Clarification/Correction

December 30, 2010

Bob Schneider resigned as BVNA president in November 2010. Because he did not complete his two-year term as president, he does not qualify to serve as BVNA past president, a position currently occupied by Patty Pritchard Thompson. Therefore, he is not serving as past president, as stated in the print issue of the January 2011 Bay View Compass, already to press.
Teri Crain, who was vice president, assumed the presidency following Schneider’s resignation. Following BVNA’s February 2011 general membership meeting, the new BVNA board will elect a new president to serve his or her two-year term starting February 2011 and Crain will likely serve as the new past president.

Source: Teri Crain, BVNA president, 30Dec2010


WANTED – Markus Evans

December 16, 2010

markus-evans16 December 2010
4pm
The Milwaukee Police Department is urgently asking for the help of the community to locate Markus Evans. We ask that you share this photo and we ask anyone who has seen him or if anyone has information on his whereabouts to call 911.
Evans is considered armed and extremely dangerous. He was last seen in the area of 4th & Keefe where a 17-year-old girl was shot and killed Wednesday night on her way home from cheerleading practice. Police advise that anyone seeing him NOT approach him, rather call 911 immediately.

Alterra design fails to aspire or inspire

December 15, 2010

Dear Alterra,

Another weak suburban low-rise design that sells one of the most important intersections in Milwaukee’s most up-and-coming neighborhood way short.

Hey, this prime site could have prime views of downtown and the lake, demanding prime rentals, if there was a signature building of several stories. This close to the lake, in a cool neighborhood, demand for super-cool buildings is going to rise—or don’t you think Bay View is worth partnering up for a serious challenging effort? Sounds an awful lot like the fast-rail problem—not enough population now, but what about the future with all that promised business growth? Don’t you believe in Wisconsin’s, and Bay View’s, future? Sounds like Scott Walker. Is this site going to sit weakly developed, a wasted opportunity, like Bay View Commons [Urban View Condos] at Becher and KK?

When I visit Chicago, such prime commercial sites are built up to provide prime premium space where residents and office occupants drive neighborhood businesses. Here, you offer strip-mall thinking. Instead of finding a development partner who thinks big, you’re complacent in a play-it-safe business paradigm. Apparently, you don’t think enough of Bay View to envision a better, more vibrant, economic future.

And the contaminated property to the south? You take the cheap approach and cap it with asphalt surface parking instead of removing the toxins in our neighborhood and building underground parking as a foundation for a substantial mid-rise.

I oppose this effort. Please think bigger, and try again.

Gregory Francis Bird

Bay View


MUSICAL GOODIES IN SANTA’S SLEIGH

December 8, 2010

By Randy Otto

As sure as Christmas comes every December 25th, a new crop of holiday music releases arrives as well. Compared to recent years, however, the crop is not as bountiful. However, there are certainly some shiny musical ornaments to be found in Santa’s sleigh. Here are some of the highlights…

Susan Boyle, The Gift

Certain to be one of 2010’s biggest-selling releases, this is the second album from the YouTube and Britain’s Got Talent sensation. Like her debut, 2009’s I Dreamed a Dream, this album has its share of surprises. Leading off with a 1-2 punch of covers of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” (hey, she did a great job on the Stones’ “Wild Horses”) and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (yes, yet another remake, but it’s simply gorgeous), the album also features the usual assortment of traditional carols, including “Auld Lang Syne,” written by fellow Scot Robert Burns. Ms Boyle again delivers an album that goes beyond expectations. You can check out the video for “Perfect Day” (gorgeously shot in Scotland’s Loch Lamond) at susanboylemusic.com.

Annie Lennox, A Christmas Cornucopia

It’s been a while since we’ve had anything new from Ms Lennox, so it’s a treat to have this new release. The 12 selections include a new original, “Universal Child,” recorded in South Africa with the African Children’s Choir. Mixed among the other selections are rarely heard carols (at least here in the USA) including “Coventry Carol (Lullay Lullay),” “As Joseph Was A Walking,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “See Amid the Winter’s Snow,” and the lovely French carol “Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant.” Very nice.

The Priests, Noel

These PBS stars, real Irish priests that include two brothers and their mate from childhood, present a Christmas program loaded with traditional carols, along with their take on the David Bowie/Bing Crosby duet “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” Their usual lusty delivery will entice you to join in and sing along.

The Puppini Sisters, Christmas with the Puppini Sisters

If you’re a fan of the Andrews Sisters, don’t miss this CD from this trio of British lasses (one of whom is actually named Puppini). Featuring their usual close three-part harmonies and backed by a jazz trio, the girls offer their takes on seasonal favorites including Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas,” Wham’s “Last Christmas,” Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby,” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas,” along with a great scat-filled version of “Let It Snow” and a cabaret-style rendition of “Here Comes Santa Claus” that Gene Autry would barely recognize!

Glee: The Music-The Christmas Album

As reported here several months back, the cast from the smash TV series present their takes on music of the season, and judging from the sales of their previous releases, should be the only serious challenger to The Gift as the biggest selling holiday release for 2010. Also like their previous albums, there are plenty of surprises to be found, including “Deck the Rooftop” (a mashup of “Deck the Halls” and “Up on the Housetop”), “You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch” with guest vocalist k.d. lang, “We Need a Little Christmas” from the musical Mame, and probably the first recording of “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year (The Song of the Misfit Toys)” since the original soundtrack of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Pink Martini, Joy to the World

The little lounge orchestra that could once again defies categorization with this collection of seasonal music from around the world. Included among the album’s 14 selections are a rendition of “White Christmas” sung in Japanese by Japanese pop star Saori Yuki, “Schedryk,” better known as “Carol of the Bells,” here sung in the original Ukrainian, and a version of “We Three Kings” that’s reminiscent of legendary African singer Fela Kuti. This album should give you a pretty good idea of what Santa gets to hear as he makes his annual rounds.

Various Artists, 100 Hits-Christmas Legends

Various Artists, 100 Hits-Carols and Hymns

Last year, Britain’s Demon Music Group, home of the popular 100 Hits compilation series, made a slight misstep with their 100 Hits-Christmas release. Of the set’s 5 discs, one was a CD that featured “Christmas Party Favourites” that weren’t even holiday related songs, and one was a Karaoke DVD of Christmas songs that perhaps might be great for holiday parties, but certainly not for personal listening. That error has been corrected with these two magnificent new releases for 2010. Christmas Legends is the holiday equivalent of the label’s previously released American Songbook set, featuring greats like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Doris Day, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin…need we say more?

Carols and Hymns features the great Christmas carols, along with spiritual songs like “Abide with Me” and “Rock of Ages,” all performed by many of Britain’s finest bands and choirs (including the Bands and Choirs of the Salvation Army!).

Both sets are available at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

NOW HEAR THESE

A VISIT WITH MILWAUKEE REP ACTRESS KELLEY FAULKNER

Milwaukee audiences recently saw one of the most memorable debuts in recent memory in Rep newcomer Kelley Faulkner’s sensational performance as Sally Bowles in the acclaimed production of the classic musical Cabaret. Kelley isn’t resting on her laurels, though. From December 2-26, she’s right back at the Rep in the cast of the 35th annual production of A Christmas Carol. And talk about range! She’ll be going from portraying the vixenish Sally to sweet, lovable Belle, the girl who broke Scrooge’s heart.

I recently spoke with Kelley between rehearsals for Carol, and was immediately surprised to learn that she is now a bona fide Milwaukeean, having relocated here from the Philadelphia area, where she’s been based the past five years.

“I’m really enjoying the time I’ve been here so far, and I’m looking forward to spending my first Christmas and New Year’s here” she said. And since arriving here in early August to begin rehearsals for Cabaret, she’s found time to take in some of Milwaukee’s offerings, including a cast outing to Irish Fest on the fest’s final day.

And this Celtic lass was duly impressed. “We checked out Gaelic Storm playing before this massive crowd, as well as the Scattering finale, a big jam session where it seemed every musician and dancer at the Fest was onstage. It’s really quite an amazing event.” Welcome to Milwaukee, Kelley!

Having grown up in the New York area, Kelley went professional right out of high school, including doing work for a stage show coinciding with New York showings of Disney’s animated feature Hercules. When she turned 22, she entered New Jersey’s Montclair State University, enrolling in that school’s acclaimed theater program. Upon graduation, she immediately went back to work. For the past five years, she’s racked up an impressive resume, performing in regional productions of Chicago, Oliver!, Miss Saigon, State Fair, Les Miserables, and 42nd Street, as well as a national tour of Big. She’s also had opportunities to work with the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, and Broadway star Savion (Tap Dance Kid) Glover.

But there’s no hesitation as to her favorite production in which she’s performed. “Oh, there’s no doubt Cabaret’s been my favorite so far. A lot of that has to do with the great cast and the people here at the Rep. It was truly magical.”

Although as a youngster she sang in a children’s chorus for several New York City Opera productions that had larger numbers of performers, Cabaret has been the biggest show in her career so far. Even with a grueling six week run that included two performances of the two-and-a-half hour show on certain days, Kelley and her fellow cast members were real troupers. “I only missed one performance due to illness. We just learned to pace ourselves, especially on those two performance days, so everybody could still be at their best.” I don’t think anybody would argue that point.

As for shows on her wish list, “I’d love to do Sunday in the Park with George someday. It’s one of Stephen Sondheim’s very best musicals.” Mark Clements and Bill Theisen, are you listening?

But right now, it’s Christmas Carol that has Kelley’s undivided attention, portraying Belle as well as several other minor characters. It’s like trying to catch Alfred Hitchcock’s cameo appearances in his movies to spot all of her different roles in this show. And she’s also been impressed by the youngsters in the cast. “What a delight it’s been to work with them, they’ve been so sweet and fun.”

And since this, after all, is a music column, I asked her why a music geek like myself should attend this show. “I was truly surprised by the huge amount of music in this show. The Dickens story actually references ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,’ and so many of the traditional carols and music of the Dickensian era have a prominent place in the show. Our music director Randal Swiggum has done a truly remarkable job with the arrangements.

“All in all, it’s just a beautiful production of a wonderful story in a truly gorgeous venue (the Pabst Theater). I’m truly proud to be part of it, and I hope everybody can come out and see it. And the Rep is such a classy organization, I’m so glad to be here.”

That’s backatcha, Kelley. Folks, I’d suggest you catch this rising star while you can, because I suspect she’s destined for greater things.

Liberace! At the Stackner Cabaret, now through January 16

During my chat with Kelley, she gave me a personal recommendation for this show currently playing at the Rep’s Stackner Cabaret.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with the show’s star, Jack Forbes Wilson, for a benefit gala a few months back, and he’s just an amazingly talented musician. He’s the perfect choice for this part. I can’t wait to see the show myself!”

You’re hardly alone Kelley. The Rep’s box office folks tell me the tickets are going at a brisk pace for this world premiere production. Rep mainstay Brent Hazleton wrote the script, which doesn’t shy away from the issues which clouded the Milwaukee native’s personal life. And while the show certainly presents Liberace the master showman, it also makes sure to present Liberace the world-class musician, thanks to the great chops of this show’s star. Wilson deftly mixes classical showpieces with clever arrangements of pop standards to create a total portrait of this show business icon.

It was recently announced that Michael Douglas would be playing Liberace in an upcoming biopic directed by Steven Soderbergh. Well, Mr Douglas certainly has a tough act to follow here. Oh, by the way, the Dancing Waters are not part of the Stackner production, just in case you were wondering.

Sound Opinions Christmas Special, December 19, 6 pm, WYMS (RadioMilwaukee 88.9 fm or RadioMilwaukee.org)

Jonny Z’s Chicken Shack Christmas, December 24, 9 am-noon, WMSE (91.7 fm or wmse.org)

Paul Host’s Christmas Eve Special, December 24, noon-9 pm, WMSE (91.7 fm or wmse.org)

Since mid-November, two local radio stations (WRIT 95.7 fm and WMYX 99 fm) have been playing all Christmas music, all the time, and will continue to do so through Christmas Day. However, just like during their normal programming, the same songs keep popping up over and over. And on Christmas Eve, the majority of local stations turn over their programming to pre-packaged syndicated specials so their employees can enjoy the holiday like the rest of us. Again, the music is pretty predictable. Where to find the really cool Christmas music shows on the radio dial? Now Hear These is here to provide the answers.

On December 19, on the weekly music review show Sound Opinions, Chicago music promoter (and avid record collector) Andy Cirzan again joins show hosts Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis to present one of the most entertaining hours of holiday music you’ll hear all season. Comprised entirely of records from Andy’s extensive collection, the music certainly is on the obscure side, at times even downright creepy (“Santa will tell you what he sees when he comes to your house, when he’s in your house, and when he leaves your house” intones a menacing sounding Kris Kringle on one such record). But it’s all done in the spirit of holiday fun.

On Christmas Eve, the festivities get underway at 9 am when WMSE mainstay Jonny Z presents a special Christmas edition of his popular Chicken Shack show. Culled from the worlds of country, rockabilly, surf (remember the Christmas albums from the Beach Boys and Ventures?) and R&B, I’d be willing to bet that you won’t hear a single song heard on the commercial stations. Certain to be played are tracks from Johnny Cash’s 1963 classic The Christmas Spirit, which a friend once called “the most depressing Christmas album ever made.” (It probably didn’t help that its release coincided with JFK’s assassination, which remains a vivid memory for me personally) Cash’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” certainly sets itself apart from all others. Anyway, tune in and you decide.

Following Jonny Z is a true Milwaukee Christmas legend, as Paul Host again presents his annual Christmas Eve music show, featuring a full nine hours of recorded music presented live (not pre-taped) from the MSE studios, a tradition that has gone on for nearly 30 years now. Again, you’ll hear songs I guarantee you won’t hear on any other radio station, period. Two performers certain to pop up along the way are Milwaukee icons Albert the Alleycat and Mad Man Michaels. If nothing else, you’ll learn who the Polish Santa Claus is. Listen online if you must, but even if you’re unable to catch the entire show, at least dip in for some of this Milwaukee radio institution.

Testa Rosa, Testa Rosa II

Hard to believe it’s been three years since Testa Rosa released their debut CD, a feast of delectable pop treats. Arriving just in time to stuff Christmas stockings,Testa Rosa II more than delivers on the promise of their debut. Bay View residents Betty and Damian Strigens lead the band through another inspired set of top-notch pop magic. Again, Betty’s vocals evoke images of the Pretenders and, especially, the Cranberries, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing indeed.

Mary Ann Miller CD Release Party, December 9, 6-9 pm, Brochach Irish Pub, 1850 N Water St.

As I mentioned in my Irish Fest preview a few months back, a very select group of musicians has performed at all thirty fests. One of them is Celtic harpist Mary Ann Miller, truly a mainstay of this great festival. Her soothing, delicate melodies provide a welcome contrast to the usual rowdy tunes heard at the fest (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…).

Mary Ann celebrates this milestone with her brand-new CD Legendary, which features gorgeous performances of a generous selection of classic Irish folk songs.

Produced by Milwaukee music veteran Mark Shurilla, the CD has its launch party on the 9th at Brochach. You can get the CD at the free event, or contact mshurilla@msn.com.

Steve Cohen, Jim Liban, Little Rev, December 18, Linnemans

For those of you that just can’t get enough blues harmonica, don’t miss this summit meeting of three of the area’s hottest blues harp players. Heck, two of these guys are local legends already, the other will soon be one. Get there early, there’s certain to be a packed house for this.

Mighty Blue Kings, December 18, Shank Hall

If, on the other hand, cutting a rug to hot swing music is more to your liking, head over to Shank Hall that same night for this veteran Chicago band, featuring suave vocalist Ross Bon. In the tradition of outfits like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Brian Setzer Orchestra, you’ll get plenty of hot swing tunes for jitterbugging. And in the spirit of the season, it’s quite likely you’ll also get a number of tunes from the Kings’ Christmas album from several years back.

The Agony & Ecstasy of Phil Spector, January 7-9, Times Cinema, 5906 W Vliet St.

I was going to wait until the January column to run this, but I wanted to give you plenty of advance notice on this movie, since there will only be three screenings (Friday and Saturday at 9 pm, Sunday at 4 pm). This is Vikram Jayanti’s acclaimed documentary on the legendary music producer and convicted murderer. It’s certainly as good as the Harry Nilsson (another tortured music legend) film shown at the Milwaukee Film Festival last fall. Not to be missed.

Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a fantastic New Year! And thanks for reading!

Watch for my “Nifty Fifty” album list for 2010 in the January Compass!