Rock of the Arts

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Nate Karls of Dharma Dogs channels his inner Justin Vernon

I've always had a weakness for drummers. It might be from my days hitting the skins in basement bands long forgotten or the slow takeover at gigs by soulless recorded backing drum tracks. Drummers can have a hard time getting respect. 

Nate Karls is the drummer of Madison, WI grunge punk (grunk?) outfit Dharma Dogs. His solo project is an acoustic outlet for material he's written that either doesn't make sense in a band context or hasn't yet been fleshed out for a band arrangement.  So for a change of scenery, Nate journeys into the realm of singer-songwriter. Besides, every Wisconsin independent musician has a yearning to bring out their inner Justin Vernon psyche. Nate was kind enough to enlighten us on his debut solo release.


Rock of the Arts - top ten songs of 2013

top ten

We make fun of top ten lists, but had to throw our two-cents worth into the pot. Our top ten songs of 2013 based on Rock of the Arts' count of Sound Board plays on the site during the year. We crunched the numbers and out popped this list. Our audience wasn't quite as enamored with Haim, Lorde and Chvrches as some of the more mainstream online music outlets. Rock of the Arts' readers tend to lean more eclectic and adventurous. 


Robby Schiller throws the final Blueheels Christmas party

Blueheels Final Christmas Party

Tis the season to be jolly and run up large credit card bills. For Robby Schiller of the Blueheels and more recently Little Legend, the annual tradition is to put out a holiday recording. The third installment named The Final Blueheels Christmas Party runs the gamut from traditional to off-the-wall songs. Robby has that distinctive vocal style, a cross between Dylan, Tom Waits and Sammy Llanas of the Bodeans. With the onslaught of winter weather upon us, we checked in with Robby to see what this party is all about.


Dave Benton on Spooner and the Garbage-Smart Studios mystique


Dave Benton may just be one of the most knowledgeable local music archivists.
If you’ve just arrived in Madison, maybe as a student or new Epic Systems employee, you’ve probably heard stories about the city’s grunge music past. Local residents are familiar with the Smart Studios saga. Producer Butch Vig starts a small recording studio with Steve Marker at the corner of East Washington and Baldwin Streets (The building is still there). He records demo tapes for an unknown band named Nirvana that eventually become part of the iconic album Nevermind.

Smart Studios becomes the epicenter for 90's alternative bands to record albums. Butch eventually starts Garbage with siren vocalist Shirley Manson, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker and the rest is history. Well not so fast. One of the first links in this story is a band called Spooner and guitarist Dave Benton who helps keep their record release output active.


A.V. Club Milwaukee editor experiences the ultimate Onion moment

The Onion

It pains Madisonians to hear about the demise of The Onion. The news broke last week that The Onion would cease print publication in the only three cities left that were still doing it; Milwaukee, Chicago and Providence, RI. The final paper editions would come out on December 12.

While the national version of The Onion website will live on in digital infamy, the sad state of the print media in general led to Onion-less newsstands across the country. Matt Wild, editor at the Milwaukee A.V. Club, sits down with Evan Rytlewski of the Sheppard Express and Ryan Schleicher of WMSE on their weekly radio talk show to discuss how it all went down.

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Rock of the Arts

Club Crawl

Boy & Bear
w/ Max Jury
High Noon Saloon
Wed, July 16

Peter Matthew Bear
(of the Walkmen)
The Frequency
Wed, July 16
w/ The Traveling Suitcase
Majestic Theatre
Wed, July 16
Sharon Van Etten
w/ Jana Hunter
Memorial Union Terrace
Thur, July 17 (Free!)

Live on King Street
w/ Tune-Yards,
Speedy Ortiz.
Majestic Theatre (outside)
Fri, July 18 (Free!)

Foreign Fields 
w/ Boom Forest,
Dietrich Gosser
East Side Club
Thur, July 24 

Live on King Street
w/ Cracker,
Hugh Bob & the Hustle,
The Family Business
Majestic Theatre (outside)
Fri, July 25 (Free!)

w/ J.E. Sunde
We Are the Willows
High Noon Saloon
Thu, Aug 7 (sold-out)
w/ J.E. Sunde
We Are the Willows
High Noon Saloon
Fri, Aug 8 (sold-out)

Live on King Street
w/ Ziggy Marley
Majestic Theatre (outside)
Fri, Aug 8 (Free!)

Adeylyn Rose
w/ Softly Dear
and Jake Armerding
Memorial Union Terrace
Fri, Aug 8 (Free!)

Caroline Smith
Memorial Union Terrace
Sat, Aug 9 (Free!)

Screeching Weasel
w/ Flatfoot 56,
The Hypnic Jerks
High Noon Saloon
Fri, August 22

Live on King Street
w/ Deer Tick,
The Weeks,
Jessica Hernandez
& the Deltas
Majestc Theatre (outside)
Fri, Aug 22 (Free!)

Bob Log III
w/ Roboman
The Frequency
Tues, Aug 26

Sylvan Esso
w/ TBA
Majestic Theatre
Thu, Sept 4

Black Lips
w/ The King Khan & BBQ Show,
The Hussy
High Noon Saloon
Thu, Sept 18
w/ EMA
Orpheum Theater
Thu, Sept 18

Live on King Street
w/ The Head and the Heart,
Bare Mutants & Count This Penny
Majestic Theatre (outside)
Fri, Sept 19


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