Wednesday, Sep. 19th, 2018

Visit Eau Claire Launches New Branding, Logo

Visit Eau Claire, the area’s tourism promotion agency, has unveiled a colorful new logo (above) and brand identity that it says “captures the personality of the city known for its independent spirit, creative culture, penchant for originality, and inspiring natural resources.” The new look is already in use online, and it will be prominently displayed when Visit Eau Claire opens its new visitor center on Oct. 26 in the Pablo Center at the Confluence. Linda John, the group’s executive director, said the branding process was informed by the perceptions of residents, visitors, and people who once lived here and decided to move back. “That evaluation process consistently turned up words and phrases including independent spirit, renaissance, arts and music, a ‘forever young’ mindset especially coming into play with sports, an openness to new and original ideas, caring, collaborative, inclusive, hip neighborhoods with lots happening, and natural resources that inspire creativity,” John said. Visit Eau Claire worked with Odd Brand Strategy, an Eau Claire design firm, to create the new look. To get a peek at the new branding, go to

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Tuesday, Sep. 18th, 2018

5 Big Numbers: Eau Claire’s New Arts Center

1. 135,000 SQUARE FEET

The total floorspace inside the Pablo Center at the Confluence, which officially opens Sept. 22. That includes two theaters, two art galleries, a dance studio, rehearsal spaces, classrooms, a recording studio, offices, and more, much of it with outstanding views of the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. (The figure is 155,000 square feet if you include space occupied by mechanical items on the roof.)

2. 1,600 SEATS

The combined capacity of the RCU and Jamf theaters. The 400-seat Jamf Theatre, the largest “black box” theater in the Midwest, will be highly flexible: The seats pull out of the wall and performances can be held on a thrust stage or in the round.The Broadway-style 1,200-seat RCU Theatre can seat more people than the old State Theatre yet no audience member will more than 80 feet from the stage.

3. 113 FEET

That’s the distance between the surface of the RCU Theatre stage and the fly tower, allowing a huge amount of space for curtains and set pieces to be hoisted into the air. (There’s also a distance of 83 feet from the stage to the bottom of the rigging grid, which equipment such as lights hang from.) Overall, the stage is 55 feet deep and 100 feet wide, making it three times larger than the stage at the State Theatre.

4. 7,200 SQUARE FEET

The size of the lobby and atrium area – also known as the OakLeaf Physicians Lobby – which will soar upward three stories. Visitors coming from the soon-to-be-completed Haymarket Plaza will enter the arts center via this 2,200 person capacity lobby. Here they will be able to access the box office, the concession area, and view a word cloud containing the names of all 1,100 donors to the project. 

5. $59.89 MILLION

That’s the total price tag for the Pablo Center, including design ($6 million), construction ($45 million), furnishings ($7.9 million), and “pre-opening expenses” like staffing and technology ($900,000). The biggest chunk ($24 million and counting) is coming from donors, with the rest from the state, the City of Eau Claire, Eau Claire County, and new market tax credits.

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Welcome to the Pablo: Eau Claire's new arts center plans wild grand opening


After more than six years of planning and the persistent efforts of countless leaders, supporters, and community members like yourself, the big day is finally upon us: The Pablo Center at the Confluence is a reality, and the public is invited to celebrate the grand opening of Eau Claire’s new cultural center. On Saturday, Sept. 22, from noon-5:30pm, the Pablo Center will be open for members of the public to explore and enjoy free of charge. Visitors can grab a bite to eat, explore the art galleries, and enjoy beautiful music and dance performances. When the sun goes down, be prepared to shift gears as the Pablo Center presents “Cabinet of Curiosities,” a gala event that will celebrate the idea of wonder through theatrical and musical performances. The audience will be treated to two performances. The first is the world premiere of “Terrene” (which means “of or like the Earth”), a unique combination of visual art by designer/sculptor/puppeteer Chris M. Green and music by UW-Eau Claire resident composer Chiayu Hsu, all in celebration of natural, earthly curiosities. The second performance will be “Firebird,” a lush puppet and dance masterpiece that tells the tale of Prince Ivan, the magical firebird, and the epic struggle between good and evil. The Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra will play Igor Stravinksy’s stunning score while dancers bring David Neumann’s choreography to life. Learn more about both events at

Pablo Center at the Confluence Grand Opening • Saturday, Sept. 22 • Grand opening celebration, noon-5:30pm, FREE • “Cabinet of Curiosities,” 7:30pm, RCU Theatre, tickets start at $30 

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Thursday, Sep. 13th, 2018
Monday, Sep. 3rd, 2018
Thursday, Aug. 30th, 2018

City Hands Out Green Awards for Local Environmental Efforts

Image: Ned Noel
Image: Ned Noel

It’s not easy being green, but a number of local businesses, individuals, and organizations have done it anyway, and now they’ve got awards to prove it. The City of Eau Claire’s Sustainability Advisory Committee recently bestowed its annual Sustainable Eau Claire awards, which carried the theme “Towards a Renewable Energy City.” Winners in the energy category included Xcel Energy, which currently provides a 58 percent carbon-free energy mix in the Upper Midwest; David Donovan, a longtime Xcel executive who was heavily involved in the creation of the company’s solar garden in Eau Claire; and Focus on Energy, a statewide energy conservation program.

In addition, Royal Credit Union, Patty Scott, and Mark Ruddy were honored as Exceptional Natural Resources Stewards; Huebsch Services was cited in the Green Products or Practices category; Jeff Pippenger, the city’s community services director, received the award for Sustainable City Staff; and Volume One (that's us!) was honored for Environmental Education. And, in keeping with the spirit of these honors, even the award plaques themselves are earth-friendly: They’re made of wood from “upcycled” city street trees by Eco Urban Timber.

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Monday, Aug. 27th, 2018

Justin Vernon Joins Legendary Songwriters for Book to Benefit Children’s Literacy

Where's Vernon?
Where's Vernon?

Take a look at this crazy storybook which includes Justin Vernon amongst its many credits. Apparently, when he's not making music, producing albums, organizing festivals, or forming weird international music collectives, Vernon sometimes scratches up enough time to write a story to benefit children's literacy programs. 

The new project, called Stories for Ways & Means, includes original work from songwriters like Tom Waits and Nick Cave (almost thirty in all). Artists were matched up to the stories, and the result is a 350-page book project. But that's not all. Some of the stories get an audio treatment with narrators like Danny Devito, Zach Galifianakis, Nick Offerman, and Lauren Lapkus. The readings are available on vinyl (duh) and you can hear some of them in a collection of trippy videos.

A softcover edition of the book (which is not intended for children) runs $35 while an "exclusive signed version" would set you back $490 (those better be some sweet signatures). The vinyl LP is 20 bucks. 

Watch a trailer for the book below and below that you'll find an FAQ from ...


Ten years ago the founder of Waxploitation, Jeff Antebi, had an idea to ask his favorite music artists and favorite contemporary painters to come together and collaborate on original children’s stories for a benefit project.

Today, 29 of those pairings make up the 350 page book project called Stories for Ways & Means.

The book includes stories from Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Frank Black, Justin Vernon, Laura Marling, Devendra Banhart, Alison Mosshart and Kathleen Hanna as well as painters/illustrators like Anthony Lister, Dan Baldwin, Swoon, Will Barras, James Jean, Ronzo, Kai & Sunny, and more.

Guest narrators came along for fun as featured voices in short promo films: Danny Devito, Zach Galifianakis, Nick Offerman, Phil LaMarr, King Krule, and Lauren Lapkus.


Probably not, unless said kid is over 17 years old. It features outre art, weird images, graphic displays of nasty stuff and cuss words.


The first edition will be scarce. It’s a limited edition, hardcover ONLY available first come, first served basis soon at


Proceeds from sales of the book primarily benefit Room to Read, Pencils of Promise, and 826 National among a number of non-profits working to build schools and educate children around the world.

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5 Local Crime Numbers

Crime is climbing? The number of crimes reported in the city of Eau Claire was higher last year than it had been in more than a decade, according to an annual report released by the Eau Claire Police Department. Here are some of the key statistics and trends in the report ...


Increase in the number of crimes reported in the city of Eau Claire between 2016 and 2017, according to Uniform Crime Report statistics.


Total number of crimes reported as part of the UCR statistics, including those defined as Part 1 Index crimes* and simple assaults.


The last year the total number of crimes reported in Eau Claire was higher than last year. In 2004, 2,910 crimes were reported.


Total drug-related arrests in 2017, a 17.1 percent increase from 2016. These include arrests for possession, delivery, and paraphernalia.


Number of 911 calls received last year by the Eau Claire Communication Center, which handles all police, fire, and EMS calls in the county.

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Tuesday, Aug. 21st, 2018

5 Ways to Spell ‘Menomonie’ and Not Be Wrong

Menomonie's Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts (Image)
Menomonie's Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts (Image)

1. Menomonie

For those of us in the Chippewa Valley, this spelling is the “right” one – or at least the one we’re most familiar with. As with all the other spellings, the name of this Dunn County city comes from the name given by the Ojibwe people to their neighbors, who lived in a large territory in what is now Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, early European settles spelled “our” Menomonie with an “ie” to avoid confusion with other Wisconsin locales.

2. Menominee

If there’s an “official” spelling of the word, this is probably it. It’s the name of a Native American tribe; the name of that tribe’s reservation; the name of the Wisconsin county that is contiguous with the reservation; as well as the name of a city in Michigan and a river that divides the two states. Fun fact: The Menominee were among the people French explorer Jean Nicolet encountered when he came ashore at Green Bay in 1634. (Of course, he thought they were Chinese.)

3. Menomonee

If you’re from the Milwaukee area, chances are this is how you spell the word. This is the spelling that applies to the river that flows into the state’s largest city (and ultimately Lake Michigan via the Milwaukee River); to the Menomonee Valley, an industrial neighborhood in Milwaukee; and to the nearby suburb of Menomonee Falls.

4. Manoominii

This is the original Ojibwe word for the tribe, which in the Ojibwe’s language means “wild rice people,” a reference to the other tribe’s staple food. However, as is often the case when it comes to tribal names, this is not what the Menominee call themselves: In their own language, they are “Mamaceqtaw,” or simply “The People.”

5. Me-No-Monie

The difficult-to-spell (and to pronounce) name lends itself pretty easily to a pun, and a few years back the folks at Me-No-Monie Street Pawn & Loan grabbed it. (Get it: “Me No Money?” Of course you do!) The pawn shop is located, naturally, on Menomonie Street in Eau Claire.

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Thursday, Aug. 9th, 2018

Pablo Center at the Confluence Announces Premiere Lineup

Newly installed seats inside the RCU Theater, the Pablo Center at the Confluence's large theater. (Image: Pablo Center)
Newly installed seats inside the RCU Theater, the Pablo Center at the Confluence's large theater. (Image: Pablo Center)

After 6-plus years of gathering ideas, planning, building, shaping, rethinking, finessing, and dreaming big, the inaugural season of shows at the Pablo Center at the Confluence is finally upon us. On September 22, Eau Claire’s new arts center officially opens its doors, and the program of artists and performers slated to bring their talents to our city ranges wide and deep. 

The project has lived for so long as an abstract idea. Soon it will truly be the tangible, artistic force it was meant to be. This feels like a special moment – one we’ve been leading up to for a long time. That time and community effort is not lost on the Pablo’s Director of Artistic Programming Brenna St. George Jones, who told us she feels the pressure to deliver something really special this inaugural season.

"The stakes are really, really high,” St. George Jones said. "Even in a city the size of New York, this place would be a splash. But here, with all of the time and energy and emotion and everything the community has put into this thing, the stakes are higher. It matters more. It carries more weight. It was incredibly important to me to build a season that is worthy of that energy and that effort.”

St. George Jones and her team have put together a truly stellar first season that will be bring exceptional artists, dancers, musicians, comedians, puppeteers, and even dinosaurs to Eau Claire – most of which, it seems, would never have been able to happen in this city without a place like this. Between the multiple stages, art galleries, and other artistic and educational spaces that fill the building, world class music and art is gonna be pouring out of this thing on a regular basis from here on out.

St. George Jones said her goal with this first season was to honor the rich traditions of the Chippewa Valley’s performing arts scene, while pushing boundaries to bring audiences out of their comfort zone to experience some shows that are unabashedly unique.

"You can have tradition and still have innovation,” St. George Jones said. "Those two things can happily exist side by side. And sometimes that’s when the most exciting things happen."

So without further ado...

Pablo Center exterior copper work. (Image: Lee Butterworth)
Pablo Center exterior copper work. (Image: Lee Butterworth)


The Pablo Center’s programming, from dance to drums, from ballet to country, from jazz to puppets, and everything in between. (Note: Rental shows and some touring productions are not included in this list and will be announced at a later date.)

Cloud Cult • September 28, 2018 • RCU Theatre • The common thread through what Cloud Cult does as a creative collective is their uplifting message; a continual celebration of life and love and catharsis through music.

Whose Live Anyway? • October 3, 2018 • RCU Theatre • 90 minutes of hilarious improvised comedy and song all based on audience suggestions featuring cast members Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray.

Phantom Tollbooth October 13, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Enchantment Theatre Company is bringing this fantastical, captivating story to the stage. Using puppets, masks, magic, inventive scenic effects and original music, the wonder and adventure of the story comes alive.

Ganavya Doraiswamy • October 18, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Vocalist, scholar, and composer Ganavya Doraiswamy has carved a niche for herself at the nexus of South Indian vocal styles and contemporary music. With an anchor in jazz standards that she has translated to Tamil from English, she showcases a linguistic command over her two mother-tongues.

Tony Jackson • October 26, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Tony Jackson is one of the most gifted singers ever to grace country music. On the first-time and lesser known songs Jackson mints his own classics, and with such memorable excursions as “Drink By Drink,” “Old Porch Swing” he shines as a keen-eyed songwriter in his own right.

Ailey II October 27, 2018 • RCU Theatre • A company of 12 on-their-way-to-the-top dancers and a repertory of works by emerging talents fresh out of the rehearsal room. The Ailey II dancers travel year-round to share their “off-the-charts energy” (The New Yorker) with audiences around the world – with a tour schedule unlike any other second company.

Kate Lindsey / Baptiste Trotignon November 1, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Inspired by their 2017 album of the same name, Thousands of Miles is born out of an encounter between mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and jazz pianist Baptiste Trotignon. Closing the distance between classical music and Broadway, between the old and new worlds, between opera and jazz.

Cassel / Block • November 9, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Together, these dynamic performers – Hanneke Cassel and Mike Block – present a diverse and exciting show featuring traditional and original music drawing from their Celtic, Americana, and Classical backgrounds. 

The Oak Ridge Boys • November 26, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring four decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been.

Blind Boys Of Alabama • January 25, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Hailed as “gospel titans” by Rolling Stone, the Blind Boys first rose to fame in the segregated south with their thrilling vocal harmonies and roof-raising live show, launching a 70-year recording career that would see them rack up five Grammy Awards (plus one for Lifetime Achievement), enter the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, collaborate with everyone from Mavis Staples and Stevie Wonder to Prince and Lou Reed, and perform on the world’s most prestigious stages.

Edgar Meyer • February 9, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Edgar Meyer has formed a role in the music world unlike any other. Meyer’s unparalleled technique and musicianship in combination with his gift for composition have brought him to the fore, where he is appreciated by a vast, varied audience. 

Kodo Taiko • February 23, 2019 • RCU Theatre • The taiko: a traditional Japanese drum with limitless rhythmic possibilities. Kodo’s mission is to explore these possibilities, and in the process forge new directions for a vibrant living art-form. Thunderous, primal, and powerful.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar • February 24, 2019 RCU Theatre • This critically acclaimed production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show created by Jonathan Rockefeller features a menagerie of 75 lovable puppets. The production faithfully adapts four stories by author/ illustrator Eric Carle: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly and of course, the star of the show – The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure • March 8, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Take your family on an all new adventure – this time to the bottom of the ocean. Erth shows are at the forefront of family entertainment, using actors, technology, puppets, science and imagination to create an amazing visual experience that connects young audiences to the real science of paleontology.

La Caverne (The Torch Sisters) • March 22, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Late night, playful and sexy; Eau Claire’s own Torch Sisters invite you to their first evening-length work, La Caverne, a breathtaking blend of aerial artistry, flow arts, and burlesque paying homage to Maud Phillips – a.k.a. Violet Leigh – Eau Claire’s “Mad Poetess of the Cave.” Inspired by the outspoken turn-of-the-century poetesses’ love affairs, writings, and rebel spirit the Torch Sisters present a variety show like no other.

Air Play • March 27, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Ride the wind and dream with Air Play, a modern spectacle that brings to life the very air we breathe. Flying umbrellas, larger-than-life balloons, giant kites floating over the audience, and the biggest snow globe you’ve ever seen will make you gasp in wonder and laugh until it hurts.

Brooklyn Rider • April 10, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • String quartet Brooklyn Rider offers eclectic repertoire in gripping performances that continue to attract legions of fans and draw rave reviews from classical, world, and rock critics alike. 

Aaron Diehl • April 11, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Pianist Aaron Diehl is one of the country’s most sought after jazz virtuosos. Diehl’s meticulously thought-out performances, collaborations, and compositions are a leading force in today’s generation of jazz contemporaries, spearheading a distinct union of traditional and fresh artistry.

Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo • April 17, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo have established themselves as an international dance phenomenon. Playful, brilliant, entertaining, high art and high camp; this company of professional male dancers performing the full range of the ballet and modern dance repertoire is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Farewell Angelina • April 19, 2019 • RCU Theatre • An all-female country group featuring four powerhouse vocalists, dynamic songwriters and badass multi instrumentalists. Together Farewell Angelina’s magic blend of a multitude of stringed instruments, two blazing violins, and unique harmonies have taken Nashville by storm, and that enthusiasm is now spreading – thanks in part to live shows that bring down the house.


The Pablo Center’s live music program is called Set List, where they plan to bring some nationally-renowned musicians to Eau Claire for one-of-a-kind performances. More show announcements are on the way, but here are three already-announced Set List shows.

Phil Cook • October 20, 2018 • Jamf Theatre
Ray LaMontagne October 29, 2018 • RCU Theatre
The Tallest Man On Earth • November 19, 2018 • RCU Theatre


Shows produced for the Pablo stage by the Chippewa Valley’s arts community.

Eau Claire Children’s Theatre 
Cinderella • Nov. 16-18, 2018 
The Giver • Jan. 4, 2019 
Dragons Love Tacos • Feb. 8-9, 2019 
Disney's Beauty and the Beast • March 15-17, 2019 
Peter Pan • July 24-28, 2019 

Volume One 
True North • Nov. 16-17, 2018 
Hullabaloo • June 1, 2019 

Master Singers 
America, My Home 2018 • Oct. 14, 2018 

UW-Eau Claire 
A Grand Night for Singing • Nov. 8-9, 2018 
Holiday Concert • December 9, 2018 
She Kills Monsters • December 11-16, 2018 
The House of Blue Leaves • March 7-9, 13-17, 2019 
Confluence Dance Project • Apr. 4-5, 2019 
Don Giovanni • May 9-12, 2019

Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra 
October Concert • Oct. 6, 2018 
December Concert with Special Guest Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra • Dec. 8, 2018 
February Concert • Feb. 2, 2019 
March Concert • March 2, 2019 
May Concert • May 18, 2019 

Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra 
A New Era • Sept. 29, 2018 
Baroque Treasures • Nov. 10, 2018 
Family and Friends • Jan. 26, 2019 
Norwegian Conference with special guest The Master Singers • March 23, 2019 
American Dreams • May 4, 2019 

Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild 
Fun Home • Oct. 4-7, 2018 
Mamma Mia! • Apr. 25-28, 2019 
Footloose the Musical • June 27-30, 2019 

Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra 
Wayne Bergeron • Oct. 19, 2018
WISCO In The House with guest artists Andrew Neesley & Mel Flannery • Feb. 23, 2019 
Trombone-orama with special guest Andy Martin • May 3, 2019


Exhibitions running at the Pablo Center’s two free, open-to-the-public art galleries highlighting the best of regional and national artists across a variety of media.

James W. Hansen Gallery 
Homecoming: The Confluence of Art Annual Exhibition • September 22 - October 19, 2018 
We Went To The Woods: Artwork inspired by the wild outdoors • October 26 - December 7, 2018 
Luminis Artis: The Art of Light • December 14, 2018 - January 25, 2019 
Give The Best That You Have In You: UW-Eau Claire Alumni Art Exhibit • February 1 - March 15, 2019 
Fabulous Florals & Fine Art • March 20-24, 2019 
Then: Founding Artists of the Chippewa Valley • March 29 - May 17, 2019 
Now: Emerging Artists of the Chippewa Valley • May 24 - July 12, 2019 
Footprints/Memories: Eco art and the global canvas • July 19 - September 6, 2019

Graham Avenue Walking Gallery 
An Artist Forever: Highlights of the Laurie Bieze Permanent Art Collection • September 22 - November 9, 2018 
A Seat At The Table: Women Artists of the Chippewa Valley • November 16, 2018 - January 18, 2019 
Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra: Student Art Exhibit • January 25 - March 15, 2019 
Fabulous Florals & Fine Art • March 20-24, 2019 
Everything You Can Imagine Is Real: An exhibit of high school student art • March 29 - May 31, 2019 
Reflected Light: GO Paint and the Art of Plein Air Painting in the Chippewa Valley • June 7 - August, 2019


Tickets for the 2018-19 season will be available for purchase via the Pablo Center website on Thursday, August 23 at 10am. Visit for more information, a full listing of events, and to order tickets when they go on sale. Tickets will only be available for purchase online for the time being. The box office will officially open on Saturday, September 22. For questions, please email


Grand Opening Celebration • September 22, 2018 • 12pm - 5:30pm • Free and Open to the Public 
A day and night of community, art, and gala celebration. The Pablo Center opens its doors with a day of free public performances, where you can explore the building, grab a bite to eat from local food trucks, visit the art galleries, and enjoy music and dance by some of the Chippewa Valley’s best.

Rare Treasures September 22, 2018 • 7:30pm • Tickets Available Online August 23 
The RCU stage is the setting for Cabinet of Curiosities, a theatrical and musical celebration of the nature of wonder. Terrene is a Pablo Center commissioned world premiere work pairing images by designer/sculptor/puppeteer Chris M. Green with the music of UW-Eau Claire resident composer Chiayu Hsu. The second half of the program is called Firebird, a lush puppet and dance masterpiece telling an epic tale of good and evil, integrating light, puppetry, and Stravinsky’s thrilling music played by the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra directed by Nobuyoshi Yasuda.

The Pablo Center at the Confluence

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