words by Robert J. Baumann
When Hal Rammel moved to the Milwaukee area in 1993, he didn’t know very many people. He took out an ad in the spring arts guide issue of Shepherd Express, to which two people responded. One was Steve Nelson-Raney, the renowned experimental saxophonist with whom Hal has collaborated on many musical projects since then. The other person was Tom Crawford, station manager of WMSE. Tom invited Hal to DJ a set at Maritime Days, and after that, to host a weekly show at the station. That was the beginning of Alternating Currents—this year we celebrate twenty years.
Two years later, Anne Kingsbury and Karl Gartung, co-founders of Woodland Pattern Book Center, invited Hal to host a live concert series in conjunction with the radio show. Hal liked the idea of filling the intimate space of Woodland Pattern’s gallery with performers that exhibited “the same dedication to personal exploration, sensitivity to the means and methods of communication, and the power of shared interaction with the world around as…is intrinsic to the literary arts presented at Woodland Pattern all year around.” That was the beginning of Alternating Currents Live.
This Saturday, August 18th, Woodland Pattern will be hosting its fourth annual Music Marathon & Benefit for Alternating Currents Live. Just as Hal seeks to reflect one part of Woodland Pattern’s mission through his ACL programming, the Music Marathon upholds another part of the same mission: a dedication to bringing together and supporting the work of local artists.
Simply by offering the opportunity to participate to local artists, Woodland Pattern’s Music Marathon has been able to provide its audience with a significant cross section of Milwaukee-based and regional musicians over the last three years. Last year, over 35 performers gathered pledges in support of ACL, showing the generosity of the Milwaukee music scene. In its time, the Marathon has seen all manner of genres, from jazz to post-punk to a capella, polka to gospel. And all manner of instruments have been used: from spoons to kazoos to rubber duckies. This year, Hal is teaming up with Gina Litherland, Rick Ollman, and Craig Berg to perform as the Edible Quartet—an improvising group who fashion their own instruments using only edible materials.
If you would like to perform at this year’s Marathon, or would like more information on this event, please call 414.263.5001, or visit the Marathon’s webpage.
Robert J. Baumann is the Director of Marketing and Membership at Woodland Pattern Book Center (720 E. Locust Street).