Best of Milwaukee 2012

Nov. 13, 2012
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Hugh Bob and the Hustle

Acoustic Musician

Ryan McIntyre

Waukesha singer-songwriter Ryan McIntyre has won seven Wisconsin Area Music Industry awards for his breezy, acoustic pop sensibilities. The former lead singer of the rock group EXIT, McIntyre has sold more than 50,000 albums worldwide. Full of catchy hooks and sweeping melodies, McIntyre’s music tells stories you can tap your foot to. (Nick Martino)



Evan Christian

Pat McCurdy


Alt Country

Hugh Bob and the Hustle

Members of the popular local rock group The Wildbirds surprised fans by effectively disbanding to dedicate their time to the group’s country-oriented sister band, Hugh Bob and the Hustle. The new band’s straightforward take on Americana is equally indebted to the hard honky-tonking outlaw music of the ’70s and proud-to-be-country hits of ’80s Dwight Yoakam. It’s a sound that traditionally hasn’t had much of presence in the hipper circles of the East Side, but thanks to Hugh Bob’s convincing take on the genre, it’s quickly finding one. (Evan Rytlewski)



God’s Outlaw

West of East


Blues Band

Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys

A formidable and diverse guitarist, the Reverend Raven has been playing the blues since 1971. After 15 years in the Navy, he moved to Milwaukee, where he has opened for legends such as B.B. King, Junior Wells and many others. With an expert group of musicians to back him up, the Reverend has recently released his fourth studio album, Shake Your Boogie, to much acclaim, serving up tight guitar licks and a soulful blend of sax and harp on top of gritty vocals. (N.M.)



Heinrich Davis and the Flood

Hounds Tooth


Classical Music Ensemble

University Community Orchestra—UW-Milwaukee

Filled with advanced beginners and skilled amateurs ranging from 14 to 90 years old, the University Community Orchestra-UWM is open to anyone who reads music and enjoys playing classical symphonic repertoire. Musicians do not need to audition and all instruments are welcome. The orchestra is supervised by UWM music professor Margery Deutsch and provides a continuing musical opportunity for those who have lost touch with performing or are not UWM music majors/minors. (Amanda Sullivan)



Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Marquette University Symphony Orchestra


Club DJ

Kid Cut Up

In a city that sometimes can be closed-minded about such things, Kid Cut Up and his fellow No Request Sound DJs broke invisible barriers by spinning both underground hip-hop as well as more broadly commercial club rap. He became one of the city’s most ubiquitous DJs, hosting regular nights at the Jackalope Lounj, Hi Hat Garage and Uptowner, and though he moved to Los Angeles last year, he still gigs here regularly, packing clubs whenever he swings through the Midwest on tour. (E.R.)



DJ Joker

Erik Romero


Cover/Tribute Band

Random Maxx

In 1997, guitarists Mark Redlich and Bo Johnson, bassist Matty Phillips and drummer Jim Schweitzer formed Random Maxx, a power-pop cover group with a big guitar sound and potent hooks. The band’s covers range from Neil Diamond to Katy Perry songs. The musicians are also notable for their impressive ability to switch instruments and vocal duties throughout their sets. Among the other accolades it has received, the group has been nominated for five WAMI awards. (N.M.)



The Toys

5 Card Studs



Greg Koch

Greg Koch is the gregarious, huggable bear of guitar masters. In other words, he’ll smile broadly while shearing off the top of your head with his ax. The Milwaukee blues-rocker conducts guitar clinics in places as far away as Poland and the Czech Republic while continuing to lay strong ties in his hometown. He’s the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s 2012-2013 artist in residence. Earlier this year he published an instruction book-CD, Guitar Gumbo: Savory Licks, Tips & Quips for Serious Players. (David Luhrssen)



Mark Redlich

Cole Heinrich


Jazz Musician

James Samsa  

Arguably a dark-horse winner, veteran brass player James Samsa has built up a following as a session player, especially at the Red Mill, where he regularly augments vocalist Sharon Schmidt's trio. He brings distinctive versatility to the bandstand. Samsa’s among very few local trumpeters who triple on flugelhorn and the rarely used cornet (redolent of Armstrong and Beiderbecke’s pioneering era). Samsa is capable of warmth and passion, especially on his signature tune, “Georgia On My Mind.” (Kevin Lynch)



Mark Thierfelder

Jack Grassel


Rap/Hip-Hop Artist


Though he’s still young, Juiceboxxx has reinvented himself several times over at this point. From his beginnings as a wiry teenage rapper, the veteran party-rocker found a home in underground electro circles, confronting dance-music fans with his spazzy, sweaty, full-body performances, but on his latest full-length, I Don’t Wanna Go Into the Darkness, he kisses dance goodbye, reinventing himself as a one-man Beastie Boy. It’s his best work yet. (E.R.)



Fresh Cut Collective

King Hell Bastard


Rock Band

Fever Marlene

Scott Starr and Kevin Dunphy met in Madison during the garage rock revival scene and started playing together as The People. They spent time in Los Angeles and Chicago, then returned to Wisconsin as indie rockers Fever Marlene. After nearly a decade of playing alongside bands like The Flaming Lips, Alkaline Trio and Social Distortion, the duo continues to mesh a youthful zeal with an alternative-pop sound and bright, sunny melodies. (N.M.)




I’m Not A Pilot



Jamie Schlecht

Jamie Schlecht of the Milwaukee power-pop group Random Maxx is a driving force behind the band’s eclectic sound, providing vocals for many of their diverse cover songs. In addition to lending her voice to Random Maxx’s impressive many-part harmonies, Schlecht also plays keyboards for the band. When she’s not touring with the band, Schlecht teaches elementary and middle school music classes. (N.M.)



Jayme Dawicki

Annie B.



Danny Gokey

Now that “American Idol” is no longer the all-powerful ratings juggernaut it once was, the local fervor over Danny Gokey’s tenure on the show might seem silly—even sillier than it did at the time—but in 2009 having a Milwaukee contender on the country’s top television show was perceived as a genuine badge of honor for the city. If there’s one thing Milwaukee is good at, it’s staying loyal to its local heroes, so even if Gokey’s career as a country singer fades, he’s guaranteed to have a cozy headlining spot at Summerfest for decades to come. (E.R.)



Mark Redlich

Josh C. (From 215 and Mourning Shorts)



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