POSTED:: January 1, 2020

FILED UNDER:: In-Studio Performances, Interviews, Local/Live, Special Programming

words by Erin Wolf and Cal Roach

Every year, Local/Live provides WMSE with the chance to welcome Milwaukee (and Wisconsin)-based musicians into both our studio home (and also Club Garibaldi’s) to spend one, full hour with us. We get to know the musicians more in-depth and hear their creative output in a wonderfully-mixed live experience, enhanced by WMSE’s longtime audio engineer, Billy Cicerelli. We hope that you enjoyed this past year of Local/Live as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you and invite you to join us in going over some of our favorite moments of 2019. And from the bottom of our hearts, to all of you who’ve taken the time to be guests on our show, and to all of you who’ve tuned in: Thank you for an incredible 2019, and here’s to the new year in music, ahead!

Ms. Lotus Fankh (March 26)

Milwaukee’s own Renaissance woman, Ms. Lotus Fankh arrived at our studios this year brimming with projects—new music, videos, an epic blog series, a play in the works, and of course, stories about baked beans. Her combination of soul, folk, R&B, jazz, and whatever other influences might sneak in always makes for an unpredictable show, and you never know what instruments she might have with her. The evolution of her style and songwriting since we’d first had her on the show back in 2016 was remarkable; we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store from Ms. Fankh.

Caley Conway (April 16)

When it turned out that we couldn’t go fully-engineered the night Caley Conway was booked for Local/Live, Caley was game to switch it up to Studio A and strum songs from her most-recent EP, Surrounded Middle with her band mates Ellie Jackson and D’Amato on backing vocals. It was a happy accident as we were treated to a unique performance and gained a closer peek into this Milwaukee musician’s journey from solo singer-songwriter to a full rock band (on that new EP), and back to her original starting point with a more intimate performance (in our studio); it was a nice balance to hear the new songs in more hushed tones.

Lauryl Sulfate & Her Ladies Of Leisure (May 7)

For our last Club Garibaldi blowout before summer break, we couldn’t have asked for better guests than Lauryl Sulfate & Her Ladies Of Leisure. There’s no better act in Milwaukee to get people on their feet and dancing; hopefully the folks out in radio-land felt it, too. If you ever wondered where the stage name came from, or exactly how dance music can save lives, or just to hear a live version of “Do You Feel Me” (a strong contender for Milwaukee-made song of the year), give this one a spin in the archive.

Black Thumb (June 11)

We had been hearing all about Appleton’s Black Thumb (Colin Wilde) from great folks in the local scene (i.e. Damian and Betty from Testa Rosa and Jordan from Space Raft) for quite some time, so this Local/Live was highly anticipated. Black Thumb’s It Is Well With My Soul was one of our favorite local releases in 2016, with its dark and psych-y sound drawing memories of Jesus & Mary Chain, New Order, early Beach House and more. We timed it out well with having Black Thumb set to release music (Idle Material) and Colin and the band treated us to a solid set, full of spark and smolder. Wilde recently departed Wisconsin for California, so it seems like we caught him just in time…

Gnarrenschiff (July 23)

Gnarrenschiff is one of those Milwaukee bands that has been around for quite some time (ten+ years?) yet have been pretty great at being under the radar, since. It seemed like 2019 was the right year for Gnarrenschiff to make an appearance after quietly releasing an EP in 2018 and then readying a split LP with Come Holy Spirit this past November. We were treated to the band’s invitingly unusual instrumental makeup (two electric saz’s, an electric bass and a bodhrán drum), which created an imaginative soundtrack full of ever-moving musical waves and an overall air of both mystery and awakening. It was a great opportunity to learn how the group initially came to be and what they’ve got planned, next.

Kendra Amalie (August 20)

Fresh off a west-coast tour and preparing for her first release since signing with up-and-coming psych label Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, Kendra Amalie brought her wide-ranging guitar skills to the WMSE studios and it was a mind-bender. Armed with some of the best songs of her career and a band that seemed primed to anticipate whatever whims might happen along within the jams, Kendra put on one of the most thoroughly impressive performances of the year. We loved the chance to dig into her creative process as well; we’re guessing Kendra will continue be a major musical force in the years ahead.

Old Earth (August 27)

Old Earth was our very first guest for the pilot episode of the newly-formatted Local/Live nearly five years ago but as most pilots go, the segment never actually made it to the ears of our listeners, so when Todd Umhoefer of Old Earth announced he was calling it a day with his nearly ten-year project, we thought it was about high time we had him visit to play some of his most compelling material, yet. He finally was able to share a live performance with our listeners – his one-two punch knack for guitar loops and poignant lyrics were as memorable as ever and the segment was a proper farewell to one of our favorite Milwaukee musical projects.

Genesis Renji (October 15)

Genesis Renji had only a few days to even prepare for this show; following a last-minute cancellation and knowing that he had a fresh new album out, we hit him up to fill in, and you would’ve thought he’d been putting in months of rehearsal just for us. Not only are there some pretty crazy arrangements on Keefe, possibly his most ambitious and eclectic release to date, but he also had to coordinate DJ and live drums, and it all came together perfectly. We couldn’t have been more grateful to Gen and his crew for knocking this one out of the park.

Shaddye (October 22)

Nebiyah “Shaddye” Jordan is a 17 year-old senior at Wisconsin Lutheran High School who writes and produces her own music, which in of itself, is amazing but when you consider that Jordan’s been making music since she was eight, one can see an obvious + certain path. We were anxious to have Shaddye on the WMSE airwaves after hearing her debut EP, My Life In A Boombox and we were further impressed by her Local/Live session – Shaddye is beyond her years in poise and talent and will unquestionably serve as an inspiration for everyone in the Milwaukee community to follow their dreams and act as a positive force amongst their peers.

Best Of Both Worlds (November 11)

When we booked Kaylee Crossfire for the show, we didn’t even realize we’d be getting Kia Rap Princess as part of the deal, but we certainly weren’t complaining! The duo known as Best Of Both Worlds performed songs from their joint self-titled album as well as a handful of Kaylee’s more recent singles, and we’d have to say the two ladies’ musical chemistry has only improved in the year since their album came out. Unsurprisingly, this was also one of the most entertaining interviews we did all year. It’s rare that we get to interview someone who’s been on national TV (Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow, to be precise), but it was these ladies’ long-running work locally in empowering female MCs that was perhaps their most inspirational story.

POSTED BY:: Erin Wolf

TAGGED::Best Of 2019, Local/Live