(online roots music site) – Very positive four star album review.
The Semi-Twang – The Why and What For
by Alan Harrison
The spirit of Texicana Country music lives on
I was approached by Semi-Twang via these very pages to have a listen to their latest album and; by Jove, the internet can have some positive uses.
After responding out of courtesy; I downloaded THE WHY AND WHAT FOR and as I’d not heard of these small town youngsters before, left it in a folder for a few days. Then; on Monday my day job wasn’t going great and the weather was pants so I pressed ‘shuffle’ on the music player. The first song on the speakers was Handsome Man and Ye Gads I cheered up immediately.
The singer (John Sieger) has an interesting voice; not unlike Doug Sahm and the overall feel of the album isn’t too dissimilar to the Sir Douglas Quintet from way back when.
From the get go the band are firing on all cylinders with a delightful mix of Tex-Mex, Alt-Country and even a large dollop of classic R&B all mixed together to create a party sound that should be blasted out of the speakers of a red Corvette or some kind of battered truck.
52 Jokers is a belter of a Country tune and Au Contraire which follows is the finest Tex-Mex song I’ve heard since Doug Sahm was in his pomp; Sieger has a gorgeous warble to his voice and the accordion genuinely swings throughout making the song eminently danceable.
I absolutely love the slow burning; Stones influenced You Love Everybody which wouldn’t have been out of place on Exile on Main Street.
We even get some old school Rock & Roll with Miss Watson which features another couplet for my Top 10 Lyrics file – ‘Elementary Miss Watson/Let’s discuss this in my Datsun/You want love?/I believe I got some.’ How good is that?
The first song I heard and subsequently fell in love with, Handsome Man doesn’t actually appear until the second half of THE WHY AND WHAT FOR but; it’s well worth waiting for. This is my favourite type of Country song as Sieger’s tongue his so far into his cheek it’s nearly coming out of his ear.
Semi-Twang is the sound of guys without the hindrance of a record company breathing down their necks; having an absolute ball playing and making music that they obviously love. There wasn’t a press release with the album and I can’t really find anything about their history, apart from they first released an album in 1988 and then another in 2011; with this being the follow up!
(Chicago internet radio station)
4pm April 20th live in-studio performance.
EXCLUSIVE COMPANY RSD IN-STORE
(Greenfield, WI record store)
Noon Record Store Day in-store performance on April 20th.
BROKEN HEARTED TOY
(online music blog) – Brief positive IPO Chicago show preview
International Pop Overthrow – Sunday Evening Preview
Critically-acclaimed band Semi-Twang have been performing country/alternative music since 1985. They’re led by singer-songwriter John Sieger, whose compositions have been covered by a number of well-known artists.
OMROEP IJSSELMOND KAMPEN RADIO
(Netherlands radio & reporting station to Euro Americana chart)
“A Handsome Man” aired on Berrie Koetsier “Songriver” roots music show on April 19th.
HAVENSTAAD FM RADIO
(Netherlands radio & reporting station to Euro Americana chart)
“Miss Watson” aired on Jan Willem Bos’
“Delta Rhythm” roots music show the week of April 10th.
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
(Milwaukee, WI daily) – “3 Acts To See On Record Store Day” show preview as part of their RSD feature.
3 ACTS TO SEE ON RECORD STORE DAY
Semi-Twang: The local Americana group will play tunes from its new album “The Why and the What For” at noon at the Greenfield Exclusive Company, 5026 S. 74th St.
EXTRA MUSIC NEWS
(UK music site) – “Making Everybody Cry” #84 on their TOP 100 Promo Chart – April 2013
Some of the best tracks from albums,ep’s,compilations
COUNTRY BEAR RADIO
(Lake Placid, FL AMA chart reporting station) “Making Everybody Cry” aired the week of April 8th.
THE ALTERNATE ROOT
(National roots music bi-monthly magazine and website) – Positive album review with album art, related link and audio streams on The Wrong Side Of The Tracks & Au Contraire.
Semi-Twang released the album Salty Tears in 1988 and it became one of the monumental albums of the alt-country movement that took hold in the 1980’s. Some 20 years later they reformed for a benefit in hometown Milwaukee and the magic that surrounded the band in 1988 still flourished. The Why and the What For is Semi-Twang’s third and dare say it, best album to date. They drill deeper into the roots of Memphis soul, New Orleans Acadian rhythms, swampy Delta blues and rhythmic country rock. The players are the same, the signature sound in tact but this older, wiser version of Semi-Twang only leaves us wondering how much great music was missed during a 20 year break.
Listen and buy music from Semi-Twang at Amazon or CDBaby
(Los Angeles, CA college weekly) – Positive album review
Music: CD Reviews
Semi-Twang: The Why and the What For
By Doug Simpson
When alt-country group Semi-Twang issued its 1988 debut, it met with little interest. Things change: with bands like Wilco and Drive-By Truckers at the forefront, a Semi-Twang 2009 reunion made sense.
Following sophomore project Wages of Sin (2011), Semi-Twang comes on strong with its self-released third record, the roots-leaning The Why and the What For, a mix of new material and others penned decades ago.
The 12 songs weave from burly opener “The Wrong Side of the Tracks” (which channels the Black Crowes) to New Orleans soul/zydeco hybrid “Au Contraire.” Singer John Sieger melds Steve Earle’s folkish tone (on greed-suffused “The More She Gets the More She Wants”) with Van Morrison’s outsider-soul swagger (the brooding “A Handsome Man”). Elsewhere, Memphis-styled music (horns-laced “Dark Out”) sits easily next to Nashville-tinted tunes (“Love Interest,” the homage to a best friend with benefits), and each song has a story to tell: listeners who take time to dig deeper will find much to savor.
KRCB RADIO / FREIGHT TRAIN BOOGIE
(Santa Rosa, CA AMA reporting Public Radio station) “Love Interest” aired on Bill Frater’s Freight Train Boogie show on April 5th
(Williamsburg, VA AAA Radio) The Wrong Side of the Tracks AMA charting on 4/2 (per Ed Lang)
THE ONION / A.V. CLUB (Milwaukee weekly) – Feature interview with band photo.
Semi-Twang finds new inspirations, returns to comfort zones on new album
by Joshua Miller March 18, 2013
Inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places, even for a veteran band like Semi-Twang. As the group wrote and recorded its latest album, The Why And The What For, the members found themselves rehearsing in a variety of places, including a friend’s terrace, an atrium, and the more typical house studios. But it was The Beehive Salon & Boutique in Milwaukee that may have been the most memorable.
Thanks to drummer Bob Schneider’s wife being the owner of The Beehive, the band found it easy to secure playing time there. Setting up their gear at the salon one Sunday afternoon, they quickly became aware of the strangeness of the mirror-laden location. But that strangeness quickly turned into an epiphany for singer John Sieger, guitarist/producer Mike Hoffmann, and the rest of the band.
“There’s a moment when you’re wearing headphones that it turns super glorious, and it lifts you,” Sieger says. “I had the phones on and couldn’t get over how great it sounded. It’s great to hear your songs come to life, because they’ve been in your head or [have existed as] scrappy little demos, and all of a sudden they sound lush and filled out.”
“It’s slightly out of body. It’s like you’re listening to a record but happen to be playing it at the same time,” Hoffmann adds. “You’re not aware that you’re wearing a pair of headphones.”
Since reforming in 2009 to play the 20th anniversary celebration of Shank Hall, the members of Semi-Twang have found it easy to slide back into the band they started in the late ’80s. Some of that ease is due to top-notch musicianship and a prolific writer in Sieger. Thanks to his writing, the band was able to release its second album, Wages Of Sin, in 2011. On March 23 at Shank Hall, Semi-Twang will celebrate the release of its third album, The Why And The What For.
“Everyone’s desire was to start cutting and sawing, and that’s the way the band initiated originally,” Hoffmann says. “It was a natural process for all of us. Everyone always reacted favorably to John’s compositions. And we were fairly quick about it. We slid back into all these comfort zones that we had established long before.”
Sieger says the group provided him with his first chance to be the songwriter of a band. “It was the first time of everyone being into my songs and being able to play them,” he says. “It was really a luxury. And it made it so that it was something I had to do, and it was hard to give it up. I had that feeling when we got back together. The band really knows how to play my stuff. And not everybody gets that, so I’m pretty lucky. It’s like having your own personal symphony orchestra.”
That “personal symphony orchestra” certainly knows what it’s like to record on both the big and small scale. In 1988, Semi-Twang released its debut, Salty Tears, on Warner Bros., a label that more or less signed the band to see what it could bring to the table.
“That was a big machine that we were put into. We were put into the meat grinder,” Hoffmann says. “In retrospect, we found we were more of a crapshoot for them. If it sticks, cool, but if not, they cut their losses. And that’s what they did. It took a while to bounce back, but it was a great experience to have.”
Sieger adds that Salty Tears would probably fit better now with the uptick in Americana, as it’s basically “Americana with ’80s reverb.” These days, while the band might not have an enormous big-label budget, it’s smarter with how it spends money. “My only regret is having the budget we had even for a video back then. I could make 10 records on what we spent on a silly and stupid video that did no good,” Sieger says.
The band is currently enjoying a more DIY and independent process. Unlike the year-and-a-half it took for the production of Salty Tears, Sieger says Wages Of Sin was pretty automatic and the “closest you can come to sleepwalking and making a record at the same time.” “We’re trying to do one per year. We’re never going to run out of material, but it’s just that hard to finish these things.”
The same was true for the making of The Why And The What For, with many of the songs first or second takes. The band recorded about 16 to 18 songs and selected the best 12. “It was very spontaneous that way, and we like the returns and the way it sounded. It’s kind of the way we’ve always been,” Hoffmann says. “That’s the one big difference between how we operate and what it was like to be a Warner Bros. big machine.”
This time around, the band was a bit more ambitious, letting out more of its influences. Bob Jennings, who normally plays keyboards, adds saxophone this time around, tilting some of the songs towards soul and R&B. Sieger says he enjoys playing and listening to both the Americana side of The Band/Dylan, and the soul side of things with Otis Redding and Al Greene, so it was natural to “bring those two worlds together.”
Sieger’s songs for The Why And The What For revolve around “the world leaking in,” and are more universal in theme. For several songs, he wrote with longtime collaborator Michael Feldman, host of radio show Whad’ya Know? The album also features a few special guests: The Delta Routine’s Nick Amadeus—Schneider’s son—joins on “Dark Out,” and longtime Sieger collaborator Robin Pluer sings on “The More She Gets The More She Wants.”
Some of the album’s songs are legacy songs, while and others were more recently written. Together they form a pattern and a journey for the listener. “When we worked on the final sequence, it just seemed to work together, and we wanted to put them in the right order and make a nice trip for somebody,” Hoffmann says. “And hopefully you go deeper and deeper into the album instead of standing around listening to individual tunes. Hopefully you follow this path.”
For Semi-Twang, the band’s return to the Milwaukee scene is a natural fit. “Milwaukee feels like it did 20 years ago when Semi Twang first played,” Hoffmann says. “It felt like Milwaukee snuck up on world.”
THE ALTERNATE ROOT
(online Americana music site) – THE ALTERNATE ROOT’S TOP 50 BANDS RIGHT NOW!
#28 Semi-Twang – Semi-Twang reunited in 2009 to play the 20th anniversary of Shank Hall, the premier showcase club in their home-town of Milwaukee. The band were playing to help celebrate a venue they played on the night it first opened its doors and nothing else was being discussed. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Semi-Twang did not survive their major label debut and 23 years later, they are recoding on their own terms, with the music being the star. Semi-Twang released Wages of Sin in March of 2011, their first album in 23 years. In 2013 Semi-Twang is back with a new release, “The Why and the What For,” slated for March 26, 2013. According to the band’s Press Release the album “…ups the stakes as it traverses through the musical geography of Memphis, Muscle Shoals and New Orleans with passion and conviction. It’s topical and personal with a bit more soul influence…”
(Milwaukee A&E site) – Feature/interview.
Sieger shares the why and the what for of Semi-Twang’s new disc.
If you’re a fan of Milwaukee music, veteran roots rock outfit Semi-Twang needs no introduction. If you don’t know John Sieger and his band of local all-stars – Jason Klagstad, Mike Sieger, Bob Jennings, Mike Hoffmann and Bob Schneider – then brush up here.
Though nearly a quarter-century passed between the release of Semi-Twang’s first record – “Salty Tears,” the sole fruit of the band’s major label deal with Warner Bros. Records – and its second – the independently released “Wages of Sin,” in 2011 – the band is already back with a new disc, “The Why and the What For.”
Considering John Sieger’s songwriting prowess, that’s no shock, though it does suggest a dedication to recording, since all of the band’s members are actively engaged in other musical projects, too.
The new record kicks off with a Chuck Berry/Rolling Stones-style rocker, “The Wrong Side of the Tracks,” and dishes up high-octane Sieger songs that run back and forth between rock and roll and country, but always bear the songwriter’s trademark wit and skill at turning a phrase.
As Semi-Twang prepares to unveil “The Why and the What For” at a CD release gig at Shank Hall on Saturday, March 23, we asked John Sieger for his State of the Semi-Twang address:
OnMilwaukee.com: There were 23 years between “Salty Tears and Wages of Sin,” but only two before “The Why.” Is it easier now to be Semi-Twang than it was before because the pressure of a big label deal, etc. is off?
John Sieger: In a nutshell, yes. Just think, at the rate we can write and record, there would be another 7-10 Semi-Twang records out there. C’est la music biz!
OMC: But are there other challenges getting the band together these days to write, record, rehearse and perform?
JS: Tremendous challenges in getting real people with real lives – which we’ve been forced into! – and real families together. But that is probably what saved us from a life of excess and ego-stroking sycophants. Who would want that?
OMC: I assume, though, that it’s fun. Otherwise, why do it, right?
JS: That is the only reason to do music. It’s also the only thing you can guarantee. If you can’t have fun with some of the best musicians in town playing your songs well, maybe you should be an undertaker or something.
OMC: Were you surprised to not only make the top 50 bands list in Alternate Root recently, but but to clock in between two pretty currently hot bands: Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers?
JS: Not as shocked as they must be to see these phantoms from the Midwest wedged between them. I hope they recover!
OMC: Has American music sort of caught up with Semi-Twang? Although there was something of a roots revival in the mid-’80s it was nothing like what’s been going on recently.
JS: People say that and I’d love to embrace the idea, but it seems like hubris to try and place yourself in some kind of vanguard. The truth is, I was in a great band – The R&B Cadets – that did a lot of soul and I also had a lot of songs that didn’t fit that profile, so Semi-Twang was formed to do them. It really is an Americana moment right now, though, and Milwaukee is certainly doing it’s part and adding some real quality to the scene.
OMC: Let’s talk about the new record. There are two things I notice about the first track, “The Wrong Side of the Tracks.” One is that it’s a pretty hard rockin’, Stones-y tune. Was that a way to stake out a little rockier territory this time around?
JS: We draw from the same influences the Stones did, thanks to them and a bunch of other Brits. This is supposed to be pure Chuck (Berry), but I can never get any of that stuff quite right. Bob Jennings put a tremendous little horn part on there which tilts it somewhat toward soul. By the way, here we are lip synching it:
OMC: Second, I can’t help but think that the CP Rail tracks running through town have made an appearance at the end of the tune.
JS: You’ll have to ask the mad scientist of the group, Mike Hoffmann. He added that and I’d like to think that he was out at midnight with his mic and deck, anything less would be dishonest!
OMC: What’s it like when Semi-Twang is in the studio? You’ve got a lot of experience in the room and a lot of guys who know what they want and how to get it on “tape.” Do you all surrender to one guy who serves as producer or is it much more democratic than that?
JS: Quite the opposite. I obviously have some thoughts, but there is a good flow and I wasn’t even there for some overdubs. Pretty trustworthy bunch.
OMC: Is there an urge to drop the various projects band members are involved in and make Semi-Twang a full-time focus again for you guys or is that just not a reality or a desire right now?
JS: This is my main focus right now, the others would like that too. Then as soon as it sells a million, I’ll be able to fund my other side projects fully. One of them is a pile of great songs I wrote with Greg Koch. We are putting the finishing touches on his amazing record and there are a slew of leftovers for a solo CD for me. I also had to release my latest on Bandcamp to do something about a serious glut of product. Shameless plug: You can get that right here for only $7!
OMC: What can we expect at the release gig? Will it focus on the new record or be more of a career retrospective?
JS: We will do most or all of the new one and throw in tidbits from our 60 years in show biz! I will also do a few duets with Greg Koch and Micah Olsan will open with his big band.
(Milwaukee monthly) – Positive album review with band photo.
Album Review: Semi-Twang “The Why And What For”
Veteran Milwaukee band is at its best 25 years after debut BY Tyler Maas
Today, in the age of EPs and self-recorded albums being released at an almost stream-of-consciousness pace, a band can churn out its first three releases in two or three years, no sweat. For seasoned Milwaukee outfit Semi-Twang, its third album took a tad longer than the glut of its 2013 contemporaries – a quarter century, to be exact.
In 1988, Semi-Twang caught a big break when Warner Bros. records inked the band to a deal and released its debut album, Salty Tears. However, abysmal sales figures found Semi-Twang dropped from the major label’s roster by 1989 and broken up shortly thereafter. Before Semi-Twang called it quits, though, they played Shank Hall’s first show in ’89, later prompting the band to reunite after playing the venue’s 20th anniversary show in 2009.
Since the fateful reunion, the sextuplet has managed two albums, 2011’s Wages Of Sin and the forthcoming The Why And What For. The latest effort is a soulful and stylistically meandering display, showing that these old dogs are capable of learning some new tricks.
Right out of the gate, jangling piano and saxophone – a Semi-Twang rarity – emphatically welcomes listeners in opener “The Wrong Side of the Tracks” as frontman John Sieger channels The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson with a bending, burly howl (a common theme in most of the album’s early-going). Once the toe-tapping tone is established with “…Tracks” and songs like “52 Jokers” and Creole-inspired number “Au Contraire,” the rug of rambunctiousness is pulled out, revealing a handful of heartfelt numbers, including stripped-down “The More She Gets The More She Wants,” the understated “Making Everybody Cry” and downright sappy “A Handsome Man.”
But Semi-Twang is at its best with a canvas that’s conducive to vibrant instrumental strokes and melodies that sneak into the subconscious. In tracks like “Dark Out” (which features vocal assistance from The Delta Routine’s Nick Amadeus) and should-be dive bar last call soundtrack “You Love Everybody,” billowing horns, the sharp pangs of lap steel and well-placed harmonies show an experienced-yet-adaptive band that can both nod to rock ‘n’ roll mainstays like Chuck Berry and Tom Petty while managing to hold on to some modern day appeal.
Though ’80s band reunions – oftentimes with the original keyboard player and a bunch of enlisted younger musicians vying for casino theater and county fair cash grabs – can be tiresome, Semi-Twang’s reprise is effective because its shows the band exploring different sonic landscapes instead of hitching its once-Warner Bros.-caliber wagon to the familiar. And if The Why And What For is any indication, it’s working.
Semi-Twang will release The Why And What For at – where else – Shank Hall Saturday, March 23. Greg Koch, and Micah Olsan and The OCD Big Band are also playing. The show begins at 8 p.m. and costs $15.
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
(Milwaukee daily) – Feature interview with band photo.
Semi-Twang is back, releasing third album at Shank Hall this Saturday!
by Piet Levy | Local Beat
Its official: With its new album “The Why and the What For,” Semi-Twang has created more albums in its second life than in its first.
The local Americana band fronted by John Sieger released its one and only album for Warner Bros., “Salty Tears,” back in 1988.
“Everyone loved the music, but they said, ‘What do we do with these guys,’ ” producer and guitarist Mike Hoffmann told me during a band interview at Sieger’s colorful Wauwatosa home. “They threw money at us . . . but three producers later, there was nothing left in the backend to promote it.”
An “alt-country album” released during the era of “synthesizer heaven,” as Sieger called it, “Tears” was a commercial flop. Warner dropped Semi-Twang, and the band disbanded soon after.
“It would have been a good idea to stay together, but it was an emotional call,” Sieger said. “It just felt like it was really the last thing you should try for is some kind of continuity.”
But getting back together in 2009 to play Shank Hall’s 20th anniversary celebration (Semi-Twang had played the venue’s first show in 1989), was the “easiest decision,” Hoffmann said. “John’s songs still resonate so well and are still fresh. Playing live to this day, it’s just great.”
The band self-released “Wages of Sin” 23 years after “Tears” but is back with “Why” less than two years later. It was an album decades in the making. “The More She Gets the More She Wants,” with its “Layla”-like, remorseful piano arrangement, was written about three decades prior, Sieger said, while other material emerged from a writing jag he went through about two years ago. The angst-y vocals and smoky guitars of “Contents Under Pressure” and the blue-eyed soul of “A Handsome Man” recall Neil Young and Van Morrison, respectively – but they’re so solidly constructed, it’s not hard to imagine the greats recording the songs themselves.
“What’s great about now is we don’t belabor the technical process,” Hoffman said. “Once it’s all set up, I trust everyone to get a good tone and trust their ability to react and everyone to roll.”
The band even recorded some tracks in the Beehive Salon & Boutique (drummer Bob Schneider’s wife is the owner and let them record free). And with Sieger’s goal of making Semi-Twang “more self-sustaining,” expect to see more albums. “This is too slow for me. I want to do one (album) a year,” Sieger said. “Beyond music, I don’t have a life.” Semi-Twang celebrates the release of its third album at 8 p.m. Saturday at Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave. Cover is $15.
(Milwaukee weekly) – Feature interview with band photo.
No More Salty Tears
By David Luhrssen
Semi-Twang is better the second time around
Nothing is forever in rock anymore, least of all breakups.
Whether local heroes or global superstars, defunct bands regroup nowadays with alarming regularity. Many of them downright suck; many more reemerge as mere outlines of their own past, but without substance. Rare is the band that actually improves after years of absence, but Semi-Twang certainly falls into this category.
At the end of the ’80s, the decade when The Violent Femmes and The BoDeans inked deals with major record companies, Semi-Twang was going to be Milwaukee’s next big thing. Signed by Warner Brothers, Semi-Twang spent lots of time (and money) on their debut LP, Salty Tears (1988). Dropped by the label within a year, Semi- Twang was the canary in the industry coalmine—a warning of things to come. By the end of the ’80s, major record companies had decided to trade the concept of career development for fast returns on their investment. “We were in the big machine and got spit out of the other side,” says guitarist and vocalist Mike Hoffmann of Semi- Twang’s demise in the aftermath. “We were considered damaged goods.”
The band’s members recall the time with good humor. “The label spent wildly in the studio—we had three producers—and spent minimally on promotion,” Hoffmann continues. “We were on tour in British Columbia and the local Warner rep said, ‘You guys are great. Are you on a label?’”
“It’s easier to enjoy the music now,” says bassist and vocalist John Sieger. “I didn’t enjoy all the pressure of trying to sound like the record. I’m happy to be concentrating on making the music satisfying.”
Semi-Twang played Shank Hall on its opening night in 1989, and when the club’s owner asked them to regroup for Shank’s 20th anniversary, they agreed—and liked what they heard. “It didn’t feel strange,” Sieger says. “We just played the songs and remembered their feel. We had chemistry then and we still have it.”
That chemistry resulted in part from the early, pre-Twang experiences of band members who worked the tough, old-time club circuit of the Upper Midwest with five sets a night in dive bars for crowds demanding a steady beat. It was the trail that led Cheap Trick from Rockford to the Budokan, but left most acts spinning their tires in an endless circle.
Semi-Twang’s new second post-reunion album, The Why and the What For, travels ground similar to its predecessor, Wages of Sin. The prolific Sieger wrote 12 of the songs (three with Michael “Whad’ya Know?” Feldman); most are recent, but a few, including “Love Interest” and “Foghorn,” might be familiar to Semi-Twang fans from the ’80s. The musicians sound in command of their material; solos by lead guitarist Jason Klagstad are short and scorching; and the range is wide and full. “Wrong Side of the Tracks,” inspired by the upheaval against Scott Walker, is high-stepping New Orleans rock ’n’ roll; “52 Jokers” is country-rock with the accent on the rock; and the playful “Au Contraire” places Dylan in Cajun country. Joining Hoffmann, Sieger and Klagstad are original band members Bob Jennings on keyboards and sax and Bob Schneider on drums.
“I like to keep it as spontaneous as possible,” Sieger says. “Don’t learn it too good! The more you fuss over things, the worse it gets. You have a million choices nowadays and you can go down a million blind alleys.”
The recording process is deliberately old school and the music thoroughly grounded in Americana roots, but Semi- Twang perceives some advantages in the current state of music, where self-reliance is essential, audiences can be found online and stardom is for Brad and Angelina. No one dreams of going platinum. “I don’t want to be like Michael Jackson with gold bathroom fixtures,” Hoffmann says. “I just want to be in the rock ’n’ roll middle class. You’re always trying to hit a target. We’re shooting for middle class.”
Semi-Twang performs at Shank Hall on Saturday, March 23, with openers Micah Olsan and the OCD Big Band.
(Kenosha, WI daily) – News story on new album and Alternative Roots post.
Semi-Twang is more than semi-famous in the roots rock World
By Paddy Fineran
This goes out to all of you roots rock lovers out there.
This is for folks who love bands like Alabama Shakes, The Old 97’s, Wilco, Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers.
The Alternate Root just put together a listing of their Top 50 Bands Right Now. In addition to the aforementioned acts, there are other big names on the list like Los Lobos, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (one of my favorites), Drive By Truckers, Los Lonely Boys and The Black Keys.
I went through a lot of those names to let you know that the list is legit. Now, here’s the thing. No. 27 on the Top 50 list is the ubiquitous Mumford & Sons. No. 29 on the list is the much in demand The Lumineers. Any guess on who No. 28 is? I could tell you now or you can wait until Saturday night, head over to TG’s and look up at the stage. That’s where Alternate Root’s Top 50 Bands Right Now No. 28 entry — Semi-Twang — will be performing.
The rootsy rockers feature ex-Kenoshan John Sieger’s quirky, intelligent and whimsical lyrics and vocals backed by a Milwaukee who’s who of players including Sieger’s brother, Mike, on bass guitar and vocals, WAMI Hall of Fame inductee Mike Hoffmann on guitar and vocals, Jason Klagstad on guitar and vocals, Bob Jennings on saxes, accordion, keyboards and vocals, and drummer Bob Schneider.
Trust me when I say these cats are tight, they are hot and after being signed to and immediately ignored by Warner Bros. 20 years ago, they are better than ever. They will be celebrating the release of their second CD since they reunited a few years ago, “The Why and The What For.”
Semi-Twang celebrates the Kenosha release of their new record Saturday night (March 30) at TG’s, 4120 Seventh Ave.
(Williamsburg, VA AAA Radio) “The Wrong Side of the Tracks” AMA charting on 4/2 (per Ed Lang)
EXTRA MUSIC NEWS
(online music site) – “Making Everybody Cry” #84 on their April Top 100 Promo Chart (Best New Tracks):
(Houston, TX Public Radio station & AMA reporting station) – MD Laura Slavin confirmed that she added the record to their playlist the week of March 25th and that it’s already getting airplay on a few of their shows, including her own Laurapalooza roots show and Roark Smith’s Americana show, Wide Open Spaces.
THE VOICE 88.7 RADIO
(Sacramento, CA Community radio station) – “52 Jokers” aired March 1 on Paul Hefti’s Semi-Twang show
(online music site) – News posting with link to “Making Everybody Cry” mp3 and related links.
(Chicago-based online music blog) – “Make Everybody Cry” mp3 featured in their 3/27/13 Pick Your Poison.
88NINE MILWAUKEE RADIO
414 Music: Semi Twang (Spring 2013)
Great to have the guys back in the studio. I’m glad they’ve found the time to record a new album, following up 2011’s Wages of Sin with “The Why and the What For.”
Check out the performance and interview below:
(Tokyo-based online music blog)
SEMI-TWANG – Making Everybody Cry
Veteran Milwaukee band Semi-Twang’s latest song ‘Making Everybody Cry’ is taken from their third full-length studio album “The Why And The What For” (due out on March 26th), following 2011’s first album in 23 years, “Wages Of Sin” since 1988’s Warner Bros. debut album “Salty Tears” (recorded by Tchad Blake and Mitchell Froom).
Semi-Twang comprises of John Sieger (guitar/vocals), Mike Sieger (bass/vocals), Mike Hoffmann (guitar/vocals), Bob Jennings (multi-instrumentalist), Bob Schneider (drums) and Jason Klagstad (guitars/vocals).
John Sieger and Semi Twang
John Sieger has led two popular midwest bands, The R&B Cadets (in collaboration with Paul Cebar), who recorded for Twintone Records in the R&B Cadets (1980-86) and the critically acclaimed band Semi-Twang (1986-91). In 1988, “Salty Tears” by Semi-Twang was released with much praise and even landed the band a major label with Warner Brothers. whose Warner Brothers debut “Salty Tears” was hailed by critics as precursor of alternative country.
Artists who have found their way to John’s songs include country star Dwight Yoakam, (I Don’t Need It Done), The BoDeans, (The Strangest Kind), Talking Head Jerry Harrison (Rev It Up and two others), the late Tex-Mex superstar Flaco Jimenez, (I Found Out), alt-country tricksters Robbie Fulks, (You Break It You Pay) and Phil Lee (Neon Tombstone) and folk-rocker Greg Trooper (My Blue Belle and many others).
WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY
(online music blog)
REVIEW: Semi-Twang – The Why And The What For
Semi-Twang is a veteran country-rock outfit from Milwaukee by way of Nashville (although their music will remind you more of other Southern rock meccas like Memphis, New Orleans and Muscle Shoals). This week, they’ve released their third album: The Why And The What For.
Think Delbert McClinton, think of Levon Helms’ Arkansas roots, think of whatever blues-tinged Southern country rockers you like, and you will find these guys fit right into that stable. The band released its first album in 1988, and after sales trailed their critical acclaim, lead vocalist and songwriter John Sieger lit out for Nashville, TN. Guitarists Mike Hoffmann and Jason Klagstad, bassist Mike Sieger, and multi-instrumentalist Bob Jennings and drummer Bob Schneider. While Sieger was plying his trade in Nashville, the other band members stayed busy with various projects and session work until the band reformed in 2009 – and they’ve been working together on their 2011 release Wages Of Sin, and then on this record.
It’s got lots of blazing guitar, Sieger’s soulful vocals and the spirit of every Southern rock city from Memphis to New Orleans, not to mention the spirits of folks like Chuck Berry and Ronnie Hawkins.
Here’s “The Wrong Side of the Tracks”, a very apt example of what they’re up to, Chuck Berry/Keith Richard guitar licks and all:
To celebrate the release this week, they’re offering a free download of album track “Making Everybody Cry” – click here to get it.
(Milwaukee college radio) – Studio visit preview on their Sonic Diet site.
Tonight on Local/Live: Semi-Twang
Semi-Twang is one of those Milwaukee bands that nearly everyone in the city has heard (or heard of). Scene veterans (remember the R&B Cadets?), the group provides a solid songwriting outlet for John Sieger, the band’s prolific and seasoned voice. The band’s latest, The Why and the What For, has gotten some airplay from our DJs since they passed the new tunes along, and as the band officially released it last weekend, their fans can make like WMSE, and also spin away. Tonight, listen in for a live set with some of those new songs for WMSE’s Local/Live at 8pm — tune in via WMSE. org or simply tune your radio into 91.7 FM.
(West Hartford, CT Alternative Radio)
“You Love Everybody” & ” Love Interest” aired on Steve Theaker’s Mixed Grill show on March 22nd.
(Milwaukee college radio) – Positive show preview on their Sonic Diet site.
There’s also somewhat of an in-between option for tonight at Shank Hall: Semi-Twang. They have their upbeat stuff, but not like shake-your-booty, horns-blasting-in-your-face upbeat. They have their mellow stuff, but not slit-your-wrists mellow. The name basically says it all; they do that folk-rock type of thing that has been ruling Milwaukee for the past year or more, with perhaps a bit more of a country influence than most of ‘em, all made possible by the songwriting talent of John Sieger. Tonight marks the release party for the band’s third album, The Why And The What For. Also appearing will be Milwaukee guitar-hero standard-bearer Greg Koch as well as Micah Olsan and the OCD Big Band.
(Milwaukee A&E site) – Positive show preview.
SEMI-TWANG @ SHANK
Don’t cry those “Salty Tears” – beloved Midwestern group Semi-Twang is back at Shank Hall. Fronted by John Sieger, the group takes the stage tonight at the sight of their famous ’09 reunion. They’ll be joined by Greg Koch, Micah Olsan and the OCD Big Band. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15.
PARASITES & SYCOPHANTS
(online music blog) – Link tp TWSOTT added to their “double visions and a triple to boot” March 20th post.
(Milwaukee weekly) – Older stock show preview w/ Salty Tears video.
Semi-Twang , Micah Olsan and the OCD Big Band Sat. 03/23 | 8:00PM @ Shank Hall
John Sieger has led two popular midwest bands, The R&B Cadets (in collaboration with Paul Cebar), who recorded for Twintone Records in the R&B Cadets (1980-86) and the critically acclaimed band Semi-Twang (1986-91). In 1988, “Salty Tears” by Semi-Twang was released with much praise and even landed the band a major label with Warner Brothers. whose Warner Brothers debut “Salty Tears” was hailed by critics as precursor of alternative country. Artists who have found their way to John’s songs include country star Dwight Yoakam, (I Don’t Need It Done), The BoDeans, (The Strangest Kind), Talking Head Jerry Harrison (Rev It Up and two others), the late Tex-Mex superstar Flaco Jimenez, (I Found Out), alt-country tricksters Robbie Fulks, (You Break It You Pay) and Phil Lee (Neon Tombstone) and folk-rocker Greg Trooper (My Blue Belle and many others). Salty Tears has recently been covered in a ferocious way by rising Alligator Record’s Michael Burke and exists somewhere in frustratingly unreleased form by the Queen of The Blues, Etta James.
(Milwaukee Public Radio) – Live acoustic studio session performing “Au Contraire,” “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks” to promote CD Release show and new album.
(Milwaukee Public Radio) – “The Wrong Side of the Tracks” aired on Bruce Winter’s show WUWM @ Nite Mar. 22nd, Mar. 12th, Feb. 22nd, Feb. 18th & Feb. 15th.
RADIO FREE AMERICANA
(Verona, VA AMA Chart Reporting Station) – #90 Chart position the week of March 28.
RADIO FREE AMERICANA
(Verona, VA AMA Chart Reporting Station) – #53 Chart position the week of March 21.
RADIO FREE AMERICANA
(Verona, VA AMA Chart Reporting Station) – #72 Chart position the week of March 14.
RADIO FREE AMERICANA
(Verona, VA AMA Chart Reporting Station) – Chart climb to the #6 spot the week of March 6.
RADIO FREE AMERICANA
(Verona, VA AMA Chart Reporting Station) – Chart debut at #118 the week of Feb. 27.
AMERICANA MUSIC SHOW
(online Americana Radio Show) – “Miss Watson” aired on March 11th.
KRFC RADIO / ROUTES & BRANCHES
(Fort Colllins, CO Public Radio) – “Making Everybondy Cry” aired on Scott Foley’s Routes & Branches show on March 16.
KRFC RADIO / ROUTES & BRANCHES
(Fort Colllins, CO Public Radio) – “52 Jokers” aired on Scott Foley’s Routes & Branches show on March 2nd.
AMERICANA MUSIC SHOW
(Americana Radio Show) – TWSOTT aired on episode 129.
(Philly-based online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with band photo, link to “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks” mp3 and related links.
(online music site) – Second news posting (from press announcement) with band photo, link to “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks” mp3 and related links.
THE ONION / A.V. CLUB
(Milwaukee weekly) – Positive Critic’s Pick show preview
Also Playing: The Micah Olsan Band
Shank Hall1434 N Farwell Ave
Milwaukee’s Semi-Twang got a taste of national success, albeit a modest one, back in the late ’80s, signing with Warner Bros and releasing the semi-classic Salty Tears in 1988. After that band’s breakup, frontman John Sieger moved to Nashville and found some success writing songs for other artists, but he eventually came back to town and played with various bands. Since reforming in 2009 to play the 20th anniversary celebration of Shank Hall, the members of Semi-Twang have found it easy to slide back into the band they started so many years ago. Thanks to the prolific writing of Sieger, the band was able to release their second album, Wages Of Sin, in 2011, and record a third album, The Why And The What For. The latter sees its release at tonight’s show.
(Americana Radio Show) – TWSOTT aired on episode 129 on Calvin’s Americana Music Show.
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE
(online music site)
Semi-Twang: “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks”
The Milwaukee-based band’s third album comes out in March, twenty-five years after their debut. The press release says the music winds its way through Memphis, Muscle Shoals and New Orleans which makes for a fantastic road trip. If you need a rock’n’roll fix, have we got a song for you. Here’s the SoundCloud link.
(Milwaukee A&E site) – Positive new post.
Milwaukee band makes top 50 list
Semi-Twang, the veteran Milwaukee band led by John Sieger, has been named one of the top 50 bands in the country by Alternate Root magazine, a national publication that keeps track of American roots music.
Semi-Twang was named No. 28 in the list, right behind Mumford and Sons
and just ahead of The Lumineers. Other bands on the list include the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Los Lobos, Alabama Shakes and The Mavericks.
Here’s what the magazine said about the Milwaukee group.
“Semi-Twang reunited in 2009 to play the 20th anniversary of Shank Hall, the premier showcase club in their hometown of Milwaukee. The band were playing to help celebrate a venue they played on the night it first opened its doors and nothing else was being discussed. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Semi-Twang did not survive their major label debut and 23 years later, they are recording on their own terms, with the music being the star. Semi-Twang released Wages of ‘Sin’ in March of 2011, their first album in 23 years. In 2013 Semi-Twang is back with a new release, ‘The Why and the What For,’ slated for March 26, 2013. According to the band’s press release the album ‘…ups the stakes as it traverses through the musical geography of Memphis, Muscle Shoals and New Orleans with passion and conviction. It’s topical and personal with a bit more soul influence…'”
The magazine, which has been around for half a dozen years, goes on to describe its mission this way:
“American Roots music is an amalgam of traditional American music that draws from elements of folk, country, bluegrass, blues, gospel, jazz, ethnic and rock musical styles. While many of these genres of music are well defined and easily recognized, music that combines elements of these genres in many varying amounts is often dismissed by purists in the media or music industry and relegated to ‘boutique’ record labels, eclectic press and radio entities and relative obscurity. Things are changing for American Roots music. The recent addition of an American Roots music Grammy category, recognition of American Roots music by The Smithsonian Institute of American History and the recent formation of an American Roots music curriculum by the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston are all signals that something is happening under the radar that is raising public awareness.”
The complete list of American Roots’ top 50 bands can be found here.
(Chicago-based online music blog) – “The Wrong Side of the Tracks” mp3 featured in their 2/14/13 Pick Your Poison.
WORDS, MUSiC, BASEBALL
(online music blog) – Simple mention and link to “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks” mp3.
Born on the wrong side of the tracks…
Some new and some nearly new tunes in the juke this week with Semi-Twang – The Wrong Side of the Tracks, Wires in the Walls – In the Rain, Debbie Davies – Done Sold Everything, Skyla Burrell Band – Bottom of my Heart, and finally the Hickman Dalton Gang with Whiskey Rain – just because I can.
THE ALTERNATE ROOT
(online Americana music site) – Positive news piece with band photo, link to “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks” mp3 and related links.
SEMI-TWANG EXPLAINS THE WHY AND THE WHAT FOR
Americana Music or Roots Music existed long before the terminology that now tries to narrowly define it. The 1980’s saw a vast influx of acoustic and alt-country bands with jangly guitars, accordions and the rhythm of an upright bass.
Firetown, Semi-Twang, The Beat Farmers, Blue Rodeo, Joe Henry, The Bo-Deans, The Replacements, there were many others that never tore up the charts but did have strong cult followings . Some of them are still recording even as the original line-ups have fragmented. Many of the artists that made up these bands have gone on to produce or migrate to other projects. Some just split the scene and dissapeared into memory.
One of the best albums of this period, by far, was “Salty Tears” by Milwaukee based Semi-Twang. “Salty Tears” was released in 1988 by Warner Bros. Records and while the album was critically acclaimed, it, like many others, did not meet the sales standards necessary to satisfy a major label. The times were different then. Labels were different then. Had “Salty Tears” been released on I.R.S., Island or Stiff the trajectory of Semi-Twang might have been vastly different.
In 2009 Semi-Twang reunited for an off gig to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the famed Milwaukee club Shank Hall. The night turned out to be something unexpectedly special and the original members of Semi-Twang, Jason Klagstad, John Sieger, Bob Schneider, Mike Hoffmann, Mike Sieger, Bob Jennings, all having moved on to successful careers since the 1989 disbanding, decided to head into the studio and see if the magic could be reclaimed.
An album followed in 2011 with the release of “Wages of Sin.” Now in 2013 Semi-Twang is back with a new release, “The Why and the What For,” slated for March 26. According to the band’s Press Release the album “…ups the stakes as it traverses through the musical geography of Memphis, Muscle Shoals and New Orleans with passion and conviction. It’s topical and personal with a bit more soul influence…” Semi-Twang will also be embarking on a Spring and Summer Tour with dates forthcoming.
Alternate Root readers can download a free MP3 of the first single “Wrong Side of the Tracks” by clicking on the download link below.
(online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with link to “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks” mp3 and related links.
TOP 40 CHARTS
(online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with band photo, link to “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks” mp3 and related links.
(online music site) – News posting (from press announcement) with band photo, link to “The Wrong Side Of The Tracks” mp3 and related links.
MUSIC INDUSTRY NEWS NETWORKS
(online music industry site) – News posting (from press announcement) with album art and related links.