Forward Music Festival is on hold until further notice, according to organizer Bessie Cherry. In its first two years, the ambitious fall festival succeeded in bringing high-profile touring musicians like Neko Case and Andrew Bird to town. The event also saved plenty of room for local musicians to play right alongside.
"Last year's Forward Music Festival was powered by a handful of volunteers and less than $5,000 in sponsorship money," says Cherry. "With the spirit of our mission still top of mind -- that of elevating the music scene in Madison and the Midwest -- those of us involved in planning and production are aware that we must first honor our outstanding financial commitments." Festival organizers intend to keep working, says Cherry. "Yet we want our vision to be sustainable/plausible for years to come. We will announce plans for the future as those plans are solidified.
The Madison music scene is often a place where musicians come, stay for a while and move on. It's a phenomenon that renews our sound but leads to some bittersweet goodbyes. This month Madison bids farewell to Nicole Gruter, longtime bartender at O'Cayz Corral and the High Noon Saloon. During her years in Madison, Gruter performed music as Wilhelmina Baker and challenged local audiences with performance art that reflected on consumption and the pace of modern life. Gruter is moving to New Orleans to "check it out for a while and see what happens," she reports. "Knowing me, I'll come rushing back to this most wonderful city."
Country-folk songwriter Blake Thomas relocates to Minneapolis following a farewell show at the Harmony Bar on Saturday, Sept. 11. But Thomas won't make himself a stranger after that. He'll be returning monthly to play Honky Tonk Tuesdays with Jeremiah Nelson at Mickey's Tavern. Thomas is working with Andy Hartman at the Blast House to record his new album, which will feature appearances from many Madison musicians, including Josh Harty, Louka Patenaude, Chris Sassman, Jim Schwall, Justin Bricco, Mary Gaines and Teddy Pedrianna.
DJ Pain 1 is among the group of hip-hop artists, promoters, managers and enthusiasts who, he says, "have been meeting all summer to create the first annual Madison Hip-Hop Awards." The Madison producer says the ceremony, scheduled to take place at the Orpheum Theatre on Nov. 5, will be "a chance to honor and showcase local talent while generating donations for Toys for Tots." Award categories include best rapper, group, DJ, promoter, producer, spoken-word artist, b-boy and b-girl, street artist and fan of the year. Questions and submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.