Riverwest Fest

Championing Milwaukee Music

By - Aug 11th, 2010 04:00 am
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee


All photos by Ivy Baucom


Anyone who’s been to Riverwest in the past five years has undoubtedly seen Jackpot.

Formerly a vintage store located in the heart of the neighborhood, its prime location on Center Street’s main drag across from Fuel Café has left many wondering why it seems to have been such a black hole for business. For many years, the store kept the strangest of hours, being open only one or two days a week, only to be taken over by new set of questionable owners who decided to get rid of all the beautiful vintage clothing and fill the store with cheap 90s rags.

About a year ago, the aforementioned questionable owners left under even more questionable circumstances  (leaving the space filled with a bunch of garbage to boot). That’s when Sean Heiser and Kelsey Kaufman — both of whom were living upstairs from the beleaguered retail space — decided to take matters into their own hands and do something positive.

Jackpot Gallery is a self proclaimed “multimedia arts space,” which includes a show venue in the basement called the Eagle’s Nest. Like many neighborhoods with a burgeoning art and music scene, Riverwest has always been spotted with various DIY venues and art spaces,  most of which are now gone due to issues of legality, noise violations, or eviction.

What sets the Eagle’s Nest apart from the others is that, upon being confronted with the law, rather than back down, they looked into getting a permit and making it a legit venue. It turns out that in order to make that happen, the Eagle’s Nest needs to undergo some reconstruction, which is neither cheap nor easy.

In order to fund these infrastructure changes, Sean and Kelsey decided to put on a festival in order to raise some money, and bands and local business alike have all rallied together to support the thriving show space. Local businesses Beans and Barley, Truly Spoken Cycles, Rethreads, Centro, Café Corazon, Sky High, Bliffert Hardware, 91.7 WMSE, the Uptowner, and Volatile Recordings are on board as sponsors of Riverwest Fest, a weekend packed with great Milwaukee music.

The festival begins Friday, August 13 and continues into Saturday. Passes for the show can be purchased at Beans and Barley, Sky High, Fuel, and, of course, Jackpot. The passes are $15 for both days or $10 for one day. If you forget to purchase a pass ahead of time, you’ll still be able to pay at the door. However it is $5 a pop, so if you plan on checking out most of the festival, you’re better off getting a pass.

Though many of the shows are taking place at 21+ venues, under-age music lovers fret not! About half of Riverwest Fest will be all ages. The all ages shows will be held at the Eagle’s Nest, the Cream City Collectives, and Club Timbuktu, while the 21+ shows will be at the Uptowner, Bremen Café, Riverhorse, and Stonefly. Fortunately all of the venues are not more than several blocks away from one another, so you’ll be able to make it to the different shows with relative ease.

One thing that sets Riverwest Fest apart is the great cross section of the different music scenes in Milwaukee new and old — there’s something for everyone. The fest includes many Milwaukee favorites such as the Trusty Knife, John the Savage, Red Knife Lottery, Terrior Bute, Jonathon Burks, and Curb, as well as some newer ventures that are making the proverbial splash, including Enabler, Death Dream, and Centipedes (Kelsey’s latest music endeavor).

For a complete listing of all of the bands, as well as the lineup and venues, check out the Riverwest Fest Facebook event page here.

If you’re free this weekend, make sure to stop by the neighborhood to not only check out some really great music, but to support a worthwhile cause. Heck, even if you aren’t free make some time, because Jackpot and the Eagle’s Nest are vital to Milwaukee’s creative scene, and every little bit of support counts.

0 thoughts on “Riverwest Fest: Championing Milwaukee Music”

  1. Anonymous says:

    About time… location-excellent, need for such a place- desperate, So what you should do- help them out- cash or volunteer labor, and calls or letters to County Supervisor and Alderman supporting it- don’t let it be something you will later think- I should have helped

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us