In Microtones, our newsletter-first column.
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MICROTONES by Scott Gordon, editor-in-chief and publisher
Infamous Local Fest, kicking off this weekend, is the creation of Tessa Echeverria and Carleigh Knowles, both leaders of Madison’s Half-Stack Sessions organization. In its efforts to create more inclusive music communities for women and non-binary people in Madison, Half-Stack has spent the past couple of years hosting events, many of them semi-private, that offered members the opportunity to learn skills and share their experiences. Programming ranged from workshops on the basics of running a PA system to the Random Band Generator, which challenged folks from different parts of the local music community to form temporary-ish bands and write songs together.
Eventually the Half-Stack folks started thinking about who else might be interested in what they had to offer, and how they could experiment with presenting it. Eventually, the idea morphed into some kind of a conference or festival. They asked Tone Madison to partner up on this, and we talked about how we wanted it to feel more approachable and disarming than your average conference—OK, honestly we wanted it to not really be a conference at all if we could help it—and didn’t want to add another festival to Madison’s busy fall music lineup just for the sake of having a festival. It was important to us to bring in a diverse cross-section of Madison musicians, and maybe encourage people to reach outside of their specific pockets of this very fragmented and niche-ified music community.
We also wanted to make our programming choices based on the kinds of needs we were hearing about from musicians and audiences, rather than simply offer a top-down music-business kind of approach. We kicked a lot of ideas around and tried to prevent ourselves from overreaching in our first year. I honestly can’t remember how the name came about, but for some reason we really liked it and it stuck!
The workshops on Saturday are about practical priorities, giving people skills and in some cases actual things that they can take away and use pretty much immediately. I’m particularly excited about the bystander intervention workshop with Chicago-based writer, musician, and activist Jes Skolnik. Jes’ work as an editor for the extraordinary Bandcamp Daily and their Twitter presence make the online world a smarter, kinder, more accountable place. Musicians who need merch will be able to do some hands-on work with local artists at Saturday’s button-making workshop, literally coming up with art ideas and stamping some buttons together right then and there. Ellie Erickson and Koriana Kent, two of Madison music’s true fix-it heroes, will be leading a workshop on guitar and amp maintenance, and knowing those two there will surely be some unpredictable conversation and good laughs. Tessa and Sarah Akawa will be leading another workshop on the basics of running a PA and DJing.
There’s also a bunch of good music over the weekend, starting with an opening-night lineup on Friday at The Winnebago: Gender Confetti, Quinley, LINE, and Leslie Damaso with Mr. Chair. The live music on Sunday will be recorded live as a sort of service to the bands participating. I hope people find Infamous Local refreshing and exciting, and we are already hearing feedback and suggestions that we can put to good use in the future. If you have any thoughts about it, please reach me. Hope to see you this weekend.
New this week:
On the Tone Madison podcast, four cinephiles discuss UW Cinematheque’s upcoming series on Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami.
Following up on a recent Microtones about flyer kiosks, Scott Gordon tried to figure out whether the city lights them on fire.
Madison musicians will hold a “guerrilla revival” of long-gone venue O’Cayz Corral this Saturday.
Elsewhere on the Madison internet: Madison’s Common Council has approved a plan to lease a large new space to Arts + Literature Laboratory, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. (More about that in our earlier story about the move.) WORT has video and audio of several sets from the 2019 Madison World Music Festival. Calexico has announced a February 15 show at the Sylvee. The Wisconsin Film Festival has rolled out a new Thursday Night Movie Club series for this fall.
This week’s Madison calendar: Scaphe at Mickey’s. Oliver Baez Bendorf at A Room of One’s Own. And more.
Upcoming Tone Madison Events!
September 20 through 22: Infamous Local Fest at The Winnebago and Communication.
December, date TBD: Tone Madison Best of 2019 Listening Party