These are the first major music festivals happening in Wisconsin this summer

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

It was looking like August was going to make the return of big concerts on a wide scale across Wisconsin. But that start date hast been creeping up: Increasingly quite a few big concerts are being booked for July, as well. That’s when Milwaukee will start hosting some of its big amphitheater shows, which we previewed last week on Tap’d In. But if you’d like to see outdoor live music before then, the rest of the state has you covered.

On this week’s episode, we preview some of the big outdoor concerts and festivals that will be taking place across Wisconsin during the next month or two. And while a lot of them are country music festivals (it seems like country acts will be hitting the road a few weeks earlier than artists from other genres), there are also some interesting bookings at venues like the Driftless Music Gardens, a natural amphitheater in Richmond County that hosts a lot of regional Midwest music, with an emphasis on jammy and acoustic bands. It really looks like a beautiful place to see a show.

Chicken Wire Empire will play The Boogiedown Festival at Driftless Music Gardens next weekend | boogiedownfest.com

Hear us discuss some of the big shows happening across the state this summer below.

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Milwaukee’s summer concert calendar just keeps getting fuller and fuller

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

It’s great to be pleasantly surprised. If you’d asked me just a couple months ago what I would have expected Milwaukee’s summer concert schedule would look like this year, I would have predicted a fairly modest and very patchy schedule. But although it’ll get off to a slow start, with very few major shows in June, this summer’s concert lineup is shaping up to be bigger than expected.

This week’s big new addition to the calendar is the Foo Fighters, who will play Summerfest’s American Family Insurance Amphitheater on July 30. Unless a show is announced at the venue before then, that would make Dave Grohl’s band the first act to play that amphitheater since it completed a massive $51 million renovation.

Yung Bleu will co-headline a concert at Wisconsin State Fair Park on June 26 | Photo credit: @stellashots_

Summerfest’s amphitheater has booked some other big shows for August, including The Black Crowes (Aug. 8), Maroon 5 (Aug. 19), Hall and Oates (Aug. 28). And other venues are coming back online, too. The Eagles Ballroom has announced The Deftones will be back. Cactus Club will start doing indoor shows in July. And the Pabst Theater Group keeps adding new announcements for shows at its venues. Modest Mouse, Cloud Nothings, Built to Spill and Bully are among the many acts set to play in July and August.

Piet also tips me to a great outdoor rap concert I somehow missed called We Outside, co-headlined by Yung Bleu and Lakeyah on June 26, with some top players from the Milwaukee hip-hop scene opening, including Solowke, Chicken P and Gwapo Chapo. That sounds like a dream.

And of course there’s the Wisconsin State Fair, which will feature very on-brand headliners like Skillet, Beach Boys, Hank Williams Jr. and Boyz II Men. And if you want to see Pat McCurdy there, too, you’ll have multiple chances. “It’s great that we’re at a point in the world where Pat McCurdy can play two nights at the State Fair,” Piet says. “It is refreshing normalcy.”

Hear us talk about those shows and more on this week’s episode below.

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Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

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Violent Femmes mark their 40th anniversary by re-releasing one of their oddest albums

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

You know we had to do it eventually: This week on Tap’d In we’re talking about the Violent Femmes. The Milwaukee-born band is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and they’re commemorating it in part by releasing a compilation that’s been long out of print: “Add It Up (1981-1993).”

Violent Femmes | Photo credit: Francis Ford

It’s an extremely odd album, not quite a greatest hits compilation and not quite a rarities collection. Instead it presents a hodgepodge of outtakes, live recordings and odds and ends alongside the band’s hits. In the process, it creates a pretty accurate portrait of what this band was all about, and it helped introduce the group to a new generation of alternative music fans in the 1990s. Even if you burned out on the hits from the first Femmes album long ago, the compilation is well worth a listen.

We talk about the compilation and share some insights from Piet’s recent interviews with members of the band on this week’s episode, which you can stream below.

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Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

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Revisiting some of most underrated Milwaukee albums of the 2000s and 2010s

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

This week we’re in a nostalgic mood. Radio Milwaukee is entering the final stretch of its spring membership drive, and all drive long we’ve been playing some of our favorite music of the 2000s and 2010s. That got us thinking about our favorite Milwaukee albums of those decades.

On this week’s Tap’d In, Piet and I discuss a handful of underrated or overlooked Milwaukee albums from that era (and a couple of widely celebrated ones we love, too.) We also reflect on our personal histories with the Milwaukee music scene and how the music scene has changed over the last 15 or 20 years, almost without exception for the better.

Some of the albums discussed on this week’s episode

You can stream the episode below, and if you’re able to support the station, please consider becoming a member. It’s listeners like you who make this station possible.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

Support from our community makes stories like the one you just read possible. Make a gift to support the team behind the programming you use and enjoy!

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The biggest surprises on Summerfest’s 2021 lineup

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

If you had any doubt about Summerfest’s intention to return this September, the festival likely put it to rest last week. Last Thursday Summerfest announced its 2021 lineup, and despite this year’s festival running nine days instead of the previous 11, it’s absolutely stacked. Jonas Brothers, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus and Dave Matthews Band are among the amphitheater headliners, and the festival revealed there will be a couple more of those headliners than previously thought. Summerfest is hosting a Wednesday night “weekend kickoff” concert at the amphitheater each week of the festival.

It’s a solid lineup. Comb the festival poster and you’ll find Charlie Wilson, Diplo, Black Pumas, Future Islands, Liz Phair, KennyHoopla, Ani DiFranco and Wilco’s first Summerfest appearance in ages. And then of course there’s the usual avalanche of nostalgia acts, which this year include Nelly, Ludacris, Flo Rida and T-Pain.

Check out the lineup below:

There are the usual disappointments, too. The lineup is even more male-dominated than usual. There isn’t much Latin music representation, and Summerfest remains averse to booking contemporary rap acts.

On this week’s Tap’d In, Piet and I share our big takeaways from the festival, with Piet touching on some of his critiques from his recent Journal Sentinel piece.

Hear us get into it all below.

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Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

Support from our community makes stories like the one you just read possible. Make a gift to support the team behind the programming you use and enjoy!

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Milwaukee Film Festival has lined up some great music documentaries this year

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

The Milwaukee Film Festival kicks off its first-ever spring installment this month, starting today and running from May 20. And on this week’s episode of Tap’s In, we’re talking about a perennial highlight of the festival: Its Sound Vision music documentary program.

“Summer of Soul”

Highlights of this year’s program include “Summer of Soul,” the directorial debut from Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson about a historic concert that rivaled Woodstock in terms of sheer ambition, and documentaries about Tom Petty, punk legend Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex, and women in electronic music.

And yes, perennial favorite “Stop Making Sense” is back, too.

You can hear us discuss the program on this week’s episode below.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

Support from our community makes stories like the one you just read possible. Make a gift to support the team behind the programming you use and enjoy!

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Milwaukee’s 2021 summer festival calendar will start very late this year

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

Concerts and live performances are coming back to Milwaukee, albeit at a trickle. The Cactus Club is about to have its first concert in 13 months on Friday, an outdoor performance from Johanna Rose. The Pabst Theater just had a social-distance show with John McGivern. And Washington Park Wednesday has announced its 2021 season, which will hopefully mark the first of many shows in the parks this season.

On the festival front, though, the news remains decidedly more mixed. Many of the city’s big festivals and street parties — including PrideFest, German Fest, Locust Street Festival and the Burnhearts PBR Street Party — have announced they won’t be back this year.

The Summerfest grounds | Photo courtesy Summerfest

And the festivals that are still planning on happening this year are all scheduled for fairly late in the season, August or later. Summerfest is still on for September, for instance. And Wisconsin State Fair just confirmed that it intends to come back on Aug. 5. And Irish Fest and Mexican Fiesta are still hopeful they can return, but what those returns might look like is still anybody’s guess.

On this week’s episode of Tap’d In, Piet updates us on some of the bigger recent announcements — and cancellations — and we ask “is this going to be a lost summer for Milwaukee festival lovers?”

Stream it below.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

Support from our community makes stories like the one you just read possible. Make a gift to support the team behind the programming you use and enjoy!

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Milwaukee rap is on the cusp of its biggest summer ever

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

On this week’s episode, we’re talking about one of the biggest success stories to come out of the city’s music scene in a very long time: Milwaukee rapper Lakeyah.

The 19-year-old has been on a rapid rise since signing to one of rap’s biggest labels, Quality Control, last year, garnering unprecedented streams for a Milwaukee native. And after a remarkable run of singles from her debut mixtape for the Atlanta label, “Time’s Up,” she just dropped a follow-up project that’s likely to be even bigger. When was the last time you saw a Milwaukee artist with their own billboard in Times Square?

That’s all fantastic on the surface, but here’s what makes Lakeyah’s success especially exciting: The industry’s interest in her hasn’t been despite her being from Milwaukee. It’s in part because she’s from Milwaukee. Atlanta has elevated artists with Milwaukee ties before, most notably Rico Love and K Camp, but neither of those artists made Milwaukee part of their artistic identity (even at the height of K Camp’s success, Milwaukee never tried to claim him as one of our own).

Lakeyah, on the other hand, continues to bill herself as a Milwaukee artist, playing up her ties to the city in interviews and also in her music. Her breakout video “Big FlexHER” was filmed in Milwaukee and doubles as a celebration of the city. And like that track, her recent single “Easy” was produced by Reuell Stop Playing, a Detroit produced favored by lots of Milwaukee rappers. That regional sound is her secret sauce, the style that sets her apart from every other Atlanta rapper competing for music’s most competitive market share.

So Lakeyah’s success hasn’t happened in a vacuum. She’s one of many Milwaukee rappers who has captured the attention of tastemakers beyond the 414 area code. In March, Pitchfork published an article about the city’s ascendant rap scene — “Milwaukee is up next” the site tweeted — and although the piece took a few potshots at the city, it reflected the growing interest our scene. The right people are starting to pay attention.

We’ve got the talent, and it keeps proving itself. Mari Boy Mula Mar and Chicken P continue to generate millions of streams. Relative newcomer Big Wan is building an enormous buzz. Last month Milwaukee street rap trendsetter Solowke returned to the scene, and instantly picked up where he left off with a run of thrilling new singles. And around the same time young rising star 54 Baby Trey also returned after a prison sentence, and he’s been teasing a knockout comeback single.

3thirtyK, meanwhile, has been bringing long-overdue attention to the city’s South Side. MT Twins, the beloved brother-brother duo with big-time commercial potential, just got back together. And on the more alternative-leaning side of the spectrum, critical favorite WebsterX just dropped a single that might be his most beautiful yet, ensuring a lot of eyes are going to be on his upcoming album.

Any one of those acts could blow up if things broke their way, but even that roster barely scratches the surface of how deep the scene’s talent tool is right now. There are at least a dozen other acts that could credibly make a push for the big time, too, with new ones emerging every month.

“Definitely this is going to be a interesting summer, one of the best we’ve had in a long time regarding the Milwaukee music scene,” one of the city’s most prominent rap managers told me this week, echoing a sentiment I’ve seen countless times among Milwaukee rap fans on Twitter and in the comments of videos — the stars seem to be aligning for the city right now, and if things go well we could be in store for something truly special.

So expectations for the city’s rap scene have never been higher. Can it deliver? Piet and I discuss the scene’s promise — and its lingering challenges — on this week’s episode, which you can stream below.

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Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

Support from our community makes stories like the one you just read possible. Make a gift to support the team behind the programming you use and enjoy!


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New Milwaukee concert announcements keep coming

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Justin Barney here, and I’m filling in for Jordan on this week’s Tap’d In with Journal Sentinel music critic Piet Levy. This week we’re excited to talk about something the city had gone a long time without: new concert announcements.

For 13 months it had been almost nothing but cancellations and postponements. But last week we had more brand new concert announcements than we’ve seen in more than a year. Yes, there are still some cancellations, but it sure looks like the concert industry is bullish about concerts coming back this year.

Japanese Breakfast is one of many artists to recently announce a stop Milwaukee | Courtesy photo

Japanese Breakfast announced a huge tour; Dawes announced a new show; Bully announced a new tour. The Pabst Theater group also announced a residency with Widespread Panic — they’ll be at the Riverside Theater from Oct. 21-24, and all those tickets sold out within four hours. It’s clear that people are ready for concerts to come back.

Kane Brown will be kicking off a tour this fall that will bring him to Fiserv Forum in January, just six days before The Weeknd plays there. Opera singer Andrea Bocelli will kick off his tour at Fiserv Forum, too.

Piet also reports that there are already six shows book at the BMO Harris Pavilion this year, including a Primus show and four shows that have yet to be announced.

Hear us size up the situation on this week’s episode below.

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Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

Support from our community makes stories like the one you just read possible. Make a gift to support the team behind the programming you use and enjoy!

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It’s not an illusion: Live music really may be coming back to Milwaukee soon

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Every Thursday on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Evan Rytlewski — talk about the music coming into Milwaukee and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In.

Over the last year we’ve seen hardly any concerts in the city, but that could be about to change. We’re starting to see concert announcements, and even some new music venues coming to the city. Sam’s Place opened in the Bronzeville neighborhood. It’s got great ties to the jazz history of Milwaukee. The owner Sam Belton is a longtime drummer in the city’s jazz scene, and his vision is to build it out into a jazz venue. They also brew coffee.

Widespread Panic at Riverside Theater | widespreadpanic.com

Live music is also coming back to the former Up & Under space on Brady Street. For 40 years the venue was a popular blues hub, but it shut down last fall amid the pandemic. Now there’s a new venue coming to the space called Nashville North. It will have a house band and will have karaoke night, as well as a menu of Nashville-inspired eats like hot chicken.

We’re not out of the woods yet, of course. New variants of Covid-19 could set the country back, but right now promoters are cautiously optimistic. Summerfest is still planning on a big September return, and the Pabst Theater Group has been announcing new shows — not just rescheduled shows, but brand-new bookings, including a four-night booking of Widespread Panic in October.

We talk about the situation on this week’s episode, which you can stream below.

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts. We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part examination of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

Support from our community makes stories like the one you just read possible. Make a gift to support the team behind the programming you use and enjoy!

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