We’ve written about Milwaukee musician and performance artist Kellen “Klassik” Abston innumerable times in the digital pages of Milwaukee Record. Whether it’s best-of-the-year album lists or our own video series and podcasts, Klassik has been there. But now, writer Joey Grihalva (Milwaukee Jazz, occasional Milwaukee Record contributor) is bringing Klassik to the printed page with his forthcoming book, The Milwaukeean.
“It is more than the story of one musician, it is the song of an American city struggling to save its soul,” reads the book’s website. “It is a close up encounter with gun violence, trauma, loss, addiction, anxiety, racism, duality, creativity, therapy, and possibility. In this moment of national healing, The Milwaukeean is a call to confront our history, face our demons, and find our peace.”
As for Klassik’s background, Grihalva explains…
At age 10, Kellen began studying saxophone with local jazz legend Berkeley Fudge. The next year, on the eve of Thanksgiving, tragedy struck. Kellen’s father, Robin Lewis Abston, was murdered.
Soon after, Kellen started making music on his computer, setting him on the path to becoming a celebrated composer, producer, and performer known as Klassik.
Twenty years after his father’s death, during a global pandemic, Kellen and writer/former cross-country teammate Joey Grihalva explored his journey-in-progress.
The Milwaukeean is the result of those conversations, plus many more with Kellen’s family, friends, and other prominent Milwaukeeans.