Fest or Famine?!?! 

So a lot of things happened this summer so far, but twice as many things didn’t happen. I’d hoped to take #PolkaHipHop act on the road and play a handful of shows out of state but as that plan fell apart for a variety of reasons (AND BELIEVE ME if there is a shortage of SALT this winter in Wisconsin it is because the state didn’t sweat me hard enough). I was crushed.

But as if to make up for that my dad was driving out to Summerfest to see my band play. I had not seen my dad in nearly 15 years. This broke our previous records of 9 years apart and 3 years of not seeing each other…  you start to get the picture. I have some accountability for setting that record. I also don’t send out a lot Christmas Cards or remember to tell people when I change my phone number.

 

As the time drew near we had some amount of scrambling to do. While we were able to secure the services of our resident Bass Face Mike Ritter, our usual drummer, the guy that pounded out The Great War, Kevin KC Christensen was booked to play the same day as us. Happily, we found an eager first time criminal in the hyper talented Mitch Shiner. As we were playing a little earlier in this year’s lineup we at least didn’t have to worry about losing people to big time headliners… or so we hoped. The first year we occupied The Rebel Stage we got rubber neckers on their way to gauk at DJ Paris Hilton. Last year we lost half our audience to Milwaukee’s own personal Jesus: Johnny Depp. This year we were going head to head with Aesop Rock and Rhyme Sayers. Who were just on the other side of a few concessions buildings on the Harley Stage.

This is where people sit. There would be a few eventually, but for a while it looked like this from the stage.

But mother nature would not be out done! ON the way in I heard over the truck radio that a “light shower (was) expected that may or may not last 10 minutes”. Instead of a light shower we got a cats & dogs down pour that lasted nearer 30 minutes. Washed the grounds clean of curious onlookers, it did!

To add to the odd mix of desperation and apathy during the down pour we brought in the diehards to wait out the storm as we finished setting up gear. This included my mother and my father who I don’t think had seen each other in nearly 20 years. To combat my own swirling of emotions I helped myself to the cooler we as performers are allowed to bring. With time running short our set was being cut down little by little. Looking like a band of rain soaked Richard Dreyfus’.  we took the stage with some drizzle that shorted out equipment and created one of the best sound check videos ever filmed!

We did what we set out to do though. We slogged through an abbreviated set and retired early to make way for one of the best Motley Crue cover bands I’ve ever seen… and I’ve seen… well none really but they were very good.  My mother had left so I was hanging with my dad that I had really been around in years. At one time he turned and said “this stuff got me through my 20s” During a break between songs I heard a familiar bass line from over the concessions building. “Let’s go check out my 20s.” And we hurried over in time to hear CatsVanBag by Atmosphere featuring Brother Ali. It wasn’t the best Summerfest experience but it certainly wasn’t the worst. We got to play in front of a solid contingent of friends and family. We also introduced Agent Green to the stage and invited SuperEgo of the Boombox Saintz to join us for a freestyle.  Seeing all our contemporaries in the music scene headline on big stages I’m glad I was there at that point in time.  The next morning I took my dad to my new job at WRRD‘s temporary studio on 3rd and Wisconsin. I produced the Earl Ingram show as he interviewed Mayor Tom Barrett in the field. I also gave my dad a new shirt.

At the WRRD/ESPN studio with my dad.

Looking back on it I am still fortunate to have been able to take part in the 10th anniversary of the Rebel Stage and the 50th anniversary of Summerfest! AND I’m it experiences like this, along with the friends made along the way, that have helped temper our already unique band to have reasonable expectations despite our outlandish aspirations. Still I can’t help feel that with our being rained out of Summerfest, then bumped from the line up of Center Street Daze, in addition to having a festival we were booked for completely cancelled in late August we are about due to have something really good happen for us this year. Maybe it is time we started a RIOT!