Saturday, July 21, 2007
I told everyone that we want to do poetry night at least once a month, and also that anyone who felt the urge to read or recite or perform to please jump into the fray. I read a couple of my own, along with Big Poppa E's "Wussy Boy Manifesto" to hopefully get the ball rolling. And so it was very cool when our friend Bobbi Schuetze did, in fact, step up and read one of her own poems (she had to print it off my laptop). And Brian's friend Lauren also stepped up to the plate, plugged in her laptop and read three of her writings. Brian finished everything up with a final triad of poems.
It was fun, and I feel like we've taken the first step to working this into a bigger, louder and more vibrant happening as we continue. The hope is to eventually have true slams every month. Check the blog for the next calendar of events.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
But the one thing that Pat said that I did find curious was his statement to the effect that sponsor banners ought to be "made fun of." I believe what he said was "I just think that sponsor banners...deserve to be made fun of" or words to that effect. My question would be, why? Tell us why you feel that way, Pat; don't just say it and then make fun of a sponsor without telling us why that's important to you. It struck me as disingenuous; making a statement in order to have it be perceived, hopefully, as having some sort of intellectual or "artistic" merit; trying to appear as the subversive and anti-corporate/anti-commercial artist. If Pat was sincere then it only reveals naiveté and a disconnect from folks/entrepreneurs with small businesses who work hard to create something. Sponsors of small-town events like AcousticFest are generally not the corporate or commercial behemoths that I think Pat would rail against...they're people just wanting to help their communities do some fun stuff, and also help their businesses/livelihoods stay afloat in the process. Andy Warhol once made the comment that "business art" is the highest art form (and as an art historian and artist I think I might agree with Andy on that).
The response to Pat's comments was interesting too, as I walked around the park and several friends/Stumpjack customers made a point to tell me that he was way out of bounds with his comments. And I've got a few emails since then saying the same thing. People getting ticked off when someone is perceived as attacking their place, Stumpjack Coffee...man, that is just so amazingly cool and I am just so very grateful that people feel that way about the place.
So, do I take offense at what Pat had to say in calling us out? Not really. Because I also have to acknowledge that Pat did us a favor in singling us out and talking about us. While I don't necessarily agree with the old adage that says that any press is good press, in this case I do think it was good press. And also, I really like Pat MacDonald's music...the guy is an artist, and he puts out some really great stuff. So I'm cool with him saying whatever he wants to say about us...they're not the first dumb statements I've heard, believe me...it's all good.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Kicking off the day was our dear friend Becky Markvart. The band shell loved Becky's voice...she never sounded better. Her vocals were full and powerful and beautiful. Becky hasn't been performing solo (acoustically, that is) for very long (her gig at the Stump just a couple months ago was her first solo performance) but you could never tell. Her guitar work is solid and supports her beautiful vocals very reliably, and while I know she may have been a little nervous before the show she was obviously enjoying the moment, and the audience responded to her set with enthusiastic applause and shouts for "one more!" I'd say having Becky start the event was perfect, because she immediately brought with her a lot of joy and enthusiasm, which translated to the audience and really set the tone for the rest of the day.
Casual Steve...cool name, excellent sound. Man, these three guys were absolutely down with it. Gritty yet smooth, like a shot of Booker's. I chatted with Derek and Dan after their set (the Steve in the name comes from an experience they had with some secret service guys for Al Gore when the former VP came to town for something or other...picture four SS men, three in clichéd dark suits and shades, and one in khakis and a polo, with a sticky name tag "Steve") and while they've all known each other at least since high school they've been together as Casual Steve for just a short time. I might be wrong about this (and if I am please correct me guys) but I gathered that Derek, who does lead vocals, does most or all of the songwriting as well...and their songs are dang good too...bluesy and lyrically smart. We're going to schedule the guys for a gig at Stumpjack sometime soon, so pay attention and mark your calendar when we firm up the date(s). Pete (Honzik) thanked the guys as they left the stage by calling them his "favorite new band" and I know he's not alone in that.
Kerry Michaels was joined by Tim Fab and the two of them made an interesting guitar duo, with Tim really playing some fast and dense stuff next to Kerry's raspy vocals. It was cool to hear Tim's playing add something different to some of Kerry's tunes that we've come to know so well. And Tim was very gracious in acknowledging Kerry's songwriting to the crowd. After the set Kerry was a little bummed because of some sound problems he had early in the set...My 2 cents: "Loosen up dude! You sounded great!" We're hoping to do some recording with Kerry sometime in the near future, as well as get some more of his CD's in the cafe soon.
Matt Schroeder is a truly excellent guitar player. The guy's playing is simply outstanding...extremely skilled, effortless and tasty guitar work. When he's done you just go "Man, that guy's good..." And a darn nice guy he is too. Matt's brother, Mark, was one of my roommates at UWM and it was really nice chatting with Matt after the set and saying hi to his Mom and Dad again (it's been a while). Matt's daughter played a tune with him on stage too (I think she's 10), which was very cool. She's got a heckuva teacher. Matt said we might be able to do something at the Stump this fall, so that's another one to mark on your calendar when we set a date. His family (uncles) own Schroeder's Department Store in Two Rivers, and he's played there before, so if you've seen him there you know how special this guy's talent is. Good seeing you again Matt.
OK, Janet Planet with Tom Theabo. What more can be said about Janet Planet...the voice, and the total ease with which she draws you into the song...she is the reigning jazz queen in many people's book. I was thinking as I was listening to her and Tom Theabo, what a great or serendipitous job Pete Honzik did with the order of the lineup for AcousticFest. The mix of acoustic folk, blues, rock and now jazz was perfect; always fresh, and nary a moment of boredom or sameness. Janet Planet will be playing at Stumpjack Coffee...oh, sometime in the future, hopefully...have to actually ask her first I guess...
Unfortunately, my camera batteries died in the middle of Planet's set, so I didn't get any pics of any other performers after her. But I'll toss in a few others from the day here on this post and then add everything else to a Flickr set later.
Mike Retzinger did a powerful set that made me think of those earlier 20th century powerful folk singers who sang songs of social and political commentary. Not that all his tunes were social commentary, but rather that he portrayed that kind of intense passion and lower register guitar sound that I associate with those folks.
Gloria and Pete Pivonka, Unwound, were great too. Besides being excellent musicians they're married to each other as well, and that makes for a very nice dynamic between the two of them on stage. They've been in to Stumpjack for coffee and after the set we talked about doing something at the cafe sometime, which will be a lot of fun. Gloria and Kim (my wife) graduated from Lincoln together and used to waitress at Big Boy in Manitowoc back in the day. I met Pete's Dad after the show; a very sweet guy who was clearly proud of his son. It just strikes me as very cool that folks like Pete and Gloria...who are very talented musicians, gifted performers, are old friends (with Kim), and just lovely people who exude a lot of joy and love, live right here. You don't have to drive far or pay big ticket prices to see and hear extremely talented artists perform; they live right here in your own backyard. Note to Pete: am planning a trip to Fish Creek for that shirt...I must have it!
Joe LaForce and Mark Kimmes were the final local performers to play and, again, what a good way to end the lineup. I don't know Mark, personally, but Joe and Kim worked together for a while at the Aging Resource Center in Manitowoc (Joe is still there I believe). Joe and Mark are mighty easy to listen to, with a smooth and relaxing style that just makes you want to stretch your legs out, put your hands behind your head, close your eyes and smile. And Joe again showed himself to be the gracious and humble individual that he is, with kind words for the other performers and show organizers. We've been talking with Joe for quite while about having him at the cafe but our schedules just haven't meshed up to now...sometime this fall I'm thinking.
MacDonald spent an equal amount of time talking to the audience, and at one point midway through their set indicated that he was in desperate need of a cup of excellent Stumpjack Coffee, bemoaning that there was none to be had at the concert. We, of course, understand his craving for Stumpjack Coffee and thank him sincerely for his enthusiastic endorsement. Reading the tagline on the Stumpjack banner behind him he seemed to sob, "There's ambiance...and art...but no fine coffees here..." I'll see what I can do about sending him a pound of fine Puerto Rican or Papua New Guinea, so that he doesn't have to have his next performance adversely affected by a lack of our coffee.
The performance of Dorothy Scott and Pat MacDonald really was the only disappointing part of the whole day. From Dorothy it was disappointing because her performance was so short. I think she only played maybe a half dozen or so songs. I would have liked to have seen and heard much more from her because she is really a dynamic personality and a fierce guitar player. From MacDonald it was disappointing not only because he played so briefly, but also because what he did do was largely not acoustic at all. Before his set I heard him ask Pete Honzik if he could plug in...play electric...so I guess he really wasn't down with the concept of AcousticFest. At one point he mentioned to the audience something to the effect that since this was "AcousticFest" that they might expect the performance to be less polished, or that mistakes ought to be embraced as part of the concept. To me, this was kind of an insulting thing to say, to not only the audience but to the other performers who do take both acoustic music and their performances seriously. I'd read a number of good reviews of his performances before the concert and was expecting much more, so his performance here was a disappointment.
I'm hesitant to be openly critical like this lest some folks think it's just in response to MacDonald's silly critique of the coffee thing. I'll address that in a follow-up post but I actually think that he did us a service with those comments, albeit unintentionally perhaps, and I owe him a thank you for the promo.
Yet that was but one singular and thankfully brief disappointment in what was otherwise a stellar day of music and talent. A lot of people mentioned during the day that this was perhaps the best AcousticFest yet, with a plethora of local talent and great performances.
Pete Honzik, Dan Hildebrand, Dennis Krall and everyone else (Joe and the other sponsors) who helped to make this event the great thing that it is merit a huge tip of the hat and a beer. We're proud to have been associated with AcousticFest this year and hope to help more next year. There's some mighty talented, dedicated and just plain "good" people who make this maybe the coolest music event around, and right here at that.
Ok, I hope I never make another post that long...man...
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I'm putting together out Stumpjack website now (hope to be done in a couple weeks) and am retooling some things with the blog as well, including creating another blog that is more geared toward my own nonsensical ramblings and interests. A Stumpjumper's Meandering will hopefully contain greater coffee-focused content, while Stumptoons will be more eclectic, scattered, trivial, and probably have little to no redeeming value beyond my own ego stroking...make sure you visit it regularly and often...
Sunday, July 8, 2007
When asked why he needed Stumpjack coffee one Canadian lumberjack simply said "ehhh...Stumpjack Cafe'...ees le' magnifique...eh!"
Friday, July 6, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
We spent the last few days (Sunday afternoon through Wednesday) beneath the trees at Point Beach State Forest here in TR. The weather was beautiful (with great thunderstorms Monday and Tuesday nights), the bugs were nil, the ground was hard, the coffee was superb (one brew pot of Puerto Rican and one of Kenyan). This is the first real time off I've had since we opened (took a week in February, but that was really a work week where I still came into the shop each night or did paperwork at home, and then spent the last three days of it in Chicago at CoffeeFest, so there hasn't really been a good break since early last summer).
But the three days at Point beach were great...very relaxing. Came up with several good ideas for Stumpjack. I've decided I'm going to make use of the campground every month from now on, for at least a couple of days each month until winter.
Sat. July 7
Live Music with Becky Markvart
Time: 8 - 10 p.m.
Acoustic folk music
Thu. July 12 - Chess Club: 7:00pm open to all levels of play
Thu. July 19 - Chess Club: 7:00pm open to all levels of play
Fri. July 20
Open Mic: Poetry & Music
Time: 8 - 10 p.m.
Poetry & Music, featuring poetry by Brian Muenzenmeyer
Sat. July 21
Live Music with Kerry Michaels
Time: 8 - 10 p.m.
Acoustic rock and folk from singer/songwriter Kerry Michaels
Thu. July 26 - Chess Club: 7:00pm open to all levels of play
Sat. July 28
Live Music with Koz
Time: 8 - 10pm
Multi-Instrumentalist plays a variety of musical genres