2012 was a big year for True Endeavors. We went through a lot of changes, which was both challenging and rewarding. After years of being on our own, we teamed up with Frank Productions. There are advantages to being on one’s own, but there are even more, we’ve found, in being part of a team.
For TE, it means we now have the resources and capacity to expand our business into new markets. We’ve always done that a bit, here and there, but now we are looking at more shows outside of Madison, venturing further afield into new cities and and new venues.
This past year we took some of favorite artists into new markets. We did Henry Rollins at an arts center in Springfield, IL. We did Ingrid Michaelson in Iowa City and in Green Bay. We presented cool indie acts like Cloud Nothings and Heartless Bastards at Gabe’s in Iowa City. We did hip-hop and metal shows at the House of Rock in Eau Claire.
We appreciate the chance to get out of Madison from time to time, variety being the spice of life, but we still do the bulk of our work here, in this city I’ve called home since 1988. Here’s a brief review of the highlights of the past year.
Last January we presented our first festival, FRZN, a 2-day event we held at High Noon. We met our goal, which was to break even, allowing us to move forward with a second year. And that we’ve done, expanding to a 4-day festival next month, January 24 – 27.
Polica was one of the breakout bands from our first FRZN. We worked with them two more times in 2012, once in Iowa City and another time at the High Noon Saloon. Their debut full-length album, Give You The Ghost, was one of our favorites of the year. This band is going to be huge. Kinda makes you wonder which artist(s) from this upcoming FRZN festival may be destined for greatness.
Last March brought us our first experience working with Bahamas. We’d known Afie Jurvanen from his stint as Feist’s guitarist and bandleader, but this was our first time taking in his new material. Being in the Frequency amid a small crowd and just being floored to the point of tears, we were instantly converted into followers. The band’s debut release, Barchords, has rarely been out of my CD player since. We had Afie and his talented cohorts back about six months later, when they opened for Milo Greene, and were pleased to discover that so many others had also been won over by one of our very favorite new artists of 2012.
Speaking of Feist, Leslie Feist’s show at the Capitol Theater in June was spellbinding. I loved her last record, 2011′s Metals, and I love Leslie’s commitment to her art. She’s been true to her muse, when many in her shoes would have been tempted to go for another hit single like “1,2,3,4.” Instead, she didn’t even play that lovely tune during the show, choosing to focus instead on what’s she about here and now. The show was a revelation in integrity and beauty. We’ve known Leslie for a while now, so it’s particularly sweet to see her succeed on her own terms.
We had a particularly memorable night last spring with Megafaun at High Noon. The show stuck out for several reasons. First, we love Megafaun, and a big crowd finally showed up to see them. There was no doubt that part of the excitement had to do with the show’s support act, Field Report, fronted by our friend Chris Porterfield. The crowd response was way beyond the norm for an opening set, but Field Report are just that good, which they proved again when they headlined their own show at High Noon in November.
An extra bonus to that March Megafaun show came in the way of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who came to the show hanging out with his pals. Sans beard and wearing a trucker’s hat, Justin was barely recognized all night, but when he joined Megafaun on stage for their encore, the crowd went nuts. You just never know what will happen at a True Endeavors show, do you?
Another opening act who wowed us was Father John Misty, who was here in July supporting Youth Lagoon. Even though he performed solo, J Tillman commanded everyone’s attention and left the crowd wanting more. That desire for more can be fulfilled when Father John Misty returns in a few weeks on Saturday, January 19 at the Capitol Theater, this time with a full band, opening for our good friends, The Walkmen.
Trampled By Turtles sold out the Barrymore last spring with their blazing musicianship and fun-loving stage presence. We get to work with them again soon, on January 26, at the Capitol Theater, a show that’s almost sold out. Plus, we’ll be on the road with them for a pair of shows in early February, in Eau Claire and Green Bay, which should be a blast.
Kelly Hogan put on a stellar performance on a late summer evening at the East Side Club, where we’ve been doing cool, outdoor shows for a couple of years now. Look for more shows at the East Side Club next summer, and don’t miss Ms. Hogan’s sultry pipes as she closes out our next FRZN Fest on Sunday, January 27. And maybe take some of that Christmas money and go out and buy her 2012 release, I Like To Keep Myself in Pain. It’s a great album; you’ll love it!
So much to reflect on, but I can’t close without mentioning Lambchop’s show with Horse Feathers and Brown Bird last spring. It was one of those pinch-me perfect evenings, as Kurt Wagner and company covered songs from the band’s new release, Mr. M, an album dedicated to our good friend Vic Chesnutt, who sadly passed on three years ago during this time of year.
Life is short. Fill it with good music and good cheer.
Thanks for your support and best wishes in the New Year!
–Tag Evers, owner and founder of True Endeavors