My Year In Live Music Around Madison, WI

Hits, misses, and the rest in 2007

This appeared in Isthmus - The Daily Page - January 5, 2008

For someone utterly ignorant of the language of music, I hear an awful lot of music in the course of a year. More than 40 shows in 2007, an increase from 2006 when I first wrote a round-up of my favorite moments.

I am a fool for the experience of live music. Closer to home, here are ten moments I won't forget from 2007.

3. Best concert nobody saw: Marty Stuart, Nov. 29, Majestic Theater.

Okay, the Packers were playing the Cowboys, but, still, a turnout that barely topped 100 was pitiful. Even worse, about half of the audience seemed to be statuary trucked in from a Branson cemetery. But Stuart, a great southern roots musician, kicked it out as if he was playing before 3,000 at the Ryman: Country, gospel, bluegrass and rock all performed with a killer backbeat and even tighter backing harmonies.

Johnny Cash would have smiled; Pops Staples too. But the turnout was scandalously low. Some great country singers have died in this town in recent years (Rodney Crowell at St. Francis House, Shelby Lynne at Café Momartre, Jim Lauderdale at Momo). What’s the problem? These genre-defying artists don’t fit in the convenient Madison marketing niches of hipster-approved alt country or radio-friendly Nashville chart-toppers. It’s our town’s loss.

By Mark Eisen

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