Robert Schmidtke Rediscovered

Oct 16 2023

Contact: Richard Wiegel, 608-574-2241,
Or:  Jim Wildeman, 608-873-1072,

Robert Schmidtke Rediscovered

Madison Wisconsin, October 6th, 2023 —     From the years 1967 to 1977, guitarist Robert “Bob” Schmidtke was at the pinnacle of the rock and blues scene in Madison, Wisconsin.  He first left his mark in Mendelbaum, a quintessential local blues band who I saw at the Rendezvous Room at UW Platteville in 1967 where we both attended.  (Part of our collection includes the only know recording of this band from 1967.)   In the late 60’s, Mendelbaum (now without Bob) moved to San Francisco and two players, Chris Michie RIP (Lamb, The Pointer Sisters), and Keith Knudsen RIP (The Doobie Brothers) stayed and had successful careers.  Bob stayed in Madison and during that time helped form local rock/political band The Tayles, then went onto Clicker and The Beans (both bands I performed in with Bob) before moving to Eugene Oregon in the late 70’s, where he played in a band called Crosstown Flyers that included Madisonians Rick Markstrom and Steve Ibach.    
    He moved back around 1980 and ventured onto a new course, playing the guitar-like 10-string Chapman Stick and synthesizer.  From 1980 to 1984 Bob performed and wrote many interesting pieces on these instruments, but nothing was ever released.  Then in late 1984 Bob’s life ended at the young age of 38 due to congenital heart disease.  
    35 or so years later, I put out an unreleased 1975 album by The Beans, and enlisted Jim Wildeman to do the artwork.  Later on, perusing an article that Tom Kinney had written for Isthmus in 1985 about Bob, I learned of other works that were never released.  So I again enlisted Jim to help put out “Dividing Ridge”, a 40 minute piece contemplating the Native American effigy mounds in Madison, that luckily Tom had a live recording of.  Meanwhile, Bob’s long-time partner Susan Davies, saw some of this material on YouTube and contacted us with 10 more cassettes and a reel to reel tape of Bob’s music, and a small project turned into a behemoth.  Most of the tapes have been digitized and made into videos by Jim and myself, and we created a Youtube Channel dedicated to these rediscovered works, and they are now available at:

Robert Schmidtke Rediscovered

    More of Bob’s pieces are still to come, including “Five Lakes”, Bob’s musings on the lakes in the Madison area, and part 2 of Mendelbaum Live 1967.  Very few musicians travel the landscape from blues to avant-garde, but Bob did, and now his contribution to Madison’s rich history of music will be preserved and can be enjoyed by all.  

For more information contact: Richard Wiegel, 608-574-2241,
Or:  Jim Wildeman, 608-873-1072,

Darlington Video Trilogy

Apr 1 2023

I've been busy this winter with three videos, all in the style of talking blues, on my hometown Darlington.  "The Lot" tells the story of our backyard that was the neighborhood meeting place for all things related to sports.  "The Day The Fair Came To Town" tells the story of how we used that backyard to park cars during the Lafayette County Fair that was a block away from us.  And "Darlington Flood" revisits one of the worst floods in Darlington history, the flood of 1950.  I hope you enjoy them.    
The Day The Fair Came To Town

The Lot

Darlington Flood

New Richard Wiegel CD: 'Live' at Mazomanie Music Conservancy 11.4.22

Jan 20 2023

Recorded live at the Mazomanie Community Building Friday November 4th, 2022.  I didn't even know they were recording this night!  The Conservancy had gotten a new digital PA system and were still learning how to use it.  Unbeknownst to me they finally figured out how to record on it.  Since they weren't sure how it would turn out they didn't tell me they were recording!  A few days later I visited my friend Mike Forkel and he played it for me, and I liked it so much I decided to release it.  Special thanks to the Mazomanie Music Conservancy for having me perform once a year over the last 12 years (we missed a couple due to covid.)  Some of these songs are perennial favorites out there and I perform them every time.  It includes about half originals and half cover songs, and because of the expense of copyright royalties I decided to offer it as a free download:  Recorded and mixed by Mike Forkal. Mike also plays acoustic guitar and sings background vocals on tracks 12, 13 & 14. I use my 1953 Gibson J-45 except on tracks 3, 4, 5 and 6 I use my 1934 National Steel Resonator guitar. All CD artwork by Jim Wildeman. Picture by Charlie Lemm.  Tune your radio into WISY FM 92.5 low power station to hear these and other tracks by myself and The Midwesterners.

50+ Years Of Darlington Talent

Aug 22 2022

Press: The Driver Opera House is excited to announce its next Sunday Showcase... "50+ Years of Darlington Talent" on Sunday, August 28th, sponsored by John & Phyllis Sonsalla. John and Phyllis have been part of the fabric of Darlington via the school, church, and city for 50+ years. The showcase will be a tapestry of talent to honor and pay tribute to the music influences of Mr. Bob Woods, Orville Harvat, Todd Richmond, John Bausch, and Peggy Dallman--just to name a few significant individuals who have mentored Darlington talent and have had an impact on John & Phyllis's life here in Darlington.
The musical review will cover 5 decades of music and Darlington talent featuring such performers as Sara Flanagan, Barb Nemec, Richard Leinberger, Joe Dorman, Richard Wiegel, Steve Fitzsimons, Todd Richmond, Greg Burt, Jeff Kluesner, Luke Smetters, Tom Black, Sadie Johnson, Dan Hemming, Clarey Knellwolf, Jim Jacobson, The Glory Singers, Dave Jacobson, Tom Steger, Meghan Solberg, Jamie Hartwig, Jason King, and more.
Stay tuned for continued updates with the exciting performance line-up. "50+ Years of Darlington Talent" will be a music celebration for all to enjoy. (RW I'll be performing two songs, "Pecatonica Mud" and maybe "Clay St. Rag", not sure yet!) cover is $10.
venue website:

55th Class Reunion in Darlington

Aug 8 2022

I had a lovely time attending our 55th class reunion, topped off with a round of golf with Bob Boyle, Spencer Mosley, and Spider Fromader the day before.  I played two song after dinner, "Pecatonica Mud" which names our classmate Jim Kurth RIP, and "Clay St. Rag" named after the street our family grew up on in Darlington.  For you classmates you can see a video of these songs here under "videos".  Hope to see you all again soon.   R

A Deeper Dive into the Richard Wiegel interviews on WVMO

Feb 11 2022

Three interviews over three days February 8, 9 & 10 conducted by Joe Martin (Lefty Joe) on low power station WVMO in Monona, WI. 
Part 1 started out with "This Town Needs Rock" from the new Midwesterners album Pecatonica Mud; then he played "I'm Your Daddy's Worst Nightmare" from The Midwesterners Ridin' With Chuck CD; then a trip in the way back machine to "It's For You" by The Bowery Boys 1970 (we were talking about the early days and the Beatles and btw this is a Lennon/McCartney song they wrote for Cilla Black); then he played "Nature's Way", the Spirit song that Baby Grand released as a single 1971; "Unsafe At Any Speed" comes from The Midwesterner's Pretty Little Town; then a real left curve, one of my first live recordings on reel to reel tape at Snoopy's in Madison circa 1970-71, Baby Grand doing "Peaches En Regalia" by Frank Zappa.  Can't wait to hear what Joe is going spring on me tomorrow.
Part 2 of my interview on WVMO had some interesting music, some I haven't heard in quite a while. Joe Martin and I had been talking about being on the road, hence "Keep Your Motor Oiled" from The Midwesterners Ridin' With Chuck CD 2006.  (I saw what you did there Joe.)

Then he played a song of mine from the first Clicker album 1973 called “Spring”.  I thought today could be links day, so here is a link to the song on my youtube channel:

Then Joe played Kristy & The Wild Blue Yonder Boys (Kristy Larson) doing the Patsy Cline song “Let The Teardrops Fall” from Potts Inn 1985.    This is live video of the band doing that song (scroll to 4:15).  In fact you can watch the whole set there, and the other two sets too.  You might have to search around a bit on my channel.

Then Joe played “Clay St. Rag” from my solo CD Magic Wind 2017.  Clay St. was the street my family grew up on in Darlington and this video is an homage to that.

Then Joe played “Carolina” from The Midwesterners 1st self-titled CD 1991.  What we didn’t get to in the interview is that Mark Haines (Midwesterners drummer) and I are remixing the whole album.  Last year was the 30 year anniversary and we had planned on doing it then, but covid and “Mud” got in the way.  Would you like to see the video we made for the song 30 years ago?

And finally how about a big finish with The Midwesterners “Ridin’ With Chuck” at the 2007 Madison Area Music Awards?  

So links day.

Part 3 included 5 songs from the new CD. and how the album came together in the midst of a pandemic.  Too Tall Boogie, Bad Luck Bad Livin', Do Anything To Get Your Love, Pecatonica Mud, and Paid By The Lick.  Thanks Joe Martin and WVMO.  Be sure to tune them in at 

WVMO radio interviews Feb. 8th, 9th, and 10th.

Feb 7 2022

Hi All,

Be sure to tune into WMVO 98.7fm Feb. 8th, 9th, and 10th at noon (replayed at 3pm) to hear an interview I did with Joe Martin about the new Midwesterner's release "Pecatonica Mud". (from Joe) "We'll talk about Richard's Darlington, WI roots, his beginnings as a teenage musician, coming of age during the musical heyday of the late 60s and early 70s, his years as a touring performer, his transition towards a country and roots rock inflected sound, the formation of The Midwesterners, the recording of the band's 2021 release "Pecatonica Mud," and much, much more!

We'll hear a number of tracks from both the new album and The Midwesterner's catalog, along with great music by The Bowery Boys, Baby Grand, Clicker, Kristy Larson and the Wild Blue Yonder Boys, and Richard's solo work.

A combined special edition of all three shows will air on VMO After Dark! on Wednesday, February 9th at 10 PM.

If there was a Mount Rushmore for Madison's Americana scene, Richard Wiegel's face would be front and center - don't miss these special programs!"

(you can also listen online at


all the best.


Madison Magazine's Doug Moe on "Pecatonica Mud"

Dec 18 2021

Doug Moe has just written a terrific article in Madison Magazine on The Midwesterners new album, "Pecatonica Mud".

"Wiegel, called "the grand old man of Madison music" by the eminent country music historian Bill Malone -- has almost certainly played more live shows than any other local musician."

"Wiegel also has a terrific new CD, "Pecatonica Mud," with his roots rock band The Midwesterners. It opens with a Wiegel written song, "Paid by the Lick," that could be the title for his autobiography: "I play guitar it's how I get my kicks/The business I'm in I get paid by the lick."

"Wiegel feels the collection of songs on the new CD are the best he's written. Roots rock is certainly appropriate to describe the title track, returning Wiegel as it does to those distant days in the overflowing river: "No matter how you try and scrub/You could never wash off Pecatonica mud."

Press Release for Pecatonica Mud 10.19.21

Oct 21 2021

Contact: Richard Wiegel, 608-574-2241,
Midwesterners Release New Album "Pecatonica Mud"

Madison, Wisconsin, October 19, 2021---
The Midwesterners, Madison's long-haul roots rockers, are celebrating the release of their fifth CD "Pecatonica Mud". There will be no release party per se due to Covid, but Richard Wiegel will have CDs available at three upcoming solo shows, October 22nd and November 26th at Lakeside St. Coffee House, and November 5th at The Mazomanie Music Conservancy.

The story of the CD-Richard Wiegel: "We recorded 12 drum tracks in the summer of 2019 at Mark Haines studio Williamson Magnetic Recording Company (an all analog recording studio, no digital); bass player Tom McCarty played bass on two tracks; and then Mark (also the drummer) had to close his studio. With the closing of the studio, and different family responsibilities, we were put on hold. And then Covid hit.

(Richard continues), after waiting another six months I decided I had to finish the album. I was already feeling a bit mortal being 72 years old, let alone heading into the covid winter, so I started to work at home on my Pro Tools system. I convinced Mark to try digital recording, which he surprisingly took to it after a lifetime of analog recording, and we got to work. Tom McCarty had recently purchased a home recording device, and I lent one to Ernie (Conner, guitarist), but we couldn't make that work. It's a very steep learning curve and I nor Mark were able to help due to covid.

So I ended up recording all of the guitars and vocals at home, and all of the bass guitar tracks except for two, and sent the tracks via the internet to Mark who mixed at his house. I think we physically got together once around May 2021 to listen to a track. Seeing as how Mark has drummed on every Midwesterner CD and I have written all the songs, I think we maintained the same high energy, Roots Rock/Americana style, even though Ernie and Tom couldn't be involved the way we wanted".

For more information, contact Richard Wiegel at 608-574-2241, or, or visit
Lakeside St. Coffee House is located at 402 W. Lakeside St, Madison, WI 53715 608-441-7599
Mazomanie Music Conservancy is located at 9 Broadhead St., Mazomanie, WI
53560 608.455.6126



Oct 21 2021

It's finally here! "Pecatonica Mud". The same good-rocking music as our first release in 1991. We get more money if you order directly from us (check or cash). $17 will get you the full "Pecatonica Mud" CD delivered to you with our thanks. Richard Wiegel 518 W. Lakeside St. #2, Madison, WI 53715

Bowery Boys/Baby Grand video

Feb 19 2021

Hi folks,
hope you all are doing well. I've posted a new video from my early days because my friend and fellow bandmate from back then Jeff Amundson is ailing right now. (I first wrote this two weeks ago and Jeff has passed away since.) We traveled together in The Bowery Boys and Baby Grand from the late 60's until 1973, as did Steve and Cubby Tracy. 500 or more gigs together. "Peaches En Regalia" by Frank Zappa. As I state in the video credits this is one of the earliest band recordings I have, and being a novice, I didn't record the vocals correctly and this instrumental is the only thing I have that's presentable. We have some singles from back then we hope to be posting soon and you can hear what a great singer Jeff is.
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.
RIP Jeff Amundson

Iola People's Fair 50th Anniversary

Aug 9 2020

This August marks 50 years since Iola People's Fair near Stevens Point WI. The Bowery Boys, the band I was in at the time, played the festival. (on facebook check here for a good account:¬if_id=1596922238202642¬if_t=feed_comment&ref=notif )
also check out Iola People's Fair 1970 on facebook.
In fact our band played there every day, as our managers J.R. Sitton and Larry Schumann put on the festival. Friday in the afternoon we went on with bands such as Soup and Mason Proffit, Saturday we followed Chuck Berry! I have no recollection of his show as we were probably getting ready for our show, (of course and significant loss of brain cells.) I regret that as his music and guitar playing had a big influence on me in later years. And Saturday night we followed Iggy and the Stooges! We went on about 4am and played as the sun was rising with still a pretty big audience.
Check out JA Bartlett for his account also:
Our band The Bowery Boys would have been an eight or nine piece horn band with lead vocalists Jeff Amundson and Mark Everist, rhythm section of Steve and Cubby Tracy, me on guitar, Ken Heim on organ and back-up vocals, Don Richardson and Jim Kelly on horns. We had a lot of vocal firepower and did Three Dog Night songs like "It's For You" that we released as a single.
After our set we packed up our gear and went to bed about eight o'clock in the morning, only to be awakened by a biker gang fighting with audience members and shooting three people. We immediately left the festival as did a lot of people. Several members of the gang were eventually arrested.
Unfortunately our photographer friend Peter Finnegan was back in Vietnam and no pictures have surfaced of the festival. The Bowery Boys morphed into Baby Grand who morphed into Clicker, and we did around 10 years of steady playing, 200 plus shows every year all around the upper Midwest.

Midwesterner's Newsletter 6.15.20

Jun 27 2020

Midwesterner's Newsletter 6.15.20

Hi All,
I hope you are staying safe and well out there. I'm pretty dug in still and because of that I'm cancelling a show I had booked for this friday June 19th at Fitz's On The Lake in Lodi. I'm not comfortable doing shows yet and inviting friends and family out when I don't know 100% that it's safe. I don't ever remember a time playing when I had to consider my safety and the safety of audience members before. It's a strange and sad time for America and I'm just riding it out and hoping for better times for us all.
I have posted a couple new songs on my youtube channel, and a full hour long video of The Midwesterners live at a Madison Area Music Awards Benefit show, along with other music that I've archived and restored from bands past that I thought deserved to be saved and heard. I went from
the first Clicker album in 1973 to the first Midwesterners album in 1991 without releasing a recording. 18 years! And I was in some great bands during that time. You can see videos here: (click on the bell in the upper right corner to receive notifications of new videos posted.)

I'm also working on a new Midwesterners album that was started last summer with laying down 12 drum tracks at our drummer Mark Haines' studio. Unfortunately that studio closed and we are now trying to figure out how to finish that amidst unheard of obstacles. It's never easy but come on! A pandemic! But it's a musician's job to overcome whatever is placed in front of them so that's the plan.

I've considered home videos before and may get more motivated as time goes on. I'll let you know. I miss playing and I miss seeing all the wonderful friends I've made over the years running up and down the roads in Wisconsin and parts unknown. Hopefully we can all get together soon for some music, family, fun, and oh yes, beer. (sorry, no new jokes.)

Take care all.


Mar 18 2020


Contact: Richard Wiegel, 608-574-2241,

The Beans Unreleased Album 1975 youtube link

The Beans Basement Tapes 1975 youtube link

The Beans Unreleased Album and Basement Tapes from 1975

Madison, Wisconsin, March 14th, 2020---The Beans performed in and around Madison in 1974 and 1975. Before the band broke up they also made some recordings, and in the interest of preserving this piece of Madison rock and roll history, former band member Richard Wiegel is releasing two albums of Beans music.

The Beans included musicians from big Madison rock acts of the 60s and 70s: Richard Wiegel (The Bowery Boys, Baby Grand, Clicker); Bob Schmidtke (Vilas Craig & The Vi Counts, Mendelbaum, The Tayles, Clicker); Tom Lavarda (Vilas Craig & The Vi Counts, Mendelbaum, Firetown); Scott Eakin (The Tayles); Rick Markstrom (The Tayles); Mark Meinhardt (Live Bait).

All these musicians, except Bob Schmidtke and Mark Meinhardt, are still living.

The Beans Unreleased Album 1975 includes seven songs recorded at Plynth Studio in Libertyville, IL, and two recorded at the home studio of Richard Wiegel. The Beans Basement Tapes 1975 features demo material recorded at his home studio on a Teac 4-track (state-of-the-art for its time).

The Plynth Studio recording was produced by band manager J.R. Sitton (deceased) of McMillan & Clary Talent and Hemisphere Records. Dan Swadley (of Madison band Speedtrap) oversaw the delicate process of baking the 45-year old tapes in a convection oven and then converting the audio to digital.

Both CDs are available for streaming at the above links and at:

Because of current concerns about transmission of the COVID 19 virus, no release events or distribution of physical CDs are planned until further notice.

For more information contact Richard Wiegel at 608-574-2241, or by email at

# # #

Midwesterners March Newsletter

Mar 3 2020

Hello All,

I have been posting a lot of videos lately on my youtube site;

The site consists of all things related to music that I have been involved with current and past. Current videos from my solo recordings, Midwesterners videos, music videos from my family, and videos from previous bands including Clicker, Kristy & The Wild Blue Yonder Boys, Rosebud, Back To The Country Revue, Johnny & The Hawaiians, The Tracy Bros Band, Out Of The West with Beverly Jean, and many more with many more to come. (I have been in a lot of bands!) One of my recent posts is "I Am The Walrus" Tracy Bros. Band/Clicker from The Shuffle Inn Madison 1975.

And if you would like, when you are there you can subscribe to get a notification when I post a new video. (click on the bell in the upper right corner. )

In other news I have my Annual Birthday Bash coming up at Lakeside St. Coffee House on March 5th. Rumor has it there may be cake. I am hoping to invite friends from bands past to come a sing a song with me.

And on March 4th you can hear me sing a song on WORT 89.9 at 10:30am. It is the pledge drive for the Bill Malone show Back To The Country and I am helping out a bit.

That is all for now, stay warm, spring is around the corner!


Song Of The Soul-Northern Spirit Radio

Feb 1 2020

January 1st of 2020 I posted a video I made called 'Clay St. Rag'. In it I mentioned my great aunt Laura Judkins who was my music teacher. Mark Judkins Helpsmeet, (who lived in Darlington a short time), also a great nephew of Aunt Laura (as she was known), saw the video and contacted me. Mark is the founder of Northern Spirit Radio in Eau Claire, WI, which sindicates to many radio stations across America.
Mark hosts a program called 'Song Of The Soul', which asks the artist (80 episodes now) what seven or so songs they have recorded or performed on represent songs of the soul. A hard question, which took me awhile to think about and compile.
We did a phone interview and reminisced about Darlington and Aunt Laura, and I talked about the songs which were important to me.

Thank you Mark and Northern Spirit Radio for the opportunity to talk about my songs. I hope you enjoy the episode, itâ??s about 50 minutes.
'Northern Spirit Radio promotes world healing by broadcasting inspirational and educational voices of peace and social justice using the language of personal story, music, and spirituality.'

New Instrumental CD "Still Waters"

Aug 2 2019

I've just released a new all acoustic instrumental called "Still Waters". It's a collection of all of the instrumentals I've been doing in my solo show for the past few years. From Chet to Django to bottle neck slide, it covers a lot of musical ground. It was recorded entirely in my home studio, mixed and mastered there all by myself. A study in opposites, it was recorded July 2018 in a heat wave, (we had to keep turning off the AC to record) and mixed in February 2019 during a polar vortex! I'm making this CD available for free as a thank you to folks that have come and see me play over the years. Go here to download: (and don't be shy about entering $0, it's intended to be free.) Thanks and hope to see you out at a show.

Thank You

Mar 9 2019

Thanks to everyone who came out last night and helped me celebrate my 70th. This drawing is by James McKiernan, thank you James. Many long-time friends (I didn't say old!) were there, many current and former bandmates, lots of my family were there, my niece Jessica from LaCrosse and nephew Jeffrey from Eau Claire made the trip down, and I couldn't have asked for a better party. Lots of memories shared over the years, lots of dancing, a few beers drank, and many friendships made. Thank you all for sharing my musical ride.

Midwesterners Newsletter 2.28.19

Mar 5 2019

The Midwesternerâ??s Newsletter 2/28/19

Hello once again everyone, itâ??s me Richard catching you up on all things Midwesterners. Sorry to have been so out of touch but a computer crash and an email program that went out of business was a double whammy. So onto the news:
In case you didnâ??t know Iâ??ve been performing solo every First Thursday of the month at Lakeside St. Coffee House, 402 W. Lakeside St. 6:30-9 free/donation.
The First Thursday is March 7th and that happens to fall close enough to my birthday (March 15th) that we decided to name itâ?¦..

â??Richardâ??s 70th Birthday Bash!â??, or the â??Still Kickinâ??, Still Pickinâ??Tourâ??!
Yes folks, 70. 54 years after my first band The KnightKrawlers started in 1965.
Canâ??t complain, itâ??s been a good musical ride. Hope you can come by and say hello. Be careful on the roads, donâ??t take any unnecessary risks.

But the ride ainâ??t over yet! Iâ??ve got a bunch of projects in the works. My latest project is an all-instrumental acoustic guitar album done in my home studio; no title yet; The Water Is Wide; Ashoken Farewell; Somewhere Over The Rainbow; and 12 others all in that vein. Itâ??s close, the recording is done but I still have some artwork and copyright work to do yet.

Also in the queue, my band The Beans did an album in 1975 that was never released;
My demos circa 1975-77 that I did in my basement studio that include songs the Beans, Clicker, and Out Of The West later performed. Songs like Slow Rider; The Sun Donâ??t Shine; Bad Throw Of The Dice; all parts done by me, including the drums! (My Todd Rundgren years.)

And Iâ??ve been digitizing old live recordings of The Bowery Boys and Clicker, Kristy & The Wild Blue Yonder Boys, Out Of The West with Beverly Jean, Rosebud and others taken from reel to reel tapes I recorded going all the way back to 1970, and I hope they will surface at some time. Some of these efforts will be posted Free on my various websites so stay tuned.

And a new Midwesternerâ??s album! Yes, Iâ??m hoping to do at least one more album with the band. There are six of seven songs that we performed live that were never recorded, and along with some new songs, I think we could do something pretty good. That might require a Go Fund Me page as itâ??s way beyond what I can do in my home studio. I would love to do it in Mark Hainesâ?? (Midwesterners drummer) studio Williamson Magnetic, as Mark and I have done something like 8 records together now. Details to follow.

So thatâ??s it for now, thanks for tuning in. My best to you all and hereâ??s hoping for a great spring, we deserve it!
Take care,

30 Minute Music Hour on Wisconsin Public Television

Jul 18 2018

The show I did recently for Wisconsin Public Television called "30 Minute Music Hour" is going to appear on your public tv station on Saturday July 28th at 10pm. I performed almost all of the songs from my new solo CD "Magic Wind". Or you can visit their website and see it now!
Hope you enjoy it.
take care,

30 Minute Music Hour on facebook

Feb 22 2018

Hi Folks,
we had a lovely time at the Wisconsin Public Television taping of 30 Minute Music Hour this week. Thanks to all my family and friends who came and supported me through it. It's not like I do TV every day! It was
pretty exciting! For those on facebook you can see it here: (copy and paste in your browser, or go to Wisconsin Public Television on facebook.) Not sure if you have to 'friend' or 'like' them to view it.

If you are not on facebook you will have to wait until it airs sometime this summer on their tv channel, or they post
it on their website. They didn't tell if and when that might happen. (I'll let you know).
It was quite an experience and I hope I did the CD and the music justice. A bit nerve-wracking but hopefully worth it.
I hope you enjoy it. Take care and see you soon.

Richard on Wisconsin Public Television Feb. 20

Feb 10 2018

Hey I'm gonna be on TV! The 30 Minute Music Hour on Wisconsin Public Television! We tape the segment and it will also stream live on facebook at Wisconsin Public Television on Tuesday Feb. 20th at 3:15pm, (it will also be in the regular schedule later this summer.) can be in the audience! I'd love to see you there. Just follow the instructions below (let me know if you're coming too). I'll be doing all songs from my new CD "Magic Wind". Should be a blast!
Join us in our live studio audience! Attendance is free and open to all! Seating is limited, so please RSVP today!
(From Andy Moore of 30 Minute Music Hour)
30-Minute Music Hour continues its new season with a performance by Richard Wiegel (of the The Midwesterners) live in the studios of Wisconsin Public Television in Madison. 821 University Ave, Madison, WI 53706

If you would like to attend the live performance in our studio, please send an email ASAP to We'll reply with your confirmation. Attendance is free and open to all! Seating is limited, so please RSVP today!

We will also broadcast the performance on the Wisconsin Public Television Facebook Live at 3:15 pm.

Richard Wiegel has been in the forefront of the music scene in Madison, Wisconsin for more than 50 years. His guitar work stirs up excitement in the music of his current group, The Midwesterners, just as it has in popular groups from the past: Johnny and the Hawaiians, Out of the West, The Swing Crew, Clicker and The Bowery Boys. In addition Richard has been expanding his acoustic guitar repertoire over the past decade. He performs regularly as a soloist, offering up popular standards from classic American musical styles of rock to ragtime, blues to jug band music, jazz to rockabilly. Richard performs these songs on many different instruments, from his 1953 Gibson J-45 to a collection of National resonator guitars.

Please share this event page with friends and family in Madison who might be interested to join us in our studio audience.

Doug More article on 'Magic Wind" in Madison Magazine

Jan 22 2018

Doug Moe did a previous article on me in The Wisconsin State Journal when I put out "Wiegel Room" in 2015. At that time I was also celebrating 50 years in professional music. Here he continues the story in his new location "Madison Magazine".

New Richard Wiegel CD "Magic Wind"

Nov 9 2017

Hi Folks,
It's finally here, two years in the making, my new solo CD "Magic Wind". I hope you all like it, it contains some new songs and styles that I haven't done before in a solo release. More personal, and I think the recording is more intimate, hopefully it will put you in the studio with me. I have to thank my friend and coworker Mark Haines who has engineered or co-produced or played on 6 CDs with me now, solo and with The Midwesterners. None of them would have been as good without his dedication and hard work. And stay tuned......I'm already working on the next Midwesterners CD with Mark! And thanks to all the friends and family who have supported my music throughout the years. It wouldn't have been as much fun without you. I'm excited to hear what you think of the CD, lay it on me! Until next time, RW.

Press Release For "Magic Wind" CD

Nov 9 2017

Contact: Richard Wiegel, 608-574-2241,
Richard Wiegel CD Release
Madison, Wisconsin, November 6, 2017â?"Richard Wiegel, well known for his tenure in local roots rockers The Midwesterners, has just released his third solo CD, â??Magic Windâ??. Richardâ??s recording project coincided with the creation of Williamson Magnetic Recording Company (Willy Mag), an all analog recording studio located on the east side of Madison created by Mark Haines, who coincidentally performs on drums with Richard in The Midwesterners, and his business partner Tessa Reina de Echeverria.
Richard says â??I started out with the intention of creating an all-original solo album, but it took some detours along the way. We werenâ??t sure if that was the treatment these songs required, so we demoed them with guitar, bass and drums first. Mark was also experimenting and trying to find the sweet spots for recording in his new studio. But the songs were very personal and we kept coming back to solo guitar versions. We refined that approach even more after experimenting with different mics and placement, and ended up recording live into one mic. We were able to record all but one track this way. I wanted to elevate the sound of the guitar the way Georgia Oâ??Keffe would magnify the view of a flower. I thought the arrangements were complete in themselves and and each specific guitar (I used four on this CD) enhanced the performance and the song. Willy Mag is uniquely set up to capture a performance, using analog recording machines and reel to reel tape, a lost art in the digital age.â??
â??The songs themselves are a departure from the roots rock of The Midwesterners, leaning more on country blues and the Piedmont style of fingerpicking more closely associated with Ry Cooder, Chris Smither, and Jorma Kaukonen. The album coalesced when I wrote â??She Liked The Windâ??, about a relationship that ended. Thatâ??s when I realized I had four other songs that referenced â??windâ?? in one way or another, and other songs that had been influenced or inspired by her. They make up the center and focus of this albumâ??.
Of Richardâ??s previous solo albums, Kevin Lynch of No Depression said; â??Wit, Wisdom and Evocation Emanate from Richard Wiegelâ??s â??Wiegel Roomâ??â??. Local Sounds Magazine said â??Extraordinarily pleasant acoustic guitar instrumentals, and a supremely rewarding listening experience. He is truly a gentleman and a towering figure in Madison music folklore.â?? And country music historian Bill C. Malone calls Richard the â??Grand old man of Madison musicâ??.
For more information or a sample copy of â??Magic Windâ??, contact Richard Wiegel at 608-574-2241, or by email at, or visit or
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Happenings June 2017

Jun 25 2017

I see it's been a year and a half since I posted any news here, my bad. I think most of you know I've limited my performance schedule to give my hearing a rest, (52 years of rock n' roll now), but I've been busy recording new songs that I've written over the past 5-10 years. I have around 30 now that I'm trying to record; a solo album, all acoustic and resonator guitar; and a Midwesterners album with the full rockin' band. A lot of these songs have been in my shows for a while now but never recorded.
If things go good I could finish a solo CD soon, but it's still in the stages where it could go anywhere, either staying completely solo or adding other instruments. One interesting happening is our drummer Mark Haines opened his own studio, Williamson Magnetic Recording Company. It's not like most studios in that it's an analog studio, old style, tape machines, no digital. So what we've been attempting is a live recording with voice and guitar into one mic. A challenge and we're still analyzing if that's the way to go. I'll keep you tuned in! thanks and enjoy your summer. Richard

New Video: The Winter Of '96

Feb 8 2016

I've just finished a new video of a Midwesterners song. Go to to watch. Here is the story that goes with the song:

The Winter Of '96 (The Story Of The Song) by R. Wiegel
In 1996 I came off the road after doing 300+ shows a year with The Swing Crew and The Wisconsin Opry, for the previous six years. Even before that it had been 200+ shows a year. By now I had been performing in bands for around 30 years and my hearing was not in good shape. In fact, I even wondered if my playing days were done. So in the winter of 1996-97 I was hunkered down and reinventing my career when I wrote this song. I was also learning fingerstyle guitar, in hopes that I could play solo or duo and make more of my income in quieter venues.
I think us Wisconsinites can relate to a sinking feeling in the dead of winter and wondering if spring will ever come, and holding close that hope that it actually will. So I tried to capture that feeling when I wrote this song.
The video has come later, around 20 years after, and 15 years since I recorded it. I always thought it was a good song to play around this time of year (February) but it never really got any airplay. I'm hoping the video breaths some new life into it. This was the second CD by The Midwesterners called ...Pretty Little Town', released in 2001. The first self-titled CD was released in 1991. (This is the 25 year anniversary of that CD.) Mark Haines and Dennis Reifsteck (The Swing Crew) were on both CDs, and Tom McCarty and Ernie Conner came onboard in 2002. Mark and I ...hunkered' down at Coney Island Studios, recorded on 16 track analog tape, and mixed it at Smart Studios. Mark has drummed, collaborated, engineered or co-produced all 4 Midwesterners CDs but this one has his favorite sound.
Spring did arrive that year, and with rest my hearing recovered some too, enough to afford me 20 more years of full-time performing.

New Studio: Williamson Magnetic Recording Company

Jan 17 2016

Congrats to Mark Haines and Tessa Echevarria on opening their new analog studio. Great article today in Cap Times. Mark also drums with The Midwesterners and we've collaborated on 5 CDs together starting with The Midwesterners debut in 1991. This year is the 25th anniversary of that CD. We're starting work soon in the new studio. Can't wait. You can read the full article here:

CD Review in No Depression, Shepherd Express

Sep 2 2015

This very positive review recently appeared in No Depression (the roots rock bible since 1995), Shepherd Express (a Milwaukee mag not unlike Isthmus in Madison), and Culture Currents, all by Kevin Lynch, formerly of The Capital Times.

Richard Wiegel - Wiegel Room

For this CD, the leader of the popular Madison-area roots-rock band The Midwesterners left very little "Wiegel Room" for anything but his lonely and largely acoustic guitar. The strategy plays like a royal flush because he has some tricks up his sleeve. One tune, "Richard's Rondo," just won the Madison Area Music Award for best classical composition. He chose a classical form for "Rondo," an utterly fetching sequence of expositions and recapitulations, enriched by bluesy harmonies.

This delicious CD is largely folk-blues based, as per 1960s virtuosos John Fahey and Leo Kottke and their country-blues/R&R precursors. The opening "Buddy Holly" radiates all the genial charm of Buddy's bespectacled smile and exuberant romanticism. By contrast, the mordantly vocal bottleneck slide picking of "Wednesday Blues" sounds like a working stiff mumbling to himself, which the weight of "hump day" can induce. "Lazy A" is behind-the-beat picking with a third chorus of pinging chords hovering around the shuffling A key like a taunting hummingbird. Throughout, Wiegel's gifts for the droll aside and the lyrical sigh shine.

wiegel photo

Richard Wiegel. Courtesy

Wiegel periodically enhances himself with adroit but never-overdone overdubs. and a few used a loop pedal. However Wiegel says applying those techniques may add a dimension but "you get what you get, you can't go back and redo anything. Kind of like a Chinese watercolor."

And the wisely ironic closer, "Slippery Slope," from a James McMurtry chord pattern, uses relatively new-tech electric distortion on a 1970s Fender Mustang electric guitar, and recalls Bill Frisell. Wiegel suggests a human character -- in a primping, inflated theme - a blustery politician who may not know he's slipping? Ah, hubris, that old devil moon, you got me flyin' high and low.

Perhaps the humble, those with little "Wiegel Room" for success, shall finally inherit the earth.


Wiegel reports that, with the loop pedal, he can perform all these songs live. Wiegel Room is available at: And extensive liner notes to the recording are available at

This review was published in Culture Currents (Vernaculars Speak) and, in slightly shorter form, in The Shepherd Express.

On Winning a Madison Area Music Award

Jul 30 2015

Thanks to all who voted in the Mamas this year. Richard's Rondo from "Wiegel Room" won for best classical song. Congratulations to all the winners and participants. Your support helped to get instruments in the hands of area school kids. To view all the winners go to:
To listen (or buy) Richard's Rondo, see SONGS.

Wiegel Room Liner Notes 1-4-15

Jan 4 2015

Since CDs don't have liner notes anymore, and since a couple people have asked me about it, I thought I'd include them here, such as they are. I've had some of these instrumentals around for a few years, and one goes back about eight years. My last (and first) solo CD ...Out Of The Blue' was released in 2003, 12 years ago now, and I just didn't have a place to put them. That CD also had no originals songs on it. I've written three CDs of original material for The Midwesterners, but I felt it took me this long to learn how to write for a solo artist.
An awful lot of these songs came from bits and pieces of music that come to me when I first sit down in the morning to practice guitar. Which I do whether I'm inspired or not, gotta keep up the callouses. In the morning before the first telephone call, or first distracting piece of everyday life happens, your mind seems to be unencumbered and sometimes nice little musical things occur. If I like something, I'll record it, and having done this many times, I have lots of files to keep organized''hundreds. So I always give them a name which helps. Sometimes I might not get back to them for years, (see twelve years between solo CDs) so that can be helpful if you get an idea that fits one you already had. I'll go back to these tidbits many times and maybe get something, most of the time not, but I keep going back to them. Sometimes I'll end up with two or more versions of the same song, and have to decide which one to use, that's not easy.
Unless I reference a song specifically, all songs were recorded with my 1953 Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar.
A couple people (to me that represents more) have mentioned that ...Buddy Holly' sounds nothing like Buddy Holly! I realized my reference to him was kind of obscure. I've performed ...It Doesn't Matter Anymore' many times and loved the little guitar riff (youtube Linda Ronstadt in Atlanta shows it nicely). So I finally got a derivation of that lick that I liked, and the song came out. For most of these riffs I'll look for a long time to see if words will come too, and at some point I realize it's over and give up.
...Wiegel Room' was ...Blue Note #1' for a couple years, then I realized in musical terms it wasn't really the note'. The most prominent note used in the song is is the flatted 3rd of the scale, not the flatted 5th, which is the note', so I had to give it another name at the last minute. I went through my lists and had ...Wiegel Room' and always liked that. (I have notebooks of song titles, and album titles and band names, and set lists.) Lists are good. I think it was the book ...The Artist's Way' that said if you are experiencing a writer's block, sit down and write lists. It gets you going.
...Charlie Parr' was a riff that I had for years before I knew this artist, whom I admire. After I discovered him I thought I'd try to put a couple of earlier ideas together in his style and this came out. I'm not even sure you can use legally somebody's name as a song title, but I couldn't think of anything else to name it. (Performed on my 1934 steel body National Duolian resonator guitar)
...Candi' came out of the name combining tradition of ...Bennifer'. My niece Mandi and Cole were getting married and their loving sisters gave them the ...Candi' moniker. I performed it at their wedding ceremony. So far it's gotten the most responses from listeners telling me they like it.
Descending is a riff I had for years. It was a downward riff, and that's all I had. I would play it and see where it goes, and for years it went nowhere. Finally it emerged. Kind of like chiseling away at a piece of rock until a sculpture is revealed.
...Waterfall' always takes me back to Hendrix' Waterfall. A beautiful song. I might be channeling some of that. (National Duolian resonator guitar)
...Richard's Rondo' again was never fully formed until it was. I played a variation of it for years. It's the only thing I've done with a classical feel to it, hence the ...rondo'. Which I've since found out isn't the correct musical term. It's not truly a rondo. I looked up the term at the time and didn't think so either, but thought it was close enough to get away with. Forgetting that my nephew-in-law Josh teaches music theory at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton TX! He graciously taught me what a rondo is. But Richard's Fugue just doesn't sound right!
...Pat's Blues' is for my landlord Pat (last name withheld for fear of incrimination.)
He loves bottleneck blues, unfortunately this has no bottleneck in it, but was the song that emerged at that time for him. He'll have to wait for ...Pat's Blues #2' to get some slide. (Performed on my 1934 wood body National Trojan)
...riff on Monday' was exactly one of those songs that sprouted early on a Monday morning. It took many revisions and borrowing a chord from Leo Kottke to become a whole song. I've always loved that chord (B7b9 with an E in the root) and it took about 40 years for me to find a place to use it. (For the uninitiated, sorry about the musical references.)
...Visit Your Heart inst.' I added the inst. because I have a version of this song with words that I really like and hope I can put out someday. But I liked the music so much I put it on here. And one never knows what songs will survive or come to light. (National Duolian resonator guitar)
...The Strolling Blues' There are a few pieces of music on the CD that are solo performances that almost seem like interludes, a respite from the more complex pieces. They are just some guitar pickin', plain and simple, nothin' fancy. There's an element of spontaneity to them, meaning I probably wouldn't play them the same way twice.
...Wednesday Blues' is''..wait for it''..a song that came to me on a Wednesday! One of those bits of music that just emerges, I had to go back later to learn it to be able to play it. I tried recording it again on my fancy Pro Tools software, but I always liked the first version. I should mention that I always record the first flush of an idea on my Tascam DR-1 digital recorder, a really great tool for a musician. It's always sitting there to capture the idea without having to fire up the whole Pro Tools system. I kept a lot of the songs and recordings I did on this, and if the sound isn't quite as good as Pro Tools, what it captures in spontaneity makes up for it.
(Continental resonator guitar)
...Lazy A' is a song I recorded with the Tascam while I was using my Boss RC-20 loop machine. (While I play something it records it, then I play over top of that.) I set the Tascam in front of an amp, lay down the loop, and jam away. The looper is another good tool. I perform ...Richard's Rondo' with it, even though it has six parts to it. And I kept an early version of Lazy A because of the feel it captured, more than the recording quality.
...Continental Blues' was recorded on my early nineties Continental resonator guitar that I bought from Jeff Hickey RIP. It was my first resonator and I still use it, thanks Jeff. I recorded it eight years ago on an old ADAT machine I bought from Smart Studios. (I recorded my kid's CD on that.) Pretty ancient technology now. I had to go back and transfer the files to Pro Tools to finish it. That's a song I tried to mix 10 or 15 times over the years, and was one of the final songs I mixed for this CD. I think this one, along with some others, could be used in the final credits or somewhere in a movie, that's how I see some of these songs.
...South Seas' was a riff that kept hanging around. I'd jam to it on the looper, and this is one of those jams. I don't know where the harmonics idea came from that I use on the guitar, it just was a route that particular jam took, and I kept it. It has a Hawaiian feel to it, hence South Seas.
...Mad Pickin' was a recording I did a few years ago. When I was trying to decide if I wanted to put out a CD of instrumental tunes, or select some of them and combine them with vocal songs I have, I gave a CD of the instrumentals to three people, my sister Irma, my friend Chris Hess-Malloy, and my buddy Frank Anderson, who's been involved one way or another on a lot of my CDs. They all came back with positive encouragement so I went ahead with the instrumental CD. But Chris wanted it to be longer, so I added the last two songs. ...Mad Pickin' was and is just a jam, I couldn't play it again that way without a lot of practice!
...Slippery Slope' came from a James McMurty chord pattern, but I couldn't call another song by someone's name! So because of the slide guitar on the song it got it's name. It's the last song I wrote for the CD, and it does sound a bit different, probably because I used my Dad's 1970's Mustang guitar on it with a slide, the only electric instrument on the CD.
The only thing left to talk about is the artwork. These were two original photos taken by Bill Bryant for a Mazomanie Music Conservancy performance, and Bill put them into a computer program and came up with a sketch version of them. I was trying to put one of them into Word to work on a cover, and because of my limited skills on Word, only a small part of my face came up, but I thought it was interesting so I kept it. On the back cover I did the same and edited out the face, keeping the body, hands, and guitar, which is from the other photo of me. (Seeing as how the face was already on the cover.) My sister Jean Kendall then suffered through the final graphics required to get the artwork into a usable and correct format. Thanks Jean.
Another person I thanked on the CD was Kenny Koeppler at Sound Garden Studios. He would give me a lesson now and again on Pro Tools, and I would go home and work on it until I got stumped, and go back to him again. I did all the recording and mixing myself at home, and he put it through his preamps and did a final mastering of it for me. And thanks to Mike Forkal who was a sounding board for many of the songs here. Mike has done this for me on many of my CDs, even co-wrote some songs with me in the process.
So that's all I can think of for now. One thing about doing the liner notes this way, I can actually go back and revise them, as opposed to putting them on the inside of an album jacket. Not the same experience as buying a new album and reading the inside cover while listening to the record, but it's my best effort for now. Hope you enjoy the CD, AND the liner notes. RW

Interview with Richard in Wisconsin State Journal 12/24/14

Dec 24 2014

Doug Moe writes about Madison and the people who make it a unique place. His column runs Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays in the State Journal.

It tells you plenty about Richard Wiegel that when the Grateful Dead took the stage on that April day in 1970, at the Sound Storm festival outside Poynette, Wiegel and his band, the Bowery Boys, were long gone.

The Bowery Boys had played Wisconsin's first outdoor rock festival, but they didn't stick around to hear Jerry Garcia. The LSD was ingested without them. They certainly weren't there when somebody stole a suitcase containing $100,000 in cash belonging to the promoters - Golden Freak Enterprises - out of the sound crew's trailer.

Wisconsin's Woodstock passed into legend without them, because the Bowery Boys were working.

"We played and took off for the next gig," Wiegel, 65, said this week.

It was their life in those days. Five, six, seven nights a week, the band - which eventually renamed itself Clicker, with the same core of musicians - played clubs and halls across the Midwest. They were a hit with audiences, and made a self-titled album that Isthmus not long ago named one of the 25 best pop albums ever recorded in Madison.

The nature of the business is there was less money than acclaim, and when the band broke up, in 1978, Wiegel didn't have a lot to show for it beyond a bad back from all those cramped car rides. Still, he kept playing, because Wiegel was, and is, a professional musician, perhaps Madison's hardest-working and most enduring. By the 1990s, in successful bands like The Swing Crew and Wisconsin Opry, Wiegel was still playing more than 300 shows a year.

Next year will mark Wiegel's 50th year as a professional musician, and while there have been some sour notes - the rock years left him with tinnitus and diminished hearing, an ongoing concern - his mood is both reflective and celebratory.

Wiegel, whose current band is The Midwesterners, has just released a solo CD, titled "Wiegel Room." Rick Tvedt, a perceptive observer of the Madison music scene, calls the new disc "extraordinarily pleasing acoustic guitar instrumentals," and "a supremely rewarding listening experience." Wiegel's hearing issues have sidelined him, at least for now, from live performances, so there will be no launch party, but the CD is available at

Wiegel performed the songs in part on his 1954 Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar. The instrument was made not long after Wiegel himself picked up a guitar for the first time. This was in Darlington, where he was born, into a highly musical family. Wiegel's father worked for Standard Oil - the family lost its farm during the Depression - and in off hours, played the guitar. Wiegel's aunt was the local music teacher. Richard's earliest memory is sitting at his dad's feet, banging on a guitar. Somebody snapped a photo of him holding the instrument; he was 2.

In his early teens, there were folk bands, unpaid performances at county fairs and nursing homes. The Beatles changed everything. Wiegel and his friends saw the gray images flickering on the television screen, heard the music and the screaming fans, and decided they were rock and rollers. "We were going to make a million dollars," Wiegel said, and if that didn't happen, at least they were paid, professionals at last. The drummer, from Belmont - after the only drummer in Darlington decamped - was Cubby Tracy, who later joined Wiegel in Clicker, and remains a friend to this day.

Wiegel, who moved to Madison in 1969, played electric guitar for 30 years. Rock and roll, country, rockabilly - he was versatile. He played in popular Madison country bands like Out of the West with Beverly Jean. In 1988, Wiegel joined the Wisconsin Opry in the Dells, where he also played with The Swing Crew, a band that wintered at a ski resort in Colorado.

There was one month in the Dells when Wiegel did 45 shows. He worked hard enough that across his musical half-century, Wiegel had only two other jobs, each of a few months duration: one with the IRS, the other at a Victor Allen's factory, roasting coffee beans.

In 1996, Wiegel's hearing issues became serious enough that he took a break from performing, and began practicing finger-picking acoustic guitar. He sought out quieter venues to perform, and formed a band, The Midwesterners, that played roots music.

In 2005, Wiegel suffered a heart attack. During his recovery, his musician friends staged a benefit at the Harmony Bar; Wiegel was back performing in six weeks. "It's how I make my living," he said.

It has sustained him for 50 years. "I never thought it was that hard making a living as a musician," Wiegel said. "But being able to play the music you want to play - there's the rub."

Wiegel has managed it, for the most part. The songs on the new CD are not the work of an unhappy man. While he is on a break from performing, Wiegel hopes he will get on a stage again. Couldn't you just see a gathering at that farm outside Poynette, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wisconsin Woodstock? Maybe this time Wiegel could stay for the end.


Dec 22 2014

Rick Tvedt just did a very nice article in Local Sounds magazine of Wiegel Room. The link is here which includes lots of links to videos and music, or you can read the text I've posted the here.

One of Madison's under-sung musical giants, Richard Wiegel is entering his fiftieth year as a professional musician and doing it with style. Wiegel is a true gentleman whose story goes back to the seeds of rock and roll in Wisconsin. His first real group was the KinghtKrawlers, which he joined in 1965. From there Wiegel went on to join some of the best bands in Wisconsin's rock and roll history: Clicker, The Bowery Boys and Baby Grand. Eventually Wiegel suffered from tinnitus which forced him to focus on acoustic music. He's had stints with lots of other big-name groups including The Swing Crew, The Wisconsin Opry, Johnny and the Hawaiians, Beverly Jean and Out of the West, Kristy and the Wild Blue Yonder Boys (with Kristy Larson), and The Midwesterners (Some back ground on these groups can be found here). In 2003 Wiegel released Out of the Blue, his first solo recording (Read the review here).

Wiegel also did a recording of children's songs but Wiegel Room is his second official solo outing.
Here's a real nugget for you! A video clip of Clicker at the Shuffle Inn in 1978. The sound is incredible.

The seventeen original selections that make up Wiegel Room are extraordinarily pleasing acoustic guitar instrumentals. Most are layered with overdubs and reflect a beautifully pastoral sensibility. A good example is the opening track. Though it's named "Buddy Holly" it recalls little of that seminal rocker's rockabilly leanings. A pleasant chord progression with Wiegel coming in to solo over the top, it meanders through alternating sequences like a stream running through a meadow. One of my favorites here is "Candi" a gorgeous track in a similar vein. "Waterfall" cascades, as its title suggests while slide guitar flutters like birds. "Richard's Rondo" has a very classical feel and yet is not straightforward. Built around a single bass note, the song introduces layers of guitars which variate on the main melodic theme before a lead slide guitar gives things a very George Harrison feel.

Other selections display Wiegel's penchant for a Chet Atkins-style picking. The title track, "Descending" and especially "Mad Pickin'" recall the Country Gentleman while "Riff on a Monday" takes things in a mellower direction. "Lazy A" sounds like Atkins himself is sitting in a circle of players who are just jamming out on a blues progression.

Still others employ the resonator guitar. "Charlie Parr," "Wednesday Blues" and "Pat's Blues" show Wiegels' versatility at adopting different styles, sometimes fusing things together to make them his own.

The sound on the recording is also of note. The range is full with the bass notes deep and resonant. It sounds like Wiegel is right in front of you, perhaps just across the living room. This gives the recording a very personal feel and though there are overdubs on a lot of the tracks, there is a feeling of spontaneity. The qualities of the guitars' different woods become apparent and you can almost sense which tracks were recorded in different locations. It's like following Wiegel through different rooms of a house where he might have different guitars stashed, the ambience of the room coloring the timbre of the instruments and the view out any particular window coloring the mood. Only the final track, Slippery Slope" sounds like it was done on inferior equipment but the song is so cool it makes little difference. Wiegel's soloing is impassioned and the thick chorus of guitars providing the bed for this are intoxicating.

Wiegel Room often brings David Gilmour to mind, especially his more recent recordings but also those hidden acoustic gems scattered throughout the earlier Pink Floyd albums. There is a detached easiness and the music feels set in natural surroundings, summery and easy. "Continental Blues," for instance, sounds like something right off of Atom Heart Mother. Of course references could be made to a host of other guitar fingerstylists going back to Robert Johnson and progressing through classical and rock notables.

2015 looks like it will be another productive year for Wiegel. He has another solo CD in the wings and a new Midwesterners CD nearing completion. He's also hinted at making older, and much rarer, recordings and videos available on his YouTube channel. Anyone interested in Wisconsin rock and roll history should keep an eye out for that, there are sure to be lots of gems.

In the meantime there is Wiegel Room, a supremely rewarding listening experience. Fifty years may be a long time but it sure feels like Wiegel has renewed energy and for music aficionados in this area, that is a supremely wonderful thing.

50 YEARS IN MUSIC-and a new solo CD

Dec 13 2014

Hi Folks,
I'm a couple weeks away now from starting my 50th year as a professional musician. It's hard for me to believe, but I started this illustrious career with my first band, The KnightKrawlers, in 1965. (I even did a few years before that in a folk group, but we never got paid!) So it's natural for me to do an evaluation of where I've been and where I'm going.
I'm just releasing a new solo CD, "Wiegel Room", a collection of original acoustic instrumentals that I'm really proud of. Some solo acoustic and resonator pieces, some with a couple overdubs, some with many layers on them. All guitar, all the time, all done by me in my home studio. I hope you like it and buy many copies, it's still time to get it to you by Christmas! (Ordering info on home page.)
As I looked over my older news here, I see a post saying in March 2014 that I'm working hard on a new solo CD. Well it took until now (December) to finally get it done. A few obstacles along the way, summer--who wants to sit in front of a computer then! And a bout with an old acquaintance, tinnitus. I've been on hiatus from performing since September this year because of it, but the good news is it gave me time to concentrate on new music. I feel I even have two more CDs in the wings, another solo CD of original songs, and another Midwesterners CD. I hope I can get those done too, and I hope people support me by buying the new CD, as performing will now be on a limited basis.
Family and friends who know me well know that tinnitus has been a problem for me for over 20 years. In fact I quit performing once before in 1996 because of it. (But at the time I was doing over 300 shows a year with The Swing Crew and the Wisconsin Opry, my ears needed a rest!) The break helped at the time, and I then redirected my career in a more acoustic fashion that helped.
But time has marched on and we'll have to see if it helps now. In the meantime, it gives me more time to finish projects that have been on the back burner for far too long. I also hope to be posting on my youtube page, some various music throughout my career, like some unreleased 1971-72 Cuca Records recordings of the bands that preceded Clicker, The Bowery Boys and Baby Grand.
So stay tuned and stay involved with me if you will. This is a new phase and I'm not exactly sure how it will look, but it won't be the first time I've had to make a left-turn in my musical career. I'm still excited and expect to be doing more great music in the near future. Onward and Upward. Richard

Winter News/Clicker video

Mar 1 2014

I've been working hard writing songs for a new solo album. It's been ten years since my last one, where did the time go! This one I'm thinking will be mostly original songs so that takes time. On another note, here's a link to a Clicker 8mm video shot at the Shuffle Inn in 1978. Not bad for the time when videos were few and far between. There may be some more coming too.

New Year's Eve with The Midwesterners

Dec 24 2013

Hi All,
from all The Midwesterners, we'd like to thank you for your continued support over the years. We have new music brewing and may get ambitious enough to get a new CD out this year. Hope to see you out and about and best wishes for a Happy New Year. If you'd like to join us for New Year's Eve, here's where we will be: (the facebook invite is below also).
All the best,
The Midwesterners, Park Hall, 307 Polk St,, Sauk City.
We had such a good time last year at this event, we jumped at the chance to do it again. The Midwesterners take the stage from 8:30 to 12:30am. There will be two ball drops, one at 10p and one at midnight. Craft beer, wine, pop, water and popcorn will be available for sale, cards and board games early on with the J.S. Trappers Bluegrass Band playing from 7 to 8pm. Admission is $10 per person and $25 per family, and tickets are available at Tripp Museum, 565 Water St., or the night of the event at Park Hall. The Cedarberry Inn is close and available to save any long drives home.
Come and help us celebrate 2014 and support the Sauk City Historical Society.
for more info email Jack at 608-644-8444

Midwesterners Summer Shows

Jun 10 2013

Hi All,
the summer is heating up again for The Midwesterners, hope to see you at one of our shows and catch up a bit. We have some very nice summer concerts in the park, some car shows, and the Orton Park Festival in Madison, one of the big summer shows here in town. We've added eight new original songs and some tasty covers this year that we're excited about, come check them out.

The Midwesterners Trio continue our every other thursday at the Essen Haus, and I'm returning to the Hilton Hotel Captiol ChopHouse on the alternate thursdays playing solo. Frankie Lee and I continue our 3rd fridays at Chiefs in Madison and we'll also appear at the Atwood Summerfest. As always, more info on every show can be found on our website,
take care,

Tuesday June 11th- Tuesday Cruise Night (Car Show) Lodi WI Richard Solo 6-8pm
Saturday June 15th Moto-Static Car Show Pardeeville WI The Midwesterners 11am-1:30pm
Sunday June 16th Cottage Grove Fireman's Festival The Midwesterners 5-8pm
Wednesday June 19th Reedsburg City Park Richard w/The Swing Crew 6:30-8:30
Tuesday July 2nd Black Earth Concerts in the Park Richard w/Stormy Rice Band 7-9pm
Thursday July 4th Essen Haus Special Outdoor Show Midwesterners Trio 4-8pm
Wednesday July 10th Portage Concerts in the Park The Midwesterners 6:30-8:30pm
Saturday July 27th Atwood Summerfest Madison WI Frankie Lee/Richard Wiegel Quartet 2-3pm
Wednesday August 7th Reedsburg City Park The Midwesterners 6:30-8:30pm
Saturday August 24th Orton Park Festival Madison WI The Midwesterners 3-4pm
Sunday August 25th Music In The Fields Wyoming Valley School-Spring Green WI The Midwesterners 6-8pm
Sunday September 1st Harmony Bar Going Away Party for Keith Frankie Lee/Richard Wiegel Quartet-time TBD
Tuesday December 31st Sauk City New Years Eve Celebration The Midwesterners 9pm

Essen Haus- Thursdays June 6, 20-July 4,18-August 1,15,29 The Midwesterners Trio
Capitol ChopHouse Thursdays June 13, 27-July 11, 25-August 8, 22 Richard Solo Guitar

Midwesterners to appear at Orton Park Festival 2013

Dec 15 2012

The Midwesterners are pleased to announce that we will be appearing at the 48th annual Orton Park Festival, one of Madison's oldest running and friendliest community gatherings. We will be appearing Saturday at 3pm for one high-energy, rockin' set.
Thanks to our old friend Bob Queen, the tireless booking agent for four of Madison's festivals for asking us to participate. The full line-up should be announced soon. The festival runs from August 22nd to the 25th. Be sure to make this one, it's our favorite summer festival and one of Madison's biggest.

Labor Day News

Sep 4 2012

Hi Folks,
well we made it to Labor Day, not without suffering another hot spell right before it! The Midwesterners played some lovely shows this summer, almost all outdoors in the heat. (We're looking forward to fall.)
All told, I played 59 shows from June 1 to Aug. 31 with my various bands, and we still some great shows coming up this weekend and in the near future.
Hope to see you out and about.

Saturday September 1st
Frankie Lee/Richard Wiegel Quartet
Tyranena Brewing Co. Lake Mills 6-9pm no cover (we should be outside on the patio tonight)

Sunday September 2nd
Richard Wiegel/Rick Becker
Springbrook Resort Wisconsin Dells 12-4p

Monday September 3rd
Richard Solo (my last show here in the Dells for the summer)
Marleys 6-9pm no cover

Tuesday September 4th
The Midwesterners
Lake Marion Concerts in Mazomanie 6-8pm (bring lawn chairs and picnic baskets, or dine on
smoked pork and chicken from Bob's BBQ Emporium)

Saturday September 8th
The Midwesterners
Galena Brewery, Galena 7:30-10:30 no cover
Our first time here, if you've never been to Galena, it's a great town to spend the day in. Lots of shops and entertainment.

Top 10 Cities with the best music scenes outside of Nashville, NYC, & LA

May 14 2012

Rock music fans in Madison, WI, get the most bang for their buck according to a report by Songkick in 2010. The service, which helps fans stay up-to-the-minute on when and where their favorite bands are playing, analyzed data on its more than 1.8 million concerts for 2010. It found that Madison placed second only to Austin, TX, by the rock shows-to-residents ratio, and it was also the fourth least expensive place for average ticket prices.

For musicians here, there's a greater concentration of music labels, distributors, recording studios and music publishers than most other cities, according to The Martin Prosperity Institute, which lists Madison as the only U.S. city behind Nashville, L.A., NYC and Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura, CA, in that regard.

And then there are the appealing factors that simply go beyond data, says Jason Brown, bassist for Unity the Band, Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Reggae/World/Ska Band of the Year for 2011 and 2010.

"Madison is a progressive hub of the Midwest, melding the old country feel of rural Wisconsin with an ultra hipster savvy you might expect in a city like Amsterdam," Brown says. "It is the capitol of state government and has The University of Wisconsin-Madison. It has great food and a vibrant nightlife, and it even draws talent from Chicago and Milwaukee, which are both within a few hours' drive. Madison is guaranteed to stimulate the senses."

Brown lists Regent Street Retreat as a favorite venue to play shows here, but has a special place in his heart for The Barrymore Theatre, where he met his to-be wife several years ago when touring with Hank III.

The most widely-known name to come out of Madison's music scene to date is the alt-rock band Garbage, formed in 1994, and its drummer, Butch Vig. Vig, a producer as well as a musician, has produced Nirvana's Nevermind, The Smashing Pumpkins' Gish and Saimese Dream, and Green Day's Grammy Award-winning 21st Century Breakdown.

Artists with Madison, WI ties: Butch Vig, Garbage, Tar Babies, Nick Hexum of 311, Richard Davis, Ben Sidran, Clyde Stubblefield, Roscoe Mitchell, Paul Kowert

Johnny Cash Birthday Bash-The Midwesterners

Jan 18 2012

The Midwesterners have just signed on to perform at The Johnny Cash Birthday Bash on Feb. 26, 2012. This is the actual day of Johnny's 80th birthday. The show is at the Majestic Theater in Madison on Sunday February 26th and includes a stellar line-up of area musicians including:

ROBBIE SCHILLER 8:00 - 8:20 (acoustic) (The Blueheels)
BROWN DERBY 8:30 - 9:00 (band)
WHITNEY MANN 9:05 - 9:25 (acoustic)
MIDWESTERNERS 9:35 - 10:05 (band)
JOSH HARTY 10:10 - 10:30 (acoustic)
LIAM FORD 10:40 - 11:30 (band)

This is from Matt Gerding at the Majestic:
Hi folks! Looks like we've got our line-up set for the Johnny Cash Birthday Bash on February 26th. I've been a huge Johnny fan forever and I'm really excited about this one...and I'm thrilled about the incredible talent we're bringing together on this. So thank you in advance for being a part of this night. Just go to this website here:

Sounds like a great mid-winter party to me. Cover is $10.

Happy New Year from The Midwesterners

Dec 24 2011

Myself and The Midwesterners would like to wish you all a happy holiday season, and thank you for your continued support throughout the year. One of the best presents we get is to keep playing our music for you, and seeing your shining faces where we play. I always say you're the grease that makes the wheels go 'round, without you it just wouldn't be as much fun.

We have some new songs in the works and hope to add them to the live show over the winter. Who knows, we may get lucky and get out a new CD or EP.
So best of luck in the new year and feel free to give us your feedback on how we could do this all better.
Richard and The Midwesterners, Mark Haines, Ernie Conner & Tom McCarty

The Midwesterners at Willy St. Fair!

Sep 12 2011

We're happy to announce The Midwesterners will be appearing this year at the Willy St. Fair, Sunday September 18th at 2:30pm on the Rock Stage. The Willy St. Fair is one of Madison's biggest festivals and it's quite an honor to be asked to perform for it. If you've never attended one, you've missed an event that's gone on for many decades and presented some of Madison's most diverse and up and coming musical talent, not to mention it's colorful parage and people. Hope to see you there. Richard

The Willy Street Fair is a major fundraiser for Common Wealth Development and the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center. Each year, during one weekend in Autumn, Willy Street become the city's largest block party with seven music stages, a multitude of impromptu street performances, fantastic foods and drinks from across the globe, fabulous arts and crafts, a legendary parade and an irresistible community raffle with over 200 prizes.
Eight packed stages over two days offering the best in MUSIC and ENTERTAINMENT. Over 150 vendors providing great FOOD and soothing BEVERAGES. Creative ARTS AND CRAFTS. A colorful and eclectic PARADE. The city's largest community-based RAFFLE- with over 150 prizes!
Annual event, 9/17-18, 800-1000 blocks of Williamson Street, with music, street performances, food, arts & crafts, raffle. Saturday: World Music Festival Stage: Luisa Maita 1:45 pm, Dragon Knights 3 & 5 pm, Marco Calliari 3:30 pm, Sergent Garcia 5:30 pm, Bomba Estereo 7:30 pm. Folk Stage: Blake Thomas & Josh Harty 2 pm, Eric Schwartz 3:30 pm, Cris Plata 5:30 pm. DJ Stage: DJs 2 pm, Dr. Dunks 7 pm. Sunday: Parade 11 am. Main Stage: Emmettville 1 pm, Midwesterners 2:30 pm, Bumpus 4 pm, The Kissers 5:45 pm. Kids' Stage: Mad Rollin' Dolls demo 1 pm, Wil-Mar teen fashion show 2 pm, Madgadders 3 pm, East Madison Community Center Breakdancers 4 pm, Truly Remarkable Loon 5 pm, raffle 6:30 pm. Culture Stage: Yid Vicious 11:45 am, Cajun Strangers 1 pm, Sadira & Riad Dance Co. 2 pm, An Blas Quartet 2:45 pm, Xtring 3:50 pm, Atimevu 4:55 pm, Charanga Agosa 6 pm. WORT Stage: Whitney Mann noon, Roboman 1:10 pm, Honey Slides 2:20 pm, Venus in Furs 3:30 pm, Weapons of Mass DeFunktion 4:40 pm, The Sadies 5:50 pm. Folk Stage: Small Potatoes noon, Bret & Frisk 2 pm, Bill & Kate Isles 3:30 pm, MoonHouse 5 pm. Volunteers also needed: or 257-4576

New CD Release Party and Order Info

Apr 20 2011

The Midwesterners are celebrating the release of our newest CD, "Live! At The Cuda Cafe", with a CD release party on Sunday May 1st at the Harmony Bar, 4-8pm. In a small way to reward our fans, we are making two songs available for free download here:
(please copy and paste in your browser.) These are two fan favorites that didn't make the CD due to copyright issues, but still rock the house.
CDs will be available on CD BABY soon, but to order directly from us, send $10 plus $2.50 for shipping (any size order) to:
The Midwesterners, 518 W. Lakeside St. #2, Madison, WI 53715.

Midwesterners Announce Live CD Release Party

Mar 22 2011

Contact: Richard Wiegel, 608-255-0554,
Midwesterners CD Release Party

Madison, Wisconsin, April 14th, 2011---The Midwesterners, Madison's long-haul roots rockers, celebrate the release of their latest CD with a party and performance at The Harmony Bar on Sunday, May 1st, 4 to 8pm. Recorded live at The Cuda Café in Deerfield nearly a year ago, and mixed at Smart Studios before that world-renowned Madison recording venue closed its doors, the new CD includes 15 Midwesterners originals and a handful of fan-favorite covers.

Live! At The Cuda Café captures the immediacy and raucous spontaneity of a typical Midwesterners set. Drummer Mark Haines took advantage of his years of experience as an engineer and producer at Smart Studios to complete mixing of the live recording in one marathon session. The result is the fourth CD from The Midwesterners. It will mark the 20th anniversary of the band's first release, as well as band leader Richard Wiegel's 46 years of professional music making. His career includes founding membership in Clicker, regional rock heroes responsible for the self-titled 1973 release that Isthmus named one of "The Top 25 Madison Pop Albums of All Time."

Of The Midwesterners' roots rock material, Rockzilla World calls Wiegel, " of the best songwriters in this genre." Vintage Guitar recommends the band's recordings to fans of "...Americana...and cool guitar tones." And of the band's third CD, 2006's Ridin' With Chuck, Tom Laskin of Isthmus said, "It's impossible to resist their amiable vibe. They've achieved a perfect chemistry..."

The Midwesterners studio albums have included performances from musical luminaries such as bassist Tom Lavarda (Mendelbaum), guitarist and producer Mike Hoffmann (EIEIO), bassist Dennis Reifsteck (The Swing Crew), and bluesy pianist-about-town John Chimes, but Live! At The Cuda Café features nothing but the guitar-powered sound of the band's performing line-up of the last seven years: Richard Wiegel (guitars, vocals), Mark Haines (drums), D. Ernie Connor (guitars, vocals), Tom McCarty (upright bass, vocals).

For more information, contact Richard Wiegel at 608-255-0554 or, or visit The Harmony Bar is located at 2201 Atwood Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin. 608-249-4333.

Midwesterners Spring Newsletter

Mar 16 2011

Hi Folks,
A lot of news these days. I have friends from Japan and maybe you do too, so we are wishing them all the best in the difficult days ahead. We have our own battles here in Wisconsin. If you'd like to see some of my photos from protesting at the Capital, and you are on facebook, please visit:

We're staying busy here with a live CD release coming up on May 1st at the Harmony Bar. I hope to post some free songs to itunes before then if possible. (Come on you Luddites, here's a chance to improve your computer skills! ) Stay tuned.

Midwesterners At Essen Haus Extended Indefinitely

Dec 28 2010

Bob and Angie from the Essen Haus have given us the best Christmas present we could get, extending our thursday nights indefinitely at the Essen Haus. The Midwesterners appear in a trio setting, with Mark Haines on drums, Richard Wiegel on guitar, and Tom McCarty on acoustic standup bass. Along with selections from our three albums of Americana/roots rock out on Darlingtone Records, we will be adding early rock, country blues and even some polkas to the evening's music.
Join us on our new Midwesterners facebook page-be sure to click 'Like'.

Holiday Wishes From The Midwesterners

Dec 23 2010

Here's wishing you all a happy holiday season from The Midwesterners. The best news is the days all get longer from here on in! As a modest Christmas gift I've included a link to The Midwesterners version of 'Sleigh Ride' that will either propel you into the Christmas doldrums or blast you out of them. It was recorded on Nov. 28th, 2010 at Rockin' John's 65th Birthday Party at the Harmony Bar. You can either play the song or download it for free here: (copy and paste in your browser)
Cheers and hope to see you all soon.

Rockin' John update and new Midwesterners facebook page

Dec 5 2010

thanks to everyone who came out to party with us and Rockin' at his 65th Birthday Party. It couldn't have been better. Thanks to all the musicians who donated their time and talent to the show, we couldn't have done it without you. We raised a bunch of money for WORT, and best of all, we had a great party! To see pics from the show and visit our brand new Midwesterners facebook page, visit:
Be sure to click the Like button and join our friends.

December Newsletter

Dec 5 2010

The holiday season is upon us and myself and the boys in the band would like to thank you all for supporting us in our musical endeavors this year. We had a good year despite the economy; we have a live Midwesterners CD in the works; and I recently did a live solo CD at the Mazomanie Music Conservancy that should be available soon, so we keep pushing ahead.

All things slow down a bit in the winter here in Wisconsin, and so do we, but it's a time to reflect on where we are going, and for myself maybe work on some new songwriting. We have some great shows coming up soon, if you can, please keep supporting us, as you are the grease that makes it all go round.

Happy Holidays.

Songs For Kids: A New CD of traditional Children's songs by Richard Wiegel just released.

Nov 3 2010

I've just released a new CD of traditional children's songs, with all your favorites, including:
Yellow Bird, You've Got A Friend In Me, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, Blackbird, I've Been Working On The Railroad, The Crawdad Song, and many more. 20 Songs in all, all done live with vocal and guitar.

I've wanted to do a Children's CD for a few years now for my own Great Nephews and Nieces, totaling five now, and finally got around to doing it. It's filled with songs we've sung in our family for all our lives, and I'm hoping they stay in our Great Nephews and Nieces lives too, and maybe yours. I've attached the front and back cover for you to view, and I've made the price an affordable $8 per CD, plus $2 for shipping for any size order.

The CDs are only available through me via mail order, Southwest Graphics, and Craig's Hardware in Darlington. Please send check or cash to:
Richard Wiegel
518 W. Lakeside St. #2
Madison, WI 53715

thanks very much,

Rockin' John article in State Journal Mentions The Midwesterners

Oct 9 2010

Rockin? John McDonald has played rock ?n? roll music on Madison?s WORT radio station since it began in 1975. BARRY ADAMS - State Journal

John McDonald was living in Brooklyn, N.Y., when he purchased his first record, a 45 of ?Shake, Rattle & Roll? by Bill Haley and the Comets.

More than five decades later and with thousands of records in his East Side home, McDonald, who retired in 2007 after 41 years with the U.S. Postal Service, is still in love with early rock 'n? roll. He has been known as Rockin? John McDonald and has shared his passion for the genre with a two-hour show 6 to 8 p.m. Saturdays on WORT-FM. He?s the only original programmer remaining with a continually running show since the station?s beginning in 1975. In each of the last two years, McDonald, 64, has been named local radio personality of the year at the Madison Area Music Awards.

How did you get your show?

My brother saw an ad in a newspaper. I took about a dozen 45s and put them in a bag and went to an interview. I told them I wanted to play rock 'n? roll, and I showed them the 45s I had. They said fill out a form, and I did.

When you applied, the station wasn?t on the air. What did they tell you about the station?

They said it was going to be a community, listener-sponsored (station), no commercials, and nobody was going to get paid. I haven?t seen a dime in more than 34 years. When I was a kid I always wanted to be a disc jockey. I used to listen to WLS and WCFL in Chicago and WISM (in Madison). I always thought these guys are having too much fun and getting paid for it but it never worked out.

Why didn?t you pursue commercial radio?

Most of the commercial stations tell you what to play and have everything on a play list. I ended up at the Post Office and was making good money and I stuck it out.

Are you disappointed with commercial radio?

Oh yeah. I hardly listen to it at all. I?ve given up on all the music stations.

How have you been able to sustain your show for so long?

I guess people like what I play every week.

What music groups have influenced you?

Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Fats Domino, Link Wray. I liked all the doo-wop stuff and rhythm and blues. The newer stuff I like right now (includes) the Modern Sounds, The Midwesterners, the Exotics, the Cashbox Kings and the Jimmys.

What do you have to hear in a band for it to catch your ear?

They?ve got to know how to sing, and they?ve got to know how to play their instruments. It?s got to be musical. I like guitar stuff. I don?t like the stuff on commercial radio that much because the music ain?t that good. They do a lot of yelling. I like bands with the old sounds to them, and it?s amazing how many bands are actually playing this old stuff. I keep finding them all the time.

? Interview by Barry Adams

Rockin' John's 65th Birthday Party w/The Midwesterners/Kristy Larson/Kevin Fayte

Oct 9 2010

This just in:
we are all set for Rockin' John's 65th Birthday Party. It's a WORT benefit with a $5 minimum donation requested. It's on Sunday November 28th (Packers play at noon) and the line-up is:

The Kristy Larson Honky Tonk Trio at 4:30
The Kevin Fayte Rock'N'Roll Trio at 6
and The Midwesterners at 7:30

We'll each do an hour set.

Thanks to all the bands for doing this, I'm sure Rockin' is thrilled, and supporting WORT is always a good thing. I don't know about you all, but nobody else in the radio business has supported us like Rockin'.

Midwesterners Trio at Essen Haus Extended

Oct 9 2010

Hi Folks,
well some great news on our end. Our Midwesterners Trio has been extended until the end of the year at the Essen Haus. If you make a trip to Madison or are out on the town on thursdays, come in and join in on the fun. 8:30-12:30am

Midwesterners Trio at Essen Haus

Sep 7 2010

The Midwesterners Acoustic Trio have started a regular thursday night series at the venerable Essen Haus in Madison. 8:30 to 12:30. "The old world tradition of a friendly staff, dressed in dirndles and lederhosen will welcome you. Enjoy a bier from a selection of 16 Germen biers on tap served in authentic glass and clay steins, or choose one of the 270 imports from around the world. The Essen Haus is proud to be the largest seller of German tap biers in the U.S.! For an experience not soon forgotten, pass around a boot of one of the specially selected biers." Sounds like a party to us. 514 E. Wilsonstrasse

The People's Fair-Iola Music Festival June 26-28,1970

Aug 5 2010

(Here's an account of another early music festival that one of my bands played at, The Bowery Boys. This came shortly after the Sound Storm music festival and was completely different in tone, and pretty much ended large music festivals in Wisconsin. RW)

The People?s Fair
by J.A. Bartlett

The Woodstock Nation gathered over an August weekend in 1969 for the single most famous rock festival ever held. In December 1969, a single-day festival at Altamont Speedway near Oakland, California, was a downer from the start?too many drugs, too little security, and too much of the Hell?s Angels, who murdered a fan within a few feet of the stage as the Rolling Stones played. But as the winter of 1970 melted into spring, the burnished glow of Woodstock outshone the fires of Altamont in the memories of young people. Millions craved a communal, outdoor experience of their own.

Wisconsin?s Woodstock was the Sound Storm Festival, held on the York farm near Poynette in Columbia County, north of Madison, in late April. Local law enforcement officials prepared for the worst?rioting, looting, clean-cut rural youth enticed to vice by hippie provocateurs?but at the same time they took a lenient view of drug use and public nudity. As a result, there were only a handful of arrests, and the festival proceeded peacefully. The success of Sound Storm meant that somebody would try to organize a second festival. Unfortunately, it ended up more Altamont than Woodstock.

Rumors of a festival to be held somewhere in central Wisconsin circulated for weeks before the official announcement on June 17, 1970. Earth Enterprises and Concert Promoters International purchased a plot of land that straddled the Portage/Waupaca County line near Iola, about 80 miles west of Green Bay and 140 miles north of Madison, and would hold a ?People?s Fair? over the weekend of June 26?28. Although county officials briefly discussed whether the rock festival could be stopped, there was little they could do. Most of the festival activities would be held in Iola Township, which had no zoning laws that could be invoked.

By Monday, June 22, promoters had begun preparing the site, and underground newspapers were publicizing the show. The Friday bill was to be topped by Woodstock veterans Melanie and Paul Butterfield, Taj Mahal, and jazz drummer Buddy Rich. Saturday?s headliners were to include Spirit, Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, Mason Proffit, Buffy Ste. Marie, Crow, and Brownsville Station. Chuck Berry and Ravi Shankar were set for Sunday. On all three days, local and regional bands would fill out the bill, including Siegal-Schwall, Soup, the Tayles, Short Stuff, Tongue, Oz, SRC, the Bowery Boys (which later became Clicker), and Fuse (which included two future members of Cheap Trick). Not all of the scheduled acts played?Spirit didn?t?and some late additions did. Iggy and the Stooges played one of the weekend?s most memorable sets just before sunrise on Sunday morning.

After the jump, the festival begins.

On Thursday, June 25, young people began to descend on the site. Paul and Bob Ericksen, brothers from Escanaba, Michigan, were among the early arrivals, driving a bread truck they used for a camper. By Friday morning, 10,000 people were already camped out. Unlike Sound Storm, where many festival-goers had been able to sneak in for free, promoters set up a system of checkpoints to keep out those without tickets. A high wire fence encircled the site. The only road in quickly backed up for 10 miles, delaying the festival?s start. Music supposed to start at 11AM Friday didn?t begin until 6:00 that night, although nobody seemed to mind much. ?The scene was the beginning of a big pot party,? a reporter wrote.

A Saturday report in the Capital Times made the festival sound like a hippie paradise, and portrayed the event in a largely positive light: ?In some ways, the festival resembles one of those medieval fairs that preceded the urbanization of Europe and its subsequent Renaissance.? And also: ?Bubbles were very much in style and they floated through the frisbee-laced air. . . .? Despite a lack of toilets and telephones (and an abundance of mosquitoes), ?What was important was that thousands of like-minded youths had gathered together once again to reaffirm their own culture far from the boarded-up windows of State Street [site of frequent student protests at the University of Wisconsin] and the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the cities.? The police claimed to be surprised: ?Everything has gone real well,? a Waupaca County deputy told the Capital Times. Portage County Sheriff Nick Check said, ?We?ve had more cooperation than we thought we would from the festival organizers and the young people themselves.?

But the bubbly Renaissance frolic was actually much darker than advertised. Paul Ericksen agrees it was a carnival atmosphere, ?except the cotton candy was LSD.? Bob Ericksen described ?an outdoor drug market, almost like a street you could walk up and down, [where] whatever you wanted you could have got.? Plus, Paul says, ?There was a lot of alcohol. The ground was covered with wine bottles.? The negative vibrations weren?t just chemical. Police had taken knives and guns from some attendees at the gate. At least one couple had sex openly while a large crowd watched them, and the woman involved may not have been participating willingly.

Dick Wiegel, a member of the Bowery Boys, remembers another factor. He says there was ?a definite Hells Angels or biker element? along with the heavy drug vibe. Bob Ericksen says that the bikers ?did anything they wanted and took anything they wanted.? Saturday night, a group of them got onstage while the Amboy Dukes were playing and scuffled with a security guard. The bikers tossed the guard off the stage, and he broke his collarbone. Even law-abiding bikers were intimidating, with knives and firearms openly displayed. Promoters eventually asked some of the bikers to leave. But with police involved mostly in controlling access to the area and no uniformed force on the grounds, there was no way to make the bikers go. During the overnight hours of Saturday, rumors spread of beatings and rapes, and tensions rose.

What happened next may have been inevitable. We?ll tell that part of the story tomorrow.

The Battle of Iola

(Part 2; part 1 is here. Slightly corrected since first posted.)

The summer of 1970 was America?s rock festival summer. Little Woodstocks proliferated around the country, but where the kids saw them as opportunities to recapture the peace-and-love vibe of the original, local officials saw them as grave threats to public order. In the case of the People?s Fair held near Iola, Wisconsin that June, the cops probably had it right. The festival was haunted by heavy drug and alcohol use, as well as rumors of shakedowns, beatings, and rapes by bikers in attendance. With all that, what happened on Sunday may have been inevitable.

The 200-acre festival site was partly wooded, with a long, sloping field that created a natural amphitheater. The only building on the site was an old barn with a lily pond nearby, which had been taken over by the bikers for a campsite. It was the lowest point on the site, to the left of the stage area. Just before 7:00 Sunday morning, people up the the hill began throwing bottles at the bikers below. Amid the barrage, a few bikers mounted up and charged.

Despite the night of rumors, for many who were there, this was the first indication of real trouble. Scott Thomson, working for a company hired to provide stage security, remembers his boss sounding the alarm like Paul Revere: ?The bikers are coming!? Paul and Bob Ericksen, who had traveled to the festival from Escanaba, Michigan, watched it all from their campsite. ?Chicks were on the handlebars, shooting,? Bob remembers.

Three people were wounded, but it could have been worse?especially for the bikers. After the shooting stopped, angry attendees kept flinging bottles and rocks at them. Paul Ericksen says, ?They were going to get their ass whipped.? The bikers fled, a few leaving their bikes behind, which were promptly set on fire by the crowd. A total of 23 bikers (17 men and six women) were arrested on the road outside. Portage County Sheriff Nick Check later claimed that the bikers had ?thanked the pigs?that?s us?for saving their lives? from the beating they took.

After the jump: the rest of Sunday, the aftermath Monday, and what happened in the weeks beyond.

After the shootings, people started leaving. At the festival?s height, estimates put the crowd between 40,000 and 60,000. By Sunday evening, only five or six thousand remained to see the last few bands. ?Cops were stopping everybody on the way out,? Bob Ericksen says, asking attendees if they could identify the shooters.

Charges filed against the bikers included causing injury by conduct regardless of life and carrying concealed weapons. Those wounded in the Sunday rumble were reported in good condition on Monday. But in the festival?s aftermath, Sheriff Check was no longer praising the event. He called it ?a nice, big, organized, lawless drug party? and vowed that there would never be a repeat: ?We?ll keep people out if it means blocking off half the county.?

The same newspapers that had painted the festival as generally peaceable on Friday and Saturday now called it ?generally violent and troubled.? Stories stressed the lack of drinking water, rampant drug use, and even the poor sound system. Local residents were scandalized by the whole thing. ?I have never seen such filth, so many young boys and girls completely out of it,? one told the Appleton Post-Crescent. ?The officers did everything they could, but what can you do??

Sheriff Check called the violence ?a blessing? for calling attention to what went on at rock festivals. And in the weeks following, officials took steps to limit future events. A state Senate committee held a hearing in mid-July at which Attorney General Robert Warren unveiled a proposed festival law for counties to adopt. Among its provisions were minimum requirements for sanitation, shelter, security, traffic control, telephones, and medical personnel. Columbia County, where the Sound Storm Festival had been held in April, was the first to adopt Warren?s proposal, and other Wisconsin counties were eager to follow. By February 1971, 65 of the state?s 72 counties had some kind of restrictions on mass gatherings.

That didn?t mean organizers gave up on Wisconsin entirely. The Iola promoters planned a festival for Galena, Illinois, in August, but when they were slapped with a permanent injunction against it, they briefly considered moving across the state line to Grant County. (The festival was ultimately held in northeast Iowa near Wadena.) A proposed 1971 festival in Adams County never happened. Smaller events were held, such as the event in Rock County west of Janesville that attracted about 8,000 fans on a single day in May of ?71. But after Iola, the brief era of mass, multi-day festivals in Wisconsin was over.

Across the country, the pattern was the same, as young people?s desire to replicate the Woodstock experience clashed with their elders? desire to avoid future Altamonts. As a result, the festival movement peaked in 1970 and was largely over by the end of 1971. But it wasn?t conflict with The Man alone that caused the festival movement to fade. The new consciousness of the young didn?t remake the world; the bomber-jet planes didn?t turn into butterflies. And people began to realize that what had happened on Max Yasgur?s farm in 1969 and at Sound Storm in 1970 was not repeatable indefinitely. Woodstock and Sound Storm?and Iola?were unique constellations of circumstance, in a moment that passed as quickly as it had come.

(My thanks to Scott Thomson, Paul and Bob Ericksen, Dick Wiegel, Jeff Ash, and several other folks not named here for either sharing memories of the festival, helping me find people who could share memories of the festival, and/or providing general assistance and encouragement.)

If you have trouble with either of these links, go to and scroll down.
J.A. Bartlett

Rememberances of The People's Fair by Richard Wiegel

Aug 5 2010

But I have a much more vivid memory of the festival at Iola.(than Sound Storm) It was a three day festival and it was put on partly by our managers. Being managed by them, we were scheduled to play all three days!  And there were TONS of drugs here, and a definite Hells Angels or biker element. The vibe was much stranger, not anywhere near as mellow (all from my perspective of course). People were openly walking around in the crowd hawking Panama Red and psychedelics. A sad memory I have is the first day walking into the crowd and a man and a woman were having sex right there!  The crowd was just standing around watching while the music played.  I think the woman was definitely out of it and was being taken advantage of.  No one intervened unfortunately, but that set the tone for us for the festival. Weird.  There was great music there though.  We loved Ted Nugent, (not so much now), standing on top of his amps with his guitar feeding back and a fox tail sticking out of the back of his trousers.   Brownsville Station had the audience from the first note tuning, then pounding into Roadrunner while the two guitarists and the bass played duckwalked across the stage.  Those are the only musical memories I have. I don't remember playing the first two days, but Cub says we did.  I don't know how this decision was made, but we went on after Iggy Pop and the Stooges.  At the height of their creativity and popularity. Their show was ferocious, Iggy was out in the audience, had cuts on his chest from something, was bleeding, and when they came off the stage, he walked right past me just going up. It was a bit shocking I must say. So we get set up and go on and sometime in the set the sun comes up. People were still there listening and grooving to the music, and I have a memory of it being an excellent musical experience.   A special moment was when we played "Get Together" by the Youngbloods just as the sun was coming up.  A moment we really connected to the audience.  So the set ended and  I don't think any band followed us, and we went to sleep in our tents about 8 in the morning, only to be awakened by someone telling us there was shooting and the bikers were going crazy. So having another gig that night again, we packed up and headed out, definitely troubled by what we had heard.  Pretty selective memories I'm afraid but that's what I have. Most of the other festivals we played were smaller and much more manageable. Mostly good memories and good music. I've started to collect some of the stories and memories of my experiences playing music in those days, and I'll add this recollection to it.

Clicker #15 in "The Top 25 Madison pop albums of all time"

Jul 20 2010

Hi Folks,
The boys and I are working hard this time of year, but I got a little boost and recognition for past endeavors this week. The Isthmus, a weekly rag here in Madison, put out an article called "The Top 25 Madison pop albums of all time", and one of my early bands called Clicker was #15 on the list. This was released in 1973 (37 years ago!) For comparison the band 'Garbage' was number 11. You can read a list and a short synopsis of all 25 albums here: (Click on Gallery to see album photos.)

And if you are really curious, you can go here to hear the music from Clicker and see lots of early posters: A couple highlights are the theme from Star Wars and 'Castle' with a Bach fugue intro that we did everynight whether we'd had a couple beers or not!

(Here is the text of the article)
The top 25 Madison pop albums of all time
Rich Albertoni on Thursday 07/08/2010-Isthmus

The long-play record format ? the LP ? was born in 1948, when Columbia Records released The Voice of Frank Sinatra on 10-inch vinyl. Madison pop musicians took awhile to join the trend. Before Full Compass Sound Studios opened in 1971, local bands had to travel to Milwaukee, Lake Geneva or Sauk City to record.

Madison's first commercially successful record was the Fendermen's Mule Skinner Blues in 1960. Not until Pro Tools began mass-producing inexpensive, high-quality home recording technology in 1997 did local pop albums become common.

"Not many local releases came out," recalls Dave Benton, who played guitar in the 1980s Madison power-pop band Spooner. And when one did, "it was a big deal, at least in our minds. It was the old business model, with all the promotion done by phone, snail mail and hustling and gigging like crazy." Today, Madison artists create about 100 original full-length albums per year.

Over the first five decades of Madison-made LPs, cassettes, CDs and now digital albums, these 25 pop recordings made the biggest splash. They helped influence the direction of popular music in Wisconsin and, sometimes, across the country and the world.

1. Killdozer Twelve Point Buck (1989)
It's the album that led to grunge, that linked Butch Vig to Nirvana and forged rock's reinvention in the early 1990s. Killdozer inverted the frenetic tempo of punk. The band's slow, sludgy sound droned as singer Michael Gerald growled dark, funny stories of Midwest despondency. Vig's production polished the band's heavy sound. Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman took notice in Seattle and invited Vig to work with Sonic Youth and Nirvana.

2. Ben Sidran Feel Your Groove (1971)
On his major-label debut for Capitol, Sidran proved that jazz piano had a place in mainstream pop and paved the way for acts like Steely Dan. Peter Frampton and Boz Scaggs added instrumentation to this recording. Mimi Farina, the late sister of Joan Baez, added vocals. The groovy "feel it" chorus of the title track is über-1970s.

3. The Tony Brown Band Prisoners in Paradise (1982)
Madison's reggae pioneer spent eight months in Jamaica after finishing this recording at the local Full Compass Sound Studios. By the time he returned, studio owner Rick Murphy had arranged for national distribution through Jem. The album established Brown's credentials well beyond the borders of Mad City.

4. Spooner Every Corner Dance (1982)
Produced by Gary Klebe of Shoes, this was the LP debut by the Butch Vig/ Doug Erikson band that became Madison's answer to early-1980s power pop. Jeff Walker's organ riff on "Will You Remember Me?" was pure New Wave.

5. Rainer Maria Past Worn Searching (1997)
Kyle Fischer and William Kuehn were UW students in 1995 when Fischer met Caithlin De Marrais in a poetry workshop. The three formed Rainer Maria and commenced the indie rock era in Madison. Past Worn Searching was their debut. The band's style came to influence the hazy, lo-fi, subdued indie sound that still thrives today.

6. The Fendermen Mule Skinner Blues (1962)
Jim Sundquist and Phil Humphrey were UW-Madison students in the late 1950s. Each played a Fender guitar. Their cover of the Jimmie Rodgers 1930 classic "Blue Yodel No. 8" became one of the first tunes ever recorded by a Madison band, on Sauk City's historic Cuca Records. The song peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960.

7. Charlemagne Detour Allure (2005)
Charlemagne songwriter Carl Johns changed local indie rock during his years in Madison. His polished and melodic compositions proved that progressive music could embrace production and still be experimental. Detour Allure earned solid reviews in Paste and Pitchfork as the band toured the U.S. and Europe.

8. Lou and Peter Berryman We Don't Talk About That! (1992)
Since they started playing shows at Club de Wash in 1977, the Berrymans have been the face of folk music in Madison. This early-'90s release tackles local subjects with razor-sharp wit and lyrical irony. "Convention Center" was inspired by the referendum to build Monona Terrace. The song gently chided the idea that it would solve the city's problems.

9. Tar Babies Face the Music (1983)
Tar Babies were Madison's answer to Black Flag and hardcore punk. Face the Music was their debut, produced by Bob Mould and Butch Vig. With Bucky Pope on vocals and guitar, Tar Babies got signed to the venerable indie label SST in 1987. Their sound ultimately ventured beyond hardcore, and the band embraced funk. Tar Babies' aggressive early sound surely blew out a few local amps.

10. The Youngblood Brass Band Unlearn (2000)
After pop music splintered into micro-genres in the 1990s, a wave of artists like Beck and Beth Orton tried to bring it back together again. Locally, the Youngblood Brass Band sounded a call for musical unity. The former Oregon High School students used a sousaphone to bridge the gap between rock and hip-hop. Unlearn featured appearances from Talib Kweli and DJ Skooly. The band's multicultural innovations led to international touring.

11. Garbage Garbage (1995)
Butch Vig was a national music celebrity by the time Garbage formed. Lead singer Shirley Manson was from Scotland. But the band's roots were still in Madison, and members frequently hung out at the now defunct Café Montmartre. Their self-titled debut album changed the boundaries of electronic, rock and pop. Riding the success of the single "Stupid Girl," the album sold more than 4 million copies.

12. The Rob Dz Experience Soul Anthems (2005)
Hip-hop lived on the margins of the Madison music scene until the middle of last decade. Soul Anthems helped change all that. Dz collaborated with an influential group of local musicians. The raps were easygoing. The messages were positive. The R&B was smooth. The jazz was mellow. The disc heralded a new wave of progressive Madison hip-hop.

13. Tayles Who Are These Guys? (1972)
Recorded live at the Nitty Gritty, this collection of blues-rock captures the musical feel of Vietnam-era Madison. Paul Reyzold's organ added pyschedelia that was as bright as a tie-dyed shirt; Scott Eakin's flute was as groovy as a VW bus. Jeremy Wilson started the band in 1966. Like hippie culture, Tayles faded away near the end of 1972.

14. Stromkern Armageddon (2001)
Madison's electronic music scene was nascent when Ned Kirby formed Stromkern in 1994. His industrial compositions won more fans in Germany than they did here. Armageddon was the band's first U.S. release. Tracks like "Nightriders" were poppy and danceable. "Strange Day Dawning" featured brooding strings and piano. The album made waves by linking industrial beats to other musical styles.

15. Clicker Clicker (1973)
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.

16. Clyde Stubblefield The Original (2004)
Madison's Funky Drummer is best known for his early work with James Brown and for inventing a drum pattern that became the most sampled beat in hip-hop. In 2004, he teamed up with Ben Sidran for these funky tracks. The CD is a Madison original.

17. Fire Town In the Heart of the Heart Country (1987)
Performing with guitarist-singer Phil Davis, this album won Butch Vig and Doug Erikson the major-label contract they never got with Spooner. Originally released on the prolific local label Boat, the record was rereleased nationally on Atlantic. Fire Town's jangly rock was in tune with the early R.E.M. era.

18. Underground Sunshine Let There Be Light (1969)
Led by brothers Bert and Frank Kohl, this band released a cover of the Beatles' "Birthday" that peaked at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. Their LP featured "Don't Shut Me Out," written by David Gates of Bread. The group later made an appearance on American Bandstand.

19. El Guante Vanishing Point (2005)
Kyle "El Guante" Myhre spent six years in Madison before signing to Tru Ruts records and moving to the Twin Cities in 2007. The spoken-word poet helped organize protests against the Iraq War. He started an alternative newspaper. Then he recorded Vanishing Point, a halting collection of rap poems, mellow beats and lonely jazz instrumentation that signaled Madison hip-hop's coming of age.

20. Appliances-SFB SFB (1984)
Another Butch Vig/Steve Marker/Smart Studios classic, SFB featured the frenetic vocals of Tom Laskin. The album is rooted in punk, but the guitar parts venture into brooding post-punk on "The Pest." Free-form jazz elements influence the wailing sounds of "Neo-Fascist." And yes, the SFB stood for "shit for brains."

21. Pat MacDonald & the Essentials Lowdown (1981)
He went on to form Timbuk3 and gain a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1987, but Pat MacDonald was a staple of the local music scene in the late 1970s. Before "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades," the Timbuk3 sound took root on this album.

22. Ivory Library Parasite (1995)
The eerie atmospherics that swirled around Ivory Library's songs gave them emotional depth. You can hear it in the restless urgency of "Go." Led by Jeff Jagielo, the band formed in the 1980s. Parasite was distributed nationwide and won the band a Billboard magazine profile.

23. Marques Bovre & the Evil Twins Big Strong House (1992)
Bovre's Americana was traditional and rebellious. The title track used prairie imagery to ground a faith metaphor. But the band's signature song, "I Like Gyrls Who Like Gyrls," flirted with the idea that "it's a twisted little world; we've all got our little kinks." The disc gained regional radio airplay, and the band packed in crowds at bars from Janesville to Stevens Point.

24. Natty Nation Earth Citizen (1998)
Natty Nation frequently played the tiny Mango Grill in University Square about the time the band released this sophomore album. Propelled by Demetrius Wainwright and Jeffrey Maxwell on vocals, the CD fulfilled the promise of the band's 1996 debut, The Journey Has Just Begun. Natty Nation's mix of hard roots rock and reggae proved unique and gained a following that remains today.

25. Blueheels Lessons in Sunday Driving (2008)
Pale Young Gentlemen and Zola Jesus have earned the most national indie press among Madison bands in recent years. But Justin Bricco and crew bring restless rage to roots rock like no other Madison band ever has. In the year the Great Recession started, Blueheels made Americana feel appropriately jagged and uneasy.

Special thanks to Dave Benton, Rick Murphy and Jim Kirchstein for helping me navigate Madison's significant early recordings.

A Follow-up on Clicker from Cub Tracy

Jul 20 2010

The Black Clicker Album was the number 2 album of the year behind Paul McCartney and Wings at WIFC in Wausau in like 1972/73, and I believe "Keep on Tryin" was a Top 10 song up there. We had other major airplay with "Keep on Tryin" at a number of stations including WISM here in Madison where it got in the Top 10. I know it did well in places like Stevens Point, Marshfield and maybe Lacrosse as wel. We also got featured airplay on Beaker Theater in Little Rock Ark with "Dumonde's Back Room", and I actually sat in by basement on the westside and heard it myself. We had singles like "It's for You", "Lucy Cain" and "So Sharp" that were never on albums, but made the Top 10 on WISM in madison back in the same time frame, so we actually got more airplay than any other Madison band that I know. The "Harde Har Har Har" Album had major airplay with "Before You Say Goodbye" and "Tennessee Tailspin". We had released Tennessee Tailspin earlier on a 45, and then had a different version on the album. Both of those songs were Top 20 in Madison. There was also some airplay in California with "Toto Comes Home". I have seen Harde Har Har Har albums go for between $100 and $300 on ebay. I have never seen the black album on Ebay. I have seen copies of single records like Lucy Cain, So Sharp and It's for You all on ebay as well, going for anywhere from $5 to $20. My son Shane actually purchased one of those himself.

So, in conclusion, I would have to suggest that both the Black Clicker album, and Harde Har Har Har would have to be in the top 10, as I know of no other bands that got more airplay, or sold more records than us in that time frame in Madison. Certainly Spooner and then Firetown would have to be mentioned as well. I just can't think of anyone else at this time who actually released albums that did well in the region. I know there were several bands that released singles and got some local airplay, but I wasn't aware of actual "albums" presay.

I hope my ramblin on helps a little bit.
Kind regards,

Midwesterners on Car Talk

Jun 2 2010

The Midwesterners have just had their 4th song played on the NPR radio show called Car Talk. The songs they've played are Rusted Custom Ford, Studebaker, Can't Slow Down, and Unsafe at Any Speed. They have 3 of our car songs yet to play; Ridin' With Chuck, I'm Gonna Run Your Roadblock of Love, and Keep Your Motor Oiled. Thanks to Brian Holtz for sending our CD in to the show, and for informing me that they played a song last weekend (May 29, 2010). And Barry Poltermann previously of Purple Onion of Milwaukee, and now AboutFace Media, reminded me that he put our first car song in a movie, Can't Slow Down in 'The Unearthing' circa 1993? Purple Onion and director Frank Anderson also did our first video of Carolina, 1991, seen under 'videos' on our website. Thanks Barry and Frank and Car Talk.

Press Release: Remembering Sound Storm Music Festival

Apr 26 2010

Remembering Sound Storm Music Festival
(complete article and pictures now available online-RW 8/5/10),50344

Madison, Wisconsin, April 15, 2010-- It was 40 years ago today (almost) that Wisconsin experienced its first outdoor rock festival. Sound Storm, a production of Golden Freak Enterprises, touched down in a farm field near Poynette from April 24-27, 1970. Noteworthy acts included The Grateful Dead, Illinois Speed Press, Rotary Connection (featuring Minnie Ripperton), Baby Huey, Fuse (the band that evolved into Cheap Trick), and popular local rockers The Bowery Boys (a band that included a young, long-haired guitarist named Richard Wiegel, still performing today with The Midwesterners.)

The Sound Storm event was a product of the times?controversial, contentious, and featuring a cast of colorful characters. This fascinating slice of local history is the subject of an in-depth article by Michael Edmonds in the latest issue of Wisconsin History Magazine.

Edmonds describes how ??pulsating electric guitars, ubiquitous LSD, perfect weather, and clouds of marijuana smoke would help 30,000 young people invent a separate reality outside Poynette. Nearby, disgusted residents feared for their children and vowed never to let it happen again. To this day, participants debate what actually happened there 40 years ago. They generally agree, though, that Sound Storm marked the height of hippiedom in Wisconsin.?

The article explains how promoter Pete Obranovich snagged his headlining act: ?Jerry Garcia, committed the Grateful Dead to play for just $9,500 (a third of their usual rate) out of friendship for Pete. Although the contract called only for a 50-minute set, the Dead had such a good time they played for several hours.?

More than 250 photos of the event taken by photographer Robert Pulling were recently archived at the Wisconsin State Historical Society. The Bowery Boys used one of their own photos for a poster, and Richard Wiegel donated a copy of that poster to add to the Historical Society collection of Sound Storm memorabilia. Photos and more information are available online at

40 years later, Wiegel continues to play in the Madison area with The Midwesterners.

February Newsletter

Mar 1 2010

Hi Folks,
Not much stirring here in the depths of winter. But were starting to feel spring around the corner and we're ready to put the sin back in Wisconsin! We have a date booked for a live recording of the band April 23rd at the Cuda Cafe in Deerfield, we hope some of you can make the trip there to support us, (and maybe make it onto the recording!)

And we're playing the biggest party of the winter, The Harmony Bar's 20th Anniversary Party, Sunday March 14th at the Barrymore with the Midwesterners, The Jimmys, Westside Andy and Mel Ford, Chuck Bayuk and the Drunken Sailors, Doc and Terry Roddy, and to top it off, the Bel Aires. 1 to 10 pm. We go on at 3:20-4:10pm. For more details: Only $5 cover and it's a benefit for the Goodman Center.

And last but not least, we want to wish a fond farewell to Smart Studios, a local landmark here in Madison. Owned by Butch Vig and Steve Marker of Garbage fame,(Butch also produced Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, The Foo Fighters, and others). Our drummer Mark Haines is also an engineer there, and Smart is where The Midwesterners mixed our last two albums. We'd like to thank Mike Zirkel and Beau Sorenson for being so helpful and professional.

There are a couple of related photos on our photo page,
The first is myself and Mark mixing 'Ridin' With Chuck' at Smart on the same board used by John Lennon, Black Sabbath, the Eagles, and many more. The second is Ernie with The Rousers, and Spooner w/ Butch Vig, circa 1980s. Hope all our paths cross again soon.

Smart Studios is now doing a documentary and have asked musicians who have stories or anecdotes, to submit them. Here is what I submitted:
"My biggest memory of Smart Studios is mixing The Midwesterners album Ridin? With Chuck in 2006. We had five days booked and that isn?t much time to mix an album, but the bigger point is I didn?t have the thousands of dollars to pay for the session. So as soon as Mark Haines (co-producer) and I finished a mix, I would run upstairs and start phoning people to borrow money from to pay for the session. Somehow the mixes got done and the money got borrowed to pay for it all,(and paid back), and the rest is rock n? roll history."
take care,

January Newsletter

Feb 2 2010

Hi Folks,
Happy new year to you all, hope you all are doing okay and that 2010 is better for all of us. This year marks 45 years of being in bands for me, and I've included a poster of our first band (The KnightKrawlers) that was recently included on a 2010 calendar for the Darlington Historical Society. (In the photo section). And I"ve decided to start a free download program for you itunes and ipod users out there. If you go to this link: (copy and paste)

you will be able to listen to, or download for free, two tunes from my new kids CD. We'll included cuts from The Midwesterners CDs in future newsletters, and maybe even some live cuts from the band.

So Happy 2010 everyone.

Happy Holidays/Free Christmas Music

Dec 24 2009

Hello Everyone,
I wanted to extend my best wishes for a happy holiday season to you from myself and The Midwesterners, and to do that I've put together a little group of Christmas songs you can either just listen to (stream), or download for free. Just copy and paste this link in your browser and it will take you directly to the page to do that. It's just me on vocals and guitar and I hope you like it.

Happy Holidays.

New Solo Videos of Richard

Dec 2 2009

I recently was asked by Full Compass (a music and video retail store and distributor here in Madison) to make some solo videos to help celebrate the opening of their new store on Oct. 23-24 2009. So myself and many other bands and performers, from stage n' screen to rock n' roll, were filmed in Full Compass' new video studio and shown on the weekend of the event. They have posted some of the videos, and mine were included. The top audio and video producers were there, from Buzz Kemperer from Audio For The Arts, to Ken Ferencek on lights, Lonya Nenashev on sound, and Ken LaBarre on video. (He shot and produced our 2007 Madison Area Music Awards Show video, Ridin' With Chuck, seen here:
This link takes you to the Full Compass videos:
I will post them hopefully soon on our Midwesterners site.
Thanks very much to Ron Vogel and Larry Bird for asking me to do this, John Vitale and Johnathan and Susan Lipp and the whole staff of Full Compass for being so friendly and professional.
songs include; Keep It Alive, Ridin' With Chuck, Guitar Problem, Dark Tavern Blues, and Guitar Rag.

The Bowery Boys in the Wisconsin State Historical Society

Dec 2 2009

The Bowery Boys played in the first rock festival in Wisconsin, April 23-25 1970, called Sound Storm in Poynette. The Grateful Dead also appeared and played a three hour show. Robert Pulling took 270 photos that day, and they all have been cataloged at the Wisconsin State Historical Society. The Bowery Boys can be found here (I played in the Bowery Boys)

In February 2010 Michael Edmonds in publishing an article in the Wisconsin Magazine of History on the festival, from many perspectives; the organizer Pete Bobo, the townspeople, law enforcement, and some musicians and roadies, including those of the Grateful Dead.

I now play in a band called The Midwesterners, and I have some old posters on my site, including one from that festival:
which I am going to donate to the Historical Society.

I'll post Michael's article as soon as it comes out.

Rousers 25th Anniversary Show

Apr 27 2009

The Rousers (our guitar player Ernie's other band) are celebrating 25 years of being together with an all-star show. Here are the details:
Saturday, May 2nd
8:30 show 21+
Tickets on sale now
$15.00 in advance
$20.00 Day of show

Tickets available at :The Majestic, Mad City Music, Strictly Discs, Context, Pipefitter and
Come down and help Ernie and the boys celebrate a good, long run with their band.

Richard On Mad Toast Live Tuesday April 21

Apr 20 2009

What is Mad Toast Live you ask? It's a weekly show that usually features two one hour segments with two different performers. This week's show starts off this tuesday April 21st at 8:30pm at The Brink Lounge with KG and the Ranger, featuring classic cowboy songs, and then myself. It is hosted by the husband/wife duo of Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines (two of Madison's best performers). Please come down and support this great showcase for local artists, but if you can't, it is recorded live for podcast the following week.
My show will air on April 30th. What is a podcast the computer challenged say? It's an mp3 format that can be downloaded to your computer (FREE) for listening at your own convenience. But you can also just listen to the shows here: The archives feature some of Madison's best performers in a loose talk/performance format that can go from prearranged songs to spontaneous jams. For those of you who have never seen me perform solo, it's a chance to hear what I do with the fingerpicking style that I play, (which is completely different than The Midwesterners.) More info under gigs.

Clicker blog

Apr 6 2009

For those folks interested in all things Clicker, there is a blog that has been running for about a year now at: You can add your personal story about the band, favorite show or song, and generally reminisce about the 'good old days'. I also just loaded up some recent photos sent to me by Julie Kasper to our photo page at Clicker was a band I was in off and on from 1973-78, only 30 plus years ago! This just in: there is now a website for Clicker put up by Cubby's son Shane.

Wow! What a Party!

Mar 18 2009

That's all I can say about the party at the Harmony Bar on Sunday. I don't know how it could have been any better. Thanks to my lovely family first off, the facilitators of it all, and to my friends, fans and bandmates over the years who showed up to play and to party. I think every single one of my bands was represented, starting with two friends that were in my very first band in 1965, Tony Beardsley and Cub Tracy. There were members of The Counts, The Bowery Boys, Baby Grand, Clicker, Rosebud, Out Of The West, Kristy and the Wild Blue Yonder Boys, The Swing Crew, and Johnny and the Hawaiians, too numerous to name.
The party kicked off with an acoustic version of the Kristy Larson Honky Tonk Trio, then we started adding musicians from over the years until we had completely filled the stage up. Then followed a blistering set by The Rousers, a surprise appearance, then an even bigger surprise appearance by those notorious recluses The Waterdogs, which gave great incentive for The Midwesterners to rise to the occasion. And they did. I couldn't be happier to be playing with my fellow bandmates, thanks to everyone of them for their musicianship and committment to excellence. Mark Haines, Ernie Conner and Tom McCarty. I'm very lucky to be playing with them.
And the night ended up with a country jam with members of Rosebud. Norm Hoffman from that band hadn't played in twenty years and he got a standing ovation at the end of the night.
So once again, thanks to all, it's been a great ride and hopefully there's lots more music and good times to come.

77 Square Article 3/12/09

Mar 14 2009

"Lotta bands, lotta hair."

That's how local guitarist Richard Wiegel sums up the past 40 years of making music. He moved from Darlington to Madison ("the big city") in 1969 and has been performing consistently. He recently started posting the dozens and dozens of show posters on his MySpace page, ( from the Knight Krawlers ("yoo'l dig 'em! ... wiggle with us!") to the Beans, Clicker, Johnny and the Hawaiians, The Wild Blue Yonder Boys, The Bowery Boys and his current lineup: roots rock band The Midwesterners.

Wiegel celebrates four decades of music and his 60th birthday at 4 p.m. this Sunday, March 15, at the Harmony Bar, 2201 Atwood Ave. The Midwesterners will kick things off with a "musical potluck," and then bring up friends and fellow performers who've played with Wiegel over the years. No cover, and no presents, at his request ("Your presence is a gift").
Katjusa Cisar ? 77 Square

Richard's Big 60th Birthday Bash

Mar 6 2009

Yes it's true, it's my 60th birthday, and I got a right to celebrate! In fact I'm calling it My Big 60th Birthday Tour! I'm celebrating with a week of shows, all culminating at the Harmony Bar on Sunday March 15th. Friends, family and former band mates are invited, but one and all are welcome; no cover charge! The Midwesterners will kick off the music at 4 p.m. and plan to go party until at least 8 p.m. Everyone can expect some surprising musical combinations by special guests, including friends and fellow performers from bands that I've played with over the last four decades?The Bowery Boys, Baby Grand, Clicker, The Beans, Out of The West, Rosebud, Kristy and the Wild Blue Yonder Boys, Johnny and the Hawaiians, The Swing Crew and The Wisconsin Opry. No gifts please, let your presence be your gift. Hope to see you there.

?All Shook Up? The Elvis Presley Musical w/ Portage H.S. Band

Nov 18 2008

Well we put on ?All Shook Up? at the Portage High School last week, and it was a fabulous show. My old friend Mike Powers, who I played with in the Wisconsin Opry for 20 years or so, asked me to play guitar in the pit orchestra for the show. I?ve never done this in my life, and I figured, ?How hard could it be? I know Elvis songs, right? Famous last words! Mike had given me the music but I hadn?t had time to open it until two weeks before the show, and then I realized I had 30 songs and twenty seques of music to learn, broadway style! I know my Scotty Moore and James Burton licks, but this was reading a book of big band, broadway musical arrangements, and for 9/10s of all the playing I do, no reading is required. So it was two weeks of catching up, three rehearsals with Mike, three with the band, and 4 shows. But it was a great experience. The band was 22 strong, with a 16 piece horn section, and the level of musicianship, acting, production, costuming, and all around professionalism was second to none. My thanks to Mike for asking me to do it, Mr. Shaver, the band director, for his skill and direction, and to the whole band, the actors, cast and crew for giving me one of the highlights of my musical life. It?s too bad it only lasts one week. Richard ps go to or click on photos, and go to the bottom of the page to see photos from the band.

Musicians For Obama 9/28/08

Oct 13 2008

Hi folks,
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Musicians For Obama fundraiser. It was a lovely day of community and music, and we raised $3300 for our candidate. Thanks to Bill Malone and John Fabke, my main conspiritors, Kristy Larson and Mark Roeder for their generous contribution for and ad, and to all the musicians who donated their time and resources. Bill and Bobbie Malone, Peter and Lou Berryman, Cris and Ann Plata, Kristy Larson and Mark Roeder, John Fabke, Jeff Burkhart, Chris Powers, Jeff Hickey, Radio Sweetheart, The Redbirds, Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines, Dan O'Brien, Sara Pace, Dave Fallow and Annie Chiles, and Jim Schwall. (Not to mention the Obama volunteers.) Thanks to all. Stay active. Take care,
For all voters regardless of party, here is a good place to verify registration, see about absentee voting, etc.:

Happenings and News July 2008

Jul 30 2008

Hi Folks,
Been a busy summer season for me and the band here in Wisconsin. All told I did 28 shows in June.
July is a bit slower thankfully, but still hoppin'. I played solo for the opening night of music for the new Talula Restaurant in Madison, (the old Mexicali Rose) and it went great. In fact, the reviewer for the local rag The Isthmus was there and here's what he wrote:

"On a recent Friday night, four of us were lucky enough to secure a table on the large outdoor patio (we had made reservations), where you can really appreciate the fact that the pink stucco walls are thankfully weathering to a dusty rose.

The place was packed, but we were seated right on time, and the service was as good and pleasant as it could be, considering the apparent staff shortage that night.

Fortunately, we weren?t in a hurry, especially after we had drinks in hand, along with a basket of chips. We had chosen the first night of live music on the patio. Richard Wiegel, a great guitarist with the Midwesterners, entertained through dinner. Lots of Johnny Cash, traditional American folk music, even a few songs for a pair of toddlers dancing to the music. (Little kids are given chalk to draw on the patio tiles. A nice touch.)" Jerry Minnich

Last weekend The Midwesterners played 3 outdoor shows to absolutely perfect weather. It was the highlight of the summer season so far for us. We did the Atwood Summerfest, Darlington Tunes at Twilight (my hometown), and Warner Park Concerts in the Park in Madison. The folks in Darlington and Warner Park said both concerts were the best of the season.

And last weekend we got another play on Car Talk, the radio show on NPR. "Unsafe At Any Speed". One of our future projects in mind is a CD of all of our car songs. Should be fun.

So that's news for now, hope you all are enjoying the summer. take care,

Madison Band Gets Unlikely Radio Lift

Mar 29 2008

Press Release March 26, 2008?Madison, Wisconsin
Madison band The Midwesterners recently got national airplay on Car Talk, National Public Radio?s most popular program. The program is hosted by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, also known as Click and Clack (the Tappit Brothers), and mixes automotive advice for callers with humor and the occasional car song. The most recent broadcast featured ?Can?t Slow Down,? a song from the Midwesterners? eponymous first album, released in 1991.

?Can?t Slow Down? is the second Midwesterners song to air on Car Talk in as many months. The first, ?Studebaker,? from the band?s 2007 album ?Ridin? With Chuck?, played on the program in February. Bandleader Richard Wiegel wouldn?t have know about it if a fan had not brought it to his attention, but after he heard the news Wiegel culled half a dozen Midwesterners songs with car themes from the band?s three albums and sent them off to the show?s producers. Soon after, ?Can?t Slow Down? hit the national airwaves.

Naturally, The Midwesterners hold out hope that this brush with national exposure will lead to bigger and better things. In the meantime they continue to appear in and around Madison, including playing the opening slot for Marcia Ball?s upcoming concert at The Majestic Theatre on May 30.

The Midwesterners on Car Talk

Feb 26 2008

We just found out that one of our songs from our last album was on Car Talk recently. 'Studebaker' from Ridin' With Chuck somehow found it's way onto the show. We didn't submit it but now I've sent 6 other car songs from our CDs to them! I didn't realize we had so many car songs. I smell compilation!!!
On another note we just played Tricia's Country Corners and had a great time. Nice people, great venue, hope you all come and check it out when we're there in June.
Keep Your Motor Oiled.

The Midwesterners open for Marcia Ball at the Majestic

Feb 14 2008

Hi Everyone,
We just booked friday May 30th at the Majestic Theatre in Madison opening for Marcia Ball! If you haven't seen her, she's a New Orleans style stride piano player and singer, and she and her band are capable of rockin' the house! We opened for her last summer at the Barrymore in Madison. (This show and opening for Cowboy Mouth at Summerfest were our favorite shows of last year.) We go on at 8:30 and do a 55 minute set and we'll be pulling out all stops. We can't wait. Cheers.


Jan 29 2008

Welcome to our new site.
Here we will be able to play more songs, show more photos and even our music video of 'Carolina' from 1991. This is the time of year we usually are booking for the summer, writing some new songs, or maybe actually getting a project to completion. (A live album is a possibility yet before summer.)

Some points of interest:

There is a very nice article on me and the band (in pdf file) at: 2007 Vol. 12

And for podcast lovers:

So hope you participate with us, keep your email updated, post a comment in the guestbook, or send and email to me.