Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Farewell to the Arena

Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay, WIsconsin

If you go to Wikipedia and search for the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay, Wisconsin, this is the picture you’ll see. It’s from a dozen years ago, 2007, but that doesn’t matter. What you see now is what you saw then and pretty much what you’ve seen since forever.

Soon, though, they’ll be tearing down the Arena.

Earlier this month, they had the last concert — Bret Michaels, Lita Ford and Warrant, a show that was peak Green Bay. Today, they had the farewell ceremony, with speechifying from officials. But you could take home a set of four wooden seats for $50, so a bunch of regular folks turned out.

I saw two concerts at the Arena.

On Saturday, June 16, 1979, the young lady I’d been seeing for three months wanted to go to a show in her hometown. So we saw Eric Clapton with Muddy Waters opening.

It was one of the last dates on Clapton’s American tour in support of the “Backless” LP. Sadly, I remember almost nothing about this show, least of all anything Clapton may or may not have played. Others who claim to have been there say Clapton was pretty fried. Sorry, can’t confirm or refute that. My lingering memory of the show is of someone sitting up above us, throwing firecrackers down below.

I was 21, and this was only the sixth concert I’d ever seen.

(The lovely Janet and I are still together almost 40 years later. Important to note because of what follows.)

Ticket for Def Leppard show at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 1992.

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, 1992, I accompanied another young lady who wanted to see a show at the Arena. So we saw Def Leppard.

The second young lady was a co-worker who was going through a separation or a divorce. She wanted to go, but not by herself. I was going, but I’d planned to go by myself. (Janet had no interest in seeing Def Leppard.) Understandably, there were certain rules for this outing. Everything had to be quite proper. It was.

We saw a tremendous show, a great rock band at the peak of its video-driven popularity. It came roughly halfway through their Adrenalize “Seven-Day Weekend” world tour, on which Def Leppard played 244 shows over 18 months. Ticket demand was so great that they added a second show in Green Bay, the show we saw. That almost never happens in Green Bay.

I remember a lot more about this show. So much energy. Def Leppard played the show in the round, a setup rarely seen in the Arena. Still not quite sure how the band got on stage without being noticed, but the stage was built up above the Arena floor. Whatever. Everything they played was great.

The Arena opened on Veterans Day 1958. Seating capacity has always been about 5,200. Elvis Presley played the Arena 42 years ago last night, on April 28, 1977. He performed 23 songs in a show that lasted 1 hour, 10 minutes.

There were hundreds of memorable shows at the Arena over almost 61 years. I’ve lived in Green Bay for roughly half that time, and I have no explanation for why I saw only two shows. For the record, here are some of the others …

Poster for Make the Scene for '67, a rock concert at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena on Aug. 29-31, 1967Bryan Adams, America, April Wine, the Association, the Beach Boys, the Beau Brummels, Pat Benatar, Chuck Berry, Len Berry, Black Oak Arkansas, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Bodeans, Brownsville Station, Canned Heat, Freddy Cannon, the Carpenters, Johnny Cash, the Changing Times, Harry Chapin, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Cinderella, Alice Cooper, the Cryan’ Shames, the Cyrkle, Damn Yankees, the Charlie Daniels Band, John Denver, Ronnie James Dio, the Doobie Brothers, Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, Emerson Lake and Palmer, the Enemies, Faster Pussycat, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton, the Front Line, Foghat, Foreigner, Rory Gallagher, Golden Earring, Bobby Goldsboro, Goo Goo Dolls, Great White, the Guess Who, MC Hammer, Head East, Heart, Herman’s Hermits, the Hollies, Hollywood Undead, John Lee Hooker, Danny Hutton, Bryan Hyland, the James Gang (with Tommy Bolin), Jefferson Starship, Waylon Jennings and the Waylors, Jethro Tull, Tom Jones, Judas Priest, Kansas, KISS, Korn, Leo Kottke, Lake, the Left Banke, the Lettermen, Huey Lewis and the News, Loggins and Messina, Loverboy, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Manassas, the McCoys, Megadeth, John Mellencamp, Metallica, the Monkees, Melba Montgomery, Montrose, Motley Crue, Nazareth, Nelson, New Colony Six, Ted Nugent, Ozzy Osbourne, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Pantera, Papa Roach, Paris, Poison, Powerman 5000, Queensryche, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Renaissance, REO Speedwagon, the Robbs, Linda Ronstadt, David Lee Roth, Rush, Santana, Scorpions, Sha Na Na, Skid Row, Slade, Slaughter, Sonny and Cher, Soundgarden, Rick Springfield, Billy Squier, Starcastle, Stephen Stills, Steppenwolf, Styx, Supertramp, the Sweet, Tesla, This Moment, Richard and Linda Thompson, George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers, Three Dog Night, Triumph, Trooper, Robin Trower, the Turtles, UFO, Uriah Heep, Van Halen, White Lion, Wishbone Ash, Jesse Colin Young, Frank Zappa and ZZ Top.

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Filed under April 2019, Sounds

Taking stock of The Corporation

50 years ago, as January turned to February in the winter of 1969, a Milwaukee band was playing at Club Sahara, a popular place on the east side of Green Bay.

Lots of Milwaukee and Chicago bands made the rounds of Midwest clubs and roadhouses back then, and Club Sahara was one of those stops.

That week, that band was The Corporation. That week was quite a week for The Corporation, a six-piece group.

50 years ago this week, in the first week of February 1969, Capitol Records released The Corporation’s self-titled first album without the benefit of a single.

As The Corporation played Green Bay, some of the band members sat down with a writer from the local paper to talk about it all.

“Originality and experimentation are the marks of the 8-month-old group’s music. A high decibel count is also one of its telling points on stage,” my friend Warren Gerds wrote in his Night Beat column, trying to explain it all to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s mostly older readers.

“The emphasis is on sound, loud and relying on complex harmonies. The music could be called electric jazz at certain points and underground at others.”

Uh, yeah, well …

“We don’t like to define our music in any special class. We’re not strictly an underground group. We like to appeal to everybody,” drummer Nick Kondos said.

“We just want to do our own thing,” bass player Ken Berdoll said.

Gerds continued …

“The Corporation is unique. That’s probably why Capitol, a record producer and song publisher, likes it. It slams out original songs, and when it does play other groups’ hits, the songs are altered to match its involved style. Not everyone will like the music of The Corporation. Guy Lombardo lovers would cringe at its way-out approach.”

Well, this was 1969. Conventional newspapers struggled to bridge the generation gap. My friend Warren, just a couple of years out of college, was assigned that thankless task.

The second side of “The Corporation” is taken up by one song, a cover of John Coltrane’s “India.” It’s an epic bit of psych and jazz rock, a trip that goes on for 19 minutes, 27 seconds.

“It’s a very free song,” Berdoll said.

“Because of this ‘freeness,’ The Corporation reaches for the hip in most songs,” Gerds wrote.

So dig the hip.

Here’s “India” by The Corporation, from “The Corporation,” 1969.

And here’s the entire album, released 50 years ago this week.

The band members, from left on the album cover: Danny Peil (vocals), Patrick McCarthy (organ and trombone), Gerard Smith (lead guitar and vocals), Ken Berdoll (bass and vocals), Nick Kondos (drums and vocals) and his brother John Kondos (guitar, flute, harp, piano and vocals).

Some accounts incorrectly identify The Corporation as a Detroit band. That’s because Detroit producer John Rhys heard them at a Milwaukee club and pitched them to Capitol Records, who signed them. “The Corporation” was recorded at Tera Shirma Studios in Detroit.

It was a regional hit, reaching No. 3 on the charts in Milwaukee in March 1969. However, it reached only No. 197 on the Billboard Hot LPs chart. Capitol also released “I Want To Get Out Of My Grave” b/w “Highway” as a single in 1969.

After that debut album, The Corporation had a falling-out with Capitol Records, which dropped them.

In 1970, the group released two more albums — “Get On Our Swing” and “Hassels In My Mind” — and a single on Age of Aquarius, a custom label pressed by Wisconsin’s Cuca Records. Not long after that, The Corporation dissolved.

(As always, a hat tip to Gary Myers for his indispensable research books on Wisconsin bands.)

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Filed under February 2019, Sounds

Teddy, Tongue and their times

One of the traditions here at AM, Then FM, is the year-end tribute to those who have gone on. Another of our traditions is preserving small chapters of Wisconsin’s rock ‘n’ roll history.

This is Teddy Mueller’s story.

Four years ago, I came across his blog. Teddy was a guy from Milwaukee who lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for years. He played drums in a bunch of bands, starting when he was 14. He’s perhaps best known for playing in Axe in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He met a lot of people. He partied hard.

Teddy was 17 when he joined Tongue, a blues-rock band much loved in Wisconsin in the late ’60s and early ’70s for its energetic live shows. I have Tongue’s only LP, which was released in 1969, before he joined the group.

He mentioned Tongue in his blog, so I emailed him. We exchanged a few emails one summer day, and he filled me in.

“Dick Weber was the first drummer. They did the album in ’68-’69. I joined in ’71.”

Tongue promo

“I attached a pic (taken) in ’72. We just got back from L.A. (They had played the Starwood Club in West Hollywood, as evidenced by the bumper sticker.) It was some of the best times in my life. You could drink at 18 and the music scene was wonderful. We would play to crowds 5,000 in a field somewhere in Wisconsin. Great times. It’s too bad video games took over. I wish music would come back.”

If Mueller sounded wistful, it’s because he was fighting for his life. Even then, in the summer of 2008, he had advanced cases of hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver.

That’s Teddy Mueller on the left in the picture from 40 years ago.

“I did have some long hair for that time,” he said. “We traveled the country, had a blast. I was 17.”

Teddy also reminisced about the Wisconsin club circuit of the early ’70s.

“We used to play the Pack and Hounds in Green Bay and a lot of festivals. I don’t think the Pack and Hounds is there anymore. (It’s long gone.) Atlantic Mine used to open for us. We used to eat at the Log Cabin in Wausau. Eau Claire, we played all the time at The Bar and the London Inn and partied at The Joynt.”

That late August day was the only time Teddy and I talked about his place in Wisconsin music history. I’m glad we chatted when he did. I kept an eye on his blog, but it became painful to read. He was dying.

Teddy passed away on June 29, 2012. He was 57.

This video has the audio from both sides of a Tongue single from 1972. “Hotel Arbutus” is the A side and “Harp Thing” is the B side. It was recorded at Audiotech Studios in Minneapolis. The drummer is 17-year-old Teddy Mueller. The images, a bit of a video scrapbook, are from Teddy Mueller’s life and times.

When he posted it to YouTube two years ago, Teddy wrote:

“This was my first professional recording about the Hotel Arbutus in Eagle River, Wisconsin. They bought it and tore it down. We used to stay there and played Hop’s Modernaire Bar. That’s a lot of sex, drugs and debauchery. Ha.”

To learn more about Teddy’s life and times, read this tremendous 2010 interview with Glenn Milligan of Metalliville, a UK webzine. Teddy’s friends also have this Facebook tribute page. Teddy’s blog is no longer online.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under December 2012, Sounds

‘Fierce Wisconsin nostalgia’ here!

Looks like carrying the flag for Clicker, a beloved Wisconsin rock/pop/cover/glam/show band from the early ’70s, is starting to pay off.

Our first post about Clicker, written almost three years ago, was for a long time the only thing that turned up when you googled the band.

You’ll find all of our posts about Clicker on the Wisconsin bands page above. Best of all, at the end of those posts, you’ll find dozens of comments from fans and band members alike, all sharing warm memories of Clicker’s glory days.

That, presumably, is the “fierce Wisconsin nostalgia for Clicker online” noted earlier this summer in a fine piece listing the top 25 pop albums of all time from Madison, Wisconsin.

Writing in Isthmus, a weekly alternative paper, Rich Albertoni put Clicker’s self-titled debut album at No. 15 on the list. Here’s what he said about the 1973 release:

Somewhere between 1960s pop and 1970s prog, there was Clicker. The group’s spookily melodramatic song “Castle” described a vision of “a lady in a forest of green” who “lived in a castle like I had never seen.” Led by vocalist Mark Everist, the band included Richard Wiegel, now of the Midwesterners. There’s fierce Wisconsin nostalgia for Clicker online, and with songs like “Castle,” it’s easy to see why.

Having lived in Madison for most of the ’80s, I was curious to see what made the list, and delighted to see “Clicker” at No. 15.

Clicker is popping up elsewhere online, too.

— There’s a MySpace page for Clicker. Its jukebox includes some tunes not on either of Clicker’s albums, including its beloved “Star Wars” cover. The page was put together by Shane Tracy, the son of Clicker drummer Jerry “Cubby” Tracy.

— Two former members of Clicker — guitarist Richard Wiegel and singer Mark Everist — are on Facebook and have posted old photos and posters on their pages. It’s wonderful stuff.

Richard occasionally comments on the Clicker posts here at AM, Then FM. He recently shared a note from his old bandmate Jerry Tracy, who made a solid case for putting both Clicker albums in Madison’s top 25 of all time. It’s in this post, down toward the bottom of the comments.

Time now to listen to Clicker. Here’s the tune mentioned in Isthmus.

“Castle,” Clicker, from “Clicker,” 1973. It’s out of print.

(Sorry about the album art. The album jacket is too big for my scanner. Good story about that, though. There was gallery of album covers with the Isthmus story, so I went through it, hoping to get a better image of the “Clicker” cover than what I have. Only to find my scan in the gallery! No problem, all good, happy to help.)

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Filed under August 2010, Sounds

Let’s do the Chicken Dance!

You know da one. No? Well, let someone from Wisconsin show ya da way!

Ya hear da horns, ya hear da accordion, ya bend over, ya start flapping your arms and legs … and, yah, well, it helps to have a few beers in ya.

Here at AM, Then FM, we occasionally do our part to present (and thus preserve) small slices of our regional culture. That would explain all those Packers songs and last summer’s trip to the Pulaski Polka Days festival.

Today we honor the memory of Bob Kames. He’s the Milwaukee organist and music store owner credited with taking a 1950s Swiss song called “Dance Little Bird” or “The Bird Dance” and popularizing it (and polka-izing it) in America as “The Chicken Dance.” He passed away Wednesday. He was 82.

Growing up in central Wisconsin in the mid-’70s, you could not go to a wedding — particularly a Polish or German wedding — and not have polka music. When you had polka music, you always heard, and did, the Chicken Dance. You learn it when you are young, and you do it forever.

Here are the instructions.

Here is the music.

“The Chicken Dance,” Brave Combo, from “Group Dance Epidemic,” 1997. A must for any party.

Here’s where you can find Bob Kames’ version, on a single and on a CD. The latter comes with dance instructions!

But it’s not enough just to hear it. You must see it.

The folks at this wedding clearly have not had enough to drink yet.

Now watch Vince Neil of Motley Crue do the Chicken Dance. Classic.

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Filed under April 2008, Sounds