Milwaukee rising: “Taking the City by Storm”

Kenny Baldwin at bar
Filmed before his death in September 2015, Kenny Baldwin was a musician in the Milwaukee punk scene and proprietor of the Starship, home of many formative gigs.

Milwaukee is among the smallest cities I’ve covered so far on FiveBands, but the passion and creativity of its rock-‘n’-roll scene has long rivaled the biggest towns on the musical map.

Sites like Milwaukee Rock Posters and social media groups like Lest We Forget: Deceased Milwaukee Scene are magnets for local lore, and scene veterans have been tireless in their efforts to make their history known.

Case in point: Taking the City By Storm, an epic documentary of the Milwaukee underground. Currently slated for release in 2018, the film is directed by Doug LaValliere (one of Milwaukee’s accomplished LaValliere brothers and a co-founder of the Prosecutors with Kevn Kinney, later of Atlanta underground sensations Drivin’ N Cryin’).

The producers are Judy Simonds and Clancy Carroll of the Dominoes and Clancy Carroll Band. (Carroll is also co-author of a new and improved book, Brick Through the Window: An Oral History of Punk Rock, New Wave, and Noise in Milwaukee, 1964-1984. Buy it via the Boswell Book Company site!)

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Like the Violent Femmes? 5 bands you should know about

Richard LaValliere of Oil Tasters
Richard LaValliere of Oil Tasters performs “My Girlfriend’s Ghost.”

Footnotes of fandom: I was the Violent Femmes’ first California follower. My family lived in Milwaukee for a couple years before we moved to San Diego in time for junior high. I kept friends there, though, and that’s how I ended up seeing the Femmes at Milwaukee’s Jazz Gallery in June 1981, just a few months after the band formed. On August 23, 1981the Pretenders spotted the Femmes busking in front of the Oriental Theatre and invited them to open that night; the rest is college-radio history.

If you’re interested in Violent Femmes prehistory and the Milwaukee scene at the turn of the ’80s, here are five bands you should know about: Continue reading “Like the Violent Femmes? 5 bands you should know about”