About Last Year And What Comes Next: Looking back on 2018 and ahead to 2019: Part 3: The Greatest War and the Last First Friday. 

How about this new wordpress format hey? Readers may not know but bloggers you know what I mean….

So if you read part one and two you know the Milwaukee Polka Riot was every bit as epic as anything we’d done up to that point and then we followed it up by opening for Brave Combo, who are as epic a band as any we’ve encountered. We managed to release our EP The Black Hand.
We achieved more things in the 2018 than we had imagined when we first formed and started writing music. Then we took part in something that much like our participation in Dontre Day in 2017 allows us to add our unique sound to a moment of historical significance and collective remembrance. It was a moment where many of our personal beliefs about things like violence and war along with goals for what our music can add to the cultural conversation.

NTSC Take the Wheel!

But first we had to get there.

Now I am not going to say much because I love my brother NTSC to death. Seriously, anybody rushes the stage to touch him I will stop them and ask if they are nice touches first.  

Spade ONE can’t stop giggling for some reason…

However, given that we have access to a van the choice to drive compact an hour and half to Madison was an

Best Hip Hop producer nominee Kevin Christensen cheesing in the back seat as Brümeister shrugs off the pain

interesting one. Sure gas is a thing but so is comfort and I arrived grumpier than I needed to be for the Greatest Show of 2019.

Now, I don’t know how much

ARRIVAL @ The Barrymore Theater.

as actually been written about this event. I know it is likely not enough. Let me tell you about an event that was very close to our hearts and very much in the vain of what we as a band are about. 

Pulling up to the Barrymore Theater

we saw the name of the show in the marquee. Being a keg of Milwaukeeans we don’t often get to explore every portion of Madison but we could tell this had potential.

The excitement in the car however, had more to do with being able to get out and stretch our legs. Admittedly, it was short journey but it had left its mark.

We found our way inside and caught our first glimpses of the big screen that would be behind us showing photos and film footage from the War to End All Wars.

The poster in the lobby (I still want one!) and the soon to be merch area.

 

Somehow we managed to keep our composure as we were informed during the practice run through that 500 tickets had already been sold. The production was halfway to selling out. Obviously we were not alone in this venture. In fact! It wasn’t even our idea… though we may have inspired it.

We first met, and played a show with, John from The Periodicals back in 2017. That we were a Polka Hip Hop band was already novelty enough but that our lyrics contained a histrionic awareness that stretched into metaphor and back again inspired a conversation. The Armistice 100 was coming up. This we were all aware of. My hope was to be a part of something. A show. A memorial service. Something. You can’t just name your project November Criminals without being aware of where that name comes from…unless you’re a crappy teen thriller.

Though the name wouldn’t be popularized in Germany until the mid to late 1920s the origin of November Criminals starts with the end of World War One. It’s the deragotory name for the politicians and Generals that signed the Treaty of Versailles but it also became the name used for anyone that was seen to have pacifist leanings or be generally non-nationalist. The joke is (if you don’t know by now) that “Music Nazis” hate November Criminals. But if we’re doing our job right hopefully not as much as actual Nazis.

Of course the end of World War One paves the way for an enormous cultural shift all over the globe. But the price paid was in blood. Marking the armistice however is difficult to do. History moves seemingly so much faster now with every day a renewed struggle against white nationalism taking place in real time on cable news. And now with the last members of the so-called Greatest Generation of Americans passing on our history seems to be muddled beyond what was captured on film in the 1940s.

The program we were part of hit it out of the park. When we next met John in person we were performing at the WORT block party. He had some exciting news and new friends to introduce us to. Ken Fitzsimmons from The Kissers had an idea that he wanted to share with us. He and John along with some other friends were planning a show to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice. I think we all knew that we needed to be a part of something as historically relevant as this.

There was a time when I myself would have tried to organized something like this but I knew my resources were limited in Milwaukee and I had no way of knowing what the support for something like this would be. And as I would find out on the day of show my vision was not as grand as Ken’s.

Myself, John Wedge, and Spade ONE in one of the dressing rooms at the Barrymore Theater.

https://us.napster.com/artist/november-criminals/album/the-black-hand

In addition The Periodicals and The Kissers, the program also enlisted the talents of Sean Michael Dargan, Hanah Jon Taylor, The Viper & His Famous Orchestraand others, along with readings of poetry, journal entries, newspaper articles and speeches from the era

Still photos were on display throughout the show that helped the audience immerse themselves in the time period. It wasn’t a stand up and rock out show (though at time it could have been) it was a history lesson and a rock opera all at once. I don’t know how many times in my life I will be a part of something as important and as relevant as this show but if it happens again you know I will still be sneaking into the audience in between our songs. 

 

NTSC, Spade ONE, and yours Bru-ly in the audience.

Kevin KC Christensen visits with his Grandmother. He’s wearing a doughboy helmet passed down from a family member that served during WW1.

 

SOLD OUT CROWD!

 

 

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