A look back at what Tone Madison’s songwriters have accomplished and what’s in store for 2022.
Photo: A keyboard is perched atop two white cabinets. The left cabinet has two open compartments filled with vinyl, the right cabinet compartments house two crates. Each crate is full of tapes. To the left is an all-in-one turntable that rests on a stand. Above the turntable are two small stacks of CDs. In the stand, stacks of 7-inch records are visible upwards. More vinyl fills the bottom. A Martin acoustic guitar rests in front of the cabinet containing tapes. A white chair is displayed in front of the keyboard. Soft light emanates from behind the chair, providing soft illumination. On the far right, there is a closed white door. Above the keyboard is a large pastel tapestry depicting a mountain landscape and a sunset. Photo by Steven Spoerl.
Musicians have been scrambling in 2021 as much as ever, navigating uncertain ground and facing the lingering threat of the massive collapse of independent venues and corporate consolidation. As scattered as it was, with all the exhilarating highs and horrible lows, Your Madison remained committed to providing context on every advancement and setback. While Madison lost a number of hallmarks, there were still bursts of optimism that crept in, whether through The Spaceship’s adaptability, the return of sound engineer Justin Perkins to the fold, the new releases that kept the scenery exciting, or the rise of fundraising compilations.
On this last point, Your Madison even threw our own hat in this particular ring, tapping internally for music from people who contributed to Your Madison as authors, illustrators or offered support with back-end help. Really, this compilation, Contributors, is emblematic of what makes Your MadisonThe musical writing of stands out: we are not only observers, we are also often active participants. Although we do not subscribe to the idea that you have making the music responsible for great songwriting, the crossover that exists on these fronts is not surprising. People who eat, drink and breathe music tend to be enthusiastic about passing on their passion, musician or not. And that’s who we publish.
True love for music and a spirit of fearless curiosity about the nuances of its creation were definitely present in Scott Gordon’s deep dive into Joan Wildman’s elusive discography, which blossomed into a few supporting tracks that helped to capture Wildman’s significance to Madison. music and, more intimately, his contemporaries and collaborators. It’s also what prompted my own piece on the legacy and impact of drummer Travis Nelsen, whose life was celebrated with an emotionally charged tribute show at the East Side Club last September. Emili Earhart’s journey through Xerobot history after a re-release also worked with that indefinable but instantly recognizable spark.
Likewise, reverence for the music and musicians we admire was fully implemented in our profiles this year, which consistently offered the most comprehensive looks available at the acts keeping Madison’s music diverse, vibrant and vital. Proud Parents, Louka, Graham Hunt, Godly The Ruler, Hardface The Pilot, Pelt’s Patrick Best, Penelope’s Thrill, B-Luv, Ryley Crowe, Kat And The Hurricane, Aaron Scholz, Chris Joutras, Kyle Merckx and Fred Stonehouse were all artists . who received a thorough treatment. Kiki Schueler, owner of Kiki’s House Of Righteous Music, Mickey booker Liz Granby, and Secret Records have all received profiles as stalwarts of Madison’s organizational music end. We also took the time to chat with punk icon Bob Mould.
For the first time in a long time, Your Madison also began publishing a series of reviews on different writing styles. Some incorporated interviews with the artists, others simply shared the writers’ thoughts on a new release. All of this was done with the intention of showcasing art that we believe deserves our audience’s time. Air Cabin, KASE, Able Baker, Soot, Andrew Fitzpatrick, LINE, Johannes Wallman, Dear Mr. Watterson, Luminous Veil, Cicada The Burrower, Louise Bock, Arthur Caplan, WitchUrn and Moth_OS all earned long stares and longer listens which they accomplished with their respective releases in 2021.
Condensing reviews even further for an occasional roundup or two was a practice we began in 2020 and have continued throughout the past year to punctuate some packed release windows and Bandcamp Fridays by highlighting highlights the versions that had managed to catch our attention. Another practice that, for obvious reasons, has seen its run dwindle Your Madison is written previews of live events. Still, a number of interesting events were catered for throughout 2021 and we even felt quite comfortable hosting one of our own.
Hosting a live event was not a decision we made lightly. Throughout this year, Your Madison gave a serious account of Madison’s handling of COVID precautions when it comes to live music. We also kept a close eye on how the city’s structural management of arts funding was progressing and were appalled by the predictably disappointing results of a commission into racial disparity and income gaps in Madison’s music community. (although we admit to being delighted to see Your Madisonmusic coverage favorably mentioned in the report).
It wasn’t all overtly serious, however, as our writers found room for levity to provide welcome balance to a year that has been daunting for many. Whether it’s airing appreciation for Madison’s bookings for Pitchfork Festival spin-off shows, examining the nonchalance of ever-earlier posting times for year-end listings, rightly poking fun at NIMBYism Hubrist, bravely continuing our annual celebration of Cool Building Day, or taking our readers through the discovery and mystery of a particularly heinous amp, we’ve made sure to keep things interesting and unpredictable. One of our main strengths in writing music is the variety of perspectives we bring to the table, which continually go deeper and deeper.
End December, Your Madison will have released somewhere between 250 and 300 plays in that calendar year. About a third of these pieces were directly related to the music. Our music writing team handled them all with tact, sensitivity, honesty, grace and determination. In 2022, we will seek to expand the output, reach and impact of our work on this front. There are already plans to introduce a new series or two throughout 2022, but we’re aiming higher than simple introductions. We want to be here for the long haul and continue to build a supportive and equitable community. We will need your help to make it happen. Thanks to two matching fund partners, if readers help us reach a goal of $20,000 in donations, it will have effectively raised $53,000 for Your Madison. Donate here to help us keep moving forward.
If you have something musical to share in 2022, we’ll be all ears.
Steven Spoerl, music editor.