Up north

In the summer, in Wisconsin, everyone goes up north.

Up north, to cottages that sit under tall pines along the lake.

We sat outside our friends’ cottage near Phillips, Wisconsin, after sunset Wednesday night, the tunes wafting softly from an oldies CD they’d popped in. It sounded a little like FM sound waves originally transmitted in June 1975 had finally arrived at their destination.

That kind of vibe is going around Phillips these days. We read in the Phillips Bee that the rock ‘n’ roll heard there in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s will be heard again next week. Guys who played in local bands back then are reuniting for what they’re calling the “Mid-Life Crisis Tour,” a benefit for the high school’s alumni association.

Just one of their stories: Dale Houdek was a long-haired college freshman when he joined Bridge, a local band, in 1966 or 1967. Bridge was to have played a gig at Phillips High School. However, the principal didn’t like Houdek’s long hair. He wouldn’t get it cut, so Bridge was banned from the school. These days, Houdek is the principal at Phillips Elementary School.

Sounds a little like Pat McDonald. You may remember him from Timbuk 3, the husband-and-wife duo that did “The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)” in 1986. He’s one of our locals. Pat got kicked out of Green Bay West High School in 1969 for having long hair. His parents sued the school board and won. (A great story recounted here.)

Which brings us to Larry O, our host at the cottage. Like Pat McDonald, he’s spent lots of time around Door County, another corner of up north in Wisconsin. As we drove up, Larry popped in a CD. It sounded a little like the Byrds, a little like Neil Young, a little like America, a little like CSN&Y. The band’s name: Dead Miners Union.

Turns out Larry O was in Dead Miners Union when it played gigs around Door County in the early ’90s. These days, one of Larry’s old bandmates has taken the name to Arizona, formed a new band and continues to record as Dead Miners Union.

Larry O encouraged me to check ’em out, so I did. Perfect for a summer night up north. Listen to a couple of cuts, then go get the album for yourself if you’re so inclined.

“‘tion” and “You Don’t Know,” Dead Miners Union, from “Ahem,” 2008. (Follow the album link, then click on “albums” to go get it.)


Filed under June 2008, Sounds

3 responses to “Up north

  1. Andrew Burt

    Just discovered your blog. I needed to respond when you said you were at a cottage near Phillips. I have a cabin on the Elk River that we go to every summer. Good music and a great place.

    • Larry Ohnesorge

      Built a cabin with Dad and family above the dam on Musser Flowage. Go back up there every summer for a week or so. Dad sold it 15 or so years ago and Don miller owns it now, its a white Chalet type cabin. Really brings back memories going there, still enjoy the music and friends. Ray Bolton, and the Wundrows.
      Remember the times when the Downburst hit the lake. Really love Phillips area, not as built up like Minoqua with alot of traffic.

  2. Alexis Bachrach

    i knew Tim, cool musician guy playing under the name Dead Miners Union in Tucson. They were passing around a CD Overgrown Garden which is still to date one of my fave albums ever. Anyone know where i can get a new copy?

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