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.

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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.

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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’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.

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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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.

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

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Each Thursday morning on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Jordan Lee — talk about the music coming into 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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These three Milwaukee musicians just collaborated with some big national names

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Each Thursday morning on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Jordan Lee — talk about the music coming into and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In

We kick off this week’s episode with a little bit of new music from Milwaukee native Grace Weber and her new single “Thru The Fire” with Chance the Rapper. The two have some history together: She’s been working with Chance’s collaborators The Social Experiment for a few years, and ended up writing the song that became the opening track for Chance the Rapper’s hit mixtape “Coloring Book.” He’s returned the favor by appearing on her new single.

That’s not the only big collaboration we’ve seen lately from Milwaukee musicians and Milwaukee expats.

Milwaukee native Kenny Hoopla has a new song with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker called “Estella.” Hoopla is beginning to make a name for himself out in L.A., and this track really stands out. Piet says it reminds him of Blink-182 in their prime, and it’s doing very well on the alternative rock charts.

Milwaukee rapper Taiyamo Denku, meanwhile, has linked up with Run-DMC legend DMC for a new single called “Where Do We Go From Here.” That’s not a big surprise, given Denku’s track record. He has a history of recording with some of hip-hop’s big legacy names.

Hear us talk about those tracks 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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Fiserv Forum is banking on concerts returning in a big way

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Each Thursday morning on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Jordan Lee — talk about the music coming into and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In

There’s not a lot of exciting news coming out of the concert world right now, but there is some big news coming out of Milwaukee’s highest profile arena. Fiserv Forum has created a new position, VP of booking events, and it has brought over somebody from one of the country’s biggest arenas to fill the role: Starr Butler.

fiserv forum killers
The Killers at Fiserv Forum | Photo by Jeff Phelps for the Milwaukee Bucks

Butler has worked for the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, one of the top arena tour destinations in America. She helped that venue bring in some big shows, including the MTV VMAs in 2018. So Butler has really strong credentials. The Milwaukee Bucks are banking on a surge of concert bookings, and having Butler at the helm increases the odds of that happening.

We talk about what her hiring means for the venue 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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WMSE’s Tom Crawford reflects on 40 years of freeform independent radio

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Each Thursday morning on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Jordan Lee — talk about the music coming into and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In

This week a Milwaukee institution marked a very big milestone: WMSE celebrated its 40th anniversary. That’s a hard earned celebration for a station that’s survived a lot, including a difficult year due to the pandemic. The station lost a lot of key underwriting in the early days of the pandemic, and was able to survive that thanks to the support of its contributors, who really showed up during the station’s fund drive.

For so many of us here in Milwaukee, WMSE has been an invaluable cornerstone of the local music scene. It’s an all-format station, so each DJ is their own program director. You’ll hear programs dedicated from everything from big band to blues to shoegaze.

wmse.org

We really want to give some shout outs to them for making Milwaukee great. WMSE is at the core of what makes our Milwaukee music scene what it is, and many of us at Radio Milwaukee got our start there, including me, Dori Zori and Marcus Doucette. We wouldn’t be where we are if not for WMSE giving us a chance.

On this week’s episode, you can hear about some of the special events that WMSE has planned for this month and hear some stories from the station’s history as Dori and I are joined by WMSE Station Manager Tom Crawford.

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.

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More Wisconsin musicians are up for Grammy nominations than you may realize

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Each Thursday morning on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Jordan Lee — talk about the music coming into and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In

The Grammy Awards will air this Sunday night at 7 p.m. on CBS, and quite a few Wisconsinites are among those up for awards. The most notable, of course, is probably Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who is up for Best Pop Duo Performance for his duet with Taylor Swift, “Exile.” That song may be a front runner in its category.

But Vernon isn’t the only one. There are a total of eight artists or organizations from Wisconsin up for Golden Gramophones this year, including Milwaukee producer Michael Cerda (AKA CameOne), who has a credit on Kanye West’s track “On God.”

Angie Swan and David Byrne
David Byrne and Angie Swan | From “American Utopia”

Milwaukee native Angie Swan is one of an ensemble of musicians up for a Grammy for their role in “American Utopia,” the David Byrne Broadway hit which recently was adapted into a Spike Lee film. And Appleton native Hillary Reynolds, a songwriter who wrote a track for Little Big Town, will be keeping her fingers crossed as that album vies for a Best Country Album Grammy.

We talk about those and the other nominations 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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