Category Archives: Music Advocacy

Angie’s Early Pioneering Activism for Obscure Local Blues History (2004-07)

Contact:  angie@ozaukeetalent.com for speaking engagments and interviews

December 2004
Angela got in touch with Alex van der Tuuk and began corresponding with him on a regular basis and reading his book

January 2005
ParamountsHome goes online, collects data, and begins networking locally and worldwide

April 2005
Kris of the Grafton Jaycees begins to tackle the project of putting on a blues festival in Grafton after Angie proposed the idea to the group.

May 2005
Angela gets in touch with Michael “Hawkeye” Herman and he begins encouraging her and mentoring her toward her goals.

September 2005
Joe Krupski approaches the Grafton Planning Commission to open a Paramount Restaurant

September 2005
Michael “Hawkeye” Herman does Blues in the Schools for all 3 Grafton Elementary Schools (Thanks to principal Scott Oftedahl, area music teachers and Kennedy P.A.C.E.)

Fall 2005
“Embrace the Legacy” concert series designed to educate adults about Paramount at the Timothy Wooden Building/North Shore Academy of the Arts (Thanks to Barbara Krause and Grafton Area Live Arts)

October 2005
“Paramount Blues Festival” at the Cedarburg Cultural Center featuring Ann Rabson, Fruitland Jackson, and a Paramount panel discussion

October 2005
Ad Hoc Committee forms to discuss the possibilities of incorporating the Paramount theme into the downtown redevelopment and Grafton’s identity. Ad Hoc Committee Members Present: Jim Brunnquell, Jim Grant, Angela Mack, Tom Sweet, Melissa Schmitz, Darrell Hofland, and Michael Rambousek. Discussion begins about creating a Paramount music society of sorts

December 2005
Paramount GIG (Grooves in Grafton) begins to form and later brings “the mobile museum” to area banks, businesses, and the library to educate the community. (Thanks to Missy Schmitz)

January 2006
Grafton Blues Association begins to form out of members from the Grafton Jaycees

July 2006
Paramount GIG presents “A Dance With Early Jazz” to raise funds for the etching of artists into the Walk of Fame

July 2006 ParamountsHome wins the annual Wisconsin Historical Society website award

July 2006
PBS History Detectives films in Grafton upon Angie’s written request

August 2006
“Lost Musical Treasure” by PBS History Detectives airs nationwide

August 2006
The Grafton Hotel is purchased by Rob Ruvin

September 2006
Angie presents “Passionate about Paramount and the Blues” at the Grafton children’s library

September 2006
First annual Paramount Blues Festival presented by the Grafton Blues Association and attended by first lady Jessica Doyle

September 2006
Representative Mark Gottlieb issues a legislative citation to the Village of Grafton acknowledging the importance of the history and praising the Village, individuals, and groups who have embraced the history

September 2006
The Village of Grafton holds the first annual Walk of Fame ceremony to honor Henry Towsend as the first inductee into the new Walk of Fame.  Angie provides a team of youth singers to accompany the event.

September 2006
North Shore Academy of the Arts (Angie) presents a second annual “Embrace the Legacy” concert featuring the Paul Curtis Band

October 2006
ParamountsHome (Angie) lectures at the Wisconsin State Historical Museum

October 2006
Henry Townsend Memorial Benefit Concert presented by the GBA- American Legion, Grafton

November 2006 Grafton Blues Association becomes organization of the year – Grafton Chamber of Commerce

November 2006 Paramount Plaza tree lighting ceremony – Grafton Chamber of Commerce

December 2006 Paramount Restaurant opens and begins to provide a venue for musicians to play (Thanks to Joe Krupski)

December 2006 North Shore Academy of the Arts (Angie) finishes its recording studio and does some makeshift recording projects with Scout Groups, classes and birthday parties

December 2006 Paramount GIG begins to merge into the Village of Grafton Historical Preservation Commission

The News Graphic lists Angie as one of the most influential leaders in Ozaukee County.

June 2007 Playwrite Kevin Ramsey announces his new musical, “Grafton City Blues” to be performed at the Milwaukee Rep Theatre Jan-March 2008.  Angie’s interview of Kevin is published in the playbills.

June 2007 Paramount Walking Tour is completed

Summer 2007 Many of the components of the Paramount Plaza are completed

September 2007 2nd annual Paramount Blues Festival

September 22, 2007 Walk of Fame ceremony inducting Louis Armstrong and Son House. Dick Waterman came for the ceremony and gave the Grafton Historic Preservation Commission a photo of Son House and Skip James that hasn’t ever been published before.

October 18, 2007 Village of Grafton and Grafton State Bank formally dedicate the sculpture by Norm Christensen

world music foundation

Listen to Podcast Paramount Records:  the Rise, Fall and Resurrection featuring Alex van der Tuuk and Angie Mack Reilly presented by The World Music Foundation

2007: In Tune with Grafton

In tune with Grafton

Play based on the village’s blues

and gospel history headed for stage

By TIM CARPENTER – GM Today Staff

April 27, 2007

Some of the most influential blues and gospel songs ever made were recorded at Grafton’s Wisconsin Chair Company, shown below, in the 1920s and early 1930s under the Paramount Records label. A play featuring the music of Paramount artists such as Thomas A. Dorsey, right, will run at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater early next year. 

GRAFTON – Playwright Kevin Ramsey has never set foot in Grafton. Yet, the story of Grafton’s role in shaping blues and gospel music resonates deep feelings inside him of a place similar to his cajun hometown.

“Grafton is like New Orleans,” Ramsey said. “It helped shape music that’s a part of American culture that could have gone unknown if people … had not taken the initiative to expose this historical gem.”

The story of how musicians such as “Ma” Rainey and Thomas A. Dorsey would travel to Grafton in the 1920s and early 1930s to record some of the most influential blues and gospel albums for the Paramount Records label was something Ramsey discovered last summer while working on production of his musical play on soul legend Sam Coat at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

“Somebody just kind of dropped this gem on me that there was this record studio called Paramount Records where all these blues artists would come to record,” said Ramsey, who, by chance, stumbled across the “History Detectives” episode later that week featuring the segment on Paramount Records. “I am attracted to history in everything I write, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out the Milwaukee region played such an integral part in the development of blues, folk and religious music. I thought there has to be a story in there.”

Out of Ramsey’s discovery, the play “Grafton City Blues” was born. The production is slated to run next year from Jan. 11 through March 9 at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The play will consist of a multi-ethnic cast of two men and two women who will sing and recount the story of Paramount Records and the artists who made the music, many of whom recorded their albums at the Grafton-based Wisconsin Chair Company.

“We were very interested in it for obvious reasons,” said MRT Associate Artistic Director Sandy Ernst. “Anything that’s local in nature frankly is interesting to people. But above and beyond that, we’re talking about some really wonderful music.”

The multi-talented Ramsey has been involved in a number of projects for both the stage and screen, with several theater, film and television projects in development. His credits include directing and writing the award-winning short film “Tap Rap” and directing and co-choreographing the off-Broadway musical “My Hometown.”

Ramsey’s Broadway credits include “Five Guys Named Moe” and “Black and Blue.” He has also appeared in such television shows as “Judging Amy” and “Charmed.”

While development of the script is still in its research stage, Ramsey plans to use Paramount’s diverse catalogue of blues, spiritual and folk recordings to flesh out the musical aspects of the play.

A more concrete version of the script is expected to be ready in June before Ramsey travels to Milwaukee in July to conduct auditions and begin production. A trip to Grafton also is in the plans for Ramsey when he comes to Milwaukee this summer.

“The interesting thing about Paramount Records is that they recorded so many different types of music, so (the play) just can’t be a bunch of blues songs,” Ramsey said, adding he intends to incorporate music from Paramount greats such as Alberta Hunter and Skip James into the production.

Local Paramount historian Angela Mack said seeing Grafton’s musical heritage adapted for the stage reaffirms that all the time and effort spent promoting the village’s role in shaping American culture was worth it. 

“Since 2004, I’ve spent numerous hours contacting almost anyone I could about this Paramount history, knowing that once this story got out it would have nationwide appeal,” Mack said. “Now that this musical is being written by a guy from Broadway, it just further legitimatizes what went on here in Grafton.” 

Reporter Tim Carpenter can be reached at tcarpenter@conleynet.com

This story appeared in the Ozaukee News Graphic on April 26, 2007.

Staked Upon History it Didn’t Understand

used with permission from Tim Carpenter

“Grafton’s blossoming retro blues business staked upon history it didn’t understand”

By TIM CARPENTER – GM Today Staff

April 25, 2006

GRAFTON – When Grafton found out that it was home to some of music’s most influential and earliest recordings of jazz, blues and gospel, it could hardly contain itself. After all, it had spent years trying to break away from the shadows of neighboring towns, Cedarburg and Port Washington, but never seemed able to do so. But there was another reason for their giddiness, as they unearthed an economic diamond in the rough with enough appeal to potentially make Grafton not only the top tourist destination in the region, but also a travel hot spot for music enthusiasts all over the world.

“The artists that recorded for Paramount were etched into American culture the moment the needle hit the wax,” said local music historian Angela Mack,

noting that musicians such as Thomas A. Dorsey, the godfather of gospel; and legendary blues songstress “Ma” Rainey were just two of several artists who came to Grafton in the 1920s and early 1930s to record albums at The New York Recording Laboratories for the Paramount Record label.

A subsidiary of the Grafton-based Wisconsin Chair Company, Paramount released a wide variety of music but is best known for its recordings of African-American jazz and blues, controlling 25 percent of the black music market at its peak. However, like many of businesses of that era, the original incarnation of Paramount folded in 1935 due to the Great Depression.

While Paramount’s legacy was known by music aficionados around the world, the label’s association with Grafton remained unknown to its hometown until a few years ago when a vinyl collector looking for records manufactured by Paramount sent inquiries out via mass mail to several Grafton residents. After that, it wasn’t long before interest in the record label’s connection with Grafton ignited like wildfire throughout the village.

“Embracing this history also embraces the arts, which in turn embraces tourism and business,” Mack said in regard to the domino effect Paramount’s legacy has had on the village. “When you tap into the history and arts of a community and get the people involved, the businesses will then get involved to draw tourists to come here.”

Using the past to sell the future

Village President Jim Brunnquell originally learned about Paramount Records’ connection with Grafton in spring 2004 when Mack approached him about starting the Paramount Blues Festival, which will debut on Sept. 23 at Lime Kiln Park. Although the idea intrigued him, Brunnquell wasn’t able to grasp Paramount’s importance in American music history until coming across a considerable amount of material that had been published about the label, including a book by Scandinavian author Alex van der Tuuk.

“It appears that everyone knew about the history of Paramount and Grafton except for the village of Grafton,” said Brunnquell. “It involved a matter of somebody opening my eyes to it. Once that happened, it was like ‘Holy cow, this is amazing. We played an amazing part of Americana here.’”

The revelation couldn’t have come at a better time, as the village was in the early stages of creating a redevelopment plan for the downtown area. At the same time, resident/chef Joe Krupski had just bought the old Bienlein Hotel on 12th Avenue. After learning of Paramount’s connection with the village and the likelihood that many of the label’s musicians stayed at the Bienlein while recording, he decided to call the place The Paramount Restaurant.

“What we’re trying to do is tell the story of the artists and what they did in Grafton,” said Krupski of the theme of his restaurant, which will feature various items of Paramount memorabilia. “I think Grafton’s always been searching for some kind of identity, and now they’ve found it. So we’re just celebrating that history.”

With plans already in motion to add a plaza downtown and community interest in Paramount on the rise, the village decided to team up with Krupski and the organizers of the blues festival in paying homage to its musical roots.

“Whenever you’re trying to bring in a mix of businesses into a community, it’s all about identity and having a selling point,” said Brunnquell of the Paramount Plaza, which once complete will resemble a record disk and will feature among other things a gazebo with a stage and seating area, a timeline of the label’s history and a large flat metal medallion of the Paramount eagle. “This is a great idea to wrap around because it’s unique to us and is a vital part of music history.”

The plaza will also feature a piano design walkway complete with ivories and a Paramount Recording Artists’ Walk of Fame. Paramount Grooves in Grafton, a group headed by Mack to educate and inform the public about Grafton’s musical heritage, has been put in charge by the village board to select the first five inductees for the fame walk, which is expected to cost somewhere around $2,000 per artist.

The first Paramount Blues Festival is scheduled for Sept. 23 at Lime Kiln Park, with a daylong slate of music and workshops, including an appearance by van der Tuuk.

While the village has fully embraced its rich musical heritage, it is unknown whether the rest of the world will react to Grafton’s legacy in a similar fashion. However, the chances look good that it will. After all, Grafton was the last one to find itself.

“Economically, I think it’s a great tool,” Brunnquell said of the village’s long-lost musical heritage. “It’s something that’s uniquely Grafton and the great thing about it is that it’s truly legitimate.”

This story appeared in the Ozaukee County News Graphic on April 25, 2006.

Forgotten blues: excerpts from angie mack reilly (2004)

“Forgotten Blues” excerpts

© 11/04 Angela Mack originally published on paramountshome.org and creativeconnectionarts.org

I first became aware of the Paramount story when I received a bulk letter in my Grafton, WI mailbox close to the turn of the 21st century. It was from a man that I did not know. He claimed that Grafton, WI was once the home of a famous record company called Paramount. Immediately, I laughed. “Yeah right”, I thought, “in this totally uncultured town of people”. I knew it was hoax. After all, I had lived in the town for approximately 5 years and was a songwriter and recording artist myself. If a recording studio was truly a part of Grafton’s history, surely I would know about it! This man, John Teftteller, inquired if I had any of Paramount’s 78 records hiding in my basement. He claimed that the records recorded in Grafton were very special. He named some of the recording artists, but I never heard of them. After glancing at the very bizarre letter, I threw it in the trash and forgot about it for another few years.

Then, one day I was bored. So I decided to surf for awhile. Nothing seemed interesting. I decided to look into the history of my hometown, Grafton, WI. I found a lot of information about the town’s pride, the lime kilns that existed long ago and the quarry that used to be mined for limestone. I already knew this. I once saw a picture of the quarry in one of the banks while I was setting up a savings account for my young son. I also live very close to Lime Kiln Park. I live on West Falls Road in Grafton which is the same road that Lime Kiln Park is on. The lime kilns are still there. The quarry has since been filled, leaving a nice place to picnic. To be honest, I didn’t even know what a lime kiln was until I moved to Grafton. But I quickly learned that it as an important part of this community.

I searched the Internet diligently for some nugget of information about the recording studio that John Tefteller claimed to be here. Sure enough, I found some former articles from the Journal Sentinel that confirmed the reality of its existence. Immediately, I was intrigued. I was obsessed. I was in shock. I was in disbelief. I was in disgust that my city didn’t augment the story more. WHY? It was then that I was propelled into this obsession for finding the facts surrounding the Paramount Record Company in Grafton which flourished in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

I learned that Paramount was located in a Chair Factory which existed just off of the street that I live on. The Chair Factory rested along the Milwaukee River. In addition to furniture, they sold phonographs. In attempts to sell the phonographs, they allowed for a recording studio to dwell in the building which would make records to be given out with the phonographs. In my research, I learned that many African American blues artists came up from Mississippi and Chicago in the dead of the night via the electric train on the Interurban Trail to record their blues………………

Immediately, I contacted my city officials. I expressed my anger that there are seemingly huge events in Grafton’s history that are being forgotten. I expressed my fury that there weren’t any monuments or pictures of these black recording artists. Paramount’s history isn’t accentuated like it should be. I quickly received a cordial response. I was informed that, “just last year”, a historical marker was set up near he location of the Chair Factory mentioning Paramount Records. It was a nice letter, a little too nice? I wondered why it took so long for a historical marker to be erected in honor of Paramount. I wondered if it had something to do with John Tefteller, a man from New York, who shed light into every home in this area?

Next, I attempted to find the historical marker. Funny, but I kept driving past it. I couldn’t figure out where to park. It was hard to get to. Finally, I found it, read the Paramount blurb and wanted to cry. It didn’t seem to say enough. As I gazed down at the Milwaukee River, I heard the river running over the rocks creating beautiful melodies. My heart missed these blues artists, whoever they were. I felt sad for them. I oddly felt connected to them. I felt sorry that, even though the city officials are currently aware of Paramount’s history, the residents aren’t.

Experimentally, I have asked resident after resident if they’ve ever heard of Paramount. The area artists and musicians seem to know a little about it. But the average citizen does not. The area of the torn down Chair Factory is hauntingly eerie. It is fascinatingly compelling. The spirit of the blues is down there. The spirit of the African American singers is down there. I know because I felt it. I had nothing to do but to feel tremendous pride and respect. Greatness dwelt here. But still, I wanted to know more…………….

I began to share my passion over the history of Grafton with my petite Italian friend, Missy…………. She dynamically got on board with the vision and mission. As someone who is passionate about and actively prays for people and society, she shared how she prayed at the historical place years ago but didn’t know the significance of it. She wanted to go there and pray together. So, we went to the historical area to pray. We walked around on the opposite side of the river from the recording studio and prayed among the trees………

Shortly after, Missy and I spread the news of Paramount to our family and friends. Missy discovered that her Grandfather, Joe Gumin, recorded with the sister company of Paramount called Broadway. Her grandfather was from Sicily jazz musician. Missy learned that her deceased grandfather may have some of the rare Paramount records.

I told the story to a group of friends who came over one night. Some of them were shocked that they lived in this area for so long and didn’t know about it. …..

So eleven of us drove in the dark to the location of where Paramount once stood……

When we crossed the bridge to get to our destination, Mark whispered to all of us, “Immediately, I am struck by the noise of the river flowing over the rocks. The river is making music. When we get to the location, let’s quietly listen…………

We quietly walked down by the river and listened. Again, it was eerie. Everyone silently walked around to listen. One of my friends, Kat, was a little afraid. “The sap hanging on the old pine tree seemed to have formed tears”, she said. Then my husband commented, “Imagine what these trees have seen.”
“Hey everybody!” shouted Mark. “Look what I found! It’s one of the beams from the original foundation!” He pulled out a worn piece of wood from a crevice in the cement foundation.

Then my ten year old son cleared his throat. “I think he has something to say,” I said.

“I can just see people playing jazz on the big rocks in the river,” he said motioning toward the river with his hand, “like someone with a cello and other jazz instruments.” Josh was right, I could envision that, too. The rocks were certainly large enough and the water wasn’t too deep.

I shared that if the blues music scene returned to Grafton, it would affect Milwaukee just as the Milwaukee River flows into Milwaukee…….

We continued to walk around in the dark, sharing our thoughts as they came. Together we dreamed. We prayed. We reminisced and tried to imagine. I stumbled upon a huge stump of a tree approximately 3 feet wide at the edge of the river and sat there. I closed my eyes. Again, I was sad. How I wish I could have witnessed it all! How I would have loved to hear Charley Patton, founder of the Delta Blues who recorded at least 28 times in Grafton. I thought about Blind Lemon Jefferson, “Son” House, Tommy Johnson, Skip James, “Papa” Charlie Jackson, Ida Cox, Louise Johnson, and “Ma” Rainey, “Mother of the Blues”.

I thought about the tremendous excitement that they must have felt. After all, Paramount recorded many of the first African American records ever. They recorded at least 1/ 4 of all of the blues music in America at that time. These Delta Blues artists were foundational in American music in general. The Delta Blues was an off-shoot of the African-American work songs. In fact, many of these musicians lived on plantations in Mississippi. The joy they must have felt! Did they celebrate and play in this river together? Did they sit out on the rocks and play the blues to the evening sky? As I listened and wondered, I faintly heard the deep rich voice of a black man and a guitar. I sang with him in a slow and mournful tone, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound”.

When I got up from the tree stump, I listened to more people share their thoughts and feelings. Missy described how there used to be a dam in the river. She talked about the river providing power. Victor, Jodi, and Chris were standing together up by the road reading the Paramount historical marker in the dark. My eight year old son, Timothy, commented, “This is a happy place”.

On the way back to our cars, Victor who looks like a lumberjack in his big fluffy gray beard and hair explained to me that many new species of fish have come up to Grafton from Milwaukee after the dam was broken down. Being a fisherman, he knew much about the river.

Since my friends and I took our little field trip to the Paramount site, I’ve been madly searching for information about the lives of the African American recording artists who developed their dream in Grafton. The more I have researched, the more appalled I have become. WHY ISN’T THIS CELEBRATED IN A BIG WAY? THIS IS A HUGE DEAL IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND MUSICAL HISTORY! It has infuriated me.

If I was in charge of Grafton, immediately I would erect a museum honoring the Delta Blues. I would visually show how the African American slaves gave us their spirituals and work songs. These beget Delta Blues. Delta Blues beget other blues. Later, many other styles like Dixieland and Boogie Woogie came along. Then came Be-Bop and, eventually, Rock and Roll. Everybody would know how foundational Delta Blues was in American music overall.

I would open a happening blues club with all sorts of memorabilia about Paramount and its recording artists. We would have our Chatton Burgers, “Ma Rainey” fries and Skip James pizza. I would make sure that everybody remembers their names. Their pictures would be painted on a mural.

I would also hold a yearly national blues festival bringing in all sorts of musicians. I bet Eric Clapton would come.

I would make sure that every music program in Ozaukee and Milwaukee County teaches their children the story and takes their children to Grafton for a field trip. I would celebrate it in the parades. (Not one of the parades has done this yet.) Instead of just the lime kilns, the black recording artists’ photographs would be permanently hung in our banks.

Busloads of kids from Milwaukee would come to Grafton on the weekends to attend blues workshops. They would learn to be proud of the blues. I would get Oprah to come to town and tell the entire world about how great these recording artists were. I would make a feature film about the lives of the famous people who came here. I would make music videos with artists playing their instruments on the rocks in the river and while standing on the big tree stump along the river’s edge. Yes, I have big dreams for Grafton, WI but no money. What’s a student to do?

I don’t know why my town doesn’t make a big deal out of the stories behind Paramount. God, I hope it isn’t because they don’t want to attract blues lovers and artists to Grafton. I hope that the blues story isn’t forgotten or diminished on purpose. This would be a travesty. Maybe they are just ignorant….ignorant about African American and music history. If that is the case, I will do my best to keep the city informed and I will pray that somebody or some group comes along with some money to bring the story of the forgotten blues alive.

Taken from my website http://www.creativeconnectionarts.com

NOTE: SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN 2004, MANY GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS IN GRAFTON HAVE BECOME EXCITED ABOUT GRAFTON’S MUSIC HISTORY. THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS NEWFOUND AWARENESS:

December 2004
Angela got in touch with Alex van der Tuuk and began corresponding with him on a regular basis and reading his book

January 2005
ParamountsHome goes online, collects data, and begins networking locally and worldwide

April 2005
Kris Marshall of the Grafton Jaycees begins to tackle the project of putting on a blues festival in Grafton after Angela Mack proposed the idea to the group.

May 2005
Angela gets in touch with Michael “Hawkeye” Herman and he begins encouraging her and mentoring her toward her goals.

September 2005
Joe Krupski approaches the Grafton Planning Commission to open a Paramount Restaurant

September 2005
Michael “Hawkeye” Herman does Blues in the Schools for all 3 Grafton Elementary Schools (Thanks to principal Scott Oftedahl, area music teachers and Kennedy P.A.C.E.)

Fall 2005
“Embrace the Legacy” concert series designed to educate adults about Paramount at the Timothy Wooden Building/North Shore Academy of the Arts (Thanks to Barbara Krause and Grafton Area Live Arts)

October 2005
“Paramount Blues Festival” at the Cedarburg Cultural Center featuring Ann Rabson, Fruitland Jackson, and a Paramount panel discussion

October 2005
Ad Hoc Committee forms to discuss the possibilities of incorporating the Paramount theme into the downtown redevelopment and Grafton’s identity. Ad Hoc Committee Members Present: Jim Brunnquell, Jim Grant, Angela Mack, Tom Sweet, Melissa Schmitz, Darrell Hofland, and Michael Rambousek. Discussion begins about creating a Paramount music society of sorts

December 2005
P
aramount GIG (Grooves in Grafton) begins to form and later brings “the mobile museum” to area banks, businesses, and the library to educate the community. (Thanks to Missy Schmitz)

January 2006
Grafton Blues Association begins to form out of members from the Grafton Jaycees

July 2006
Paramount GIG presents “A Dance With Early Jazz” to raise funds for the etching of artists into the Walk of Fame

July 2006

ParamountsHome wins the annual Wisconsin Historical Society website award

July 2006
PBS History Detectives films in Grafton

August 2006
“Lost Musical Treasure” by PBS History Detectives airs nationwide

August 2006
The Grafton Hotel is purchased by Rob Ruvin

September 2006
North Shore Academy of the Arts presents “Passionate about Paramount and the Blues” at the Grafton children’s library

September 2006
First annual Paramount Blues Festival presented by the Grafton Blues Association and attended by first lady Jessica Doyle

September 2006
Representative Mark Gottlieb issues a legislative citation to the Village of Grafton acknowledging the importance of the history and praising the Village, individuals, and groups who have embraced the history

September 2006
The Village of Grafton holds the first annual Walk of Fame ceremony to honor Henry Towsend as the first inductee into the new Walk of Fame

September 2006
North Shore Academy of the Arts presents a second annual “Embrace the Legacy” concert featuring the Paul Curtis Band

October 2006
ParamountsHome lectures at the Wisconsin State Historical Museum

October 2006
Henry Townsend Memorial Benefit Concert presented by the GBA- American Legion, Grafton

November 2006 Grafton Blues Association becomes organization of the year – Grafton Chamber of Commerce

November 2006 Paramount Plaza tree lighting ceremony – Grafton Chamber of Commerce

December 2006 Paramount Restaurant opens and begins to provide a venue for musicians to play (Thanks to Joe Krupski)

December 2006 North Shore Academy of the Arts finishes its recording studio

December 2006 Paramount GIG begins to merge into the Village of Grafton Historical Preservation Commission

June 2007 Playwrite Kevin Ramsey announces his new musical, “Grafton City Blues” to be performed at the Milwaukee Rep Theatre Jan-March 2008

June 2007 Paramount Walking Tour is completed

Summer 2007 Many of the components of the Paramount Plaza are completed

September 2007 2nd annual Paramount Blues Festival

September 22, 2007 Walk of Fame ceremony inducting Louis Armstrong and Son House. Dick Waterman came for the ceremony and gave the Grafton Historic Preservation Commission a photo of Son House and Skip James that hasn’t ever been published before.

October 18, 2007 Village of Grafton and Grafton State Bank formally dedicate the sculpture by Norm Christensen

content rescued from https://web.archive.org/web/20130507120517/http://www.creativeconnectionarts.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=50

Why Musicians Overdose: A #poem for #prince by Angie Mack Reilly

Angie Mack Reilly has been working closely with musicians for the past two decades and is a musician herself.  She wrote this poem after Prince died of an accidental overdose.  After observing and listening to the hearts of so many musicians over the years, it is her lifelong passion to advocate for musicians and artists whose mental health needs are grossly overlooked.  Angie doesn’t consider herself a huge Prince fan nor does this blog post necessarily reflect Prince’s personal situation.  Yet after seeing another celebrity musician die, she decided to write about it to raise awareness about the unique mental health and emotional needs of those in the entertainment industry.

Angie wants to raise awareness that those who are creative are, first and foremost, PEOPLE.   Not just entertainers.  Not just people that we can make money off of.  Not just people who can make us feel good and boost our self-esteem.  Not just people who can boost us up the ladder of success if we schmooze them enough.  People.  Many have had traumatic experiences.  Many suffer from depression. Anxiety. Addiction. PTSD.

“The difficult part about being talented is that so many people either want to monopolize on the talent or be made to feel good from it.  And there are many excellent artists ‘who deliver’.  Giving 110%.  But when the artist has a need, such as an emotional issue to work through or a financial setback, they are often abandoned and left to their own devices to heal.   And it can be too much.

Laugh.  And the world laughs with you.  Cry.  And you cry alone.  – unknown

Due to the nature of the entertainment industry, many performers don’t have the time to form lasting relationships.  Many come from broken homes.  Entertainers face unique challenges of loneliness.   And because they are more sensitive, the feelings of rejection or abandonment can be even more devastating.”

Angie is also a published poet whose poetry is etched into some of the sidewalks in Grafton, WI including the poem pictured,  “Traveling Minstrels”.

A #poem for #prince by Angie Mack Reilly

by (c) Angie Mack Reilly 4/23/16

Everybody loves a performer while they are performing.

“Traveling Minstrels” I call them.

Going from place to place like gypsies,

trying to make a living pleasing crowds.

Until addiction.

Until sadness.

Until struggle.

Then they are left alone to their own devices and sorrow.

They are left to die alone

in mental anguish and unmarked graves.

Where are those who loved them

when their pockets were running full,

their faces were full of smiles

and their hearts were full of song?

Why, cheering on the next traveling minstrel

who makes them feel good!

For they had sucked the life out of the first!

He gave everything he had and then some,

with all of his sensitivities and musical genius.

He thought they would reciprocate

and it devastated him when they did not.

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One of Angie’s “claims to fame” is finding the unmarked and unknown grave of long ago blues legend, Blind Blake.  #musicianadvocate

Angie spearheaded a movement to get “Blind Blake” a much deserved headstone.  Blake is buried in Glendale, WI.

blind blake grave