Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Milwaukee Road - Way Outta Line

Not every band is a blockbuster or available at Amazon. Some of the best music is made by indie bands tucked away and popular perhaps only in the local bar crowd. This might sound a trite statement, but in the era of music hits, multi-million dollar bands, the RIAA et al, it is all the more important to remind ourselves that there are more than canned tracks and three chord harmonies.

Two bands that I have found interesting are "Milwaukee Road" and "Tall". Tall is a Dallas-based band that has had one album released - catchy music that is something like a cross between Radiohead and Nirvana. The lead singer is able to convey a certain pathos without sounding maudlin. My favorite song of theirs is "You're My Machine" I will post their lyrics and a detailed review soon. They play in the Greenville Ave bar scene of Dallas - or at least they did so when I was last there.

Milwaukee Road is a trio of accomplished blues-rock musicians who have one album out called "Way Outta Line" and will be releasing a second in Spring 2005. Their music is redolent of Mike Bloomfield, John Lee Hooker and other great blues-rock musicians.

The first song on the album is titled "Dimples" and Jim Harsh, part of the band, whom I interviewed for this review, tells me that it is a cover of the old John Lee Hooker song of the same name. It is ramped up and modernized quite a bit, and has powerful riffs.

The title song, "Way Outta Line" is one of the best. Jim shared with me that it was inspired by an ex-girlfriend of his who cheated on him while he worked third-shift. When he asked her why she did so, she told him it was because she could not carry her own canoe. One night, Jim took out his saw, and hacked the canoe in half, giving her one half. This is captured in the last line of the song - "Who's canoe with you?".

Another of my favorite songs on the album is "Tequila Blues", a blues/rock piece which creates images of bars in the southwest, bikers and shots of tequila, and times gone by - creative jamming is evidently at work here. "Hundred Miles" is a bluesy love song, with music inspired by Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Lovin' You".

The band unaccountably is passed over every year for Milwaukee's premier music festival, Summerfest, much to the chagrin of fans and the band. They take their name from the erstwhile railroad that ran through Milwaukee. Their website - http://www.wayouttaline.com - is currently out of commission.The album is available through mail order (Money orders only) for $15 s&h incl. from the band at

5513, North 31st, Milwaukee, WI 53209


Jim's contact info is at Milwaukee Rocks. The band plays in the warmer months around Milwaukee, including at a bar in Richfield, WI called "Images". As Jim said, too many flat tires on frozen winter roads have taught them to take a break for the winter.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Milwaukee Road is a great live band. Can you update the contact information for Jim Harsh? Would love to hire his band for an upcoming gig. This band definitely deserves a gig at the Big Gig, Summerfest, the World's Largest (and Greatest) Music Festival. www.summerfest.com

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