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The Daily
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Mad Toast Live podcast takes a vacation

Mad Toast Live, a Madison-made podcast hosted by husband-and-wife string players Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines, is going on holiday. Wagoner says producer Andrew LaValley, who records the show at the Brink Lounge on selected Tuesdays, will piece together previously unreleased performances and interviews with the show's musical guests. Episodes from the past five years will air on WORT 89.9 FM, on Saturdays from midnight to 2 a.m., but you won’t find the live show at the Brink for now.

Wagoner says he and Gaines need to spend more time on their other projects -- jazz quartet the Stellanovas, "class-grass" band Graminy and acoustic act Big Bang String Thing, for starters -- for a little while.

"Creativity takes time, and I kind of hit the wall," he says. "Mary and I haven't put out a new album of our own in a while. That's something we really want to do."

Wagoner is proud that the show has featured such a diverse set of artists. In the last two years, the Mad Toast crew has captured performances by the UW Russian Folk Orchestra, electronic klezmer act the Shtetlblasters, Chicago's Candid Concert Opera, Twin Cities jazz composer Laura Caviani, and nationally renowned folk and blues artist Claudia Schmidt.

Hosting the show before a live audience has also yielded pleasant side effects.

"It's been interesting to see an older crowd react to hip-hop and other types of music they might not go out and see otherwise," Wagoner notes. "I think some of them will seek it out now."

In addition to teaching and recording, Wagoner and Gaines will keep organizing the Jazz on a Sunday series at the Brink. This fall features performances by vocalist Jackie Allen and bassist Hans Sturm (Sept. 22), and Hammond B-3 organist Tony Monaco (Oct. 27).

Wagoner does plan to bring back Mad Toast Live. It just might look a little different or include a fundraising element.

"We want to do it in a way that makes sense for all of us, and that keeps highlighting local music and building bridges to places like Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee," he says.

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