Category Archives: those that from a long way off look like flies

Announcing: Summer 2017 Festival Shows

The Viper and His Famous Orchestra create their own high-speed rail system in Wisconsin as they storm the state from Milwaukee to Madison over two days in late August.

First, on Saturday, August 26, 2017 (1:00 to 3:00 p.m.) (TIME CHANGE: 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.) we’ll be taking the early afternoon shift at the 2017 Washington Heights Boulevard Bash in the vicinity of the intersection of 54th St. & W. Washington Blvd. (Milwaukee, WI 53208). For The Viper, this is about as hometown as it gets — the neighborhood festival on the very grounds on which The Viper stomps daily. It’s a great all-day party that stretches through five of the loveliest blocks in Milwaukee, just West of Washington Park. You might even see our Mayor, who lives along the Boulevard and has been spotted at the Bash helping kids get soccer balls out of trees. Free! (Facebook event)

Then, on Sunday, August 27, 2017 (12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.), we stake out the stage at high noon at the 52nd Annual Orton Park Festival 2017 (Orton Park | 1114 Rutledge St, Madison, WI 53703) on the third day of this four-day festival sponsored by the Marquette Neighborhood Association. The Viper briefly lived in this neighborhood as well, but its grounds are more regularly stomped by trombonist Rob Henn. Orton Park is on the near-East side of Madison, not far from Lake Monona, and is the park where on a summer day in or around 1993 or ’94, I crossed paths with a man jogging in a full-body knight’s armored suit, helmet and all. Also free! (Facebook event)

If you can’t make one, make both! If you can’t make both, make monkeys! If you can’t make ’em, train ’em!

November 2016 shows at Parched Eagle and California Clipper

The Viper and His Famous Orchestra will be ruining the perfectly lovely atmosphere of two of our favorite venues in early November 2016 as we surround election day with shows on Saturday, Nov. 5 in the brewpub backgroom of the Parched Eagle in Westport, WI (just outside of Madison) and then on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the classiest cocktail lounge in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, the California Clipper. (Details below.)

NOTE: With these shows, we’re welcoming the newest member of the Viper’s extended familial entourage: bassist Riley Broach has recently achieved proud father status with the birth of his daughter, Lyra Paulina (the “y” and “i” are both pronounced like a long “e”). So walk right up to him and give him a great big kiss when you see him.

Saturday, November 5, 2016 (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.)
Parched Eagle Brew Pub
5440 Willow Road #112, Westport, WI 53597 | (608) 204-9192
The Viper & His Famous Orchestra are back at this Westport hotspot to rock the back room for this pre-election blow-out. Don’t miss it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 (10:00 p.m.)
The California Clipper
1002 North California Ave., Chicago, IL 60622 | (773) 384-2547
The Viper & His Famous Orchestra are back at this Humboldt Park hotspot to rock the front room for this post-election blow-out. Don’t miss it! With DJ Lawrence Peters and his vinyl 45s. $5 Cheap.

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Shows in May & June, 2016

A couple busy weeks ahead for the normally pretty lazy Viper & His Famous Orchestra, across four towns in two states: Lake Zurich and Chicago, IL, and Milwaukee and Westport (basically, Middleton), WI.

Here’s what you can expect.

Thursday, May 19, 2016 (7:00 to 8:00 p.m.)
Lake Zurich Middle School North
LZMSN Cafetorium
95 Hubbard Lane
Hawthorn Woods, IL 60047
(847) 719-3600

The Really Big Shew!!! The Viper performs his material with the Lake Zurich Middle School North Orchestra under the direction of Riley Broach as the culmination of his time with them as Spring 2016 Composer in Residence. The evening will include the world premiere of a piece written especially for the LZMSNO, a concerto gross for ukulele and orchestra titled “Let Not Life Far From These Fingers Flee / My Dog Has Fleas.” Read all about it here. Open to the public.

Saturday, May 21, 2016 (7:00 to 10:00 p.m.)
The Coffee House
1905 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233 | (414) 534-4612

The Viper & His Famous Orchestra with Andy Jehly, Mississippi Sawyer, Bill Murtaugh, Paul Smith, Sweet Diversity, and host Jym Mooney to close out the 49th season of The Coffee House. $10.00 cheap! suggested donation.

Saturday, June 4, 2016 (7:30 to 10:00 p.m.)
Parched Eagle Brew Pub
5440 Willow Road #112, Westport, WI 53597 | (608) 204-9192

Google Maps will tell you this is in Waunakee, but if you’ve got a date with The Viper & His Famous Orchestra in Waunakee, we’ll be waiting in Westport — here! At the Parched Eagle! And Edward Burch will be there with us. Westport/Waunakee is right on the other side of Lake Mendota from Madison, and in good old Madison-area fashion, there is no cover. We play for your tips, just like we did at your Bris.

Sunday, June 5, 2016 (7:00 to 10:00 p.m.)
The California Clipper
1002 North California Ave., Chicago, IL 60622 | (773) 384-2547

The Viper & His Famous Orchestra bring their hog-butchering style to a city that really appreciates it, in the fancy digs of this Humboldt Park neighborhood classic space. It’s a beautiful bar! Plus DJ Lawrence Peters, who’s a stand-up guy and drummer, too. In fact, The Viper first premiered “Big Headed Small Minded Man” some years ago with Mr. Peters on the snare. I believe it’s a $5 cover, which, in Chicago money, is about what it costs to convince someone to give you their already-been-chewed gum and then punch you in the gut.

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If you come to our shows, the Viper will break out that shirt again.

Show announcement: Kneel to Neil benefit at Linneman’s in Milwaukee, Saturday, November 14

If, like me, you need a fix every two years or so of The Viper and His Famous Orchestra at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn in Milwaukee (1001 E. Locust St. | (414) 263-9844), then you’re in luck. We’ll be there again on Saturday, November 15, 2015 as part of the all-night, all-singing, all-playing Kneel to Neil show going on that evening.

This is annual event — the eleventh one! — of local Milwaukee stalwarts, upstarts, and icons doing their best to take on the fugitive, classic, and anti-iconic music of Neil Young, and to do so for the greater good. And by “greater good” I mean benefiting the folks at WMSE who keep local Milwaukee radio weird and also benefiting the Bridge School. The Bridge School is a California-based non-profit that works with alternative technologies and modes of communication to enable children with severe speech and physical impairments to participate more fully in their schools and communities. It was started, along with few others, by Pegi Young — mother of transformer man, Ben Young, and wife of Neil Young (provider of Ben Young’s blue jeep rides).

Sure, Neil Young himself plays at the annual benefit concert that happens in Mountain View, California. But if you want The Viper, you’ve got to come to Milwaukee!

I don’t know if a start time has been set or the order of performers, but last time it started at 7:30 and we went on about four or five acts in. Here’s what it looked like the first time we did it back in 2011 (though we didn’t look nearly as squatty as this footage makes it seem):

Shot and posted by Sue Peacock

Show announcement: Sept. 26, 2015 at The Coffee House in Milwaukee

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Though it’s hard to believe, The Viper & His Famous Orchestra will be playing our first full-length show of the calendar year on Saturday, September 26, at The Coffee House in Milwaukee (1905 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233 | (414) 534-4612). Opening will be singer, wry songwriter, and clawhammerer of banjos, Bob Druker (see a clip of him playing below).

The Coffee House is a venerable venue just west of the Marquette University campus: a borrowed stage space in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, and the home of “Acoustic music and poetry since 1967.” The last time we played there, Jamie Lee Rake wrote this perspicacious and funny review for the Dec. 13, 2014, Shepherd Express, calling attention to our “mélange of pre-1940s U.S. pop incorporating various retro-futuristic elements,” played “(mostly) acoustically with scads of cleverness, giving even their most politically vehement numbers a dose of humor. One could call them the Rage Against The Machine for sophisticated Hoosier Hot Shots or Spike Jones fans.”

Rag against the machine we do, indeed. Read it and weep. And then come see us play!


Bob Druker and Lileah Kroening perform “The Days Are Brief”