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Studio Milwaukee Session: Mary Timony

Jen Ellis

Just a few weeks ago, Mary Timony ended a 15-year gap between solo records when she released Untame the Tiger — a title I can’t help but riff on considering how the guitar icon started her Studio Milwaukee Session on a rainy Friday afternoon at our Walker’s Point studios.

Leading off with the new album’s first track, “No Thirds,” Timony kept her six-string relatively caged up while easing her way through the opening three minutes or so. Then, still looking quite untroubled, she dropped in a 90-second trip up and down the fretboard for the first of a few solo treats sprinkled throughout the set.

After flying through Untame the Tiger’s “Summer,” she paused to talk with 88Nine’s Dori Zori about how she makes those moments of guitar magic happen — specifically the equipment at her feet rather than in her hands. Asked about her many pedals arranged on the floor of our stage, she blanched at the thought of having to pick the best of the bunch.

“Oh god, you’re not supposed to have favorites! I actually feel so protective of them, I don’t want to choose one,” she began. “But they’re all good for different reasons. I enjoy the Flanger I have because it’s fun and it makes weird sounds, and there are pedals that are more useful to just boost the volume.”

Departing from the usual interview cadence, Timony was kind enough to give us a quick demo of her gear, punctuating it with a gleeful, “Pedals are fun.” That was the vibe she put into the room all session long, just a couple hours ahead of her show Friday night at X-Ray Arcade.

With a sort of laid-back cheeriness, she spent part of her International Women’s Day sharing songs and stories with our audience of Radio Milwaukee members rather than lunching with friends (her annual IWD activity). She chatted about the instrument that introduced her to music as a kid, a Milwaukee connection to the new album and a nighttime run-in with a litter box while on tour that nudged her away from music for a spell.

Thankfully, she’s back at it now, and you can hear the whole thing using the player at the top of the page. If being in the audience is more your thing, think about becoming a Radio Milwaukee member so you can be in the room for the sessions we have coming up.

Set list

  1. “No Thirds”
  2. “Summer”
  3. “Untame the Tiger"