As soon as you meet Chris Aaron, you realize you have a new friend and feel like you have known him your whole life. And I believe he felt the same way about everyone he met. He was that type of guy. If you have ever met him, you have never forgotten it.
The first time we connected was in our office at Broadjam. He and his wife, Lisa Bethke, had come in from Colorado and were promoting one of their projects, The Bandallamas. This was an all-star band of local and national musicians including Victor DeLorenzo, Richard Davis, Bobby Bryan, Wally Ingram, Pauli Ryan and Rob Wasserman. Both Chris and Lisa were extremely passionate about this project. But more importantly, they couldn’t stop talking about all the musicians in the band. It was clear that they are not only musicians, they are truly fans of music and especially those they gigged with.
Chris died last week at age 44. Although I didn’t know Chris that well, I had a tear in my eye. I will never understand why good people go so early, especially when they are giving so much art, peace and happiness to the world. I’m sure his closest friends would agree that a good soul has been taken way too early.
As a musician, Chris was an awesome & tasteful blues player. When looking at his Facebook page, his photos include a Who’s Who of the Wisconsin music scene. Jim Schwall, Pauli Ryan, Clyde Stubblefield, Duke, Westside Andy, Darren Sterrud, Tony Menzer, Perry Weber, Jim Voegeli, Pat MacDonald and many others. Every photo shows Chris smiling, gigging or both.
As we get older, our friends and family seem to pass on a more frequent basis. I guess this is just a part of life. When a special person like Chris leaves us at such a young age, we step back and think about what is really important.
I am sad that he has moved on and will remember his spirit and gift. He was a great person, who had extreme depth and personality. My sincere condolences to Lisa and all of her family and friends. Rest In Peace Chris.
There is a fund set up to help his kids with college tuition. You can find the link here on his website.
I BELIEVE in her PAST achievement, in the men and women who created and conserved that I might produce and earn, enabling me to buy and pay, in the courage of her pioneers whose wisdom and foresight built between these lakes a well – planned organic city, every foot of whose ground is worth in gold its market value because the brain and brawn of man has added wealth to nature’s own endowment.
I believe in the reality of her PRESENT, a present that combines the push and friendliness of the newer West with the reflection and poise of the older East, a present which makes her the distributing center of one of the most productive agricultural sections of America, the heart of the richest dairy region in the world, the location of going industry and commerce, and the focus point of miles of railroad trackage, that converges into this hub like the spokes of a wheel from nine directions, a present that makes her the seat of the government for forward Wisconsin, the home of the state university that spells freedom and utility, and the birthplace of so powerful an influence for the well-being of humanity that thousands are attracted annually to this center of achievement in democracy.
I believe in her ability to become the FUTURE, a city of even greater influence and power, a city destined to become the abode of one hundred thousand people, where the poor shall be less unhappy, the rich less self-satisfied, for the one shall have a more intelligent understanding of the other; where jails shall be empty of prisoners, streets clear of beggars and neither shall the aged in want be cast upon the charity of strangers; a city where friends shall be true friends; neighbors real neighbors; a city where the strong shall really sympathize with the weak; where there shall be even more respect for those who have traveled the longer road; and even more hopeful confidence in the promise of glowing youth; a city where progress shall be the result of retaining the good of the old and accepting the tried of the new, where co-operative competition shall be the ideal in trade, live and let live the slogan of business, serve others well to successfully serve self the policy of industry and commerce; and finally, where each and every citizen shall be a community builder in fact, as now in name.
AND I PLEDGE TO MY CITY a more complete understanding of her problems, a more liberal conception of her limitations, a more hopeful attitude toward her possibilities, a more generous contribution to her needs, and a more active participation in the broader functions of her citizenship in order that my city may become a greater credit to herself, to Wisconsin, to America and to God because of my having lived in Madison, “The Four Lake City.”
If you would like to get involved in the Willywash project, please go to the Willywash website or leave your comments here.
WillyWash is a great example of how a forward thinking group of folks can get together and make something significant happen. They met at the Student Union on the UW campus in Madison, Wisconsin and discussed many things. The focus of this meeting was to develop the area between the capital and the Yahara river into a music and arts district. The southern border would be Willy Street and the north would be East Washington, hence the name WillyWash. The group was born.
All kinds of ideas for this project have emerged including a performance venue, a charter school, a themed based restaurant museum, music rehearsal spaces and street performance venues. But the primary idea is to create an artistic zone where Madison citizens who enjoy music, can live, work and play in. The movers also hope to attract tourists and new high tech business to the area as well.
High tech businesses are attracted to culturally creative environments. If there is a strong artistic nightlife, there is a work force who are intelligent and creative. Many tech start ups are in the process of bringing lots of young and talented people to the workplace. They need a place to play and live as well and that’s what the WillyWash initiative is all about.
Madison is ripe for this kind of development as the city is growing and the music scene is rockin’. Recently, the Madison Area Music Association hosted their annual awards show and the talent has reached a new level. Here is a link to the winners list and another to the a review of the multi-winners.
They WillyWash “movers” have made a choice to make something happen. If there is a movement with a potential return on investment, the capitalists will be there. Numerous projects have already been launched and many more are following.
Please visit the WillyWash site for more detail. It’s amazing what a small group of citizens can do.
The Jimmys are: Jimmy Voegeli -(2014 Madison Area Music Association Keyboardist of the Year) Hammond Organ, Piano, Electric Rhodes, Vocals/Mauro Magellan (Georgia Satellites)-Drums and Percussion/John Wartenweiler – (2014 MAMA Bassist of the Year) Electric and Acoustic Bass/Darren Sterud – (2014 MAMA Brass of the Year) Trombone/Perry Weber – Guitars and Vocals/Bryan Husk – Tenor and Baritone Saxophones/Chad Whittinghill – Trumpet and Flugelhorn/Pete Ross – Alto Saxophone
Breakthrough Artist of the Year Annabel Lee
New Artist of the Year Gabe Burdulis
Compilation Album of the Year Karen Wheelock Smilin’ On
Cover Song of the Year Mark Croft “Dancing in the Dark (Live)”
Meritorious Achievement Award Sheilah Kring
Video Of The Year Beth Kille “I’ve Been Accused”
Ensemble Vocalists of the Year Natty Nation
Female Vocalist of the Year Annabel Lee
Male Vocalist of the Year Kyle Henderson
Bassist of the Year John Wartenweiler of The Jimmys
Brass Instrumentalist of the Year Darren Sterud of The Jimmys
Drummer/Percussionist of the Year Joey B Banks
Guitarist of the Year Michael Tully
Keyboardist of the Year Jimmy Voegeli
Specialty Instrumentalist of the Year Chris Wagoner (Lap Steel)
Strings Instrumentalist of the Year Mary Gaines
Woodwinds Instrumentalist of the Year Trevor Hoffman of The Rotation
People’s Choice Awards:
Cover Band Performer of the Year John Masino Band
DJ of the Year Nick Nice
Live Sound Engineer of the Year Lonya Neneshev
Local Live Music Venue of the Year High Noon Saloon
Local Music Fan of the Year Sarah Warmke
Local Music Publication/Blog of the Year Isthmus
Local Music Radio Personality of the Year Gabby Parsons
Local Music Radio Station of the Year 89.9 WORT
Local Recorded Music Store of the Year B-Side Records
Album Packaging of the Year Harmonious Wail Bohemian Tango
Photographer of the Year John Urban
Producer of the Year Mike Zirkel
Recording Studio of the Year Audio for the Arts
Roadie of the Year Ralph Shively
Studio Sound Engineer of the Year Mike Zirkel
Female Vocalist of the Year Helen Feest of The Blue Sundays
Woodwinds Instrumentalist of the Year Robert Stine from Middleton High School
Keyboardist of the Year Adam Goren from Middleton High School
Song of the Year The Blue Sundays “Mary Anne”
Launchpad 2014 Madison Regional Finalist Distant Cuzins
Launchpad 2014 Madison Regional Finalist Prom Queen Rejects