Paul Cebar plays under the glass on Feb. 7.
Photo by Adam Ryan Morris
Nicknamed the “City Of Festivals,” Milwaukee is known for its vast array of outdoor events, most of which feature audio accompaniment from both noted local bands and renowned national acts. But once summer turns to fall and the temperatures continue to dip into winter, the parks and festival grounds go quiet, sending Milwaukee’s music indoors until the following spring.
However, one amenity-turned-venue allows Milwaukee music fans the ability to escape the frigid Wisconsin weather, while being surrounded by flourishing foliage, fish, lizards and balmy temperatures. Enter the Milwaukee Domes.
Each Thursday, Nov. 1 through March 14, one of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (or “The Milwaukee Domes”) domes hosts an area band as part of its Music Under Glass concert series. This week, the award-winning likes of Brew City blues outfit Tweed Funk will take the stage. Featuring legendary front man Joseph ”Smokey” Holman (who captured the attention of music great Curtis Mayfield, who signed Holman to his label in the 1970s), the reigning WAMI R&B/Soul Artist Of The Year is playing in support of its sophomore album, Love Is.
But rhythm and blues aren’t the only sounds known to permeate through the city’s signature structure. Chrissy Dzioba’s band, WAMI Award-winning, all-female country outfit The WhiskeyBelles, took part in Music Under Glass’ Thanksgiving showcase.
“The venue was absolutely breathtaking, with the enormous Christmas tree and the hundreds of poinsettia plants,” Dzioba says. “The ambience gave a romantic feel to the evening. The audience was wonderful as well. Everyone in the show dome was there for the music, and they were a listening and dancing audience. It was nice to see such diverse crowd”
Just as diverse as the crowds, the variety of bands Music Under Glass enlisted to fill its lineup runs the gamut of genres. Everything from folk, to Celtic to (if you’re into that sort of thing) cover bands round out the series’ eclectic schedule.
“MUG did a wonderful job in terms of booking this year,” Dzioba says. “They have something for everyone. They had country, a Beatles tribute, blues, a polka band, and even an Elvis tribute in February.”
Though each 140-foot wide, seven-story high dome was built for a specific, and not at all music-related reason, The WhiskeyBelles left very impressed by the acoustics of the Show Dome.
“The WhiskeyBelles are known for our three-part harmonies, which also include a few accapella moments,” Dzioba says. “There were times when we were singing and the sound became so ethereal because of the reverb and acoustics that all three of us had goosebumps.”
Each show goes from 6:30-9 p.m., with periodic breaks for light shows projected on the dome’s window ceiling. Local businesses cater shows, and there are often giveaways during the event. And that’s not even accounting for the most enticing aspect.
“There is no greater cure for the winter-time blues than a stroll through the tropical dome!” Dzioba said.
The remaining show schedule is:
Dec. 6: Tweed Funk
Dec. 13: The Booze Brothers
Dec. 20: KT & The Universal Love Band
Dec. 27: Marcell & Peter Duelling Pianos
Jan. 3: U2 Zoo
Jan. 24: The Jerry Grillo Orchestra
Jan. 31: The Barrettes
Feb. 7: Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound
Feb. 14: Street Life with Warren Wiegratz
Feb. 21: Tony Rocker & The Comeback Specials
Feb. 28: Mt. Olive
March 7: Frogwater
March 14: RAS Movement
Visit MilwaukeeDomes.org for more information on the conservatory and the Music Under Glass series.