words by Cal Roach
This weekend marks probably the most exciting event of the year in Milwaukee for fans of free jazz. It’s Okka Fest 5, the annual gathering held at the Sugar Maple and Palm taverns, naturally because (in case you didn’t know) Bruno Johnson is not only the owner of these fine craft beer meccas, he also runs the Okka Disk record label, home to many of the Midwest’s best free jazz artists. The event runs tonight (Friday) through Sunday at both aforementioned venues and features the venerable Ken Vandermark as well as a host of other artists; click here for the full rundown. Even if you’re not familiar with most of these names, anyone interested in exploring the world of experimental improvisational music would be well advised to drop in for one of these sessions. You don’t know if you’ll like it until you try it, as they say!
Also going on tonight is another fierce lineup of local hip hop talent assembling at Cactus Club. Logic & Raze, The Hollowz, Nightkrawlers and Kiings (the masterminds at the mix) — if you have yet to check out their amazing remixes of local songs, make sure to lend an ear for a minute to those and tonight to catch them live.
The fun starts at noon on Saturday (if not before!), so get all your errands run early and keep in mind you won’t be able to traverse North Avenue on the East Side ’cause it’s Summer Soulstice baby! The beloved yearly festival is a great opportunity to welcome, FINALLY, the brief stint of warm weather we get in Wisconsin, and as usual, there’s a killer lineup of musical talent to entice you as well. Juniper Tar will make a rare appearance and locals like Boy Blue, Hugh Bob & the Hustle, De La Buena and Heidi Spencer will grace various stages at the fest at various times from 2pm through 11pm. Cross your fingers for a non-rainy one this time around.
Stonefly Brewery welcomes another edition of the awesome collection of local talent that is known as MELT, emphasizing electronic-based sounds and giving props to DJs and surrounding magic-makers of the genre, including hip hop and funk. MELT #27 does just this, welcoming Milwaukee’s own Kid Millions to showcase a brand new EP, The Sounds of Time, and turn out even more summer-ready hits like “Liftoff”. Did you catch last Tuesday’s Local/Live performance? If you missed out, you can catch that here. Bonus! Also playing: Donny & the Robot, The Demix and K!ngp!n.
Down the street at Mad Planet Saturday night, Minneapolis’ quick-witted Toussaint Morrison will be dishing out some beats of his own, heralding the release of a new mix tape, Fast Times at Trillmont High, which was quite the undertaking to create. Morrison will tell all on that on WMSE’s Saturday Afternoon Boogie Bang program earlier that afternoon — tune in at 1pm for the Miltown Thang segment to listen to how the mix tape came together and about the show later that evening. Also playing: Dr. Wylie, R.A.S. Movement, Safari Al and Nicholas J.