Originally published by Advance Titan
- Oshkosh, WI
Jazz helps to revive local culture
By Matt Czarnik
2000.09.13 -- It’s been a week since students have come back or just arrived in Oshkosh. That should be enough time for the realization to hit that the city is lacking good culture — at first glance.
But finding the culture in Oshkosh is necessary to a student’s survival and growth. Be it finding a chill place to spend time exchanging ideas learned in class over a cup of coffee, or finding a place to listen to or display musical talent.
Checking out the local scene it’s hard not to notice that the pawnshops, leasing signs and bars inhabit most of what can be termed the cultural hearth of Oshkosh — Main Street.
Although, with some exciting sounds, good times have been the result of some outstanding venues providing exceptional live music for a variety of tastes, while accommodating diverse crowds. All this is building toward a renewed culture that should bring more people down to check out the action.
Recently, a form of music that is truly hip, and exciting, is shining in a limelight produced by an influx of new tastes and authentic styles.
Jazz has been on the rise at some of the local bars and coffee shops on Main Street and will continue.
Mark Martin, a devoted and talented musician who plays Sunday nights at Peabody’s Ale House, 544 N. Main St., calls jazz, “the communication of a feeling.”
Jazz music is intended to inspire that wealth of feeling, imagination, and creativity.
Asking Martin what feeling he wants people to feel from his playing he said, “ pain and anger,” and the more intense the feeling, the clearer the resulting communication between the performer and the audience.
Student and Reeve Union Board Advisory Council Chairperson, Bob Poeschl grew up in Oshkosh. As a teenager he found the city to be boring and definitely lacking the finer things in life, such as art and music.
Since then his mood has become one of involvement and excitement about the local scene. He frequents the Jazz Orgy on Sunday nights at Peabody’s AleHouse, and believes that “a surge of jazz music has hit the city in the last year.”
Mentioning that student involvement is “needed to promote the arts, the different genres of music, and bring more art galleries to downtown,” Poeschl also said he believes that the younger generation has the opportunity to experience “more styles, creating a more diverse crowd.”
For the past six months Peabody’s Ale House has been the home of the Jazz Orgy.
On Sunday nights music lovers can experience the side of jazz that loves to get saturated and dirty with the jazz feeling.
Peabody’s owner Walley Melchoir said jazz nights will continue as long as it continues to draw crowds.
Walking in, one can’t help but notice that without the performers and their equipment, Peabody’s doesn’t seem like it would feature the style of music that originated in underground clubs. With a lunch and dinner menu and pictures of golf courses hanging on the walls, it gives the impression of a quiet place to enjoy while sipping Guinness.
That impression fades as soon as the keyboard strikes its first note and a hand begins to crawl effortlessly along the length of the guitar strings. A magician follows struming and plucking the standing base and a baby-faced drummer provides a steady beat.
English major Marie Martin goes to see jazz to “see the musicians feeding off each other, opposed to off a manuscript.”
Jazz musicians must be spontaneous and are forced to feed off of what other musicians are doing.
In Marie’s words she sees a “certain commodity that they have together.”
Asked whether her taste might be high brow, she countered with, “I love music from the ghetto, I like trash.”
New Moon Coffee Shop, 401 N. Main St., also is among the best places in Oshkosh to indulge a wide variety of music while enjoying a low-key atmosphere. Every Monday and Thursday the New Moon hosts live jazz performers from the area and around the country. During September the Tom Washatka Quartet is featured on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, The Algoma Club, 107 Algoma Blvd., hosts a jazz night.
Certainly the intention is not to ignore the whole scene, and pay attention only to the area’s local jazz hot spots, but to indulge your tastes to the fullest and recognize what needs to happen to keep the music scene intact.
What is needed is involvement from people who have the greatest opportunity to not just support the scene, but create the scene.