Category Archives: music

Holy Polkas Batman!!

Holy Polkas!


The Final Indignity

Click for Larger ImageTwenty years of live music at the Scott Street Pub did not end in a blaze of guitars and drums, but rather in a blue bureaucratic haze.

Before the headline band of the night, and the final act at the pub ever, could take the stage, the Pub was already closed. City police arrived in force at about 12:15 to inform Tom Bergs that his liquor license had exprired at midnight and the being in violation of the law, they were clearing the out the place and shutting down the Pub. In a bit of quick improvisation, the Pollack Inn on 3rd Street was called and asked if the finale of the Pub could be held there.

The final indignity of the Scott Street Pub is that their farewell performance had to be held in another venue. Hey thanks for 20 years of live music, Tom. One of the few positive things to come out of the incident was that there were no problems during the shutdown. A few angry words were directed at the police, but Tom Bergs quickly took the stage, and emphasized that the Pub had always been a peaceful place, and that the police were just doing their job. Within minutes the rock ‘n roll crowd of the Pub had filed quietly into the darkened streets of downtown.

What I don’t know at this point is who knew what when. Give the number of officers that showed up, the shutdown of the pub was obviously anticipated by someone at the City. It was well known that the last day of business of the Pub was June 30th, and I would suppose that the liquor license expired with the business as it were. In the bar business it would be somewhat understandable that the owners don’t think of their “business day” as ending at midnight. After all the Corpse Show Creeps were advertised as playing “June 30” even though they would not take the stage until after midnight.

It seems to me that someone from the City could have reminded folks that the day ends at midnight and that limit would be enforced. Tom and the Pub have run alcohol free shows before, and perhaps an 11:30 pm “Last Call” could have allowed the show to go on.

If the City was operating in “gotcha” mode, as it appeared they were, then Wausau has lost several thousand points on the “coolness” scale. More than 50 years after it appeared on the scene the City Fathers still think rock ‘n roll is some kind of plague? How backward is that?

The crowd at the Pub was of all ages on the last night. Twenty something “punks” mingled with people who looked old enough to be my parents. Along with the mohawks there was plenty of gray hair. The crowd was generally very well behaved, especially when the Pub was being shut down.

It is a shame that a place with such a rich tradition had to meet such an inglorious end.

Eds Note: The picture of Tom Bergs taking the stage to talk to the crowd was taken at 12:18 am. I have a picture of the band that was playing previous to that which I took at 12:11 am. I have many more pictures of the final night of the Pub which I hope to get uploaded today sometime. I had taken video of the proceedings as well, but so far the disc seems to be unreadable, so it may never see the light of day.

Penultimate Night

Well, it seems there is just one night left for music at the Scott Street Pub tonight. Last night was a hard rockin’g blues band with one of the best rhythm sections I have heard for a long time. They were certainly pumping out the beat. I am not a big fan of overly long guitar solos, but other folks seemed to be enjoying it.

Click for Larger ImageBut the groove was good and people got up and danced, including the man of the hour.

Tonight is the last night, and fittingly enough the Corpse Show Creeps will be closing the place. Nothing like going out with a psychobilly party. My understanding is that there will be some open mic time starting around 9 pm, hopefully with a few of the local folks who have played there getting one last chance to get some stage time at the Pub.

Although as a physical venue the Pub is not perfect, it will surely be missed for the sheer volume and variety of live music that has been showcased there. The only place I can think of that is even close to that variety and volume is Clark Place down in Point. As Dino calculated in an earlier post, Tom Bergs and the Pub have poured probably at least a million bucks in to the pockets of musicians over the last 20 years. This represents a support of the arts that is almost at foundation levels. I am sure a place like the CVA would love to get a million dollar grant, even spread over 20 years. The Pub has been a tremendous resource, both to the city, but also to the musical community here.

Hopefully, someone will step up and create a new venue for live music and get started on their million dollar grant. But in the mean time you can come out to the Pub tonight for one last chance to say “thanks” for the memories, and put a few last dollars into the live music jukebox that has been the Scott Street Pub.

First Concert

Click for Larger ImageTonight was the first Concert on the Square for this season, and it looked to me like it drew one of the biggest crowds. John Greiner and his Swingshift Band belted out big band classics from the World War II era, with probably the biggest band that will play on the square this summer. Lots of folks were up there playing. And lots more folks were out on the grass even listening. And a few folks even got up off their grass and danced a bit. A good time was had by all.

If you would like to see and hear more of John and his big (really big!) band you can head out to the American Legion Hall (at 6th Street and Golf Club Road) the third Thursdays of the month for their open rehearsals, from 6 to 9 pm. The next (free!) open rehearsal is scheduled for July 19th.

If you can’t wait that long for band music, you can check out the city band at Marathon Park tomorrow night, or come back to the square next Wednesday.

Friday 400: June 16, 2007

It is not every Summer Solstice Celebration here in Wausau that really feels like summer, but we had that last night. Near 90 degree temps during the day provided the atmosphere and Wausau Area Events provided the party. Johnny Wad, a great cover band from Green Bay provided the musical accompaniment and about 2000 Wauvillians turned out to greet the new season. It seems like a good time was had by all. So, thanks to Leah and all the good folks at Wausau Area Events for a fun time!

Click for Larger Image

An Almost Perfect Night

Bill CoadyBy Bill Coady

Over the past month or so, for a variety of reasons, I have been doing something I have not done a lot of in my life — hanging out in bars.  I am generally such a stick in the mud that my better half did in fact ask me, “How can you stand to spend so much time hanging out in bars?”  I guess I should explain all this.

I am your basic non-smoking teetotaler.  Smoke filled rooms make my physically ill, and I do not suffer fools, especially drunk fools, gladly.  So, hanging out in bars has never been at the top of my “to-do” list.  Which actually has always bugged me quite a bit.

As much as I didn’t like the idea of being in dark smoky room where people getting “loosened up” were screeching at each other, there is a very important reason I would like to hang out in bars.  Live music.  I love music.  It just works its way into my soul.  Really deep into my soul.  All kinds of music — blues, rock, jazz, swing, even classical.  I love to hear it and love to watch as talented people really get into their art.  But I have not been partaking as often as I could or as I would like.

I have always taken advantage of things like the Concerts on the Square, which is a near perfect venue for a person like me for live music.  Clean, open and free.  I am pretty much there every week.  I have never been much of a Grand Theater person, just too rich for my blood.  Not so much in absolute terms (although seats are a bit on the pricey side) but rather in relative terms.  For the price of seats at a two hour show, I can buy five CDs that will last almost forever.  But overall, I have been missing a lot of live music around town.  Until lately.

Needing to expand my horizons for the blog a bit and having been asked to snap a few pix for the local alternative weekly got me “hanging out in bars.”  And overall it has been pretty darn good.  It is pretty easy to “stand” it right now.

Count me as one person who loves the no-smoking ordinances!  It is so nice to be able to go into a place and be able to breath.  And taste the food and drink.  And be able to see the performers through non-watery eyes.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, legislators and activists that put these laws through.  And I apologize to club owners for not getting out sooner and taking advantage of this new atmosphere — literally.  I am there now though, and I hope that other sticks in the mud like myself (I know us sticks are legion!) will follow.

I do want to mention three venues I have experienced in my new found nightlife and just give a quickie review to hopefully entice more of you out and about.

Let’s start with the grandaddy of them all, the Scott Street Pub.  The Pub certainly has the vibe, that is for sure.  You can almost feel the ghosts of all the performers that have been there.  The set up for live music is pretty good, with a little stage area and plenty of room for seating and even dancing.  The shows I have been to there were more low key and “folky” so were not big parties as perhaps Dino experienced with the Lucky Stiffs.  Unfortunately the service at the Pub is a bit lacking.  One show I went to was supposed to have a cover charge, but no one bother to collect it (or maybe that is service!)  Food and drink choices tend to be spotty, things listed on the menu are sometimes not available, but overall the food is good.  The Pub is certainly reliable for music, but not so much so for overall experience.

Just around the corner, Kelly’s Martini Bar is almost ALL service.  A wonderfully friendly waitstaff walking around with their silver canisters are ready to serve up an amazing selection of “martinis.”  Being a teetotaller, I didn’t sample the wares there, but menu is amazing.  It strikes me that the drinks are more akin to wine coolers than martinis, but people seem to like them.  Kelly’s sticks more to jazz as their musical selection, and there are lots of great jazz acts around town.  Unfortunately, the building is not set up ideally for music.  There are two separate rooms with seating and the performer sets up in the hallway between the two rooms.  Not ideal, but it works.  Much more of a “grown-up” experience than the Pub and very pleasant indeed.

And a bit further down the street — in Stevens Point to be exact — is another wonderful venue. Clark Place is a near perfect combination of Kelly’s and the Pub.  It certainly has the street cred of the Pub.  Clark Place has live music nearly every night.  Features both local and national acts.  The posters around the place can serve as a musical education in themselves.  Clark Place has a real stage (with a really nice background) for the performers and a terrific sound system.  The room is huge and very open feeling, more like a theater than a bar.  The service, though not at the level of Kelly’s is quite good, and for $6.50, the pizzas they serve up are well worth it.  Clark Place is a near perfect place to get your music fix — even with the drive to Point.

I am sure there are other places for me to check out and when I do, you will read about them here.

Music is a Restorative Art (When the Devil Leaves the Porch Light On)

Dino CorvinoBy Dino Corvino

I confess to being burnt out, at the thin end of the spectrum, the thin part of said long tail, a little bit crispy, a tired big man.  Sad droopy eyes, and short fuse and rage in my heart.  Boredom, city life treating me badly, workload overwhelming.  All of it.  Questioning my life choices, the way I live my life, all of it.  But Saturday something changed.  A giant geyser of hope opened in front of me, and made it all right.  Made the sky brighter, the water cleaner, the soapy soapier.  It made every pen a Parker Jotter, and every laptop a Powerbook G4, and everyone interested in Web 2.0.  It was amazing.  Tom Waits sat giggling on my couch.  Yeah, Tom Waits was giggling on my couch.

All of this because I went to Scott Street Pub to see a band.  Yeah, I am a homer for the Pub — but its more than that.  Bars take on new personalities from time to time.  Right now the Pub is Mohawk Matt, and I like Mohawk Matt.  Its funny to see him change to a grown up, but that is another thing.  The live music venue reflects the taste of  the boss, or the guy booking.  It just does.  And Matt has a pretty static palate as far as music goes.  His name is Mohawk Matt, so what do you expect.

The band was Lucky Stiffs from San Fransico.  A truly amazing band.  So tight, so rehearsed, so fearless.  They are a five piece, two guitar players, a singer, a bass player and a drummer named Rico, I think.  They are on a 70 day tour, 70 shows in 70 days.  Living in a van, selling their wares around the country.  Amazing young men.

The rock power was unstoppable.  Dangerous, aggressive, and amazing.  It reminded me the difference once again between a local talent and a national talent.  Local guys kind of sing songs, smirk and go about their business.  Not willing to risk alienating anyone with greatness, they settle in the shallow water musically.  Not nationals — they come to your town, rock your socks off, drink your beer, kiss your sister, and sleep on your floor.  They play their show, and while they want you to like them, they trust themselves to rock harder than your hometown guys.  They have committed to this adventure.  They are living in the van, they love each other, and this is what they are doing.  And Lucky Stiffs do that.  They bring the heat.  They blew the other two bands away that day, and honestly they blew everything I have seen away this year.  Across all genres

I like the spectrum’s end musically.  I like bands that are dangerous, and music played with real emotion.  It had been so long since I saw risk, that seeing this risk on stage made me happy in a way that only comes from seeing real rock and roll.  It was funny to see the crowd faced with greatness, unflinching power and passion, the crowd at the pub literally shirked.  It is funny to see in so many ways.  We scream for greatness, for inspiration, for someone to rise above the tree tops — and when they do, we have no idea how to respond.  My soul leapt to heights I had not expected.

I remember a few years ago seeing a band called The Shakin’ 78’s.  They will always be one of my favorite bands.  Always.  They dared to be great, and they delivered on it.  And people had no idea what to make of them.

So I say this: “Thank you to rock and roll.”