Event Title

“The Role of the Blue River Cafe in the Development of Fingerstyle Guitar in Southeast Wisconsin”

Mentor 1

John Stropes

Start Date

1-5-2020 12:00 AM

Description

From 1974-82, the Blue River Cafe, an acoustic music club in downtown Milwaukee, presented national touring acts and provided a stage for regional musicians to develop their craft. It provided centrality for the acoustic music scene in Milwaukee. This research project explores the history and musical landscape of this venue and documents the performers and their music. Fingerstyle guitar is a type of playing which focuses on performing guitar pieces by plucking strings directly with the fingertips rather than with a pick. In the 1960s, a revitalization of the folk music genre infiltrated coffeehouses in North America and provided emerging figures such as Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk with a platform for career development. In the 1970s, in clubs like the Blue River Cafe, performers such as Dave Van Ronk John Fahey, Peter Lang, Doc Watson, Elizabeth Cotten and many others continued to find currency. With contrasting styles, these individuals popularized fingerstyle guitar in the Midwest. This project utilizes a documentary-style video featuring interviews from former club owner Gary Lukitsch and frequent performer Peter Lang. Incorporation of materials from the cafe such as menus, calendars, press, contracts, and performance photos convey the nuances that allowed this destination to thrive. This research examines the role of the Blue River Cafe in the development of musical culture in southeast Wisconsin, and places this research in the context of earlier research on William C. Stahl (1869-1940), the Avant Garde Coffeehouse (1962-1968), and the 1969 and 1970 Ann Arbor Blues Festivals. The presentation will conclude with a performance and analysis of Van Ronk’s fingerstyle arrangement of “Green, Green Rocky Road.”

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
May 1st, 12:00 AM

“The Role of the Blue River Cafe in the Development of Fingerstyle Guitar in Southeast Wisconsin”

From 1974-82, the Blue River Cafe, an acoustic music club in downtown Milwaukee, presented national touring acts and provided a stage for regional musicians to develop their craft. It provided centrality for the acoustic music scene in Milwaukee. This research project explores the history and musical landscape of this venue and documents the performers and their music. Fingerstyle guitar is a type of playing which focuses on performing guitar pieces by plucking strings directly with the fingertips rather than with a pick. In the 1960s, a revitalization of the folk music genre infiltrated coffeehouses in North America and provided emerging figures such as Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk with a platform for career development. In the 1970s, in clubs like the Blue River Cafe, performers such as Dave Van Ronk John Fahey, Peter Lang, Doc Watson, Elizabeth Cotten and many others continued to find currency. With contrasting styles, these individuals popularized fingerstyle guitar in the Midwest. This project utilizes a documentary-style video featuring interviews from former club owner Gary Lukitsch and frequent performer Peter Lang. Incorporation of materials from the cafe such as menus, calendars, press, contracts, and performance photos convey the nuances that allowed this destination to thrive. This research examines the role of the Blue River Cafe in the development of musical culture in southeast Wisconsin, and places this research in the context of earlier research on William C. Stahl (1869-1940), the Avant Garde Coffeehouse (1962-1968), and the 1969 and 1970 Ann Arbor Blues Festivals. The presentation will conclude with a performance and analysis of Van Ronk’s fingerstyle arrangement of “Green, Green Rocky Road.”