Who's ready for Milwaukee!!!! Ok, but before we kicking off a rollicking two-show February mini-tour of Milwaukee (yes, it warrants a "mini-tour" classification because more than one show occurred, so there!), I should mention briefly Gig 27, at good ol' Burrito Rojo in Turners Falls, MA. Somehow there's a rule that the farther I have to drive for a gig, the more fiercely the obligatory ice storm rages. But I arrived there, and returned home, alive. So I could go to . . .
Gig 28: MILWAUKEE. My first-ever Milwaukee, Wisconsin, show was at Bremen Cafe in the Riverwest area. For all of you who are anticipating a dramatic Francie-almost-got-electrocuted story after the last post's cliffhanger, it's kind of up to you to decide whether I made false promises of excitement. I arrived at the venue nice and early, and was glad to find an actual stage, next to an actual bar, with actual local brews—and I was happy to meet my opener for the evening, the lovely and highly talented Lisa Ridgely (that's her in the photo that's not of me; wow, that sounded narcissistic somehow). What I was less pleased about, however, was the realization not only that there was no equipment set up (being on tour [okay, mini-tour], I had confirmed in advance that I could avail myself of a house PA) but also that no one there had any suggestions about how the system worked or should be set up.
And here's where the electrocution comes in—when I say the equipment wasn't set up, I mean that whoever played there last just left everything in a dusty, haphazard pile. I have never had to shift through so many janky wires, while perching on a rickety stage, hauling equipment from an angle that I'm pretty sure all doctors would agree is the least good for my back. When I was plugging in equipment I was sure I was a goner (sometimes I closed my eyes when plugging stuff in—it seemed the impending electrical shock would be less painful if I couldn't actually see my bones through my skin [as everyone knows can happen, based on Saturday morning cartoons]). But we all survived. Lisa played a great set, and my set turned out OK, after I was informed that I had the bass up too high. (I'm sorry, it's hard to sound check yourself from the stage without a monitor, and frankly even if I could have found one in the pile of wires and dust I wasn't about to tempt fate by plugging in an extra piece of equipment.) Don't get me wrong, though, I had a lot of fun at this show, and it was a confidence booster to know that I can set up a random system from scratch in relatively little time, albeit with multiple technical difficulties. (By the way, all the photos here are courtesy of John O'Hara, who donated his time to making us feel like rock stars by taking photos at Bremen.)
Gig 29: Just when I thought my Wisconsin trip would be a one-gig stop, Lisa invited me to be a part of the exciting "Dark Show" at Linneman's, also in Milwaukee's Riverwest. This concept show, organized by Jason Fields, involved a rapid succession of songwriters, plus a display from local fine artists, all with no spotlights (hence the show's title; I actually didn't get why this was the "Dark Show" at the outset, but gradually caught on when I realized I could actually see the audience from the stage). I have to say, Milwaukee has a very cool arts scene, and I'm always impressed when a few people get together to make a show—and a scene—happen (this includes the owner of the venue, who contributed stellar sound engineering skills). So that's my tour. What's next? I'll be in Western Massachusetts for a couple of months at least, but I hear my West Coast roots calling—will I return to the San Francisco Bay Area this summer? Will I mosey down to check out the Los Angeles scene (I spent a lot of my childhood in Southern California, it still feels just a tiny bit like home)? These are questions that time, and my ability to self-motivate, surely will answer.