Your Local Music Scene

The music scene in the Valley is far from dead thanks to some new venue front runners as well as the revival of some landmarks. As a music appreciating super hero and a musician, I am proud of the shows I’ve been able to see so close to home. Thank you Cranky Pat’s for your continued support and interest in local music.

I am performing at Cranky Pat’s on Friday May 20th along with Them Coulee Boys. I’m thrilled to be a part of the revival. Check out this article from Jan of this year. Their ideas and efforts have had positive outcomes already.

Cranky Pat’s goes LIVE…again!

Cranky-Pats-LogoBY Jonathan Schinke

Cranky Pat’s in Neenah, Wisconsin has long been known for their fantastic food, casual atmosphere, and high quality live music. Over the past year or so, however, the amount of concerts at the Fox Valley eatery has waned drastically, causing some concern that their days as a live music venue were numbered.

Enter local music fan and Cranky’s employee Jacob Kleinschmidt.

Kleinschmidt was simply unwilling to let the live music aspect fade away into the night, so he took it upon himself to rejuvenate the local hot spot, along with owner David Earle. The result is a full slate of high quality shows, upgrades to the sound and stage, and a relieved local fan base. I spoke with Kleinschmidt -who is now in charge of live music at Cranky Pat’s- about what’s on the horizon for the Neenah institution.

WIJAM: I can’t tell you how thrilled we are here at WIJAM, and how excited I am personally, that one of Wisconsin’s most beloved live music venues is back in action.

Jacob Kleinschmidt: Yes, it is back and in full force! I’m so grateful and enthused to be part of promoting a live music venue and atmosphere that is a staple of our community, and has had so much history, prestigious acts, and unforgettable nights. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for live music. It’s really great to be allowed the opportunity to schedule and create live music events at Cranky Pat’s with awesome support from the individuals getting involved; the musicians, the owner, the staff, sound techs, booking agents, and most importantly the fans.

WIJAM: How did you get things rolling again?

JK: Some of the duties and research to begin this journey required business forecasting with our previous music manager, Mike McMillan, and the owner of Cranky Pat’s, David Earle. Our venue strives to maintain the best practice in show management by communicating with colleagues, artists, and similar establishments.  Every upcoming show is one to look forward to. We are looking at exceptional, quality events for the present and future. Cranky Pat’s Live Music will have a cure for the winter blues with our “Cranky’s Bluegrass Showcase,” shows as well as a variety of acts to accommodate all music listeners.

WIJAM: What’s your history with Cranky Pat’s?

JK: My personal journey began a while ago when I started coming to enjoy music at Cranky Pat’s. I didn’t want to see it continue without live music. That’s when I decided to take on the responsibilities of booking and bringing our stage back to life.

cranky-pats-pizzaWIJAM: Talk to me a little bit about some of those quality events coming up.

JK: Afternoon Moon from Illinois has a captivating sound that has been described as psychedelic roots rock ‘n’ roll that flows into funky grooves with melodies you can sing along to. The following weekend, it’s Ifdakar!! I’ve been a fan for a long time and have built some great friendships with the members and supporters of Ifdakar. I can’t thank you enough for your past, present, and future relationship with myself and Cranky Pat’s.

(Article author Jon Schinke is a founding member of the Appleton band Ifdakar, who will be returning to the Cranky Pat’s stage after nearly 3 years away on Saturday, January 23rd)

Our next “Cranky’s Bluegrass Showcase,” show includes The Last Revel, an amazing act from Minneapolis. On February 27th, we have Cornmeal coming to town with our local friends, 2nd Strings opening up the evening. On March 5th, traveling all the way from Colorado, is Rowdy Shadehouse, an amazing Denver based funk rock explosion. Their music taps into an innate wildness where some primal part of the body wants to simply feel good, be free and share that sensation with others.

WIJAM: Share some of the improvements that fans will see, once they start coming back to Cranky’s.

JK: The upgrades are tremendous and improves our stage set up, stimulating the crowd and environment for an ultimate light and sound experience. Not only have we made improvements in our lighting, but we have invested in brand new speakers, a new mixing board, and acoustic ceiling tiles for a crisp and clean sound that is unbelievable. I have to give a huge thanks to David Earle and Cole Grygny for making these changes happen. The room is looking and sounding better than ever!

WIJAM: You’re a Neenah guy. You know better than most what Cranky Pat’s has meant to so many music fans over the years. How important it is to have this venue delivering high quality music events for the people of the Fox Valley, and beyond.

JK: Yeah, I’ve been living in Neenah most of my life and have had the pleasure to enjoy a ton of shows at Cranky’s for years. It’s really key for our community to have the opportunity to see live music at Cranky Pat’s, and that’s part of the reason I decided to take on the perpetual project that is “Cranky Pat’s Live Music.” It’s a central location in the Fox Valley, which is great for the people of the area considering the acts gracing our stage.

WIJAM: One thing that I definitely want to know, will the Midnight Pizza Buffet still be available on show nights?

JK: Oh yeah, midnight buffet will be available for anyone looking to eat all they can on show nights. That is one huge perk of our venue ,considering our bread and butter is the best pizza in the world! I am very proud of what we do, considering I also manage the kitchen at Cranky Pat’s. I encourage everyone to come enjoy our extensive menu before, during, or after shows.

WIJAM: Live music, a great atmosphere, a wonderful staff, and a midnight pizza buffet, to boot. I think I can speak on behalf of all Fox Valley music fans when I say how thankful I am that Cranky Pat’s is back. And once we’re all back there at that amazing venue, reliving the memories of old while making brand new ones, we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it.

Visit Cranky Pat’s online for all the latest!
1. Our official website ( 
2. Our Facebook page (
3. The Entertainer  (


The Sky Has No Limit…the Greensky


Greensky Bluegrass delivers…every time. They make five acoustic instruments sound as loud as your favorite rock show. That can’t be easy to create. Even with Bluegrass in their name their sound pulls from so many genres. They are rooted in classic string Americana, folk, blues, rock, and country. Their sound is song-driven and it resonates with fans in a spiritual way. I’m not blowing smoke friends. Greensky Bluegrass is the best live performance I’ve ever experienced.

Caught them at The Pabst Theater in Milwaukee last weekend. Historical theaters are always an incredible venue. The Pabst, Majestic, and Meyer Theatre and beyond all have my support. The more shows you attend the longer these venues will continue to prosper and bring artists to your community.


The Sky has no limit when it’s Greensky. Keep following your dreams and working hard. Your dreams won’t work unless you do.

Song Swap Your Heart Out

10394575_821333504567244_5344734789830707647_nStevens Point Wisconsin…named after the great George Stevens and home to Point Brewery. The trip to join some fellow musicians at the Elbow Room for a song swap was well worth it.

Simply displayed behind the bar there was a sign that said “No fancy drinks” and I could tell right when I walked in it was more of a joke than a rule. Great atmosphere mixes well with great talent.

Musician after musician came to play. From banjos, to trumpets, violins to washboards, my heart was filled with music from beginning to end. Music doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are young or old, male or female, rich or not so rich, music is appreciated across ages, cultures, and classes. This swap was a perfect example of how the magic of music brings people together. People who otherwise might never cross paths but at the Elbow Room magic seekers unite.



For The Love of Bluegrass


The “high lonesome sound” isn’t always heard in more modern contemporary Bluegrass music. The genre feels like its evolving but all the while still paying tribute to the original style. I can hear the influence of blues in the soulful lyrics and I can hear the influence of jam bands in the mind blowing solos. I have experienced large scale performances of every genre but no style can speak to my soul and fill my body with energy like Bluegrass.

In the past few years I’ve been showing my support for local music and going to see Horseshoes & Hand Grenades as well as Dead Horses perform. HHG plays with a progressive high energy unique style. When they perform they are always having a blast. All five members sing into the same mic that literally pulls the whole show together. Dead Horses brings an intensity to their shows that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It makes you tap your toes, bounce your knees, and bob your head. They have an approachable sound that can be appreciated by all genre lovers. The talent that I’ve witnessed time and time again makes me proud to be a musician from Wisconsin. I’ve traveled near and far to see both these bands and I will never stop SUPPORTING LOCAL MUSIC!

How Music Helped Me Battle Lyme Disease


300 different symptoms are associated with Lyme Disease. I think I’ve experienced most of them. I started feeling sick when I was 8. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong because of the large range of symptoms. There were so many different ways that I hurt. My pain was at a seven. Seven was my baseline.

11 years of testing and doctors without any solution or relief. When I was 19 I was finally diagnosed. FINALLY AN ANSWER. A culprit. A name for my pain. I can remember how relieved I was when we finally had an answer. It gave me a new outlook. I thought the doctors know what’s wrong and they can treat me and I’m going to feel better.

That wasn’t the case. It meant more doctors, more traveling, more pills, and more unanswered questions. In the midst of everything my older brother Eric started playing the acoustic guitar.  He played all the time and he was good. He naturally caught on and he had rhythm. I had always been interested in music but that interest became an obsession when I saw my brother start playing. I had to start playing too. Playing the guitar always made me feel better. Even when I was weak and it was difficult to find the energy, it always made me feel better to hit those strings. Instant relief. When I was sick I didn’t have the power to do anything. But I had the power to make beautiful music that made me feel good inside and out. Most days were still a battle but in the back of my mind I knew I had my guitar and I could always play.

After I had been playing for a few years I still wasn’t getting any better. Out of frustration, I quit taking all the prescription meds and started taking Mitosynergy Supplements and continued playing guitar. The combination was what my body needed and what I was looking for. Mitosynergy impacts the bodies cell energy producers and helps your systems push out the bad and start rebuilding. Mitosynergy was giving me results and my body was rebuilding on the inside while I was rebuilding my soul through music.

Many people know that I have Lyme Disease and that I’m a musician. But not many of them know the true impact music has had on my life and continues to have each day. Music is a huge part of healing for me. I’m grateful to play and I’m gratedul to share my music with others. The journey I’ve been through is nothing compared to the journey music takes me on.

Tunes I Rock

Its difficult for me to categorize my music. Its hard to pick one genre. I appreciate music of all styles and I’m influenced by music from all styles. And my music pulls from every style. Here’s a few of the artists that I’ve been jamming to recently. Some local, some mainstream, all incredibly talented musicians.


Henhouse Prowlers I had the pleasure of seeing this group perform this summer at the first annual Blue Ox Bluegrass Festival in Eau Claire WI. Wow. I was sucked right in. Their finger picking was impressive and  they sounded so polished together. This band will be touring as long as they want to.

ben josephBen Joseph I met Ben in Chicago at Rax Trax Studio when I was recording my debut album “I Wrote These Songs For You.” His song “Dreaming of Electric Sheep” is a mood lifter. Its got almost a sexy jazz vibe to it.

Brian-Wilson-the-beach-boys-33556919-680-400Brian Wilson The impact that Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys had on the music industry is something that could never be measured. Brain pushed the limits early on and paved the way for others. Musical genius.

steam-powered-giraffeSteam Powered Giraffe This group is all about the experience. They are true performers. Their shows include comedic skits, multimedia visuals, steam effects, and robot pantomime. Their style might not be for everyone but their level of talent is unmatched.

Who Really Likes Getting Their Picture Taken


By far my least favorite part of releasing a new album is the ever dreaded photo shoot. Being behind a microphone is awesome. Being on a stage is incredible. But being in front of that dang camera is a really awkward feeling. I’m always pleased with how the images come together but that awkward feeling still resonates inside. If anyone has tips or tricks to melt away the “all eyes on me” feeling, please do share. Here’s a tiny sneak peek.