With the city currently in the throes of local awards fever, Milwaukee Record presents The Randoms, a series of highly specific and delightfully arbitrary “best of” awards that do away with pesky voting and feigned attempts at impartiality. Throughout the week, we’ll be recognizing the people, organizations, and places that help elevate life in Milwaukee. This week is sponsored by Boone & Crockett, 2016’s Best Bar With A Taco Truck Out Back (Bay View).
Milwaukee music is experiencing a full-on renaissance right now. Local music’s rampant growth, along with increases in cross-genre collaboration, philanthropy, and all-around quality are truly results of a concerted group effort. Thus, no single musician can be thanked for leading Milwaukee to its most fruitful period we can recall. Among the many musicians going above and beyond these days are transcendent jazz wunderkind Jay Anderson (Foreign Goods, Stomata), Cactus Club manager and LGBTQ+ advocate Kelsey Kaufmann (Gallery Night, Rio Turbo, Youth Crush), and FemFest co-organizer and Ladies Rock Milwaukee co-founder Mary Joy (Fox Face). Still, no Milwaukee musician has kept busier in 2016 than Johanna Rose.
Rose fronts New Boyz Club—which released its first EP in a trilogy in September—and plays with Airo Kwil, Thistledown Thunders, and Ruth B8r Ginsburg. She spent much of the year backing D’Amato, and she recently added Nickel & Rose to her repertoire, too. As impressive as her on-stage acumen is, Rose does her best work behind the scenes. On top of booking shows for her various projects, she co-organized Arte Para Todos and Riverwest FemFest, which combined to raise more than $28,000 for local schools and area organizations. Oh yeah, and she booked shows at Riverwest Public House for much of 2016.
Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Rose’s productive year will end overseas. She’s currently in Germany, but promises to return early next year. Hopefully she’ll come back refreshed and inspired following her well deserved break.