Wisconsin Weekend: Blues Bash 2018

STT Spotlight: Why two small Wisconsin towns are of “Paramount” importance for early Blues, Jazz, and R&B music

Paramount Records recording of "Hangman's Blues" by Blind Lemon Jefferson, recorded in Grafton, Wisconsin.
A 78 rpm record from the 1920s, produced in a Wisconsin chair factory, from pioneering Blues musician Blind Lemon Jefferson.

In a studio inside a chair factory in Grafton run by a company in nearby Port Washington between 1917 and 1932, a little-known activity was taking place: some of the earliest Blues, R&B, Jazz, and Country classics were being recorded, pressed into 78 rpm records, and distributed by Paramount Records. Many of these artists came up from Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, or the Mississippi Delta, most of the, African-American. Today, music fans around the world are embracing the rediscovery of these monumental – and unique – these early music sessions (also known as “race records”) were, and how its influence still affects music today. Find out more about Paramount, and the Paramount Music Festival that celebrates this history, in this episode of the State Trunk Tour Podcast:

You can find out more from the Paramount Music Association, which has been the impetus behind Paramount Plaza in downtown Grafton, which features a fountain, statues of the musicians, a “Walk of Fame,” and more. The Association, in conjunction with Visit Port Washington, also holds the Paramount Music Festival every Labor Day weekend.

Grafton Paramount Records Plaza
Paramount Plaza in Grafton, saluting musicians who recorded here 90-100 years ago and helped set the table for the music of the 20th century.
Paamount Records Blues Walk, Grafton
The Paramount Music “Walk of Fame” in downtown Grafton, noting the many legends who recorded here from 1917 to 1932.

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Marker for the first-ever premiere of "The Wizard of Oz," which took place in Oconomowoc on August 12, 1939.

Oconomowoc celebrates 80 years since “Wizard of Oz” premiere with a festival, yellow brick road, and public movie screening Thursday

Yellow Brick Road start for the Wizard of Oz 80th anniversary.
To “follow the Yellow Brick Road” in Oconomowoc, just start here. It’s right along Wisconsin Avenue, the historic U.S. 16 and Watertown Plank Road through downtown.

There’s no place like home, right? And there’s no place like Oconomowoc. This lovely city in Waukesha County’s Lake Country is where the legendary film “The Wizard of Oz” had one of its first premieres. It took place at the Strand Theater on August 12, 1939; a marker commemorates this downtown on the site where the theater stood until 1953, right along Wisconsin Avenue – the historic U.S. (now Wisconsin Highway) 16 through the city.

Wisconsin Avenue through downtown Oconomowoc, which was Highway 16 before the bypass was built. Signs still guide you through. This was once U.S. 16, which ran from Detroit to Yellowstone National Park. This is also the original route of Watertown Plank Road, completed in 1853.

But with the 80th anniversary of this premiere happening now, Oconomowoc is upping the ante by creating its own “Yellow Brick Road” for people to follow. Literally. The anniversary celebration includes a festival right now and an outdoor, public screening of the iconic film Thursday, August 15th. We’re all invited!

Moonlit Movies, which hosts outdoor public movies throughout the summer season, will turn downtown Oconomowoc into the “Land of Oz” as Wisconsin Avenue – the main drag – will close so you can line up your lawn chairs in front of a giant screen. The infamous characters will be out on the streets. Enjoy free activities, entertainment and vendor sales until the movie begins at dark.

Find out more from Downtown Oconomowoc, because there are more events to follow!

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State Trunk Tour Podcast talking about the Milwaukee County Zoo

New Podcast: all about the Milwaukee County Zoo and upcoming Zoo A La Carte!

The Milwaukee County Zoo is one of the nation’s largest and most complete zoos, with 190 acres of largely parkland hosting over 2,100 animals from elephants and gorillas to otters and arachnids. It’s a wonderful place to learn about animals, how they interact with humans and their native habitats, and how we can all better interact for their good, and the good of our environment.

Plenty of reasons exist to visit the Zoo year ’round, but coming up Thursday, August 15th and running through Sunday the 18th is one of their biggest events of the year: Zoo A La Carte presented by Meijer. This event brings 27 Milwaukee area restaurants and food trucks to the Zoo grounds, scattered about the many areas

Find out more about Zoo A La Carte on their Facebook Event Page or the Zoo’s website.

And learn more about the Milwaukee County Zoo in general with my latest State Trunk Tour Podcast. Here, I talk with Jenny Diliberti from the Zoo about its history, the animals and their care, design changes to exhibits over the years including the newer Adventure Africa exhibit, new homes for the otters, elephant pedicures – we get into a lot of things here. Listen here, stream it below, or check it out anytime on your free iHeartRadio app!

Irishfest is also coming up in Milwaukee, Oconomowoc is about to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the premiere of “The Wizard of Oz” in a big way, and the height of road trip season around Wisconsin is upon us. We’ll have more on that coming up!

Chippewa Falls Sesquicentennial

STT Spotlight: Chippewa Falls celebrates its sesquic… susquecen… 150 year-anniversary

GO Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls. This beautiful, fun Wisconsin city of 15,000 is known for everything from Leinenkugel Brewing Company to being the real birthplace of Seymour Cray, inventor of the supercomputer, and the fake birthplace of Jack Dawson from Titanic (and let’s face it, there was room for him on that large piece of wood in the ocean, but we digress…)

Coming in on Business 29, once the mainline, into Chippewa Falls just east of the U.S. 53 freeway.

Located along the Chippewa River where U.S. 53 and Highway 29, 124, and 178 meet up, Chippewa Falls is celebrating its sesquicentennial (aka, 150 years) in 2019, and the height of their celebration is this weekend! The 150th anniversary celebration coincides with Pure Water Days, and Riverfest Thursday, August 8th through Sunday, August 11th.

Chippewa Falls Sesquicentennial - Wood Arch Bridge
The natural beauty in Chippewa Falls is everywhere, from the Chippewa River to Duncan Creek and the myriad older bridge styles that cross them. You’ll get to see them as you explore different venues for the sesquicentennial celebration!

For the Sesquicentennial Birthday Bash Weekend, you can enjoy four days’ worth of events, many of which are free!

Thursday & Friday, August 8th & 9th: Check out The Swampers – “Today in the Valley” Heyde Center for the Arts/Chippewa Valley Cultural Association at 7:30pm each night. Tickets here.

Friday, August 9th:
Chippewa Falls 150th Birthday Bash with a free concert at Riverfront Park

4-10:30pm with Music, Food Trucks, Beer Tents, and Fireworks
The lineup includes:
5-7pm: Them Coulee Boys
8-10pm: Phil Cook
Fireworks at 10:15pm

Chippewa Falls Pure Water Days and Riverfest
Chippewa Falls Riverfest Parade

Saturday, August 10:
Pure Water Days Parade, 1-2pm
Riverfest at Pure Water Days is a free Event at Riverfront Park from 2-8pm
with music, food trucks, an antique car show, kids’ games, inflatables, Kubb, arts and crafts, and more!
Riverfest Music Lineup:
2-5pm: Contradiction
5-8pm: Contingency

Chippewa Falls 150th Birthday Bash Pure Water Days Music Celebration at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair
Also Saturday, 5pm-Midnight
Admission is $20 (Tickets)http://ow.ly/1bIm30o1WmV
Parking is FREE, Food Trucks will be on site
The Leinie’s Beer Garden will be open and serving beverages

Music lineup:
8pm-10pm: Arch Allies
10:30pm: Chris Kroeze

Get Your Tickets Here

As the city celebrates all year, you can also enjoy special events at the upcoming Oktoberfest and other fun events through the rest of 2019. GO Chippewa Falls has details!

There’s plenty else to enjoy in Chippewa Falls, from Irvine Park & Zoo to the Cook-Rutledge Mansion and great shopping and restaurants downtown. Quaff great local beers, wines, and spirits at Chippewa River Distillery & Brewster Bros. Brewing or Riverbend Winery. Explore nearby Lake Wissota State Park or take that scenic drive up Highway 178 or along the historic Yellowstone Trail. We cover plenty on the city and its surroundings with Jackie Boos from GO Chippewa Falls in this State Trunk Tour Podcast!

Chippewa Falls Sesquicentennial logo

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