Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Show #267: Suzi Quatro

May 26th, 2014

I recently finished reading Gillian G. Gaar’s She’s A Rebel: The History Of Women In Rock & Roll and thought it would be good to post some shows by bands/artists featured in the tome. The first woman I’ll feature is Suzi Quatro.

s quatro 75 Show #267: Suzi Quatro

Garr notes that Quatro was considered a novelty. She wasn’t a singer-songwriter like Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell. Indeed, she wrote and performed hard rock and was often found in her trademark tight leather suits.

England’s music weekly New Musical Express wrote that Quatro was “Really just punk Penthouse fodder – all lip-smacking hard-on leather,” and Rolling Stone caller her a “pop tart”…

Her “tough chick” appeal came in for attack from critics who saw her look, not her music, as the act.

At a time when male performers such as David Bowie, Elton John, and Queen’s Freddie Mercury were toying with personae that freely questioned acceptable “masculine” and “feminine” behavior, such freedom for women came at a high price.

While it is certainly unfair to dismiss Quatro on the basis of her wardrobe choices, Gaar seems to forget that rock music and fashion are joined at the hip. Quatro is quote as saying, “I feel funny in dresses and skirts.” Fair enough. But I have a hard time believing that she said to herself, “You know, I really don’t like dresses so I’ll wear something more practical. Like leather suits.” Surely Quatro chose that look for reasons other than not liking dresses and skirts, i.e. – to craft an image.

Whatever the case, she certainly challenged stereotypes and, as Gaar notes, served as an influence on Joan Jett. Would we have had The Runaways, Bikini Kill, and Hole without Suzi Quatro? Perhaps not.

This is Quatro performing in Tokyo, Japan on 19 October 1975. It’s a rip of the bootleg Naked Under Leather which is a nice-sounding audience recording.

Suzi Quatro – vocals / bass
Len Tuckey – guitar
Alastair McKenzie – keyboards
Dave Neal – drums


48 Crash-Daytona Demon-Too Big Medley
Your Mama Won’T Like Me
You Can Make Me Want You
I Maybe Too Young
Cat Size
Can The Can
Devil Gate Drive
Jail House Rock

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Suzi Quatro

I found this tour doc featuring Quatro in Japan in 1975. Not sure if any of the performance footage is from the same show that I’ve posted or not.

2014 Waterfront Festival Line-Up

May 25th, 2014

Summers in Madison are filled with festivals featuring music from far and wide. Indeed, they bring in many bands and artists that likely would never otherwise make Madison a tour stop. The Waterfront Festival begins on Saturday, 7 June and here’s the schedule:

Saturday, June 7th
Noon – Yid Vicious
1:30 — Son Contrabando
3:15 — Califone
5:15 — Lyrics Born
7:30 — The Sadies

Sunday, June 8th
11:30 — Building on Buildings
1:00 — Jim Liban with The Joel Paterson Trio
2:30 — Robbie Fulks
4:15 — The New Orleans Suspects
6:00 — Mother Falcon
7:30 —March Fourth Marching Band

Yahara Music Library Debuts

May 25th, 2014

Earlier this week the Wisconsin State Journal reported on the launch of the Yahara Music Library. The YML is an initiative of the Madison Public Library which showcases music by Madison musicians. Patrons can use their library card to stream and/or download the tunes.

Musicians have been paid $200 to have a CD featured on the Yahara Music Library site, which along with original tunes includes features such as musician photos, bios, video, upcoming gigs and links to personal websites.

About 25 artists — ranging from well-known Madison bands The Gomers and Natty Nation to jazz artist Ben Sidran and the chamber music festival Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society — will be featured at the start, with the addition of about 50 more artists through the year, Hankel said. Eventually, an advisory board will be formed to oversee music selection.

Right now there are 23 albums available. (Biff Blumfumgagnge has his hands in at least three of them so he’s flush with cash which explains why he bought me a beer last time I saw him. That and I got engaged.) I was surprised that I had heard of most of them and even was familiar with a few of the bands. Plus I was pleased to see that the Iron Maiden-esque Lords of the Trident have their latest album available. Madison seems almost anti-metal as the indie/alternative/whatever-you-call-it scene dominates with most of the rest of music chatter in this town being about the struggles of hip-hop. Southeastern Wisconsin is more inclined towards metal being home to the Days of the Doomed festival in Cudahy, for example. I’m not sure if this is simply because Milwaukee is a much larger city than Madison and in close proximity to Chicago or if that part of the state is more working class. Or both. Or something else.

Still, Madison does have Ear Wax Record Shop, which apparently does good business purveying metal and punk. But I wonder how much business these days is done via the Internet as opposed to locals.

To finish my Arts Extract triptych, I’ll note that Scott Gordon at AE has reviewed the site. One thing I’d add is that the site’s main page should include some kind of welcome and explanation as to just what the site is all about. Oh, and why isn’t Ear Wax listed as a place to purchase the Lords of the Trident album? But the site is only two days old so it’s not fair to come down hard on its shortcomings at this point.

Jazz Concert Series Returns

May 25th, 2014

Also courtesy of Arts Extract comes the news that the jazz concert series Surrounded By Reality has returned.

Surrounded By Reality, the on-again, off-again concert series that has brought excellent, abrasive jazz and improvised-music luminaries such as Chris Corsano Madison over the past five years, is making a tentative return. The NYC improvisational sax-drums duo of Ingrid Laubrock and Tom Rainey will play June 3 at 8 p.m. at the Audio For The Arts recording studio at 7 S. Blair St. Next, on September 23, experimental pianist Thollem McDonas will play at the studio. These will be the first SBR shows in more than a year.

sbr 2014 Jazz Concert Series Returns

Hanah Jon Taylor Artet on Wisconsin Public Television

May 25th, 2014

Many thanks to the folks at Arts Extract for bringing this to my attention. Madison jazz muso Hanah Jon Taylor brought his band to the WPT studios earlier this year to perform a new piece called “Real/Surreal” for the program 30 Minute Music Hour.

Alice Cooper Doc Coming to Madison Cinemas

May 25th, 2014

super duper poster Alice Cooper Doc Coming to Madison Cinemas

The Alice Cooper documentary, Super Duper Alice Cooper, will be screening out at Eastgate and Point on 11 June. Check out the Marcus Theatres website for more info.

Show #266: Nirvana’s Last Hurrah

May 15th, 2014

Last week I posted Nirvana’s first show from back in 1987 and this week I’m putting up the band’s final show from 1994.

nirvana terminal Show #266: Nirvanas Last Hurrah

Nirvana is the only band for whom I have first and last shows. The difference between the two is pretty striking. None of the early songs survive into later setlists, for one. And whereas the fledging musicians in 1987 are loose, sloppy, and keeping a good sense of humor about things, Nirvana in 1994 is tighter and has a darker, more cynical edge.

Cobain would have voice problems during this show owing to bronchitis and the rest of the tour was cancelled so he could recover. He departed for Rome to convalesce but would end up overdosing on sedatives and alcohol. Cobain recovered but would go on to take his own life a few weeks later on 5 April.

While not exactly bursting with sonic fidelity, this recording is still quite listenable. The band starts off with a cover of The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl” before the feedback and slashing chords of “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” and it makes for an amusing contrast. A power outage cuts “Come As You Are” short though they give it a do-over once power is restored. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is notably absent here though a paper setlist shows that it was to have been played after “Come As You Are”. Perhaps Cobain wanted to take it easy on his voice (not that “Territorial Pissings” did it any good) or they just didn’t want to play their biggest hit for whatever reason.

This little slice of history was recorded at Terminal 1 in Munich, Germany on 1 March 1994.


My Best Friend’s Girl
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
Drain You
Serve The Servants
Come As You Are (part of)
Come As You Are
In Bloom
About A Girl
Pennyroyal Tea
Very Ape
Lounge Act
Rape Me
Territorial Pissings
The Man Who Sold The World
All Apologies
On A Plain
Heart-Shaped Box

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About the first ten minutes of this show exists on video.

Show #265: Carolina Chocolate Drops Mk 4

May 13th, 2014

ccd 2014 04 16 Show #265: Carolina Chocolate Drops Mk 4
(Photo by Rahav Segev.)

Last year the Carolina Chocolate Drops lost founding member Dom Flemons and cellist Leyla McCalla, both of whom wanted to take on solo ventures. Rhiannon Giddens and Hubby Jenkins opted to carry on and recruited cellist Malcolm Parson and multi-instrumentalist Rowan Corbett to the group.

The new line-up began touring earlier this year so I thought it would be appropriate to check out what the band sounds like these days. While I’ve not listened to this show in its entirety, the setlist is notable for the absence of “Trouble in Your Mind” and “Cornbread and Butterbeans”, two early fan favorites, and the inclusion of some tunes that I’ve not seen before such as “Waterboy”. Veteran fans can take heart because “Briggs Corn Shucking Jig” is here replete with bones and the intro about the history of the banjo plus “Hit ‘Em Up Style” appears as well. Giddens’ voice remains as powerful as it ever was and I am glad they opted to keep cello as part of their sound. A little more bottom end really makes the rhythms more powerful.

The Chocolate Drops have no gigs here in Madison currently scheduled but will be in Chicago next month on the 13th at the Chicago Blues Fest and then again on the 16th & 17th at City Winery.

This is a really nice matrix recording which combines audience and soundboard sources. The show was on 16 April at Infinity Hall in Norfolk, Virginia.


Set 1
Pretty Little Girl With The Blue Dress On
Sandy Boys
Country Girl
Briggs Corn Shucking Jig / Camptown Hornpipe
Oh My Little Darling
Please Don’t Let Me Love You
Mama’s Angel Child
Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad

Set 2
Black Annie
Can’t Nobody Hide From God
No Man’s Mama
Buck Creek Girls
Puirt a Beul
Snowden’s Jig
Hit ‘Em Up Style
Old Cat Died / Brown’s Dream
Read ‘Em John

Download Set 1
Download Set 2

Carolina Chocolate Drops

I found this rather lengthy video of CCD’s gig at the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University from 3 March of this year. It’s appears to be the first 30 minutes of that night’s show.

Show #264: Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine

May 12th, 2014

jello2010 10 09 Show #264: Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine

A couple months ago I was listening to some Dead Kennedys and began to poke around the interwebs to see what Jello Biafra was up to these days. The last I could recall was that he’d been spending his time tending to his record label, Alternative Tentacles, and doing spoken word. (I believe that his spoken word album The Big Ka-Boom, Pt. 1 was recorded here in Madison.)

Truth be known, I knew nothing about his musical activities after The Dead Kennedys. And so I was surprised to find that he’d been in Lard with Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker of Ministry and had also worked with The Melvins and Mojo Nixon, amongst others. For his 50th birthday Biafra resolved to start his own band and the result was The Guantanamo School of Medicine which, by time I heard of them, had two albums and an EP to its credit. The ever-helpful YouTube had 2009’s The Audacity of Hype in full and I thought it was a great album on first listen. The music was heavier than The Dead Kennedys and, arguably, the lyrics were missing some of the humor of DK but the political/social commentary remained very much front and center. Biafra’s voice had aged along with the rest of his body but he could still belt it out. “Three Strikes” is a favorite with its wall of guitar at breakneck speed as is “Strength Thru Shopping” which sounds like Dick Dale on steroids. Indeed, Biafra refers to Dick “Spight” Dale on guitar here.

Since I’ve been listening to Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine a lot lately, I figured I’d post one of their shows. This one is from 9 October 2010 at Small’s Bar in Hamtramck, Michigan. As near as I can tell the Guantanamo School of Medicine was at this time:

Ralph Spight – Guitars
Jon Weiss – Drums
Billy Gould – Bass guitar
Kimo Ball – Guitars


The Terror of Tinytown
Clean as a Thistle
New Feudalism
Electronic Plantation
California Über Alles
Panic Land
Let’s Lynch the Landlord
Three Strikes
Strength Thru Shopping
Dot-Com Monte Carlo
Pets Eat Their Master (feat. Karen “Queen Bee” Neal)
The Cells That Will Not Die (feat. Karen “Queen Bee” Neal)
Holiday in Cambodia
Rock and Roll McDonalds
Bleed for Me
I Won’t Give Up

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Jello Biafra

YouTube has a few videos from this show and here’s “The Terror of Tinytown”.

Show #263: Nirvana’s First Show

May 9th, 2014

nirvana 1stlive Show #263: Nirvanas First Show

I meant to write something last month on the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death but never got around to it. Better late than never, I suppose.

I first heard about Cobain’s demise while I was at a girlfriend’s house over on Mifflin Street here in Madison. We were channel surfing and ended up on MTV where Kurt Loder was dishing out the bad news with his unnatural, stale elocution. (It’s like he read an elocution book instead of actually listening to good speakers speak.) This was followed by scenes of teenaged girls bawling and the phone numbers of suicide prevention hotlines. While I was shocked, I was hardly surprised given all the reports saying that he suffered from depression and his stints in drug abuse clinics.

Not being a teenager at the time I simply felt badly for Cobain’s friends and family, especially his daughter who was only two years old. I was also sad that Nirvana ended in such tragic fashion as I was a big fan of their music. On that April day Cobain’s death was a tragedy but it didn’t mark the end of an era nor was it a bellwether for pop music. I think that my girlfriend and I both felt like we were witnessing history just as the generation before us did when they heard of the death of Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin but Cobain’s death didn’t symbolize anything about us or our fellow Gen Xers. And so it’s rather odd how it did go on to become a symbol of the end of an era in my life. For my brain, Cobain’s death is a melancholy reminder of the end of my college days. This despite the fact that I would not graduate from college until more than a year later and my life in April 1994 was pretty good as I was in love and about to move in with my girlfriend. It’s just strange how an event from this time would go on to become a symbol for a later period in my life. Brains are truly mysterious.

The Nirvana nostalgia trip began last year with the 20th anniversary edition of In Utero and continued this year with the band being inducted into the Rock’n'Roll Hall of Fame. As the anniversary of Cobain’s death approached, the Seattle Police Department reopened the investigation and released 35 new photographs from the scene of his last minutes alive. With all the hoopla I couldn’t help but spend some time these past couple months casting my mind back to the early 90s.

This being the case, I am going to podcast a couple Nirvana shows. Today we have the first ever Nirvana gig. It was recorded at a house party in Raymond, Washington on 7 or 17th March 1987. (The party was apparently held at 17 Nussbaum Road.) Most of the songs here would eventually be recorded in a studio with a few of them ending up on Incestidcide and most of the others appearing on many bootlegs, with Outcesticide coming to mind first. At this point Aaron Burckhard was on drums and the band have a looser, slightly less serious attitude than they would take on after Bleach. Considering the date and the fact that this was a house party, the sound is quite good.

Later I’ll post Nirvana’s final show from March 1994 so interested parties can contrast what seven years did to the band.

Downer (soundcheck)
If You Must
How Many More Times
Mexican Seafood
Pen Cap Chew
Spank Thru
Hairspray Queen

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As near as I can tell, the earliest video of Nirvana is from 23 January 1988. This show at the Community World Theatre in Tacoma, Washington was captured for posterity by someone with a VHS camcorder.

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