Articles in this Issue

The Rear End

One Guy One Night

the bar looks empty, but it’s definitely full of it

There were not many people in the bar, I remember that. And if I’d been the one on stage, I’d have been disappointed. But seeing as I have no musical ability and the stage presence of a drowsy wildebeest, I am not one to talk ...

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Music

Less Tangible, More True

exploring what we mean when we call the Chippewa Valley "Music Capital of the North"

Our theme issues are among the things we’re most proud of at Volume One. In recent years, these community-minded editions (in print and online) have included “Reinventing Our Streets” in 2010, “Rethinking Our Rivers” in 2012, and just last year, “Rebuilding Our Neighborhoods.” ...

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Celebrating Summer

when the weather warms up in the Chippewa Valley, outdoor music series proliferate with thousands of fans

Life in the north isn’t for the faint of heart. We endure lengthy winters and our summer skies are short-lived. Our northern lifestyle looks like toughness, but it’s not just being tough. We believe hard work leads to good times. Perhaps that’s why when the weather is beautiful, it’s truly beautiful to us here …

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Eau Claire's Buddy System

ultra-friendly music culture leans on collaboration

You’re in your childhood bedroom closet recording a new EP, rapping over your best friend’s beats – it’s on your own time, and that’s good because there’s not much money to throw around on studio fees anyway. That’s just how Sayth (Eric Wells), one of many local show hounds, has it in Eau Claire’s all for one ...

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Supporting Acts

from vinyl shops to screen printers, businesses and individuals are crucial to musical success

We are all familiar with the philosophical posturing/party joke, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Many a musician will create music for the pure love of it and the need to express themselves in this language. More often, however, musicians are eager ...

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Setting the Stages

different venues cover Eau Claire's musical moments

The ground from which our music scene grows can be sticky with spilled drinks, or carpeted underfoot. The walls can be adorned with ornate columns and patterns just as often as rock ’n’ roll paraphernalia. Our venues are more than a setting and a sound system; they’re the liaison between music ...

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Underground Sound

D.I.Y. house shows play a significant underground role in the development of new artists – and they're all ages

J ust a few blocks off the beaten path, Eau Claire’s house show scene is quietly making a ruckus. House venues and DIY spaces have long been a critical part of Eau Claire’s indie and hardcore scenes. For the past decade or more all over our city, driven and brave souls have opened up their living quarters ...

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Tilt Your Ear to the Valley

a non-musical regular Joe finds his niche in the scene

There comes a time in every teacher’s life when one’s commonalities with one’s students becomes the wedge. When one learns that a line like, “You guys hear the new Phil Collins jam?” no longer holds the cultural cachet it once did ...

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Flugelhorns & Fishnets

the valley's musical traditions range from brass bands to rock 'n' roll decadence

The music tradition is built into the DNA of the Chippewa Valley. This is not meant to be a flip comment or an easy intro sentence to keep you reading through the next few paragraphs; it’s simply the truth. The more you dig into our music landscape and try to decipher what is a “little t” tradition ...

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Uprooted

musicians who find success elsewhere still keep their hearts here

When musicians leave the Chippewa Valley, we wish them the best. Really, we do. But if they achieve success by leaving this place, what does that say about those left behind? That you can’t make it in Eau Claire? Justin Vernon’s success proved that this place is not a dead end. You don’t need to escape to a coast or a metropolis ...

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It's Only 90 Miles

many twin cities musicians have Eau Claire roots, but the road goes both ways

Alot of musicians have driven the stretch of Interstate 94 between Eau Claire and Minneapolis, sometimes on tour, but other times to move their lives and try their luck and their craft in a new locale with a new crowd. That’s what brought Drew Christopherson and Mel Gibson and the Pants to the Twin Cities in 2001 ...

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Hearing Our History

from the Joynt to Fournier's, our ears are ringing with the memories of these classic local venues

“You had to be there to understand what it was like,” shares a former Eau Claire hourly high tech worker, who requested not to be identified, describing the live music scene in Eau Claire in the 1970s and early ’80s. “I’d leave my job at the end of my shift (midnight) and head straight to Water Street ...

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Old Songs in Our Hearts

musical threads are woven deep into the valley's history

When he was but a lad, my friend Noah Taylor asked the adults assembled, Wouldn’t your life be better if you had your own personal soundtrack? Why yes, Noah, yes it would. Fortunately for Eau Claire, its people have always had songs in their hearts, and I’m not talking about the downtown ...

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Building Sound

before music can be made, someone has to make the instruments, and three local craftsmen are well known for their work

Few musicians make their own instruments and equipment. Even fewer make them for other musicians. The Chippewa Valley is home to three businesses whose owners, all musicians themselves, craft fine products for musicians throughout the world ...

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Symphonic Surplus

how does the valley support so many orchestras? it's the fans

‘When you look around at a community of our size,” Nobuyoshi Yasuda observes, “they usually don’t even have one orchestra.” By contrast, the Chippewa Valley is home to more than half a dozen orchestral ensembles, some of which Yasuda – usually known simply as “Nobu” – conducts ...

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Song After Song

scene veterans continue to shape the Chippewa Valley soundscape

As music scenes grow, musicians come and musicians go; however, certain acts and artists endure through the alchemy of timing, tenacity, and talent. They exhibit a certain quality, like fine wine or good literature, that distinguishes their sound from the rest, simultaneously ...

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Off the Grid, in the Studio

the natural landscape makes the Chippewa Valley an attractive recording environment

We spend a lot of time talking about local musicians, but the studios and audio engineers who record our performers are critical to the music scene, too. The people behind the mixing boards at Chippewa Valley recording studios have great talent, but why is that? Perhaps there is something ...

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Truly Independent

local musicians have the freedom and technology to record and release on their own terms

Producing music was strictly a hobby for me in grade school. Something I could do to feel productive. Instead of parking in front of a television and playing “Mario Kart” for hours, I could channel my creative tendencies into something cool – something more exciting than piano lessons ...

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The Valley's Grammys

locals who grab recognition in the industry

Eau Claire is an area bursting with local talent in the music industry. Whether you enjoy the sublime sound from a record or the energy of a live show, the quality of music Eau Claire offers is high. So high, in fact, that some of our own have been noticed on a national scale. ...

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Three Chords and a Dream

nothing else to do? well, form a band of course

Friday nights you could find us, a murder of magpies, flocked atop a bus bench, late enough for the routes to have stopped running, not yet late enough for curfew to make of us a curiosity, across from 2 S. Barstow Street. No longer a physical space today – and known in its last incarnation as the “mural building” ...

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Where the Music Starts

talent teachers, wide participation foster a quality music education system in the valley

Understanding a music education system that has produced locally and nationally notable musicians for decades, that encompasses public schools, private instruction, and nonprofit organizations, and that enjoys broad community support is an incredibly complicated task. ...

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Kids are Into It

inspiring children toward a love of music through an award-winning kids music scene

It would be a shame to discuss the area’s music scene without mentioning the topic of children’s music. There is a national award called the Parents’ Choice Award for best children’s musical recordings. This is like winning a Grammy in the children’s music industry. ...

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Finding a Rhythm

UWEC jazz program reaches legendary status on strength of ensembles, festival

UW-Eau Claire’s Jazz Ensemble 1 has been making folks tap their feet for more than four decades, raising the bar for small college jazz programs everywhere. Robert Baca has built a program that reflects his own expertise in the “big band sound.” ...

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Group Harmony

diversifying the scene with choral groups and music clubs

When we talk about Eau Claire’s music scene, there is plenty of activity to cover. We always hear about local bands and the gigs they’re playing, but another aspect that often goes under the radar is the profusion of nonprofit organizations and clubs. ...

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Every Good Boy Does Fine

piano lessons aren't as odious as emptying the garbage

I took piano lessons the old fashioned way, in Mrs. Skutely’s dim basement. With sheet music tucked under my arm I biked to her house, then let myself in through her garage door. I sat on a floral couch in the unofficial waiting area farther down the wood-paneled room while the kid before me finished up. ...

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Festival Times Five

how the valley got hooked on big-time summer music fests

Justin Vernon, who gained fame fronting a band whose name is phonetic French for “good winter,” knows that the summers in his hometown are pretty good, too. “In the middle of July it has the potential to be one of the most beautiful places in the whole world,” Vernon enthused ...

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The Sweet Sound of Cash

our music scene is becoming big business, attracting not only tourists, but also people to live and work here

There’s a certain alliterative quality to listing the Chippewa Valley’s leading industries over time: Timber, tires, technology, tourism … and tunes. That last item may seem out of place on such a list, but hear us out: While it’s true that the production of indie rock albums and the sales ...

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Fortunes Rising

confluence project will stimulate economy, attract new performers, supporters say

If there’s still a question that music and other cultural arts are a boon to Chippewa Valley’s economy, look no further than the construction crane that towers about the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers in downtown Eau Claire. The looming crane is building the city’s future ...

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You Have to Listen to See

music can set a unique tone in the heart of development

As you read this, somewhere in town a woman is tuning a guitar, hoping to coax another gig from a set of strings. A couple are practicing harmonies they hope to hit later tonight for an audience they hope will exist. High school kids are hammering chords in a basement, wrangling a little order from chaos ...

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Eau Claire: Music City?

an international report outlines what it takes to be a music city. local musicians tell us if we make the cut

In our effort to look at the Chippewa Valley’s potential as a music destination, we turned to experts for guidance. Just this June, a comprehensive report titled Mastering a Music City was published by the international music association, IFPI, and Music Canada. We’ve excerpted and contextualized ...

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Why Invest Now?

big gains can be enjoyed from smart public & private investment in our scene

One major – and legitimate – question about the push to recognize music in the Chippewa Valley is just, well, why? Why does it matter if we have a strong music community? Here are a few reasons ...

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Music Scene Role Models

six awesome and successful music / community projects from festivals to venues to decision-making music commissions

When you invest in a city’s music scene, that doesn’t mean you’re just simply paying for CDs and cover charges at shows (though you should still do that!). Some places have taken steps to bring their music scenes to the forefront of business and economic development by partnering with the music community ...

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Justin Vernon: 'That Intangible Aesthetic'

in the midst of Eaux Claires Festival prep, Justin Vernon stops to talk art, music, business, and crafting experiences in the heart of our city

Justin and I have been friends for roughly a dozen years. Back in the early days of Volume One, for a while I also handled booking and promotions for The Stones Throw, and he would play our stage at least once a month. This was during the heyday of his band DeYarmond Edison ...

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Turning it Up

an idea lounge this fall will begin a community conversation about amping up valley's music scene

Eau Claire also has many of the elements needed to make itself a true “music city”: a critical mass of musicians, audiences, venues, and businesses, plus growing recognition of music’s role in our region. But what can be done to take our music scene – and the cultural and economic benefits ...

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A Final Word: Exporting Eau Claire

investing in and sharing our music, words, & ideas

A few weeks ago I was riding through the streets of Lyon, France (home to a museum called Confluence at the nexus of the Saone and Rhone) sharing a cab with a Romanian woman named Maria who seemed to know more about the Eau Claire music scene than I do. ...

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The Eaux Claires Experience

year one will already be something completely unique

Once the inaugural Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival kicks off on July 17, it’ll prove to be an event the Chippewa Valley has never quite seen before. It’ll be loaded with experiential art from world-renowned artists and songs from artists in a dizzying number of genres, everything from ...

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Chock Full of Rock

Avenged Sevenfold, Shinedown lead Rock Fest lineup

It’s that time of year once again; when rock ’n’ roll fans from all over the Midwest come together and burn off a few calories head banging to their favorite bands. Rock Fest, the four-day music festival held 30 miles from Eau Claire in rural Cadott, is returning for its 22nd incarnation ...

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