The countdown is on.
Mile of Music is just a week and a day away. The schedule is out and fans are faced with some big decisions as the festival will very literally stage more music than any one person could take in.
Scott Peeples is a music lover and brings an iron-man attitude to Appleton’s premiere music event.
Mile of Music will feature 221 acts at 60 venues.
Peeples, of Appleton, did his homework like always and was gracious enough to share his recommendations with Valley Review readers over the last two weeks. Today is his final chapter, bringing his tally to 45 mini reviews.
If you don’t know where to start, Scott is probably the best place to start. He took in 40 full shows and 17 partial shows at last year’s event alone. To look at previous editions of Scott’s “Making the Most of Your Mile,” click the music tab above you.
And with a few more recommendations for the road, here’s Scott …
Megan Slankard; Genre: Demure Alternative
Megan’s fetching stage presence, gutsy voice and deft song writing make her another veteran Mile of Music favorite. She’s a smooth guitarist but as self-effacing as she is self-assured. The song “It’s All My Fault (But I’m Not Sorry.)” sums up the paradox. Slankard is light punk pop with a folk sensibility, easy on the ears with enough raucous to nudge you off your seat. Fail to check out this San Francisco super slank at your own peril.
Jubal; Genre: Country Rock
You may be drawn to Taylor Kress’ Bob Dylan reiteration but the Jubal band groove is weepy guitars, pretty drum beats and words that send your thoughts sailing on a sea of melody. With traces of Ryan Adams at the reins, Jubal’s tender song arrangements are sublime.
Joshua Powell and the Great Train Robbery; Genre: Psychedelic Troubadour Rock
Joshua Powell, and his band, the Great Train Robbery, is dreamy hard rock with the conscience of Bono and the unbridled enthusiasm of Angus Young. With his folk roots in his back pocket, Powell is a rock and roll philosopher more informed by Tolstoy than Friday night at the pub. Case in point: The Great Train Robbery’s 2016 release, “Alyousha,” pulls its titled for the kind, sensitive character in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “the Brothers Karamazov.” On his current album, he has a couple takes on the afterlife (“Bright Deceiver,” “Ascension”). Powell abandoned mellow a long time ago – his shows are full throttle loud – but beneath the rattle and hum are literary and current events-themed opuses that’ll send you reeling in the metaphors.
Seth Glier; Genre: Pop Provocateur
The Seth Glier sound is inspired by birds—literally. Birds peered down through the ceiling window of his loft recording studio as he recorded his 5th album, “Birds.” In a slight voice, so as not to scare off the birds, Glier ponders and laments questions of politics, justice, self-doubt and the imperfection of a perfect day. Accompanied by guitar, piano and (on record) some Beatles-like orchestrations, Glier’s tenor calls us back to Harry Nilsson or Tears for Fears at their mellow best. Then on “Water On Fire,” the Massachusetts native takes on Annie Lennox angst, ominous and animated in a fight to save the planet from humanity. Glier sings softly but is determined not to short shrift his priorities, the world and the birds that surround him.
Freddy and Francine; Genre: Americana 2019
Freddy and Francine (real life couple Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso) mingle their rough and honey voices on a pleasing genre-jumping ride through freshly plowed but familiar musical territory. Growing up, their musical heroes included Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Carl Perkins, whom Ferris portrayed in the touring rock musical “the Million Dollar Quartet.” But Ferris and Caruso are hell-bent on crafting their own soundscapes. The easy description is “soulful folk” but songs like “Moonless Night” and the ridiculously catchy “Brownstone Alley” spotlight their pop sensibilities as much as their vocal chemistry. While “Sweet On You” could be straight out of 1957 and “Simple Thing” has a timeless Carter Family innocence, the Freddy and Francine experience is quintessential 2019 Americana.
Heather Styka; Genre: Demure Alternative Folk
Heather Styka has cascaded through Chicago, toured coast-to-coast and released five albums of original music but her on- stage talent shines as brightly as her warm-hearted relatability. In her Tammy Wynette-style voice, she suggests, “please be kind because, you’re the kind that, I fall for.” It’s a dad at home/daughter on a first date sort of moment. “Cities of the North” — “I miss someone but it’s unclear which particular someone is worth my tears — is a love song for Chicago but also speaks to the intimate human connection we all deserve. Finally, as a national call to action, “Love Harder Than Hate” remains as relevant as ever. We can only hope Styka’s flower blooms somewhere in the White House rose garden. Wistful words of wisdom, that we need.