Ask a Local Musician: Adrian Klenz

Eric Koeppel

Here's the first in a series of interviews we did with some of the Chippewa Valley’s longtime musicians regarding the local music scene, what they like about it, and what we fans can do to improve it. This week’s interview features Adrian Klenz, a vocalist for numerous bands both past and present. Enjoy and stay tuned for more to come …

What is your favorite thing about working as a musician in this area?
The amount of talented people we get to work with. Justin Vernon has gained a lot of national/international attention for his talent and look where he came from! He is always open about the amount of talent we have in this area. There are so many great musicians and bands, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how fortunate they are to be in this area.

"People will stand in a crowded bar that is playing popular music and they will pay $4 for a watered down drink, yet if you ask them to pay $4 or $5 for a cover so the band can make a little money they refuse."

What is your biggest frustration as a musician in this area (if you can, focus on one thing)?
I would say a lack of support from SOME folks in the area. People will stand in a crowded bar that is playing popular music and they will pay $4 for a watered down drink, yet if you ask them to pay $4 or $5 for a cover so the band can make a little money they refuse.

What is the best experience you have had performing at a local venue?
There are too many to list. I have been singing in this area for the last 20 years and I think it is unfair to list just one. Each gig offers at least one special experience.

How about the worst experience you have had performing at a local venue?
I was once asked by the girlfriend of the owner of a club if we could turn down because she was having a conversation with her friends. At the time I was in a blues band and we weren’t even that loud! I asked her why she came to a bar that had live music and I told her we would not be turning down. That didn’t go over well; we never played at that venue again.

What do you find challenging about selling CDs in this area?
Honestly it goes back to support. There are some diehard fans that come to shows and I would say there are roughly 40 or 50 people that go to a lot of shows, so it is the same people. If more people came out to support the amazing talent we have in the Chippewa Valley then I think everyone would be happy. Club owners would make more, bands would make more, and we could sell more CD’s and merchandise.

If you have performed in other areas, what do you feel sets the Chippewa Valley apart from other music scenes (good or bad)?
As far as the good, the people that do come to shows really get into it. As I said there are 40-50 die hard music fans that come to see all genres of music. They are very supportive because they just love music.

As far as the bad, again, we need more people to come to shows and more people who are willing to help support the musicians. We spend countless hours practicing, we buy equipment, we pay for gas to get to shows, and most of the time we actually pay to play. So it would be great if more people were willing to come to shows and pay a few bucks so at the end of the night we might get a few bucks versus a few free drinks or a free meal.

When I started in 1996 we would have concerts with three bands (a folk band, a metal band, and a blues band) and 300 people would show up. The fans from all the bands stayed the entire night to support ALL the bands.

Is it possible to have a successful tour in Western Wisconsin or do you feel that you have to go outside the area for a good tour?
I feel you need to get out of the area. When I played on the road a lot we would go to Madison, LaCrosse, Minneapolis, and other smaller areas. I don’t know that you can make it on just Western Wisconsin.

What advice would you like to give to local concertgoers?
It’s ok to request a song but if we don’t play it don’t get upset. We are not human IPODS. Appreciate the talent we are sharing with you.

What advice would you like to give to local musicians?
Try to be supportive of your fellow musicians no matter what type of music they play. When I started in 1996 we would have concerts with three bands (a folk band, a metal band, and a blues band) and 300 people would show up. The fans from all the bands stayed the entire night to support ALL the bands. That is, in part, because we were all friends. All the musicians supported each other and played together. I think the fans saw that and supported ALL acts. Over the last few years, I have seen some moments where there has been some competition. That can be a good thing, but honestly showing love for each other works out more in the long run.

What are some of your favorite local bands or musicians to see live?
I admit I am out of the loop and I don’t play as much as I once did. But a number of my friends and fellow musicians are still playing so I’d love to give them a shout out. Dead Dogs are always fun, I miss playing with those guys, and The Jeff Walk Quartet is jamming down at Pizza Plus. I need to follow my own advice from question 9 and get out there and support more local music!