FAMS Week Spotlights Milwaukee’s All-Ages Resources

Sep. 14, 2017
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It’s not easy being an underage musician in Milwaukee. WebsterX remembers when he was under 21 trying to book shows here. It was doable, the rapper says, but it took a lot of extra time, energy and deal making to land those gigs. “I don’t want anybody else to go have to go through that struggle,” he says.

These days Milwaukee musicians are making more of an effort to give their underage counterparts the opportunities to perform that they didn’t always have themselves. New all-ages events have sprung up around the city over the last year or two, many of which will participate in this month’s FAMS Week, a week-long showcase of the city’s all-ages scene. It’s a cross-promotion between four independent events and venues: Freespace, After Gallery, Music Lab and Scratch Sessions (hence the acronym, FAMS).

Here’s the complete FAMS Week schedule:

Sept. 18 - Scratch Sessions @ Jazz Gallery (4-8 p.m.)
Sept. 20 - Keep Your Eyes on the Prize online giveaway (6-7 p.m.)
Sept. 21 - Freespace (5:30-8 p.m.)
Sept. 22 - Grace Weber's Music Lab @ Radio Milwaukee (4:30-7:30 p.m.)
Sept. 23 - Open Gallery @ After Gallery (6-9 p.m.)
                FAMS Party @ After Gallery (9 p.m.-2 a.m.)

A quick rundown of all of those events: Scratch Sessions is a monthly workshop where DJ Bizzon and guest instructors teach kids the fundamentals of DJing and music production, in addition to offering other mentoring services.

Freespace is a monthly concert pairing underage performers with seasoned musicians from the local music scene (“For some of these kids it’s their first performance,” WebsterX says).

Grace Weber’s Music Lab is Radio Milwaukee’s spin on the same general idea, an open mic that gives teenagers the chance to share the stage with an established artist, from Milwaukee or beyond (the idea for the week came about after Weber invited WebsterX to perform at this month’s Music Lab).

The week closes with a pair of events Saturday night at the After Gallery, a recently opened all-ages venue at 2225 N. Humboldt Ave. that is also licensed to sell liquor. It’ll hold an open gallery that evening, then an after party starting at 9 p.m.

In the middle of the week, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, there will be an online giveaway with prizes including a pair of Milwaukee Film Festival tickets, a poster autographed by FAMS performers, and a chance to perform at one of the events.

WebsterX says the week was designed to give underage musicians an entryway into the music scene. ‘When I was coming up there was never an easy way to bridge that gap if you were underage,” he says, “So we wanted to make it simpler for them. If there are kids or people in the scene who want to get involved, we wanted to make sure they were included.”

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