Monday, Oct. 27th, 2008

Local Jazz in the Twin Cities: A Model for Eau Claire?

Here is something noteworthy: The Artists' Quarter in St. Paul just celebrated 13 years in its current location in downtown St. Paul. The AQ is a unique club that often takes a backseat to the more flashy décor and nationally known acts that grace the stage at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Owned by drummer Kenny Horst (a well known drummer on the local scene in St. Paul) the AQ hosts local and regional acts almost exclusively while also playing host to an occasional national act. Here’s a great article about the 13th anniversary celebration on jazzpolice.com.

I really appreciate what the AQ does for the Twin Cities and the rest of the region. It allows local musicians an opportunity to experiment with different musical settings and offers professionals, who often play in commercials or pit orchestras, the chance to open up and play the music that they love. One of my early mentors on the saxophone, Brian Grivna, plays at least once a month at the AQ. His sets are electrifying and showcase his virtuosic talent on saxophone, clarinet and flute. He plays with fire and passion. Normally he plays the woodwind parts in pits across the Twin Cities but when he plays at the AQ the gloves come off. It’s inspiring.

When I was growing up in Rosemount, Minnesota, the AQ used to host a jam session every Saturday afternoon. My friends and I would drive up to St. Paul to sit in. Players good and bad from all over the place would come to the club to play. There were days when it was packed and I waited forever to get on stage for a song or two but there were other days when I could get up and blow chorus after chorus and really get a work out. I remember playing Body and Soul with some cats that were way outta my league. I mean, these guys were from another planet. I got ripped to shreds and still had to get up and finish off the tune. What a lesson – baptism by fire. I still feel the burns to this day.

I guess the most amazing thing about the AQ is that even after 13 years at its current location it still manages to make it. It’s not the flashiest club in the world. It doesn’t host national acts all that much. It doesn’t pay the greatest to the musicians. What it does provide is a consistent, solid outlet for local jazz. It gives musicians and audiences a chance to come together and experience music and to create something unique each night. Perhaps we could take a lesson from the Artists Quarter in Eau Claire. Maybe we’re ready to create this opportunity. In a town of bars and rock bands I feel like this could be a model for jazz in Eau Claire.

Check out these great videos from the AQ.

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Friday, Oct. 24th, 2008

Sunday: Found Footage Festival

For the third year in a row, Volume One is bringing the Found Footage Festival to the Cameo Budget in downtown Eau Claire. If you’ve never been … well, it’s just awesome. The FFF is a touring showcase of odd and hilarious found videos, shown on big screens, with snarky, live commentary from the festival’s curators – Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher. Pickett and Prueher, both UWEC alums, will be presenting two shows: Sunday, Oct. 26 at 7pm and 9pm. The shows feature a while new line up of videos!

On Saturday: check out Halloween Storytime for Families, peep the Unexplained Eau Claire conference, dance at the the Chippewa Valley Ragtime Society Fall Concert, settle in for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, let big time songstress Shawn Colvin massage your ear drums, get funky at the Kinetix ft. Funky Honky Horns costume party, mix it up with Minneapolis's favorite remixers/DJs/party rockers, and – just because I love the name – enjoy a Bountiful Ham Dinner with Live Music.

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Have you been to Hollywood ... WI?

Strange Accident
Simon Brazek, Saved from Asphyxiation, Falls Downs Stairs and Is Killed
– Milwaukee Journal | October 28, 1901

Simon Brazek, a farmer at Independence, went into a smokehouse and fell asleep. Live coals were still in the house and he was taken to the house of a neighbor and resuscitated. He thought he was well enough to walk about, and, arising from bed, attempted to come down-stairs. He fell headlong down the stairs, sustaining injuries from which he died a few moments later.


Chad's Take: Have you been to Hollywood Wisconsin? 

The town of Independence sits just a few miles south of the Chippewa Valley. However the small rural town could easily have been featured in the movie Final Destination. The premise of the movie was that we all have a specific time where death pays us a visit, and if you are clever enough to cheat death, it will simply circle around and come back for another try at your soul.   Yet this type of bizarre scenario only happens in Hollywood right?  Well someone should have told that to Mr. Brazek. As you can see from the above article Mr. Brazek was barely saved from asphyxiation only to die moments later when he tumbled down the stairs. Stories like this were plentiful in the newspapers of this time. My favorite newspaper story featured a man who was hell-bent on killing himself so he guzzled down a jar of poison, then torched barn, and while the flames were closing in on him he took his life at the end of a rope. Cases like that certainly save the Grim Reaper a lot of work.    

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Thursday, Oct. 23rd, 2008

Automotive Machine Works, Inc.

I was procrastinating for prom, the way I do for most things. I'm trying to get to four seasons before they close so I can pick up my corsage and all that crap. To my dismay, Florian Gardens had been replaced by Automotive Machine Works. Inc. Not really. They were actually just changing their sign, and revealed an apparently ancient sign from the shop that used to be there.
 

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CultureBully.com Has Got the Local Goods

Volume One contributor Ian tipped us off to Minneapolis-based CultureBully.com’s 60 hour blogathon, which I think is over now. But at any rate, earlier this week, they blogged A LOT about the Twin Cities music scene and beyond. This included new music and interviews from local favs like Bon Iver, Laarks, part of Mel Gibson and the Pants, Wars of 1812, Heiruspecs,  and Charlie Parr.

Culture Bully is a music blog that provides daily updates including news, band features, album reviews and interviews on both national and local levels. Thier blogathon was part of a nationwide fundraiser and promotion for school music programs.

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County Jail Strike Force ATTACK!

Just a quick note to let you know the County Jail Strike Force Special Committee to Resolve Jail Space and Site Needs (CJSFSCtRJSaSN) is meeting tonight. The meeting is open to the public, but I’m not sure if this is a public-input-style session or not. No matter what, we should totally tailgate beforehand. I’ll bring the tiny propane grill, you bring the brats and buns. Who’s got chips?

Public Forum: Special Committee (to Resolve Jail Space and Site Needs) Thursday, Oct. 23  • County Courthouse Building, Room 2550 • 6:30pm

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Wednesday, Oct. 22nd, 2008

What’s Your Favorite Freaky Movie?

We had a bit of a space crunch in our Hauntings special section a few issues back, and we had to cut a few of the spooky bits and pieces, such as Special Projects Editor Trevor Kupfer’s “Frightful Flick Fest,” where he outlines some surefire freaky films for your Halloweenish enjoyment – categorized by type, from “franchise” to “disturbing.” So in the spirit of the season, we published the whole thing online for you to peruse. Check it out.

Now, Mr. Kupfer fancies himself a bit a film snob buff, so all of us here are wondering how his picks stack up. He’s not saying these films are the best, he’s just saying they’ll satisfy your hunger for something ghoulish.

We’re encouraging you to read his lists and leave comments with your own suggestions. What’d he miss? What should he have ignored? Is he totally clueless or right on the terror target? Leave a comment and let him know!

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Bus Budget Outlook Races Downhill

You’ve probably heard that local bus ridership has been steadily increasing (and if you haven’t, it has) – but the city says the increased revenue from more and more riders is getting its ass kicked by increasing operating costs by $1.23 million. Those behemoth people movers don’t come cheap. From the L-T:

  • The Eau Claire Transit system's continuing ridership increases haven't been enough to offset growing expenses and decreasing state aid, resulting in a significant cost increase for next year amid concerns about the system's future viability.
  • City 2009 budget figures released Tuesday show a projected 10.53 percent increase in transit operating expenses for 2009, with expenses outpacing revenues by $1.23 million.
  • The proposed budget includes a $1.23 million transit tax subsidy, a 23 percent subsidy increase over this year.

But things could get even worse if state aid for city transit continues to decline, and we won’t know how that all shakes out ’til next spring. So as of January 1, bus rides will now be $1.50 a pop.
 

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6 World's Largest Wisconsin Landmarks

Creating the “world’s largest” of something may seem a daunting task, but that didn't deter some Wisconsinites. From logs to beer, our state can boast the largest ever known or, at least, no one has claimed otherwise.

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