music

Bonnie North

Irish Fest offers traditional Irish music, dancing and food, but there are also innovative bands hailing from all around the world. This year's Celtic World Showcase features some of them.

The young, bilingual trio Ten Strings and a Goat Skin originated in Prince Edward Island in Canada's eastern provinces. The traditional music scene there sips from a rich musical soup that draws on Scots, Irish, English, and French influences. Ten Strings takes it even further.

Bonnie North

Irish Fest is underway along Milwaukee’s lakefront.  Tens of thousands of people will pass through the Summerfest Grounds turnstiles to take in both contemporary and traditional Celtic music.  And although it’s the largest Irish festival in North America, it actually features acts from all seven Celtic nations, plus Canada and the United States.

www.jhardin.net

You might have heard the music of singer-songwriter J. Hardin before, but you probably wouldn't have known it. Hardin wrote and performed for years under a pseudonym, Everett Thomas. His new album, "The Piasa Bird" is the first he released with his own name attached to it.

"What I'm writing about is a search for kind of an inner truth that I'm trying to find, so it seemed a bit silly to be wearing this mask of something else," Hardin explains.

Auralai Facebook Page

For the Oshkosh-based indie duo Auralai, classical training and musical instinct strike a balance. As cellist Stephanie Tschech may say she's "bound by music theory," her background makes for thoughtful arrangements that multi-instrumentalist Nate Lehner fills out with melody.

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When Alton Sterling and Philando Castille were shot and killed by police officers, violinist Chauntee Ross arranged a dinner. The meal was a gathering of artists and friends, and they discussed what they could do to bring their community together.

With her musical partner (and sister), cellist Monique Ross, and saxophonist Jay Anderson, the Strange Fruit music festival was created. There, artists could use their talent to encourage unity and promote a positive image of African-American culture.

Rachel Morello

Over the years, parents and educators have touted the benefits of arts programming in schools.

Visual arts, music, dance and theatre have long been promoted as creative outlets for kids during what might otherwise be considered a fairly routine schedule of classes: math, English, science, social studies.

But many artists and educators in Milwaukee see things a different way. They say it’s all about integrating the arts into those other subjects, to make the school day one big lesson and help kids make connections in their learning lives.

Photo courtesy of FREESPACE

Many high school English classes stress reading the classics of the Western Literary Canon: things like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, or The Odyssey. But Pulaski High School English teacher Vincent Gaa wanted to give his students some material that they would connect to because it was based on their own interests.

"If you throw some Marx in front of a kid, they're not going to care," says Gaa. "I think the best teaching techniques are leading by example."

Fine Arts Quartet

Every month, Bonnie North chats with cellist Robert Cohen for On That Note. Often the conversations take place on Skype because Robert is in some far-flung place where he is performing, either on his own or as part of a group. This month, Cohen came by the Lake Effect studio to talk face to face, along with violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez, the Fine Arts Quartet's violist.

Alex Marks / Merge Records

When Wye Oak released their break-through record, Civilian, they followed their tour with a separation. Bandmates Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack moved from Baltimore to opposite sides of the country. Wasner now lives in North Carolina and Stack in Marfa, Texas, but the move has not slowed down the band. In fact,  Wye Oak thrives off their limitations.

Bob Good

You may not think you know musician Alex Meixner, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen him perform. If his name doesn’t sound familiar, you might know him from some Hormel Pepperoni commercials. 

Dare to Care Records

There have been a handful of French-Canadian musicians who have successfully made the transition from French-language recording artist to singing in English.  Celine Dion, say.

But when Dion - who was immensely popular as a Francophone musician - made the leap, it came with huge controversy in her native Quebec, where language is often a politically charged issue.  Montreal native Béatrice Martin hopes that in her transition, she gathers many new fans in the United States, while holding onto the loyal listeners she's earned while singing in French.

Herb Alpert, His Trumpet and Other Delights

Jul 16, 2016
Flickr

Please note: This interview originally aired in June, 2013.

It's been said that you can recognize trumpeter Herb Alpert within the first three notes of a song.

The Milwaukee area has a rich musical history whose earliest contributors helped unify emerging immigrant communities using polka and waltz. In the late 20th Century, the sound of Milwaukee music was often characterized using the punk garage band stylings of the Violent Femmes or the heartland rock of the BoDeans. But when you think of the blues, Milwaukee may not be the first city that comes to mind. One local band thinks that's about to change.

Jake Cunningham / Chromatic Publicity

It's been nearly a year since Julien Baker released her debut record Sprained Ankle, and she's already found a devoted and passionate following. In a matter of months, Baker went from a regular opening act to a consistent headliner, playing for audiences of individuals who each have a unique connection to her music.

Photo by Maayan Silver

Musician Jack Spann was previously featured on Lake Effect a few months ago to talk about his work with David Bowie and going solo.  The New York-based musician is practically at home in Milwaukee with his latest album, Time Time Time Time Time, pulled together with the support of local producer Gary Tanin. 

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