Friday, Sep. 5th, 2008

Your Saturday To-Do List

Head downtown and stop by the grand opening of the Chippewa Valley's only teahouse.

Starting at 1pm, Altoona's Whiskey Dicks is gonna get, ahem, dreadful. Check out our first-ever Reggae Fest with Natty Nation, Dred I Dread, Irie Sol, and The Jones Tones.

Hunker down from 2-10:30pm for the annual Yeshuapolooza – sprawling across the south lawn over at UW-Stout.

Grab a coffee and listen as Anna Johnson releases her debut CD at the Living Room Coffee House.

Spend an evening at  the State Theater and see conductor Nobuyoshi Yasuda whip the 60-member Chippewa Valley Symphony into a frenzy at their annual Pops Concert.

Rest up for White Light Riot (shown above) who's gonna shake up the Stones Throw with Polydream and Laarks at 10pm.

And if you acted early enough to get tickets, have fun at CVTG's production of The Rocky Horror Show – which just extended it's run because all the shows sold out.

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Let's Get Political!

Calling all closet political pundits! Now that you’ve witnessed both the Republican and Democratic national conventions this week and last, we want to hear what you’re all thinking, feeling, and worrying about here in the Chippewa Valley. Western Wisconsin is clearly a hotly contested battleground for this election. With two solid months yet to go, we’ve already seen both candidates in our own backyards. Barack Obama was here for a huge primary appearance at UWEC’s Zorn Arena this winter, and just a few weeks back at a much smaller, private appearance at Rod and Gun Park. John McCain made his surprise stop at the Altoona Family Restaurant, of all places, and will no doubt be coming through again at some point. Even Ralph Nader will be in town today at UWEC.

So let’s do it, let’s get this party started. What’s the vibe out there in the Chippewa Valley? What’s been the most outrageous campaign tactic you’ve witnessed so far? What predictions do you have for election results in our area? Whose got the best political coverage out there? Are we digging Palin? Let it out Chippewa Valley, tell us whatchya got.

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Thursday, Sep. 4th, 2008

Lead Guitarist Seeks Band - Loves Metallica, Green Day is a website seeking to unite the nation’s (partial) bands with the nation’s (bandless) musicians and singers. You can search by geographic area, and Eau Claire’s listings contain a modest three pages of rockers looking for a crew with which to rock. There’s only a few bands on the site looking for that perfect drummer / guitarist / bassist / pianist / screamin’ vocalist, which makes one wonder why all the individual dudes don’t just team up and form their own ensemble.

Kinda like Act 3 of this.

We could have a local super-group to rival Toto’s supergroupitude. Anyway, is supposed replace all those “Drummer Wanted” photocopied posters stapled to all the telephone polls along Water Street. Great concept – and if more local musicians get on the site, it might actually be helpful.

Musicians can also check out our local Craigslist. Or this.

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Wednesday, Sep. 3rd, 2008

Rain Words

Wow. OK. This is awesome. It's like a crossword puzzle mixed with a guessing game mixed with virtual juggling mixed with, um, awesomeness. Pictures rain down and you grab them and fit them into the crossword grid, but you can rearrange them and pull them back out, trying to get them all to fit. And you have to quick grab pictures and place them higher on the screen so you can still have access to them. 

Go play Rain Words!

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I was biking to Diary Queen to pick up a check when I ran across this bloody mess. I've found that taking pictures of the dead is bound to get you some strange looks. I tenatively prodded the poor thing to make sure it was dead, looked around to make sure nobody was near, and started taking shots. It seems crass, but I would feel negligent to not capture something like this. 

While I was kneeling and taking some shots, a jogger stopped and stared. She just shrugged and kept running after I told her "He's, uh ... dead." R.I.P little guy. 

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County Jail Strike Force Go!

Last month, as you should all know by now, a citizen-gathered protest petition more or less forced the Eau Claire City Council to not approve the land rezoning required by the county to expand the much-debated jail/courthouse/cop shop/fortress of justice located betwixt Lake Street and W. Grand Avenue in downtown EC. Yesterday, it was announced that County Board Chairman Gregg Moore has assembled a County Jail Strike Force and tasked them with one, simple mission: figuring out all this crap.

Chairman Moore actually used the less sexy title “Special Committee to Resolve Jail Space and Site Needs,” but hey – coming up with sweet committee names is not what these people are elected to do.

The 15-person panel has seven County Board members, two Eau Claire City Council members, and six noble citizen members. The roster includes such public servant superstars as Kerry Kincaid and Dave Duax from the City Council; and Ken Fulgione, Will Fantle, Howard Ludwigson, and Maureen Slauson from the County Board. Representing the concerned citizens are Reserve Judge Tom Barland, former councilman Hal Davis, good neighbor Jerry Foote, and three others. Read more about them over at the Leader-Telegram.

Between the costliness of delaying/doing the project over (not to mention the $1.86 million already spent on land) and the frothy swirl of heated issues surrounding it (everything from maintaining downtown’s character to the gobs of jobs the courthouse keeps there), this Special Committee has a hell of a job in front of it.

Good luck to them.

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Tuesday, Sep. 2nd, 2008

Seen That New Issue of Paste?

If you subscribe to Paste magazine, you probably got a nice surprise a few weeks ago when your September issue arrived in the mail with local boy Justin Vernon’s slightly smiling face plopped smack dab between the “t” and the “e.” Vernon (who is Bon Iver) appears on the cover with three other musicians representing “the best of what’s next.” The magazine actually profiles 26 of their favorite new artists, but Bon Iver (who is Justin Vernon) and a few others get extra special treatment – eight full paragraphs and a full-page photo are devoted to Vernon. Judging by Paste’s bigass photo (clipped above), he somehow got sucked into a computer and must now battle for his life in a bizarre digital world called Tron. Graphic over-design aside, this is a pretty bright spot in the light show of  Vernon’s recent fame. Paste is kind of the mainstream music magazine dejour as far as cred endorsements are concerned.

Paste love-love-loves Bon Iver, as so many people, magazines, and blogs do. If he releases a nice poster, they cover it. If he gets his fanny pack stolen, they cover it. This new article recaps the now-legendary tale of how Vernon (all together now) “spent a secluded winter at his dad’s hunting shack where he wrote and recorded some songs, not intending to make an album, but ended up with For Emma, Forever Ago, and now he’s relatively more famous than Jesus.” It’s mostly a recap of Vernon’s musical career (sans Mount Vernon) with a tight review of the album tacked on. The article also says that he’s wearing a “T-shirt advertising a Colorado Brewery,” which we’re willing to forgive. Check out the online version of the issue (Bon Iver is on pages 34-35).

He's on tour right now, and the next big stop on the schedule is Late Night with Conan O’Brien, supposedly on Monday, Sept. 8. Keep checking for confirmation on that.

To sum up – way to go, Justin. 

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Sunday, Aug. 31st, 2008

The Weekly Shakedown

There are plenty of tasty morsels on which to dine here at the all-you-can eat buffet that is A few highlights from the past week …

Have a great weekend – check out the online calendar of you get bored.

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Hey, if you're jonesing for some outdoor music this weekend, Menomonie's Wison Park has got you covered. On Saturday, Iowa City's Euforquestra is set to blow your mind with their intense polyrhythms and amazing energy and tightness. Noon to 4pm. All proceeds go to benefit the Bridge to Hope foundation. And if you like what you see, the band'll be at the The Waterfront Bar & Grill later that night for 3 bucks. 

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Thursday, Aug. 28th, 2008

Tonight: EC Blues All Stars To Rip Phoenix Park In Half

This is it – the final night of our Sounds Like Summer Concert Series for 2008. It’s been a great year of great bands, and we’d like to go out with bang – so we called up the Eau Claire Blues All Stars. Comprised of local music scene veterans, the All Stars contain members of the area’s finest bands, both past and present. Each member of the ensemble is a master with his instrument, as well as a martial art – everything from traditional kung-fu to Cantonese underwater knife fighting – ensuring a musical butt-kick factor of 100%.

Come on down tonight folks, it’s gonna be a party. Phoenix Park, 6:30pm.

Check out the sponsors: Deborah Becker/State Farm Insurance, RCU, Downtown Eau Claire Inc., Hillside Dental, the Wisconsin Arts Board,Chilson Subaru, the Chippewa Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Clear ChannelHeritage Assisted Living, Heritage Court Memory Care.

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