The Hussy began in Madison as a two-person garage-rock party drunk on fast tempos, noisy chaos and punk-rock attitude. These days, the band is straddling the country, with drummer Heather Sawyer holding down the fort locally and guitarist Bobby Wegner -- a.k.a. Bobby Hussy -- shaking things up in the San Francisco Bay area. But Wegner's not cutting his ties with Madison; if anything, he's making them stronger through Kind Turkey, a record label and blog he runs with a bit of help from his lady, Britta, and his buddy Robert, a friend from a UW-Madison creative writing class.
The label shines the spotlight on musical acts from Madison, Milwaukee and other Midwestern enclaves and organizes local shows at opportune moments. This Thursday at 10 p.m., Kind Turkey will transform Mickey's Tavern into a garage rocker's paradise with a stacked bill featuring Milwaukee's Trent Fox & the Tenants, Appleton upstarts Orange Iguanas, catchy and jangly local project the Honey Slides and, of course, the Hussy. In particular, this show is a celebration of Mess Around, a new LP by Trent and the gang, and an effort to blur the lines between Madison's garage-rock scene and Milwaukee's.
The title track from this album seems to bring these two cities together via Detroit, with nods to the scuzz and fuzz of Iggy Pop and MC5. Listen even more closely and you'll hear traces of Van Morrison's version of the Big Joe Williams' blues-rock classic "Baby, Please Don't Go." Handclaps and "yeah yeah yeahs" crackle and pop alongside sharp drumming, snazzy hooks and some very sinister laughs. A juicy dose of spring reverb -- or something like it -- gives the tune an extra touch of trash.
Like many garage-rock outfits, Trent Fox & the Tenants' sound is tailor-made for party crashing, bar hopping and other scenarios that call for live music. In other words, the live version of this song is worth seeking out.
"How often do you get to see four bands, support a local label releasing two new 7-inches and drink the winter blues away with lots of fun people all on a Thursday night at a free show? Not often," Wegner says, from California.
Wegner adds that Mickey's is his favorite place in town to see bands play. In fact, most Bay Area shows don't hold a candle to theirs, he says.
"There are a lot of good bands from Madison and Milwaukee that get completely overlooked by the national scene. That's a shame. I mean, I've seen a lot of shows out here in California, and I wish I could honestly tell you it's the promised land. But to be honest, it ain't," he admits. "[Wisconsin] bands are just as good, if not better, than nine out of the 10 bands I see out here. But the bands that slay out here are on a completely different level than most bands I've seen in Milwaukee or Madison, bar a few. The bands out here that are really onto something are Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, the Royal Baths and Bare Wires. All [are] excellent bands who make good records and pull out all the stops live."
But fear not, Madison: Thursday night's bill is going to tear it up, Wegner says.
"Trent Fox are excellent showmen who write amazing songs, the Honey Slides are one of my favorite bands going in Madison, Orange Iguanas are a totally rippin' young band and, well, the Hussy -- can't really say too much for them 'cause they typically don't practice often with this whole 2,000-mile separation, and are usually too turked to care, although they are a nice group of kids."
"Too turked to care" could mean a variety of things, given Wegner's affinity for the word "turkey." After all, it's this obsession that led him to put the bird-word in the label's name.
"I say 'turkey' pretty much as an all-encompassing noun to describe anything," he explains. "So, for example, I might call you a turkey, or I might call that fancy guitar you just bought a nice turkey. It's just a tic of mine. I mean there's a Hussy song on our second 7-inch I named 'Turkey,' too, so that's kinda goofy. And apparently it's infectious, 'cause now I've got people all over saying 'turkey' to me all the time."
If you're looking to talk turkey with Wegner and company, this show's the place to do it, whether this means pitching your home recordings to the label, shooting the breeze about Trent's performance or discussing the finer points of being drunk on a Thursday night.
Or get turked bright and early by downloading a free copy of Trent Fox & the Tenants' "Mess Around" from the Related Files section at right. Additional tunes and news from Trent Fox & the Tenants are available on the band's MySpace page and Facebook page, and more music and commentary from Kind Turkey may be found on the label's blog.
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