Victoria’s Now Open

January 31, 2011

Gene McKiernan, Barnacle Bud’s proprietor, recently refurbished the old View Inn, 1100 E. Potter Ave., into Victoria’s, a corner tap named for his wife. Victoria’s features hats for lampshades and somehow still evokes that Jimmy Buffet vibe even far from the water. Victoria’s held a grand opening party the night the Packers thrashed the Atlanta Falcons. Look for the “clown painting” in our next issue.

Tilting at turbines

January 31, 2011

By Michael Timm


This photo illustration shows what a 154-foot-tall wind turbine could look like when viewed from South Shore Park if it were sited out on the confined disposal facility, one of two sites under consideration. ~photo Michael Timm / illustration Dan Gautraud

The project would be funded by a $400,000 federal grant designated for a high-visibility project to benefit city-owned property and that demonstrates a commitment to renewable energy. The city’s Office of Environmental Sustainability administers this money and has identified a wind turbine on one of these sites as its “first and best” option for the grant.

Depending on which turbine and which site is selected, up to about $200,000 in Focus on Energy and We Energies incentives and grants are also expected, which would completely cover all associated costs (the most expensive option would cost $500,000-600,000).

Electricity generated at either site would offset that used at the nearby Port of Milwaukee administration building. The Department of Energy requires Milwaukee to “commit” its funds by April 25.

2 Turbine Possibilities
• 115-foot 20-kilowatt Renewegy Wind Turbine or
• 154-foot 100-kilowatt Northern Power Wind Turbine

Wind Meeting

Matt Howard, city director of environmental sustainability, discusses the proposed wind turbine with a crowded room of area residents in the South Shore Park Pavilion Jan. 13 as local TV media illuminate the scene. ~photo Michael Timm

Public reaction to the wind turbine at a Jan. 13 meeting at the South Shore Park Pavilion was intense but mixed. Approximately 150 people were present and 48 spoke over the course of almost three hours. The Compass counted 16 who testified for the turbine, 18 against, and 14 who expressed concern. At the meeting’s conclusion, 14th District Alderman Tony Zielinski promised another meeting for constituents to weigh in and said he would not support a wind turbine if a majority of his district opposed it.

Some of the vocal opposition was based on misconceptions about these “commercial-scale” wind turbines, which are about three times smaller than “industrial-scale” wind turbines like those on Fond du Lac County’s wind farms. Residents expressed fear about noise, safety, and shadow flicker from spinning blades.


Left: 154-foot tower; center: 275-foot tower; right: 115-foot tower.

A contingent of residents from the Bay View Terrace condo tower expressed distaste for a wind turbine tarnishing their view of the lake and city skyline. Many also questioned this use of their federal tax dollars and some expressed a not-in-my-backyard, send-it-back mentality, seeming emboldened by Governor Walker’s recent refusal of over $800 million in federal stimulus funds to construct a high-speed rail route between Milwaukee and Madison.

Others expressed support for renewable energy but remained skeptical of a wind turbine for this site; they wanted a solar option instead.

Older residents along Shore Drive also seemed reluctant to stomach change—especially at the CDF site where the turbine was anticipated to have greater visual impact than by the port building. Several also questioned how a wind turbine would impact the many species of migratory birds that use the CDF as a prime stopover point after crossing Lake Michigan.

But the crowd wasn’t aroused about birds. How the turbine would impact lakefront aesthetics was a concern. As one opponent summarized his frustration, “I will see it every day when I wake up.”

City Response

Matt Howard, city environmental sustainability director, responded to many concerns at the meeting. He stressed the safety record of both turbines and named sites in Wisconsin where he said the same models are working silently and effectively with little or no neighbor complaints (Renewegy at Orion Energy in Manitowoc, Northern Power at Madison Area Technical College in Fort Atkinson).

He cited a Focus on Energy report that claims just 1.29 birds die per wind turbine tower per year in Wisconsin, which pales in comparison to bird collisions with buildings, windows, communication towers, and death by cat.

Shadow flicker was argued to not apply in this case because no residences would exist in either tower’s shadow (the sun would have to shine through the spinning blades to cause the disturbing effect; some Fond du Lac County residents literally live in the shadow of much taller turbines).

Lake Express owner Ken Szallai expressed concern about the turbine interfering with his vessel’s radar. Howard said he could only say that the FAA has indicated the wind turbine would not pose an aviation hazard and said the National Weather Service has determined the turbine would have limited to no impact on Doppler weather radar systems. He said his conversations with the nearby Coast Guard have not raised similar concerns.

Responding to those who wanted a solar project, Howard countered that the city already has its Milwaukee Shines program dedicated to solar.

Outstanding Questions

In the weeks following the public meeting, Howard’s office reviewed feedback and at press time was preparing an FAQ web page responding to concerns ( The city also opted to reevaluate the larger wind turbine at the port building site—at the meeting this was not presented as an option because of concern over the taller tower being too close to Wisconsin Department of Transportation property (I-794), Howard said.

“It is an option. It’s an option now,” Howard said. “Because of some of the input we received at the community meeting. So we threw it back into play. A lot of comments were made about the importance of payback, how quickly this thing would pay for itself. To consider the best options, we have to consider the tallest tower.”

Placing the taller tower by the port building would not be as efficient as placing it out on the CDF—because of turbulence from the nearby Hoan Bridge—but it’s still estimated to produce enough electricity to offset the entire building’s usage. The shorter turbine could only produce a fraction of the building’s annual electricity at either site.

4 Possibilities: 2 Turbines, 2 Sites

The wind resource is richer farther from shore and higher from the ground, where surrounding obstacles like the Hoan Bridge cause turbulence.

One outstanding legal issue is whether Wisconsin law permits a wind turbine on the CDF site, which is filled lakebed land technically granted to the city of Milwaukee by the state of Wisconsin with acceptable uses governed by the state’s Public Trust Doctrine. Generally, those uses are navigation or recreation.

The Milwaukee city attorney’s office issued an opinion in response to Alderman Zielinski’s request on the issue, but offers little clarity. The Legislature intended “broad but not unlimited discretion” for how the city can use the filled land, city attorneys Grant Langley and Stuart Mukamal wrote Jan. 24. They felt there’s a good argument to be made for the wind turbine as an acceptable use in powering the port building—arguably an aid to navigation—but said they could not predict the result of potential litigation based on the doctrine.

Howard, too, took a cautious line in his statement to the Compass. “It appears that the Public Trust Doctrine gives broad and liberal, but not unlimited, degree of discretion to the city in its selection of the permitted uses for these lands. A wind turbine would directly power the port administration building and enhance the Port Authority’s operational efficiency. A wind turbine would thus be located on a site that the WDNR has determined is an acceptable use under public trust [as a confined disposal facility for dredge spoils]. The CDF itself is currently off limits to the public.”

Separately, the Lakefront Advisory Development Commission (LDAC) is also anticipated to hold a meeting about the wind turbine proposal, possibly in February (check for updates).

Howard wants to give the public several weeks to digest the information at his FAQ page. He said he’d have a better idea of the next steps in the public process in late February or early March.

Debate Not Over

While perhaps not as loud as the naysayers or uncertain as the skeptics, lots of people at the public meeting expressed excitement about the wind turbine and clamorous applause was not limited to either side.

Supporting speakers expressed optimism about the turbine as a progressive beacon that would showcase Milwaukee’s innovation to other cities, improve its image on the national stage, and provide an enduring symbol to future generations that the city believes in renewable energy. They looked on the turbine not as a panacea but rather as a small, first step in the right direction.

Some proponents also invoked comparisons with We Energies’ Oak Creek lakeside coal plant. Bay View’s Mark Gill encouraged people to consider the “dysfunction” in the current power generation system and felt a wind turbine was a great beginning. “I think Bay View has enough people not afraid of change and we can chart a new path and we have to start doing it now.”

Howard remains passionate about what he sees as a golden opportunity to capitalize on “one of the best wind resources in southeastern Wisconsin.”

“Bottom line is: it would be a bold statement for Milwaukee and would really go a long way to redefining our image to the rest of the country,” Howard said. “It’s really just the tip of the iceberg of what Milwaukee has become in the last 10 to 15 years in terms of revitalizing lakefront, rivers, and turning from the old way of manufacturing to more sustainable manufacturing in the Menomonee Valley. In addition to providing power for a port administration building, it will also be a powerful symbol for Milwaukee, for its modernization, for looking forward, for being progressive in a state that’s supposedly known for being progressive.”

For Matt Howard’s Wind Turbine FAQ:

Honey, let’s stay in and watch…a music DVD

January 30, 2011

By Randy Otto

For your next movie night, how about a music DVD to stave off the winter chill? CD sales continue to decline, but here are 10 surefire, can’t-miss music DVDs that have not let me down.

1. Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense

Jonathan Demme’s 1984 film remains to this day the best concert film ever made. Demme’s amazing camera work, combined with David Byrne’s stage design and an absolutely killer soundtrack mix, have made this movie the gold standard by which all other concert films must now be judged. This edition of Talking Heads (including Shorewood native Jerry Harrison and P-Funk veterans Bernie Worrell and Steve Scales) will never be topped.

2. The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night

The Fab Four’s 1964 movie debut is not only the best rock movie ever, it’s also one of the best movie comedies ever, period. The movie follows the lads on tour around England, and though it’s a scripted story, it faithfully shows those early days of Beatlemania. Director Richard Lester’s camerawork and editing helped pave the way for the art form known as the music video.

3. Various Artists, The T.A.M.I. Show

This 1964 concert, just released on DVD in 2010, features so much incredible history. You get several Motown greats (The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) as the label was beginning to make its mark, the Rolling Stones’ first American tour, Chuck Berry’s post-prison comeback, the Beach Boys live, and James Brown proving he was indeed the Hardest Working Man in Show Business.

4. The Band, The Last Waltz

This is Martin Scorsese’s great film of The Band’s farewell concert, Thanksgiving Night 1976. By inviting their musical influences musicians onstage, The Band’s concert was a celebration of rock’s second generation. Memorable moments include the aging Muddy Waters’ killer version of “Mannish Boy” on which guest Paul Butterfield blows a single note on his harmonica for what seems forever, Van Morrison ripping through “Caravan” like a man possessed, and Neil Young’s gripping rendition of “Helpless,” featuring a chilling offstage descant vocal from Joni Mitchell.

5. Pink Floyd, Pulse

Filmed on the band’s 1994 Division Bell tour at London’s Earls Court (without Roger Waters), this concert covers all phases of Floyd’s storied history, including performances of “Astronomy Domine” and the complete Dark Side of the Moon album.

6. Kraftwerk, Minimum Maximum

In spring 2008, I had the privilege of seeing Kraftwerk’s concert at the Rave, on their way to performing at the Coachella festival. An amazing meshing of sound and video, it’s one of my all-time favorite concert experiences. Filmed on the German band’s 2002-03 world tour, this DVD does a fantastic job capturing the live experience.

7. Jeff Beck, Appearing This Week Live at Ronnie Scott’s

Slash has called Jeff Beck the “world’s greatest living guitarist,” and these gigs, filmed in 2007 at London’s venerable jazz club, offer jaw-dropping proof. The set list covers a wide swath of Beck’s career, going all the way back to “Beck’s Bolero” from Truth, the first Jeff Beck Group album in 1968.

8. Led Zeppelin

From early European TV appearances in 1969 to their final UK gig at Knebworth in 1979, this two-disc set is the closest many of us will ever have of experiencing this band live. Nearly five hours of kinetic footage!

9. West Side Story

One of the great things about DVDs is they make movies from the late ’50s and ’60s (that were recorded in four-track stereo sound) look and sound better than you remember from seeing them either at your local movie theater, campus film society, or on TV. Nowhere is this more evident than on the DVD of 1961’s Best Picture Oscar winner.

10. Monterey Pop

Technically a documentary, D.A. Pennebaker’s record of the 1967 festival, considered the granddaddy of the big rock fests, devotes the majority of its time to musical performances: from Janis Joplin’s earth-shaking “Ball and Chain” to the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s American debut to David Crosby’s final performance with the Byrds to Otis Redding’s rapturous performance that totally won over the “love crowd.”

Now Hear These!

First a few updates from last month’s column. As is usually the case when assembling the “Nifty Fifty” list, something tends to get overlooked. I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention I Learned the Hard Way, the great CD from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. It’s a perfect complement to Kings Go Forth’s Outsiders are Back.

Also, in my item on the Rep’s great Hank Williams show Nobody Lonesome for Me, I mentioned Williams died on New Year’s Day 1955. He actually died on New Year’s Day 1953. I stand corrected.

Tango Buenos Aries, February 8, Marcus Center (

The Milwaukee Symphony certainly knew what they were doing by presenting this show, especially now. Yes, it’s cold outside, but it’s also close to Valentine’s Day, and this world-renowned dance troupe from Argentina will certainly help heat things up with an evening filled with the tango, the world’s most sensuous dance. Hey fellas, if you want to score big time points with your favorite lady, treat her to an evening out at this show! Please be aware the MSO itself will not be performing for this program, since Tango Buenos Aries will provide its own music.

Nowhere Boy DVD

This British film had its US premiere last October to coincide with John Lennon’s 70th birthday. Although the highly acclaimed film played Chicago, it totally missed Milwaukee, so it’s great to see it’s finally available on DVD. It tells the story of Lennon’s early life up to the point where he hooked up with Paul McCartney, exploring the complex relationship between John, his mother Julia (immortalized in his White Album song “Julia”), and his Aunt Mimi who was his guardian during his teen years. It goes a long way in explaining Lennon’s relationships with women, and it has a great soundtrack of early rock and roll classics.

Jeff Beck, Rock & Roll Party Honoring Les Paul
Jeff Beck, Rock & Roll Party Honoring Les Paul DVD & Blu-ray

Back in December, during Milwaukee Public TV’s membership drives, one of the many special music programs buried in the schedule was this absolute gem. Filmed in June 2010 at New York’s Iridium club where Les Paul held court every Monday night right up until he passed away in 2009, Jeff Beck paid homage to his hero with this killer program of Les Paul standards (including “How High the Moon,” “Vaya Con Dios” and “Tiger Rag”) and early rock classics, including “Sleep Walk,” “Apache,” “Peter Gunn” and “20 Flight Rock.” In addition to a hot backing band, Beck is joined by guests including rising Irish singing star Imelda May, hot young New Orleans musician Trombone Shorty, and Mr. Stray Cat himself, Brian Setzer. What a party!

The CD and DVD’s arrive on February 22.

Cheap Trick, Northern Lights Theatre, February 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 (

Fans of the boys from Rockford, who have long considered Milwaukee their “backyard,” have a special treat in store for them. The band is in the midst of an unprecedented 12 show series, celebrating the 30th anniversary of their classic Dream Police album, performing the album in its entirety, and including many other favorites as well. The show is being staged on a specially designed set with laser and video effects, and the three original members (Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander and Tom Petersson) are joined by several backup musicians and singers, plus an eighteen piece orchestra comprised of musicians from the Milwaukee Symphony, Wisconsin Philharmonic and Milwaukee Ballet orchestras. Add the fact that the shows take place in the intimate 500 seat Northern Lights theatre, and you have a show that would normally require you to travel to Vegas. The buzz from the early shows has been huge, so don’t hesitate to get your tickets, as it appears all performances will sell out!

Peter Roller, Blue Fog

Several months ago I reported on the 40th anniversary concert for local guitarist Jack Grassel. But he isn’t the only Milwaukee guitarist celebrating a major milestone. Another longtime music fixture, Peter Roller (original member of the R&B Cadets and currently teacher at Alverno College), celebrates 30 years of performing with his new Blue Fog CD. Playing an impressive array of guitars, Roller presents a program of 16 original compositions, covering the gamut of musical styles. Several guest musicians (including another local veteran guitarist, troubadour Colin O’Brien) assist on several tracks, but it’s pretty much Roller’s show, a great guitar showcase. The CD is available at

The Last Play at Shea DVD

Billy Joel, In Concert at Shea Stadium (DVD and Blu-ray)

Arriving February 8 is Last Play at Shea, the film that documents Billy Joel’s 2008 concerts at New York’s Shea Stadium, the last event at the venue. Alec Baldwin narrates the film, which had its debut at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and tells the history of the venerable ballpark as well as presenting highlights from the Joel concerts.

Those seeking the entire Billy Joel show will have to wait until March 1, when In Concert at Shea Stadium is released. The entire concert is here, including guest performances from Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, John Mellencamp, John Mayer, Steven Tyler and Roger Daltrey. Plus there’s a special surprise guest appearance from Paul McCartney (who was actually touring Canada at the time of these shows), whose original band the Beatles were the first music act to perform at Shea in 1965.

Decemberists, The King is Dead

Making a welcome left turn from previous releases, Colin Meloy’s band presents a ten song set of country flavored rock tunes, quite different from the elaborate song cycles of past albums. The band is joined by guest artists Gillian Welch and REM guitarist Peter Buck. “This is Why We Fight” is a personal favorite from this great album, destined to be one of 2011’s best.

Gregg Allman, Low Country Blues

On his first solo album since 1997, the blues-rock mainstay presents a program of mostly covers of blues standards. The sole original “Just Another Rider,” co-written with fellow Allman Brothers Band member Warren Haynes, sounds a tad reminiscent of Allman’s classic “Midnight Rider,” and it’s no coincidence. The remaining tracks feature Allman’s takes on songs from Muddy Waters, Skip James, Otis Rush, and Amos Milburn, among others, all done under the watchful eye of ever-busy producer T-Bone Burnett. Like he’s already done with recent albums from Robert Plant, Elton John and Leon Russell, Burnett has helped deliver Allman’s best solo release since 1973’s classic Laid Back. Given the health issues that have challenged Allman in recent years, the fact he’s come through with such a fine album is downright amazing.

Hué Applies for New Class B Tavern License

January 30, 2011

Hué Restaurant, Marcat LLC, 2691 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., applied for a new Class “B” Tavern License on Jan. 26.

Boy Scout Builds Trucks for Tots

January 30, 2011

peter boy scout

Peter Dziewiontkoski of Troop 228

For his Eagle Service Project, Boy Scout Peter Dziewiontkoski of Troop 228, Tri Parish Council (St Helen’s, St. John Kanty’s, St. Alexander’s), constructed 250 wooden trucks for needy children. Another 250 are under construction.

Most of the materials in Dziewiontkoski’s project were construction site scraps—material that would have normally gone to the landfill. Wheels and axles were purchased. Money for the purchased materials came from donations and the sale of trucks. Finished trucks were delivered to Staff Sergeant Anthony Mauro of the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program at the Naval Reserve base on Lincoln Memorial Drive.

Peter also has a “Trucks for Tots” Facebook page and wants his project to become an annual event.

Kraeger Opposing Haas, Dickenson

January 30, 2011

Steve Kraeger joins the ballot against Jason Haas and Greg Dickenson in the race to replace Chris Larson as District 14 Milwaukee County supervisor. Larson resigned because he was elected state senator. The primary election is Feb. 15. The top two candidates will face each other in the general election April 5.

Property Tax Deferral Program

January 30, 2011

With the arrival of the property tax payment season, Milwaukee County Treasurer Dan Diliberti is promoting the Wisconsin Property Tax Deferral Program to help elderly homeowners remain in their homes. “It was set up in 1986 at no cost to the taxpayers, and provides significant assistance to the elderly. However, only nine Milwaukee County residents applied to this statewide program last year,” Diliberti said in a Jan. 4 press release.

The program is targeted to elderly homeowners whose current incomes are insufficient to cover the cost of rising property taxes. Under the program, a homeowner 65 years of age or older with a total household income of no more than $20,000 may apply to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) (800-755-7835).

Homeowners who meet the home equity and eligibility requirements are eligible for a maximum 4.25-percent loan of $3,525 to pay property taxes and special assessments on their single-family home, condominium, or small multi-family building. The loans do not have to be repaid until the ownership of the property transfers or the loan recipient no longer lives in the home. The loan is repaid from the proceeds of the estate or sale of the property. If an applicant has a co-owner, the age and qualifications vary depending on the circumstances.

Dimitrijevic forms political action committee

January 30, 2011

Fourth District Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic decided not to run for county executive but instead announced the creation of “Next Generation Milwaukee PAC” on Dec. 29. Her PAC will “dedicate energies to electing forward-thinkers to the Milwaukee County Board.”

“We are going through a major transition in Milwaukee County government. After many years of neglect and service cuts from the Walker administration, it is up to those of us who are still here to assess the damage and begin to turn Milwaukee County around. This new direction must have progressive leadership and a County Board with an open mind to new ideas to solve old problems,” Dimitrijevic said in press release.

Money for UWM Water Policy Center

January 30, 2011

A $2.6 million gift from Lynde Uihlein will support a new Center for Water Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, university officials announced Jan. 19. The gift will fund an endowed chair and director for the planned center, which will be part of the new graduate-level School of Freshwater Sciences. Recruitment for the endowed chair and center director will begin this spring, concurrent with the review and approval of the new center.

The center will bring “a multidisciplinary approach, objective analysis, and novel solutions to emerging issues.” It will engage a broad range of individuals from water law and policy, economics, science and engineering, along with outside institutions and scholars.

“In creating this endowment I hope to contribute to the protection of the world’s freshwater resources,” Uihlein said in a press release. “My purpose is to foster an interdependent approach that will bridge the gaps between science, technology, business, and the public good. By focusing on policy, the center will bring to bear effective strategies that protect, conserve, and restore our precious fresh waters.”

School Board Forum Feb. 8 at Library

January 30, 2011

Bay View Compass and District 8 Parents host a candidate forum in advance of the school board primary election Tuesday, Feb. 8 from 6 to 7:45pm at the Bay View Library, 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Michael Timm will moderate and the audience is invited to bring questions.

All three candidates have been invited. Ed Heinzelman, Meagan Holman, and Candy Jo Lesniewski are vying for the open District 8 school board seat being vacated by Terry Falk, who will oppose Susan Schmidt and write-in candidate Ken Kraucanas for the school board’s at-large position. The primary election is Tuesday, Feb. 15. These three candidates will then be whittled down to two, who will compete in the April 5 general election.

EdMeaganCandy Jo
From left: Ed Heinzelman, Meagan Holman, and Candy Jo Lesniewski

Batcave Recording Studio

January 30, 2011

Q10 Batcave

Sam Malaj —photo Michael Timm

1.Who is Batcave Recording Studio and what do you do?
The studio is me, Sam Malaj, and the bevy of session musicians I’ve known over the years. The studio’s capabilities are flexible to suit live band recordings as well as detailed post-production, songwriting, and collaboration. I approach studio operation from the perspective of a “street smart” musician with a tactile sensibility.

2. What is your professional, musical, and/or technical background?

Gigging musician for 22 years—bass, vocal, guitar—locally, on the road, live, studio, hired gun, collaborator, Swiss Army knife, etc. Recordist for 18 years. Instructor, guitar tech, instrument builder, soundman, electronics nerd.

3. How did you come to operate in the Hide House? When? Where were you before?

My main band, Fire on Your Sleeve, was acquainted with local artist/guitar wiz/snicklefriss Brian “Beanz” Grinwald when our need for a spot coincided with a vacancy he had here in ’06. Previously the studio was located in an East Side basement.

4. How do you compete/cooperate with other recording studios? What makes you unique?

Maybe all the odd-ball, home-made rigs? (Now that’s a band name!) I also offer services uncommon to most studios like songwriting/rendering, part writing/recording, backup vocal production, in-studio vocal coaching, in-studio guitar setups, pre/post-editing, creative editing, and a bunch of tech stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting.

I specialize in esoteric aspects of vocal production and delivery, and I believe a producer needs to have a certain grasp of language to explain what “needs to happen” at any step. Usually it can be accomplished by example and mimicking, but a simple, cleanly-stated explanation can go a long way. I set a steady, productive working pace.

I offer the option of pricing hourly or flat-rate (per song) and bulk rates for longer projects.

5. Describe some work you’ve recently done with some local clients.

Last month Bay View local Drew Ingle (formerly of Spirit Creek) and I wrapped up a Springsteen-esque production of a bunch of his open-mic originals with the help of my secret-weapon, hired-gun drummer and friend Chad Clausen. Production fell together without a hitch and the legendary Trevor Sadler is slated to master it.

6. What advice would you give to a local band that is looking to create an album?

Play dynamically and “mix yourself” as you record your part. Structure steps when possible. Less is more. Don’t be scared of the click track. Don’t clip. Study math and physics if you’re going to do it yourself.

7. Your website says you’ve added a local didgeridoo player to a live act. For whom? What was that like? How much is Batcave involved in your clients’ production process?

I’m the didgeridooist. I overdub them when desired. I build and tune them. PVC works best and is easiest to tune. I have them in B, E, C#, and an adjustable “slide” didgeridoo in PVC. The wooden one here is likely tuned to H-minus. I devised two new methods of making a didge. One became my current drum overhead rig. The other wound up becoming my trade secret technique. I’ve said too much already.

Depth of involvement fluxes based on needs. Sometimes I’ll “be” and/or hire the backup band for a project. Other times it’s reconstruction on an existing song or beat track. I do a lot of backup vocal “stacking,” especially on hip hop productions. Sometimes operations require a creative nudge and sometimes all I have to do is simply be the engineer.

8. What is the most rewarding part of your work? What is the most challenging?

Many younger players who come through get better at their instruments after a finished project because we’ll have spent time going over things like techniques for following a click track or alternate picking or a breathing technique or whatever.

Challenges can come from song composition and interpretation. It can flow or be tedium. That said, those types of speed bumps are overcome once everyone is speaking the same language and after the right “color” is found.

9. Who are some big-name or special/memorable clients you’ve recorded in Bay View?

Currently, my wheelhouse is wrapped up in Jason Loveall’s (of The Danglers) new project. It’s forming into an otherworldly experience. It spans wide going from snarling country/punk to old-timey gypsy to swirling, atmospheric, alien-induced dreamscapes. I’m giddy like a schoolgirl.

10. How would you describe Bay View’s vibe for business and for music?

Thankfully there is a scene with a lot of talent and venues. We’re so lucky to have a wide range of venues like Frank’s, Cactus, Lulu, and the Brew Haus. There’s a lot of good energy on and near KK for art and independent business to be further cultivated and I don’t ever want to see it go through a McConversion to chain stores and strip malls.

The Hide House complex itself is a nerve center of artistic activity. I’m blessed to be here amid the constant bustle of pro artists of many walks. Shout out to Gibson Bathrick, yo!

Batcave Recording Studio
2625 S. Greeley St.
Sam Malaj (414) 839-8680

School choice causes homework headache

January 30, 2011

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Parties, family dinners, and Christmas shopping tapered off in January to a few scattered events, and I was craving some quiet weeks. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear but a forwarded email alerting me to Milwaukee Public Schools’ Three-Choice Enrollment and that I had only a few weeks to choose up to three public schools for our daughter. She is eligible for 3-year-old kindergarten or “K3” this fall.

I had three weeks to investigate and discuss with my husband, making me done with holiday shopping but suddenly in the throes of school shopping. It wasn’t a matter of going through a checklist and I felt fairly in the dark about the whole process.

The high number of young children in Bay View causes a lottery system and impossibly long waitlists at some schools. Just like our neighborhood’s most popular day care centers have years-long waiting lists, popular schools turn away child after child.

It is a demographic oddity that many of Bay View’s blocks have only one family with children in middle school or high school, yet those blocks are likely to have multiple families with newborns and young children.

The amount of school types is a bit daunting—the ones which pertain to us include neighborhood schools, neighborhood specialty schools, charter schools (both MPS and non-MPS), and citywide specialty schools. For other situations the contracted agency schools, partnership schools, and Head Start programs all apply. High school parents have lots of options, too.

Minority parents can look beyond MPS through the Voluntary Student Transfer Program (or “Chapter 220”) and all parents can consider the Public School Open Enrollment Program available throughout the state. Other parents choose private schools and homeschooling.

The alternatives probably lead to a good fit for most families, but the choices can be dizzying to parents. Many parents may not even realize that K3 is a local option, or that the Montessori system forces a “now or never” choice because children without a Montessori background cannot transfer in during later years.

My husband and I discussed whether we were looking for a school for the first two years—what we call preschool and the system terms K3 and K4—or whether we were trying to choose an elementary school.

I found myself thumbing through the MPS School Selections catalog the way some children treat a Christmas toy catalog, marking off interesting pages. Would this school with its art focus be better, or that one with its science emphasis? Do they have K3 and/or K4, and is it part of the day or full day?

I started off lacking information but became inundated with data when I downloaded reports from the most recent MPS District Report Card.

Trying to rank values was confusing: diversity versus discipline versus an emphasized subject or teaching style. Within each criterion, I encountered more confusion and probably some overanalysis: How much diversity would be enough? Was some minimum percentage sufficient?

Parental convenience could be important. I stumbled across the fact that the charter school Downtown Montessori Academy, which is located in Bay View, starts instruction at 8:45am, while other local schools we considered start class at 7:45am. Earlier drop-off incurs a fee. More factors come into play with start time because my husband and I share one car and commute together on the days I work downtown.

I talked with like-minded parents and we traded what we understood to be the way the system works and what we had learned about various schools, and even shared rumors of four-hour evening waits at the central office.

Then we turned in our applications, waiting for the results like our children anticipate Christmas.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at

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