Welcome to MKE On The Rise, the newest segment of the Milwaukee local music column. This segment was started to draw attention to the immense amount of musical talent that Milwaukee is home to. This month for February's edition of MKE On The Rise, I have decided to do something a little bit different. I will not be profiling a band, MC or record label. Instead, I have decided to profile an entity in Milwaukee that has supported the Milwaukee independent music scene and is deserving of some attention.
The subject of February's MKE On The Rise is the Uptowner Open Mic Night on Sunday evenings.The Sunday night open mic was the brainchild of local musician and original host of the evening Scott Summers, DJ Charlie Hustle, a New York-based DJ who is a native of Milwaukee, and local emcee Blax, who was a bartender at Uptowner at the time. The idea was to place emphasis on unity and respect for the homegrown talent right here in Milwaukee. With the idea in place, the event was in need of a skilled local DJ. Moses from Wisconsin-based hip hop collective Higher Education Records was quickly enlisted and became the resident DJ for the weekly event.
The open mic night began in September of 2012. From there things quickly spread among the loyal fans of the local hip hop scene and the weekly event has become a symbol of unity within the local hip hop scene, drawing artists from different backgrounds for the common love of music. Artists from all areas of the city have taken the stage at Uptowner, proving that it is a place that welcomes people from all walks of life and musical backgrounds.
In February of 2013, Mic Crawf of Flo Tron took over the hosting duties and the weekly event continued to build a following of loyal attendees, many of whom rarely miss a week. The event is frequented by some of Milwaukee's finest musicians and MCs including Milwaukee musician Scott Summers and well known Milwaukee MCs Mad Static, Blax and Klassik among many others.
Sunday nights at Uptowner have been home to many birthday parties and celebrations for those who are regular attendees and performers at the event, allowing artists a venue to showcase their music and perform at a local venue in front of a supportive and positive crowd. Local artist and photographer CeCe Combz and local internet radio personality Lexi Trenee have both held birthday parties at the Sunday night open mic and in Winter of 2013 Milwaukee artist Mad Static held his college graduation party at the weekly get together, proving that this has become more than just an open mic to the people involved and is more of a regular community gathering.
The music doesn't begin and end with hip hop. During a particularly wild Sunday evening in summer of 2013, a 30-piece marching band by the name of the Detroit Party Rockers joined those in attendance at Uptowner for a little bit of auditory bliss and artistic collaboration. In only a year and a half, it has quickly become a hot spot for independent hip hop music and culture in Milwaukee. Throughout February, the organizers of the Uptowner open mic night will be paying tribute to Black History Month and 2014 is going to be a year of expansion for the Uptowner open mic night. The organizers of the open mic are hoping to continue the expansion of the overall consciousness of our people and an expansion of the positive effect this one of a kind event has had on the local arts and music community.