Our second annual Big Star tribute show has come and gone, and once again it featured amazing music and terrific performances--of course I am a bit biased… but still, we had a great time and the audience seemed to really enjoy it.
Last year's show celebrated the 50th anniversary of the band's debut album, #1 Record, recreating the album in order… this year was not an anniversary of a release, so we had a bit more freedom and I tried to work in some slightly more obscure stuff. Fortunately we had some folks who were really into the band and eager to play things like “She Might Look My Way,” which was covered by Chris Dorn, whose band The Beatifics carried the power-pop banner for many years in Minneapolis.
I'm going to post some photos below from the 2023 show. Unfortunately, I was running around a bit and did not get great shots of every act. I expect to be able to post some videos at some point as well. Many thanks to the artists who gave so generously of their their time, and to the Parkway Theater, which has become a great music venue over the last few years.
Pre-show, at soundcheck--Aaron Seymour singing “Ballad of El Goodo.”
Here's Carrie Deans and band running through “Feel.”
Our show opened with Mike and Kiki Lane singing “When My Baby's Beside Me,” …
Steve Brantseg was a terrific addition to our group, he brought a great sense of rock ‘n’ roll energy to the show that I think was a very good fit for some of the songs--including his cover of “She's a Mover”…
Cindy Lawson is another high-energy performer who not only sang lead but contributed a lot on backing vocals… here she is singing “Jesus Christ”… (note Stephanie Paquin, another important member of the group, on saxophone.)
Here's Cindy and Kiki Lane, who was our musical director for vocals.
Here's Theyself, another new performer this year, singing “In the Street,” …
Looks like we're on a theme, bc here's Scott Allen in Set One, tearing it up with “Kizza Me,"… (also note Bart Bakker, who played bass on many songs and has been dazzling both years.)
We also had some pin-drop moments during the quieter acoustic numbers. Below is Ben Glaros, who has been a major contributor for these acoustic songs, with Michael Ferrier. Brian and Josie Just also did a wonderful job with some of the quieter songs, but unfortunately I did not get a good photo of them…
Meanwhile, back in the Green Room… from L to R, Steve Brantseg, Billy Dankert (who helped us out on drums) Tommy Bentz (our guitar maestro), Micheal Ferrier, Stephanie Paquin, Mo Rudd (our other guitar ace), Cindy Lawson, and Scott Allen.
Most of my photos of Jimi Allison have him obscured by cymbals, but here he is in the green room before the show… Jimi is one of our core players and did a great job of channeling Jody Stephens…
I'm a little light on photos from the second set, but I have this one courtesy of my wife, Jill. I very much enjoyed singing “I am the Cosmos,” a beautiful, heartbreaking Chris Bell song. Mike Lane played bass on a big part of Set Two, and I consider him the other musical director of the project, due to his amazing musicianship and excellent knowledge of the material.
Another show-stopping performer both years has been Annie Enneking… here she is doing “For You”…
A shot of Chris Dorn singing “She Might Look My Way”…
Tommy Bentz sings “Back of a Car”…
It wasn't the last song (that was saved for “September Gurls") but it felt right to do “Thank You Friends” as the next-to-last song of the night." A big thank you to all… can't wait to do it again next year!
Costello sing-along at the end of the EC tribute
I feel like I keep repeating what a great summer this has been for live music--but maybe it bears repeating… all I know is that there have been so many great shows, so many options--almost every night there are multiple shows I want to go see. It seems people really have come to value experiencing live music, the clubs are seeing music as a proven way to bring people in, and musicians are booking shows like there's no tomorrow. Maybe because for a while, there were no live music options.
We had another very enjoyable Elvis Costello tribute at the Driftwood Char Bar on Friday. The concept of tribute bands has really caught fire lately… but our shows at the Driftwood are not intended to re-create the hits note-for-note. Instead, we have a generally minimalist approach (solo acoustic or duos/trios), and let local musicians do their own thing with songs from an artist they love.
The Costello tribute was very much in that tradition, some new interpretations and stripped-down recreations, it made the performances (for me) that much more interesting. We always get a very knowledgeable crowd for these shows, and I heard EC trivia chatter between artists…
“Scott Wooldridge and the Convincers” do a set of Nick Lowe songs at the recent “We've Got You Covered” benefit show in Minneapolis.
Coming up next is a bigger production, and one that does try to find a little more fidelity with the original product: our Big Star tribute last year re-created the band’s first album, song for song, in celebrations of the 50th anniversary of its release.
This year is not an anniversary show, but we are nonetheless bringing together more than 20 local musicians to play songs from the Big Star catalog—we also will feature solo work from Alex Chilton and Chris Bell. I think there will be some pleasant surprises in the song list, and I’m really happy with how things are sounding.
After the Big Star show on Sept 7 I may take a few days to recover but I do think we’ll keep doing tribute shows as long as people seem to enjoy them. So far, so good!
Big Star practice on the south side of Mpls, 8-27-23.
Upcoming shows and tributes…
So, I am starting to fill in the calendar a bit, with more gigs this year than in quite some time. And I’m working with the Driftwood Char Bar on a few more “tribute”-type shows.
A word about those—the tributes at DCB have always been lower-key, DIY type shows where we welcome a lot of local musicians to come and play songs by some of their favorite artists. Not a lot of flash or production, but a lot of fun and good music.
SO, coming up—tribute nights for Bob Dylan (May 26), Velvet Underground/Lou Reed/ New York bands(June 23), and Elvis Costello (August 25)…
As always, anyone who wants to can sign up to do 1-3 songs from the tribute artists. I will consider requests for adjacent acts (songs from The Band for the Dylan night, etc.) And we may have to make other minor adjustments as we go. These shows are largely acoustic, with full bands being possible but it takes some work and willingness to share amps, drums, etc.
I think it’s close enough to the Dylan night that people can send me requests for songs they’d like to do. First come, first serve. For the other nights, let’s wait until approximately one month before to start filling in the slots.
Our other big labor of love in 2022 was the Big Star tribute at the Parkway, and we are working on reprising that in Sept. That will be a more polished production; more details to come.
See you in the clubs!
From the Big Star show at The Parkway Theater, 9-11-22.
Nick Lowe/Pub Rock Night, the Driftwood Char Bar, 3-18-23.
A theme for some 2023 gigs…
So, this year I am getting back to regular performances—as in once or twice a month. Not a high number for some musicians but a step up for me. And one thing I’m hoping to do going forward is play in some of the communities along the local rivers—most people who know me know I have a mild obsession with the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers here in this region. I’ve run along the Minnesota from Belle Plaine to where it meets the Mississippi at Bdote/Mendota, and along the Mississippi from there to Prescott, Wisconsin.
Those jogging excursions have been ongoing since 2016, and over that time, I’ve grown fond of communities like Jordan, Chaska, Hastings, etc. They all have interesting histories, and many were founded when riverboat was the main means of traveling any long distance.
So, I am trying out the idea of booking shows in those communities—at whatever venues host live music, which these days includes a lot of brew pubs. I’m calling it The River Tour—no relation to Bruce Springsteen.
Don’t call it a marketing campaign—it’s more just a way to identify shows that are along the rivers and river towns that I’ve come to appreciate. I think it’ll be fun.
Winter still has us in its icy grip, but I'm looking forward to warmer temps and more playing this year. I'm working on some possible new lineups/projects as well. Coming up quickly is our somewhat-annual Nick Lowe night, where local musicians play songs by Nick and other pub rock era acts. I'm cheating a bit this year and sneaking in an Aztec Camera song… but I'll have a couple of Lowe points as well… (March 18 at Driftwood Char Bar.)
After that, I'll be on a double-bill with Jim Walsh at Carbone's, just down the street from here. (Carbone's, April 12) And after that…well, stay tuned!
(Photo credit: Michael Hardwick)
I've been one poor correspondent, again.
A very busy summer and fall has come and gone, so I suppose I should update the page!
The biggest event was the Big Star tribute we did in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the legendary band's debut album. We had a terrific group of musicians work together on the show and I was really happy with how it turned out. In addition to that, I did a slightly less ambitious tribute show for the music of Elvis Costello at the Driftwood. There's more to come in that area, as I'm setting up a Simon and Garfunkel tribute there on Dec. 9.
Tribute shows and bands are a big thing these days, especially for those of us who have been around long enough to want to pay tribute to what is now old music. Old can still be great, though.
I do have some newer tunes, maybe I can do something with them in 2023...
Anyhow, a few photos below from the Big Star Show... and other stuff...
Wayne Grimsrud and band do God's Comic at the Costello Tribute, Driftwood Char Bar, 8-26-22.
Photos from Big Star rehearsal and concert at The Parkway Theater:
This blog is like a time machine! Welcome to summer, 2022.
The Covid years have been kind of tough, but we are all hanging in there. The Wooldridge Brothers had a nice reunion with Del Amitri at Shank Hall in April. Our earlier band The Squares had opened for the Dels many, many years ago in Milwaukee. We had the opportunity to open one of their shows this summer, and we were thrilled to get the chance. It was the first time Brian, Julie, and I had performed together in about three years. A very cool experience, and thanks to all involved.
I am now putting a lot of time and energy into a few upcoming projects--the biggest being a Big Star tribute at The Parkway Theater on Sept. 9. A LOT of great local talent coming together on this one, to celebrate the 50 anniversary of the release of #1 Record, Big Star's debut album. We're going to recreate that album with a second set of Big Star songs.
Another tribute: a night with (the songs of) Elvis Costello! That's coming up on Friday of next week (Aug. 26), and tho it's a smaller stage and scale, it's always fun to do these projects at the Driftwood. A great community there has supported these tributes for a number of years there, and there are always an impressive number of musical highlights. Plus, the late set of St. Small guarantees that we'll end the night rocking!
Also on the bill, a P.O.P. set in Edina on Sept. 2, and a Northern Songs get-together on Sept. 14 at Carbone's.
Gee, a busy month-see the "shows" page here for more info!
Oh, and I played with the Trio on the river at City House in St. Paul recently...
Update on that whole livestream thing... I followed up the 1-year-anniversary with a an hour of Bob Dylan songs two weeks later (it was his birthday)... and that's been it! Which is cool, because I've been working on live shows, and after a year of livestreams, I am more than ready to get back to playing at venues other than my basement!
I had a very fun show with Joe Fahey a couple weeks ago; more gigs are up in the "shows" section of this site.
Most of these are solo shows; I'm working on getting some things set up for the Trio as well. Stay tuned.
So, just about a year ago, as the pandemic set in, I started doing livestream performances. I thought it would be a fun (it was!) and easy (um…) way to continue to perform music even though live venues were shut down.
Little did we know then that a year later, we’d just be starting to talk about getting back to normal…
So, next week I’ll be marking the one-year anniversary of livestream performances. April 21 will be the one-year anniversary show, and will be streamed on Facebook Live.
Since I’ve kept pretty detailed notes on these shows, I can share the following information:
My first livestream show was performed on April 22nd, 2020, after live music venues had (for the most part) shut down in Minnesota. I performed weekly (a couple weeks were skipped mostly due to technical issues) through August, then switched to twice-monthly shows.
As of next Wednesday’s show, I will have performed 28 livestreams in the past year.
All shows have been solo, about 45-50 minutes long, and have featured songs on acoustic guitar and keyboards. A drum machine was used twice.
In these shows, I’ve played 72 original songs, and 70 cover songs (from 43 different artists).
The sets are made up mostly of original material, but I always include a few covers. I’ve nearly always used the “Club Sandwich” approach to covers: One cover to start the set, one in the middle, and one to close the set.
Most-covered-artist: Big Star, with 5 songs covered. Second-most: Bob Dylan, 4 songs.
I'm not sure what the future holds for these livestreams. As long as the music scene remains limited, I think I'll probably continue them in some way. Getting back to normal is going to take some time, I suspect.
Anyhow, hope to see you at the next one!
Just a quick check in; I was very happy to participate in a recent election-day music event organized by Adam Levy here in Minneapolis. A number of us fanned out to different polling places to provide live music as people voted. We played outside the buildings, and it was really a great experience. One of the poll workers was nice enough to take a picture.
Otherwise, things have been quiet. I continue to do livestreams on FB (also available on YouTube), and will have another one coming up next Wednesday. Maybe I'll see you then!
OK, I'd like to officially retract my call to make 2020 a "year to remember."
So, quick update: the WBs are effectively on hiatus, though BW and I have been working on video releases and reaching back into the vaults--I'll post a video we released a month or so ago, see below. But for the foreseeable future, no live shows. We have family members who have immuno-compromised issues, so we're going to play it super safe for now.
I also don't feel comfortable with the thought of live solo or Trio shows for now.
So, live shows are out. Instead, I've been doing Facebook Livestream shows on an almost-weekly basis. I've had some ups and downs with the tech side of these shows, and though things have improved, I'm still concerned about the video quality on the FB broadcasts. But like all things right now, we're in a period of transition and adjustment. So I'm optimistic things will improve. I've seen a lot of livestreams from other artists that I have really enjoyed.
We'll push on the best we can. There are a lot of other things people have to focus on now: being safe and healthy, pushing for justice, dealing with the economic challenges. Musicians can help provide a soundtrack for the times and a form of emotional support. We just keep moving on, day to day, with the hope of better days ahead.
I'll post a couple videos below:
BW came up with an audio of a practice session that included this mash-up of a couple songs, and I put together a video of it--we performed this a couple times in 2016:
And here's my latest FB livestream--uploaded to Youtube; that seemed to help with the video quality issues.
Fixin' to bust out of this basement any day now...
Just a quick note about the show tomorrow: I'm a regular at the Tuesday night shows at the Driftwood, and anyone familiar with my social media knows I'm a fan of Terry Walsh and his Belfast Cowboys (and of course St. Dominic's Trio). So I'm psyched to be part of the show tomorrow. I'll be singing a very well-known Van song and one that is less-well known but one of my favorites.
The WBs have been on hiatus most of this year due to some health issues. We'll hopefully be back before long. I've also been pretty darn quiet lately, and I'm getting ready to change that. Got a bunch of newish songs and I've been doing a lot of thinking about how to showcase them. I hope to have news about that soon.
In the meantime, have a great holiday season and let's make 2020 a year to remember.
Well, that year went by fast. And, yeah, I once again neglected the blog. But as we sit here, buried under the snow and trying not to think of *more* single-digit temps on the way, I'm starting to feel like making more music, so...
The CD release show was a big success for us, and we had quite a few fun shows over 2018--it actually was one of of the busiest years, music-wise, that I've had for a while. But I've hibernated a bit here in early 2019, and need to get back to work.
One thing I'm going to put here on the blog is an old video that I put together--well, kind of old; I created the first version in 2017. We had plans for a professional video treatment of "Waiting it Out," our opening track from the Starts at Dusk album. But after several delays, we had to put that idea on hold. In the meantime, I was playing around with clips from my family's trip out west and some other video from Minneapolis, and came up with a sort of home-movie version of a music video. This is not an official WBs release. It's just something that I had fun playing around with, so as a bonus, I'm sharing it with the fans and/or Russian bots that visit this page. Enjoy!
Keeping very busy with preparing for the June 15 show. Doing what I can to reach out to media and get the word out. Today I did some old-fashioned promo; I went around to record stores and put up posters. I am pleasantly surprised at how many record stores there are these days--in 2006 when I was promoting "Days Went Around," I was shocked to see how many had closed. The industry has certainly made a comeback.
We're also gearing up for a show at Summerfest in Milwaukee. We didn't play last year, but this year it looks like we'll have a pretty good slot. I don't think I'm supposed to announce the details yet, so we'll have to wait on that.
So that's the latest. Fans of the WBs in the Twin Cities can definitely help us out by sharing info on the show on social media and through word of mouth, etc. The band doesn't get to play up here as nearly often as we'd like to. We're looking forward to this one.
Tomorrow we are officially announcing the CD launch party for the Wooldridge Brothers' "Starts at Dusk" album here in the Twin Cities. A lot of work went into the album, and putting together this show has also been a big task, one that's not over. We almost had a show set up last fall, but that didn't come together, so we started from scratch early this year. The date is June 15. We're working with the Eagles Club as the venue, and they have been very cool about giving us a weekend night when a lot of venues wound not have, to be honest. I have no worries about the turnout, but it is a fact that the WBs are not a household name in the Twin Cities. Having two great opening acts, White Sweater and Lolo's Ghost, will help.
We're starting to pick up some good reviews and buzz, and we'll be working hard to get coverage and airplay from the local media. The concept of music blogs and music writers continues to evolve, with fewer of both around these days. People don't seem to want to read or write about music, as much. Social media and streaming seem to be way people find new music.
So we'll see how it goes. We're all in for this one; this humble band of oldsters will do their best to make an impression on a young, hip scene. Wish us luck!
We had a great time playing some Tom Petty tunes at the recent Pablove benefit in Milwaukee. Videos posted below, some photos on my FB page... In other news, trying to put together a CD release show in Mpls...
Crawling Back to You
Even the Losers
So, another nice little break from blogging. Things did slow down a bit--at least as far as shows, tho we had a very nice show in Mke in August and I played a few around town here. To be completely honest, I felt a little burned out in the second half of 2017, which happens to me from time to time. So I'm hoping to get a litte busier and more engaged in 2018. We'll see. I did have a lot of fun at this December Warming House show, where everyone covered songs by the Stones and the Dixie Chicks. Also coming up: a Tom Petty tribute for the Pablove charity, which will be in Milwaukee later this month. For 2018, I hope we all have a great year, and that every song you sing is your favorite tune...
Just a couple quick notes. Lots going on--had very fun shows at the Viking Bar (Trio) and Aster Cafe (Northern Songs) on the last two Tuesdays. Another Trio show coming up on July 1 at Carbone's. I'm also running down to Milwaukee next week to make a cameo at Summerfest! The FS Camels, the legendary Milwaukee band, has graciously asked me to join them for a song in their July 29, 2 pm set. I think it's the Miller Stage... Anyhow, that's the same day that the Belfast Cowboys are playing SFest as well! Looking forward to seeing both acts!
Northern Songs at the Aster. Jill Wooldridge took the photo!
Old Skol rock 'n roll at the Viking!
And last but not least!
BW got something in the mail!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ach, I've really been neglecting the blog lately. We had some really nice shows in the last few months. I'll post a few photos. The WBs album is at the manufacturing plant! Shows have been discussed, but nothing on the books right now. I'm sure we'll have more news on that soon.
To start with, a show that I somehow missed talking about here on the blog: Dec. 30, 2016 at Studio 2--a Hoot! In every sense. From L to R, Leslie Rich, Joe Fahey, Moi, host Jim Walsh.
Another round-robin show, our Northern Songs collective, with John Magnuson, Joe Fahey, and AJ Scheiber, in February, at the Driftwood. This photo, along with several other photos here, was taken by Jill. Another Northern Songs show is coming up: June 20 at Aster Cafe!
Here's the Trio, V 2.0. AJ joins us on pedal steel at Hook and Ladder on April 2!. Josh had another comittment that night so AJ stepped in and did a great job. Love the H&L as a venue--both the big room and this smaller stage.
April 15 found us onstage at the Eagles in Seward. Brian Just and Justcallmehugo also played--enjoyed sharing the night with some terrific acts!
April 29th was the XTC benefit at the Turf Club, a show that I have greatly enjoyed for several years, and was thrilled to be a part of this year. I joined the stellar band for "Sgt. Rock."
On 5-27 the Driftwood held its annual Bob Dylan night, in honor of Bob's birthday, and I contributed "Tonight I'll be Staying Here with You." Very fun night!
The Nick Lowe/Pub Rock Nite was a lot of fun, and I am thankful to everyone who came out. I might've overdone the self-promotion a bit--posting every day on FB for about two weeks--but it was fun exploring the Pub Rock history, and I enjoyed sharing all the songs from different artists. We had a good turnout, saw some old friends, and were treated to many great performances. Thanks to everyone who participated and to the Twilight Hours, who played the early set.
I'll share a few photos from the night--unfortunately, I am just not a very good iPhone photographer in a club setting. So, apologies for the poor focus, lighting, etc.
Not sure I'm in the right order, but I think this is AJ doing "Back to Schooldays."
Didn't get a very good shot of the Lanes. I made this one black and white to cut down on the glare from that overhead spotlight! They did a great version of "Girls Talk!"
I was really happy that Dan Kowalke and Terry Walsh were part of the show. I didn't get a shot of Dan, but here's Terry doing an awesome cover of "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road." What a great ending to the night!
Well, not the *final* song--that was "Cruel to be Kind," with other performers joining me on stage. Adam took the second verse! (BTW, an act called Andy and Perry were the final part of the night, and they were very patient in allowing us to wrap up, so my thanks to them for that!)
More shows on the way, plus the WBs album is nearing the mastering stage. More news on that (hopefully) soon.
Several cool shows coming up--excited to be playing with Brian Just and his band on April 15, with Justcallmehugo opening. Should be a great show.
The XTC tribute/charity is a night of music I look forward to every year, and this year I'm very happy to be part of it!
And just around the corner is the Nick Lowe/Pub Rock Nite at Driftwood Char Bar--I suggested this to Larry S. there a while back and we're holding it the day before Nick's 68th birthday! It should be a blast, I hope people will come check it out.
Had such a great time last night at the Warming House, performing with other artists who had submitted TIny Desk Contest videos. Then drove over to 331 to see Dan Israel and Doug Collins--also great. The only downside was I missed several other outstanding performers who were playing other clubs around town. Pretty amazing night for music, overall.
I didn't have my phone on me for the first two performers after me, Little Riddles and Larry Kirby, which is a bummer, because they were both excellent. But they were followed by Calamity and the Owl...
C&TO are a one-of-a-kind, must-see band. One that I really "liked."
They were followed by the Warming House's own John Louis, whose song "Too Far" I absolutely love...
And then we were introduced to Justcallmehugo (or I was--most of the crowd seemed to be fans!):
And the night was wrapped up by Almighty American, whose song "In the Quiet" had the room absolutely still.
The show ended early enough for me to head out to 331 Club to see Dan Israel and Doug Collins:
That's Doug above and Dan below:
Two of my favorite singer/songwriters. But heck, I thought every act I saw last night was pretty darn impressive. Are my standards too low? I don't think so.
It's 60 degrees in Minneapolis (in February!) so I guess I no longer have an excuse for hibernating. Here's what I have coming up in the next few months:
February 23: Celebration Series: NPR Tiny Desk Concert at The Warming House--half a dozen artists who entered the NPR Tiny Desk contest will play their entry songs and a couple others; each artist will perform about 15-minute sets. It starts at 8 pm, rumor has it that I go first... Free show, donations suggested.
March 2: Hook and Ladder--this is my first show with the Trio in a long time... too long! Looking forward to playing with Sloan and Josh again. We'll start at 9 and play for a couple hours, so we'll mix in a good number of covers and songs from ancient days. No cover!
March 18: Not a gig per se, but I'll be sitting in for a song with Leslie Rich at his show at the Warming House! 8 pm, $10 cover. (Worth it, Leslie is terrific!)
March 23: NICK LOWE/PUB ROCK NITE! A open-mic-style tribute at the Driftwood Char Bar, one that I am pleased to host--artists can sign up to do a cover of Nick Lowe or other Pub Rock legends, fans can just dig the Pure Pop for Now People! No cover.
March 29: Carbone's restaurant in south Minneapolis, near the tranquil shores of Lake Nokomis, is now hosting live music! I'll be one of the early beta-testers, playing solo with possibly a guest musician or two. Starts at 8, no cover but try the chicken wings!!
April 29: XTC Tribute at the Turf Club, St. Paul. One of my favorite nights of music each year is this amazing group of musicians playing nothin' but Swindon's finest, XTC! I am honored to be one of the guest vocalists this year. More details TBA.
July 7: The Tavern, Northfield. Trio show! Details TBA
September 30: Northern Songs: Keepers, Sleepers, and Weepers at The Tavern in Northfield. The oldest working acoustic-based Minneapolis super-group with all their hair will reconvene once more to share songs and stories.
And I've got some more lines in the water, so stay tuned!
So I finally got around to entering the Tiny Desk Contest on NPR--an annual contest that I've watched with interest for a couple years. Kicked around a couple ideas that ended up being too complicated from a technical standpoint. So I followed the contest's advice and just did a simple solo performance! Thanks to my kids for staying out of the room and PJ for being a quiet audience! This is a new song that has not yet been recorded...
Some pics from our mixing session last weekend in Chicago--we got a lot done, still a little left to do... Thanks to Scott G. for being a gracious host, and for his hard work.
Walking to Walgreens...
Just can't find the sound...
BW helps keep the mood light...
Trying to figure out the timer on my phone camera...
The Wizard at Work...
Just stumbled across this online. Since the anniversary of Chris Bell's death was yesterday, seems fitting to post. Still one of the highlights and great honors of my years in music to be part of this.
So yeah ... a tip jar.
I recently heard a story on NPR about how Mozart was the biggest-selling artist for 2016. When someone who's been dead a couple centuries is outselling the artists of the day, you might say there is a problem. Unless you're a big Mozart fan, in which case, apologies, and why are you here?
Anyhow, I'm as flummoxed by the music business as anyone. No one buys CDs, vinyl sells but it's not cheap or easy to produce (our single from a year or so ago was printed in the Czech Republic), most people just stream music for free, clubs expect you to play for tips... you've heard this sob story before. And there's a perfectly valid argument that we older artists should just get out of the way and let the younger ones figure out this problem for themselves. But, to coin a phrase, I'm not dead yet, and I'd like to continue to produce music, somehow.
So I've set up a tip jar on the home page. I figure if people come here to listen to a couple songs or check out a couple videos, they might consider leaving some small token, etc. etc. Probably not, and I'm not at all comfortable asking. But ask I will, there on the home page. I'm at a point where I am seriously thinking about solo album #2, after the WBs album comes out (It WILL happen!) So I've got a goal in mind. We'll see how it goes.
I hope for a safe and happy Christmas and/or holiday season for everyone who visits this humble site, and I expect to be quite busy early next year. I've got some new songs and projects that I'm excited about. You can see my excited look in the picture below! Onward to 2017....
Things got a little quieter after our busy summer but I've played a few shows here and there. Last night was the second performance of the Northern Songs --Keepers, Sleepers & Weepers ensemble. The lineup is four singer-songwriters, sometimes joined by another musician or two, playing mostly original stuff. I've really enjoyed the two shows we've done. I really like the work of the other three gentlemen, and we seem to fit pretty well together, tho we definitely have a range of styles. Anyhow, if you're a Twin Cities resident, keep an eye out for us. I've also got a show coming up on Dec. 1 with Jim Walsh's Hoot at Harriet Brewing. And I *hope* to get the Trio back together next spring. It's been too long!
A.J. Scheiber, SW, Joe Fahey, and John Magnuson at the Warming House.
Still catching up from our tour with The Baseball Project--I had hoped to post some pictures right away but I'm just now getting to it!
The tour was a lot of fun and we had really good shows at all four venues. Codfish Hollow Barnstormers is an amazing place. It was great to play in St. Paul with the full WBs lineup--we haven't done that in way too long. We had some very dedicated Indiana fans show up for the Chicago show at Fitzgeralds, and Anodyne (Milwaukee) as always was a great host and had a great crowd.
I started the tour on Weds morning, with a ride on the Empire Builder from St. Paul to Milwaukee. Here's a photo of Lake Pepin. I think. I actually took more shots of the train ride than anything else! Check the video below for proof...
We played that night at Anodyne--joined by Matt Meixner on keys! (You can kinda sorta seem him over to the right!)
Jack was sporting a waltersdogs T-shirt. Very fashionable.
Part of getting older as a performer: I now have to have my blood pressure checked every three songs.
TBB sang the National Anthem at the Brewers Game that night--note that Mike M is wearing a Brewers jersey. A pretty unusual event for the Braves' fan, I'm guessing!
Playing at Fitzgeralds--I snuck out between sets to watch a little of Hillary's acceptance speech.
The first performance of "Don't Go Back to Rockville" on the tour.
The shows at Codfish Hollow are art-intensive: They create a handmade wooden sign for every show. Very cool.
A shot of the barn early in the day, during load-in.
There's also a cow skull painted for each show. Since the owners raise beef cattle, I'm guessing the skulls are not hard to get.
The barn on the inside.
Signs from previous shows hang from the rafters.
In the Green Room, Joe from New Mexico, who rode to Iowa on his bicycle pulling his dog Amy (to the right), takes a load off. He earned the rest!
Closeup of Brian rocking out. Photo courtesy of Illuminated Scene.
Closeup of me, watching Brian rock out. Photo also by Illuminated Scene.
That's not a blue screen behind the audience, that's a torrential downpour. Hey, it's one way to have a captive audience!
TBB takes the stage. Really great set.
Heather and her technicolor VW Bus, the next morning.
The St. Paul show at Turf Club. We've been playing a new song or two where I sing sans guitar. I'm not used to it. I managed to knock the mic stand to the floor during the solo. I also knocked over BW's beer. Rock ON!
Ah, very witty, very witty indeed.
Scott and Linda join the WBs for the Kinks' "Picture Book."
"Please don't call them Twinkies!"
(Doesn't it look like Steve Wynn is trying to touch the "exit" sign??)
Group shots at the end of the night/tour.
Scott McCaughey needs to lay off the hot sauce! Thanks to The Baseball Project for inviting us along. We had a blast.
I was playing around with the hundreds of shots I took during the tour and thought--what if I made them all into a slide show? So I did. So here is (nearly) every shot I took during the tour (and a few I didn't take!), accompanied by one of our songs from the upcoming album...
Well, the Summerfest show is in the books, and we had a great time. I met Ben Folds, very briefly, and had the pleasure of performing with the Mike Benign Compulsion. Coming up: the Baseball Project tour... and finishing the album. I know, I know, we've been saying that for a while. But we are done with tracking and just have to coordinate the final mixes between busy people in three states. Piece of cake.
Fooling around backstage at Summerfest...
On the big screen (I prefer that term to "Jumbotron").
Kind of a long shot, but that's us.
Some really exciting shows coming up this summer: opening for Ben Folds at Summerfest, short tour with The Baseball Project at the end of July. Really going to be a busy summer. I just got back from recording in Milwaukee as well, things are moving along with the album, we do expect to have it out before fall. Fingers crossed! Please check out the "shows" page for more info on upcoming gigs. Thanks!
Welcome to the last edition of Behind the Camera AKA Churl on Film AKA Deconstructing Digital Disasters AKA Scott’s Fantastic Film Follies.
I never could decide on a name.
Anyhow, this will conclude this blog’s series of posts exploring my music videos from the past couple of years. It’s been a good run. Hard to believe that just a few short months ago I promised this would only take six weeks.
Our feature video: “Give it To The River,” a back-to-nature bluesy romp through the Minnehaha Creek Parkway with a few shots of the mighty Mississippi thrown in for good measure.
You can tell right away that my wardrobe department was in open rebellion: the saggy, ragged jeans, the ill-fitting shirt, the bare feet were all supposed to suggest a kind of Tom-Sawyer-meets-Tom-Waits vibe, but it was more like Railroad Bob after a three-day bender with Mr. Green Jeans.
Um, yeah. So, second-guessing my outfit aside, I actually really enjoyed making this video and there are parts of it I absolutely love: the play of light off the water beneath the bridges in south Minneapolis, the massive span of the Lake Street bridge over the Mississippi, the shots of the trio on a sandbar (actually mostly gravel and yes, that was tough on my feet) near 12th Street on the Parkway.
A lot of these locations I have come across while walking the dog along the Minnehaha or exploring the banks of the Mississippi. The song itself was inspired by a shack I found south of Lake Street many years ago, crumbling and nearly collapsed, just a few steps from the big river. I haven’t ever seen that shack in my explorations since, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t dream it.
And there are such wonderful old ghosts along these rivers, long-disappeared zoos and amusement parks and factories and farms. There’s the nearly-invisible remnants of an old lock and dam on the St. Paul side of the Mississippi; a lovely midstream island near there was long ago dug out and removed to provide for better navigation. Further south, a statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stands in solitude on a hill just yards away from busy Highway 55, unseen by the traffic and surrounded by wildflowers and weeds. Long ago, performing seals and genteel Minneapolitans shared those river banks. Now it’s the occasional jogger or drug user (watch for syringes).
Something I really love about the Twin Cities is how they’ve been shaped—and have shaped—the rivers that run through them, the Mississippi and the Minnesota and all the streams and lakes that make this such a green place. With this video, I wanted to capture how, even in the middle of the city, you can find wilderness, or at least a close approximation. The toughest thing about editing the video was making sure no cars or bikers or joggers distracted the eye during the shots (we weren’t 100 percent successful), but I am often struck by how much solitude can actually be found, if you’re willing to ignore the planes…
We had a tremendous amount of help from Dan Prozinski on this one; he did a lot of the shooting and helped with framing the shots and close-ups. I tend to just set up a camera on a tripod and let it run; Dan obviously is a more experienced photographer/videographer.
Oh, and that little snippet during the credits is from the original demo of the song, which featured a recording of crickets and cicadas from one night during a camping trip in Wisconsin.
So, that’s it. Please feel free to let me know what you think of this and other videos, either here at the site or on the YouTube pages. I’ll probably keep playing around with the medium. So, you’ve got that to look forward to!
Check back soon on some very big news about summer shows. Thanks!
(A couple of outtakes. Skippin' stones and enjoying the silence of nature...)
So here’s the lowdown on “Winter’s Walk,” the song that makes up the other half of our joint WBs/SW Solo single (see below). As I mentioned before, I really like the two sides of this musical coin: one summer-ish, lots of color, more rock and roll; the other a winterish, black and white, acoustic song.
This video was shot by Garrett Tiedemann of CyNar Pictures. Garrett does a lot of video work and this obviously has higher production values than many of my releases.
Like probably every other Minneapolis singer-songwriter, I had the idea of recording a video on a frozen Minnesota lake, and we ended up shooting on Diamond Lake on the south side of Minneapolis. This is partly because of my southern heritage: as an Indiana native, I never quite trust frozen lakes, so I found a nearby lake that has an average depth of about 3-4 feet. Pretty silly on my part; the nearby—and much deeper—Lake Nokomis hosts a huge ice hockey tournament every winter and no one has fallen through—yet!
And since we recorded in February on a weekend of sub-zero temperatures, there was no danger of thin ice. There was danger of frostbite, but our crew dressed warmly.
The video was recorded in February on 2013; long before the album was finished. At that point I was expecting to release it that year. Things turned out differently; so the video sat on the shelf for a long time. But fortunately Garrett was very patient and when I was finally ready to release it, he was able to put the finishing touches on it quickly.
Our performers that day were: myself, Jonathan Rundman, Sara Pajunen, and Sloan Hamilton. Sloan of course has been my partner in crime for most of these videos. JR and SP were at that time touring and recording as Kaivama, a Finnish-American folk act. They had recorded violin and harmonium on a couple tracks for my solo album, including “Winter’s Walk,” and I wanted to include them on the video.
Fortunately, we were all able to make the shoot (after an earlier attempt was cancelled due to a snowstorm) and it turned out well. Garrett took care of the video work; and Sloan’s wife Colleen and their dog Chip were also there to help (Colleen took a lot of behind-the-scenes shots that you’ll see below). A friend donated the sled you see in some of the shots (Thanks, Jeff!), which allowed us to move the harmonium more easily across the snow.
Oh, that was the other thing—due to the very cold, dry air, none of us except Jonathan could use our usual instruments for the shoot. Subzero temps and very low humidity can seriously damage wood instruments. For Jonathan, it wasn’t much of an issue, because that type of harmonium was made to accompany U.S. Army Chaplains during Word War II. So yes, the instrument was literally built to go into a war zone. A little cold weather was no problem.
But for guitar, mandolin, and violin players, outside in February is a no-go zone. We ended up finding a very cheap mandolin and violin for the shoot; and my wife Jill kindly let me use one of her old Alvarez guitars, which are pretty solidly built and held up well. The violin actually had no bridge (the wooden piece that holds the string off the body of the instrument), so Sara ended up using a piece of a Caribou coffee cup to work as a temporary bridge. Hopefully, that’s not noticeable in the video.
So I owe a huge thank-you to all who helped out with this, and especially to Garrett for making it look so good. I’m really happy with how it turned out; but I think that will probably be my last video on a frozen lake!
The staging area, fortunately we didn't need the shovel much.
Garrett shooting the group performance.Seen from a distance.
If you can look very closely, you can see the green coffee cup bridge that Sara improvised.
After a while, I got cold.
I wasn't the only one.
Sloan, Jonathan and I get some instructions.
We now return you to our series of previously scheduled video recaps, this one of the song "Drive Through Summer."
The song will be on the next Wooldridge Brothers album and was the "A side" of last summer's vinyl single that featured a WBs song backed with a Scott Wooldridge solo album song. It was a fun project and featured professionally-shot videos for both songs.
DTS was directed and shot by Robb Fischer, a filmmaker we've worked with before. I believe Brian came up with the basic concept and arranged for the drive-in movie setting. The drive-in was of course the same place that we see, briefly, in the "Running" video. It's near Jefferson, Wis., and it was one of the first digital projection drive-in movie theaters in the state.
The b-side of the single, "Winter's Walk," is shot in black and white, but I love the light and colors we see in this one. Very vibrant, and I think it fits the song. I also note that for some reason I appear to have chosen my baggiest pants to wear for the second night's shoot. Fashion first, I always say.
This was a very fun shoot, but the rain on the second night made things a bit uncomfortable. Fortunately our volunteer audience of old car enthusiasts could stay dry inside their vehicles. Robb and his assistant Ben had to risk getting their equipment wet but everything seemed to survive the ordeal. Brian's ancient 12-string that I played has been through worse.
The video of us practicing was shot the day before at a practice studio in a basement in Milwaukee, near Shorewood. The decor was fun--I liked the "Christmas Story" lamp.
What else... the background video on the big screen was from a couple live performances that Rob shot; that footage was used in our "Mashup Dream" video, from the "Days Went Around" album.
So, that's the story of the making of "Drive Through Summer." Oh, and yes, the song references a fast food place rather than a drive-in movie, but that wouldn't have been nearly as much fun!
Blue skies when we started, but the clouds started rolling in not long after.
Robb sets up a shot.
Getting out the gear as the cars arrive.
Some *very* nice old cars were part of the shoot. There's a DeLorean there in the back.
The big screen. I probably took this just before BW and I climbed up into the El Camino to play our parts.
Ah, where did March go???
It was a busy month, with the Wooldridge Brothers recording in Milwaukee, a solo show here and *lots* of new shows booked, and some other news that will remain under wraps for now... but suffice it to say a busy spring will be followed by a busy summer.
We recorded some additional tracks at The Exchange studio in Milwaukee, drawing on a recent flurry of songwriting, including some collaborations between Brian and I that boldly went where no WBs song had gone before. Well, I think they're an interesting new direction for us, for what that's worth.
Matt Meixner laid down some really cool keyboard tracks for the session, and we had stellar contributions from some of the usual suspects:
(That's Julie Straszewski Wooldridge, Scott Gorsuch, and Jack Rice, of course.)
So the WBs album is closer to completion. Still some to do, but we're working very hard to find that light at the end of the tunnel. In addition, a buncha new gigs are up on the calendar, with more to come. And I will resume the video series... soon-ish.
Welcome to the third installment of my weekly commentary on videos from my solo album. It’s kind of a Throwback Thursday, unless this one ends up being posted on Friday. One never knows.
The video for this week is “If You Don’t Keep Running You Fall Behind” which I think is the second-longest song title that I’ve written, behind only the classic, “I’m the Kind of Guy Who Can Never Get Enough of a Good Thing.”
Which, now that I think about it, was just kind of gratuitous.
Anyhow, “Running” is the leadoff track of the solo album. I had set up a mini-tour for the release of the album, with three shows in two states over a weekend, so I decided to shoot video of the shows and of the road trip, and compile them into sort of a travelogue video.
It’s all pretty straightforward. There are shots of me packing for the tour, a practice (featuring Oliver, Josh Braun’s dog), and shots from the road and the shows. The venues were Café Carpe in Ft. Atkinson, Wisc.; Shank Hall in Milwaukee; and Ned’s Corner Café in Kokomo, Ind.
That little segment where I’m gesturing energetically at Café Carpe is actually me telling a joke (The definition of perfect pitch? Throwing an accordion into a dumpster and having it land on a banjo. That’s a perfect pitch). There’s also a shot of Scottie’s Eat More diner (no relation), and a passing tavern that is named “What’s the Point.” My kind of place.
Oh, another little nugget: you get a glimpse of the Highway 18 Theater in Jefferson, Wisc. That’s the drive-in where Brian and I shot the Wooldridge Brothers’ video for “Drive Through Summer.” The WBs video had been shot months before; but since we were in the neighborhood, on our way to Milwaukee…
Hmmm, what else? Some interesting dancing at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, plus a few seconds of our openers from that night, Tommy Tousey, and Steve and Diane from Dolly Varden.
The Kokomo stuff includes shots of downtown Kokomo, some from near my old neighborhood in the farmland west of Kokomo, and a showcase of the very psychedelic lighting system at Ned’s Corner Tavern. My sister Sheryl and her son Joe Nierzwick helped out with shooting some of the road shots, and of course the Crooked Anglers, who opened for us in Kokomo, were also very helpful. If not for the Anglers’ Steve Gaskins, we might’ve done the show on a street corner. Which would’ve sucked, since there was a snowstorm that night.
Anyhow, a pretty basic, DIY video. Nothing less, nothing more.
Here’s an extra clip from our show at Ned’s. Like I said, pretty psychedelic.
Welcome to another installment of commentaries on my videos from the past year or so. This one is a couple days late, but who's counting?
Don't answer that.
After the mixed results of the first video from my solo album, a track called "Hard to Go Quietly," released in September of 2012, it was a long time until the next video. I actually worked quite a bit on another video for "Winter's Walk," but a variety of complications delayed that one. So one fine fall week in November, 2014, I decided, almost on a whim, to do a quick n' dirty video for a song called "Something to Say."
I called Sloan Hamilton for help with the camera work, enlisted my wife Jill to do some driving, and we shot the video in one afternoon. Now, I've always been interested in the idea of shooting a video in a relatively confined area, and how video makers can "explore the space," as Bruce Dickinson might say.
And for this one I wanted to shoot the entire video on a pedestrian bridge over I35W, in south Minneapolis, close to home. So that's what we did. As you can see, the result wasn't perfect: the lighting was tricky; it was so loud I couldn't hear the boombox I had brought to sing along with, and we had to contend with the occasional pedestrian or bike rider. But all that just added to the fun, as far as I was concerned.
I was happy with the result--to me, this was one of the more successful self-produced videos I've done. I think it fits well with the story of the song, which is that of a singer-songwriter trying to grind through a gig where no one is paying attention. Not autobiographical at all.
Below are a couple of outtakes, the first will give some idea of the noise and wind we had to contend with. The other is where Sloan is trying to shoot me from the car as I stand on the bridge, only to find I had walked away from my spot at a crucial time. We got it right eventually.
Welcome back to my weekly commentary on music videos I did for my 2015 solo album. I’ve produced or helped produce six videos for songs from the “Scott Wooldridge” album, and now that the album has reached its one-year anniversary, I thought it might be fun to provide some commentary on the videos.
Also, it’s the dead of winter in Minnesota and things are kind of slow.
Anyhow, this week we’re going waaaay back to the very first music video I did for the album—which I posted more than a year before the album was released!
At the time, I planned to release the album in 2013—but it ended up being released in Jan., 2015. This was due to several reasons, one of which was that I was let go from my job, which put financing of the album in jeopardy. I was able to finish it, due in large part to a Kickstarter campaign, but things got badly delayed.
Enough about that. In the fall of 2012, I had several songs near completion, including “Hard to Go Quietly.” Due to the song’s political subject matter, I thought it would be cool to finish it during the election season, in the fall of 2012, and promote it as an early release from the album.
The video ended up being what I consider my most ambitious and least successful video production to date. I say that because although I had a lot of fun making it and came up with a number of interesting ideas, the end result just doesn’t seem to work that well for me.
The visuals are all over the place, as you can see. Perhaps my favorite is the virtual round of applause/likes that Mike Senkovich gets at the end of his guitar solo. That took some arranging. There are also shots of the May Day parade in Minneapolis, which fit nicely with the political theme, as did the “Vote No” yard signs that were part of the successful campaign to reject a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Oh, and I managed to get my kids’ hamster into the video, so that was kind of fun.
But the holding-the-computer shots really didn’t come off so well. I’ve been telling people that I was trying for a deadpan expression and got it half right. I ended up going with it, but in retrospect, it’s maybe not a good idea to sit and stare at a camera for large portions of your music video. Lesson learned.
Actually, lots of lessons learned. With every one of these videos, I’ve had to try to figure out a new medium and a new way of expressing ideas. If nothing else, the video for “Hard to Go Quietly” was a great first step and learning experience.
(a couple of still photos taken from around the time HTGQ was recorded.)
As threatened, the new video is up! Highway 31 Revisited will kick off a month or so of discussions on my (mostly) home-made videos. What follows are my notes for the new one:
In addition to being an almost-unforgivable theft of the classic Bob Dylan song title, the song alludes to State Highway 31 in Kokomo, Indiana--the biggest highway in our part of the world when I was growing up.
The lyrics themselves are more about my years at the Candy Store, the Milwaukee storefront where I lived and made music for 10+ years, which was just one and a half blocks away from I-94 on Milwaukee’s south side. As a country boy, it was difficult for me to sleep for the first few weeks in Milwaukee with all the noise from the nearby freeway. Of course, you quickly learn to tune that stuff out.
The video draws from more than four years of video that has been taking up space in various hard drives; due to my habit of bringing along the video camera to live shows. In all, Hwy 31 features clips from performances in 16 different clubs in three states.
There’s even what I like to call the “butt cam” shot from the Driftwood Char Bar in Minneapolis, on a night where I thought it would be interesting to set up the camera at the back of the stage, facing the audience. And there’s one clip from a Wooldridge Brothers show; you can see Brian and others scrambling to fix a glitchy guitar amp while I fill in with this song.
I end the video going back to two early shows that feature Chris Newton playing, since his viola part was such a big part of the song. This was one of the first songs we recorded for the album—Chris departed for New York not too long after that. At the end of the song, you’ll hear a snippet of Josh Braun’s excellent pedal steel playing, which also sounds pretty great to me on this tune.
Thanks for watching, next week I'll post comments on another video. See you then!
Hmmm, how to kick off the new year...
Jan. 30 will mark the one-year anniversary of the release of my solo album. I had a very productive year as a musician in 2015, promoting the new album and preparing for the upcoming Wooldridge Brothers album.
And one of the things I really enjoyed was making videos for songs on both albums. To date, I’ve released five videos for songs from the solo album, and the Wooldridge Brothers also released a video for a song from the upcoming album.
Most of the videos for the solo album were self-made; a couple of the videos of my songs were professionally made. You can tell the difference; I’m obviously self-taught in the area of video production. But it’s fun to do and I’m happy with how most of them turned out!
So I thought it might be fun to review the various videos released in conjunction with the solo album and give some behind-the scenes insights on the different videos. I’ll be posting videos and comments roughly once a week for the next month or so. (Of course, you can check out any of them right now over the video page, but there will be social media and blog postings of the commentaries, etc.)
To further mark the one-year anniversary of the solo release, I have put together a new video for “Highway 31 Revisited,” (No. #6!) one that compiles more than 17 different performances at venues in three states. It’s one of the first songs we recorded for the solo album, and has become a staple of our sets. I thought it would be fun to release a video showcasing performances over a period of four years. Note that I began to really favor wearing hats as time goes on. I’m not losing hair, I swear!
The Highway 31 Revisited video will be released next Tuesday. Stay tuned for more!
Wrapping up the year; not much to report lately but hoping to get the Wooldridge Brothers album done relatively early next year and start playing some shows. As a bit of a holiday present, I'm posting some behind-the-scenes photos from the the Big Star's Third show last fall. It really was a highlight of the year, if not the decade...
From L to R, Jody Stephens, Dale Baker, Audley Freed, Chris Stamey, Brian Wooldridge, Mike Mills, Basketball Tech*, Ken Stringfellow. The day before the BS3rd show, Ken and Chris oversaw rehersals for the string section during the day and the guest vocalists in the evening. This practice space held much of the core band, plus other BS3rd regulars such as Brett Harris and Skylar Gudasz, plus guests such as Matt Wilson, Dave Pirner, Josh Grier, BW and moi. It really was kind of a mind-blowing experience to hang with these folks. (*"Basketball Tech" was the nickname I gave to their roadie, which I apologize for, but he really did take care of the basketball used in "Downs," among many other duties!)
Some of the musicians watch the string section and horns start soundcheck at First Avenue the day of the show. That's one of the Schoepps in the hat.
The forest o' pedals onstage. The taped square is where the floor mic was for the basketball. X marked the spot for dribbling.
Behind the 1st Ave. stage is a wall of setlists.
I *think* this was the performance of September Gurls. BW joins Audley and Chris on guitar.
BW played and I sang "Big Black Car" and "I Am the Cosmos." The vocal parts were quite a jump, from very low to very high. Ken was a lifesaver--really helped the singing sound smooth by nailing the backing vocal parts.
1,500 Big Star fans can't be wrong. As I've told others, I'm pretty sure that's the hippest audience I'll ever perform for. We all had a real good time, I think it's safe to say.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...
Hard to stay current with the blog, so much going on--including an incredible honor in being asked to play the Big Star's Third show at First Avenue on Sept. 30. We've worked in the past with Chris Stamey, one of the main movers of the BST shows, which have been held in different cities around the country but never in the Twin Cities before. I saw the later incarnation of Big Star in Minneapolis in... 1999? 2000? at First Ave. And soon we'll be there, playing Big Star songs. Wow.
I also met Alex Chilton long ago, in Bloomington, Indiana. I had traveled down there to visit a girl (of course) and found out he was playing that night... I called the bar and asked if I could get an interview. I had been writing for a music publication in Milwaukee and knew they'd publish the piece. To my surprise, the interview was set up quickly and I got to talk to AC face-to-face. It was quite a thrill. Being a bit of a wide-eyed fan, I ended the interview by asking Alex if he had any advice to up-and-coming musicians. He looked me in the eye and said, "Yeah. Go to law school." Classic.
Anyhow, it goes without saying that I have been a huge fan for many, many years. Being on the bill for this event is beyond awesome. I hope many of my fellow Alex Chilton fans can make it out for this night.
Other news, which is exciting in its own right: the Trio will play a show with Kerns and the Hemispheres at Aster Cafe on Oct. 29. Aster is a great, intimate music venue that I've been wanting to play for a long time. I'm dubbing this the official/unofficial single release show. Why not?
Also, we just finished shooting a video for Give It to the River, a song from my solo album. I have no idea how long it'll take me to actually edit and finish the video, but we have a lot of great shots so I'm excited to get working on it.
Stay tuned for more news!
So, last weekend was the Wooldridge Brothers' Cheese Tour aka/ Walker Diversion Tour aka/ No Sleep 'till Neenah Tour. Four shows in three days--on one practice. I'd like to say we nailed it, but I'll just be honest and say we had a great time and did pretty well!
Thursday night we played at Anodyne Coffee, a great venue in Milwaukee. We had the honor of playing with Adam Levy of the Honeydogs. I've been a fan of Adam and his incredible "10,000 Years" album for a long time, so it was a thrill to share the stage with him. It was also fun to see our Milwaukee fans and friends turn out for the show.
On Friday we played at McAuliffe's on the Square in Racine, a two-set blowout of most of the songs we know and couple we didn't... followed by by two shows on Saturday at Mile of Music in Appleton, Wisc.
We had a great time and really appreciate everyone who came out. Thanks, and see you next time!
This was kind of disturbing.
Selfie with Harpartus and guitars at Anodyne.
Adam Levy at soundcheck.
Acoustic set with Scott Gorsuch on four-string tenor guitar playing "Winter's Walk."
Adam and the WB's cover "Picture Book" by the Kinks.
My instructions to the gang prior to the show. Gotta try and keep these things simple.
Walking to McAuliffe's in Racine I saw the county courthouse. Remind me to not get arrested in Racine.
The Harparatus makes the girls think, "Who is that man playing the harmonica? I wonder, where has he been, what is he thinking, is he thinking of me?"
Julie gets my jokes while Jack's head emerges from my shoulder.
Jill plays cowbell while Julie takes a selfie...
Welcome to Emmetts, home of the big ass beers...
An early set at Mile of Music, but we did OK. A couple guys came up to tell me how tight we sounded. "Tight" is a very nice compliment for a band. I can only imagine how we would sound if we could practice on a regular basis...
Every day it's tragedy and comedy w/ the WBs...
For our last show of the tour, we visited Lawrence University, on the banks of the Fox River.
Brian rocks out on the Gretsch...
We opened the set with "Lonely Again," from the first WBs (cassette only!) release.
Including this photo so we get a shot of Scott G. playing drums. But... where is Brian??
A wonderful festival the Appleton folks put on. We had a blast and saw some other really good bands. Hope to be back next year...
The big day is here: we're announcing the release of the single "Drive Through Summer" b/w "Winter's Walk." The vinyl single was one of the rewards of our Kickstarter campaign, and will be available for sale, but you can enjoy the videos here and now!
"Winter's Walk," of course, is on the SW solo album; "Drive Through Summer" will be on the upcoming Wooldridge Brothers album.
We actually shot WW on frozen Diamond Lake in Minneapolis back in February of 2013. The plan at the time was to release it earlier, but as finishing the album and getting the KS project launched took up my time and energy, I decided to put the video on hold for a while. So then the single idea came up and it seemed like a nice way to tie the two projects together.
For WW, many thanks to Garrett Tiedemann and CyNar pictures, also to Sloan and Colleen Hamilton, Jonathan Rundman, and Sara Pajunen. Jonathan and Sara contributed some wonderful performances to the album, their help with the video was icing on the cake!
And of course thanks to the WBs band for DTS, with special thanks to John Munson and Scott Gorsuch for excellent production and mixing work, and the videography by Robb Fischer. On one video we froze, the other we got soaked by a rainstorm--but it was all a blast!
Just got back from a wonderful week in the north woods near Ely, at Camp du Nord. Trying to catch up on a *ton* of stuff, both work-related and music. Shows, videos, a single ... I'll have more about all that later. But first a little side project that took up part of my day yesterday.
I played at the "talent share" at CdN and got a very nice response to the song "Thumbs" from the last WBs album. People were coming up and asking if it was online, so when I got back home I decided to throw together a quick video. As usual, it's very home-made but I found some old footage (thanks, Larry!) and played around with some relics I have around the music room, and quickly came up with the video below. See what you think.
Had a great time at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival, as always. Devin Wooldridge shot the following video. It's a tad shaky but I like it... Got some big things coming up in July and August. Stay tuned!
The Trio had a great show at the Contented Cow a week or so ago, we really enjoyed working with Wilkinson James. There's a very high probability we will do another show with them before too long, so stay tuned! Other news: the Wooldridge Brothers did some recording in May for the upcoming album; that went very well and we've got some great-sounding new tunes, so I'm excited about that. The photo below is in honor of my fave new fast food place (Unfortunately, I think it only exists in the Rockford area).
Speaking of the WBs, we have new gigs--I'll put those up on the calendar...
Anyhow, it's shaping up to be a great summer. Hope to see you at one of the shows!
Well, the Minneapolis CD release show is now history. We had a great time; I was very happy with the turnout and with the show itself. I really tried to pull out all the stops to promote this one, sending out press releases, calling media people, using social media, etc. The results were pretty good: the solo CD received as much or more press than we got with the last Wooldridge Brothers CD (Days Went Around) -- for which we put up some significant dollars and hired a publicist.
I do believe hiring a publicist was a good idea at the time--we got some opportunities and coverage that we wouldn't have otherwise, but this time I enjoyed talking to press and radio people directly. That kind of interaction can be very educational, and like I said, the results were good. This has been a very DIY effort from the beginning; and when things go right, that can be very rewarding.
So anyhow, the process continues. Next up is some recording with the WBs and then some shows later this summer. I'm still hoping to get a little more attention for the solo album; we'll have to see how that goes.
Photos from the show below! (Many of them taken by Jill!)
New video up on the video page! "If You Don't Keep Running You Fall Behind" is the leadoff track for the album. This video is made up of stuff I shot during the February tour of Madison, Milwaukee, and Kokomo. Thanks to my sister Sheryl and nephew Joe Nierzwick, who helped me out a lot with some video from the Kokomo area.
Busy, busy time as I gear up to promote the CD release show. A new round of review CDs going out today, working on a video for "If You Don't Keep Running" and listening to some recording we did at the WB ranch in Milwaukee last weekend. We've got some new tunes that are promising and hopefully will be recorded for real in the next month or so. The video work is frustrating--working with a new version of iMovie and it has some really helpful features and some that are driving me crazy. I also wish I had put a little more emphasis on camerawork and being creative when I was video-ing ... but with everything else going on, I didn't have time to do much more than set up the camera and turn it on for our shows. So the live stuff will be a little static. So it goes...
Very excited to announce the CD release show for Minneapolis will be at Harriet Brewing on May 3. Dan Israel and Doug Collins will open--this will be the kickoff of a singer-songwriter series at the brewery's Tap Room on Sunday nights. More details to come!
I've been meaning to post our interview with Sonia at WMSE, which took place on Feb. 27 a few hours before the Shank Hall show. Sonia was a gracious host and we had a great discussion and also had fun playing a couple songs. The archived show is long but if you're interested, here it is ( we start around 32 minutes in and are on for nearly an hour!)
Well, the tour is a few days behind us, and I've been meaning to post a little about it.
It was the first tour (really a mini-tour) that I've done in a long time. It took a lot of work to get the shows set up and try to get the media to pay attention. I had varying results, but the Milwaukee media was great and very supportive. WMSE and Sonia and Erin were particularly helpful. We had a great time doing a live interview on Sonia's show. I am hoping to get that posted here somewhere, somehow. Oh, and Wisconsin Public Radio's "Simply Folk" gave us some airplay, so that was cool.
I felt really good about the performances each night. The turnout ranged from good to not-so-good. The Cafe Carpe show was not anywhere near what I'd hoped, even though a few good friends showed up. But the staff at CC couldn't have been nicer about it and we appreciated it very much.
The Shank Hall show was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the opening sets by Tommy Tousey; and Steve and Diane from Dolly Varden. We saw a lot of old Milwaukee friends (no, those are not friends who drink Old Milwaukee. Tho some of them might.) Brian and Julie Wooldridge joined us for a couple Wooldridge Brothers songs, and sure enough, I forgot to put on my capo for the first number. Some things never change.
For the Kokomo show, we had a great turnout, and again, it was really great to see old friends. Steve Gaskins, along with Tom and Tim Young, provided a really nice opening set, and I felt we played our best set of the weekend. Steve and Tom joined us for a couple songs at the end... and though it wasn't on the setlist, I had to play "Something to Say" due to popular demand. I was OK with that.
Before we knew it, it was Sunday and we were on the road. Ten hours driving can be a lot, but it didn't seem bad. Thanks to Josh (who served as my copilot for the trip) for being a good traveling companion. And thanks again to everyone who turned out. I hope to do it again before too long!
Hard to believe the tour is a little more than a week away. I've been immersed in trying to drum up a little publicity for the shows, with not-bad results so far (fingers crossed). But one big piece of news is that You Go First has joined the bill for the 2-27 Shank Hall show in Milwaukee. This is a duo consisting of Krista Irby and Tommy Tousey. Tommy, of course, owns the studio where I recorded the album and was the engineer for the recording. I'm really pleased he can be there for the Milwaukee CD release.
To note the new lineup, I posted this on FaceBook:
One of the first things you notice upon walking into Tommy Tousey's Silver Ant Recording Studio is that he is also a visual artist--there are vividly painted chairs, skateboards, really it could be anything week to week. Even while manning the board he is often doodling some fantastical imagery that often involves stars, or birds, or... Anyhow, he now partners with another visual artist, Krista Irby, on not only art but music. And their act, You Go First, will open the night at Shank Hall on Feb. 27. I'm looking forward to finally hearing them live!
Well, today's the big day--the official release date for the solo album. You can now buy it from CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon, and other sites--but I would encourage people to consider buying it right here from this site--at the "Music" page. You get your choice of audio files (Mp3 vs. other audio formats) and the album artwork, plus, (and this may be a little selfish!) I don't have to give a cut to The Man. All the proceeds go right to the artist. Which is, um, me.
I also placed a few CDs in Minneapolis record stores, and will continue to *try* to make them available at stores here in the TCs and in Milwaukee. I say "try" because several record stores said they would rather not deal with CDs anymore--sales are way down--people buying physical versions of recorded music now prefer vinyl. Which I understand--I still enjoy playing LPs; but the practicality of CDs still carried the day with this release.
It's funny--when we released the Wooldridge Brothers album "Days Went Around" in 2008 I was shocked by how many record stores had closed. Now they're resurgent; but the market has swung to vinyl, a format I wouldn't even have considered just a few years ago. The business continues to evolve too quickly for dinosaurs like me to keep up with. But that's nothing new!
Now it's time for a big push to get this to radio and the press--already started in part, but there's much more to do. Stay tuned!
Really glad (and relieved!) to finally confirm the last night of our weekend Midwest tour: we'll be playing Ned's Corner Pub in Kokomo on Feb. 28. This club has been a real haven for live music over the years, and its location is meaningful to me. It's one block away from the church I went to for all my years in Kokomo, and just a couple blocks from where my Dad's old business, Mid-Indiana Cash Register, was located. So I know the area well! Opening will be the Crooked Anglers, featuring Steve Gaskins and Tom Young. Milwaukeeans who remember the Joker's Henchmen will remember Mr. Young, who has been living in Kokomo and fronting the New Heretics for a few years... this is their acoustic lineup. Steve was instrumental in helping to set up the gig, so my thanks to him... It'll be nice to play in Kokomo again; it's been too many years. Looking forward to it!
So the full tour will be Feb. 26, Fort Atkinson, Wis., at Cafe Carpe; Feb. 27, Milwaukee, at Shank Hall; and the 28th at Ned's. Hopefully a Minneapolis date is not far from being announced. I'm still working on that.
We have a release date! The album will officially hit the digital shelves on Jan. 30. On that date, it should be available on iTunes, Amazon.com, CDBaby, and other online sources. It should also be in several Minneapolis record stores by that date. A slight caveat: I've been warned that certain sites (iTunes for example) can lag a bit in getting new albums up. BUT, I have a great solution--you can download the album in a high quality format right now from this site! And, ahem, I don't have to share 30 percent with Apple. Your call, but...
Anyhow, that's the big news. I'm sending out a press release today, which I will share on the "Bio" page. I was a little unsure about posting press releases, but I decided to post this one because it does give journalists a little more information. And as a journalist, I often go to websites to get any info I can on something I'm writing about. So, it may be useful, to someone...
More news as it happens! (cue the CBC theme song...)
The website is being publicly announced today. I did give our Kickstarter backers a sneak preview a week or so ago, but as of now--it's official! Please feel free to contact me with any comments or suggestions. The latest news is that we have the Madison and Milwaukee shows booked and should have word on the Kokomo date very soon. The Madison show (Feb. 26) is actually in Ft. Atkinson at Cafe Carpe--a legendary club I've been wanting to play for a long time. I'm thinking that 26th show will focus more on a rootsy-folk-country sound, while the 27th (Shank Hall) will be slightly more rock. We'll see; I'm still playing around with the setlists. Anyhow, thanks for stopping by, more news soon!
Just getting started here at the new website. Still figuring out the site, so there may be rather abrupt changes from time to time. Lemme sum up: new album out, tour being planned, Wooldridge Brothers project well on its way, lots of shows likely in 2015. Gonna be a fun year. Stay tuned.