… and Brian Rogers of White Problems/Wilmot Proviso are just a few of the musicians set to take on reinventing the old standby of the solo performance. Organizer Anthony Hanratty gives Fan-belt the details.

What makes this solo night different from other solo nights that have taken place in Milwaukee?

I think it’s different because the performers are people who have played in this city extensively; people who are used to being seen in loud, rock bands. Also, it’s all booked and hand-selected by myself. It’s not an open-mic style where any yahoo can come and play Beatle’s songs or whatever. Another difference is that it’s a fantastic setting. I think the Cactus Club is the best-sounding room in the city and it’s drastically underused when it comes to weeknights and performances that aren’t your typical rock shows. Hopefully, this event will inspire other semi-serious fun ways to utilize a great resource for local music.

How come it’s only taking place once/month?

It’s hard to get people to do anything. Especially with any sort of regularity. I would rather it be more random…like once every few months or something. Once a month is cool with me because it’s fairly regular, so people will know it’s going to be happening, yet I’ll get at least a week every month where I won’t have to think about it at all.

Who are the main contenders for the premiere?

Performing tomorrow: Mark Waldoch, Quinn Scharber, Wilmot Proviso (Brian from Freight), Mike Skorcz, Steve Look (of Fable and the World Flat) and myself. I’m really looking forward to seeing what each person is going to bring to the event. I’m quite confident it will be very diverse and entertaining.

How can interested solo artists get involved?

They can either talk to me, directly, or hit up the myspace: I have the second night (June 4th) completely booked, already. But, the first Thursday in July, is wide open, thusfar.

What relationship does 91.7 FM, WMSE have to the Cactus Club Solo Night?

All I know is that no one is getting paid for this, and we’re giving all the cream to the station. Cash rules everything around music. I think it’s appropriate, as it [just was] spring pledge drive time and everyone knows they need dollars to stick around. I hate dealig with money in almost every situation, so it’s actually a great relief to fork it over to WMSE and be done with it. I’d hate to split up whatever dough there is amongst six acts. I’d rather agree to donate than walk out with a few extra rounds of booze in my gullet, you know?

Do you think there’s a lot of untapped talent in Milwaukee that will come to light from this?

I’m not sure: I think there are a lot of very talented individuals in our fine city, and it seems to me to be a very fertile time for independent music in Milwaukee. So far, most of the people I’ve booked could be put in an over-tapped category. Which is a big reason why it’s different than an open mic night. In the future, I think there’ll be more participants who are unknown and therefore have more to gain or lose by getting a little stage time. So, it’ll be interesting to see how this thing is going and who’s playing what by the end of the summer.


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One Response to “Solo Night at Cactus Club”

  1. fanbelt Says:

    (+10) Wu-Tang Clan reference.

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