The Milwaukee Culture Cosmos: 5 Things on Our Radar in July

Why one of our staffers loves to hate the pedal tavern, plus the songs we’re adding to our summer playlist and more.

Summer Stock Theaters

What’s more magical than a night out under the stars? Summer is when these road-trippable theaters come alive. And the surrounding scenery is often as captivating as the shows on stage. – ABBY VAKULSKAS

SummerStage of Delafield

Drive time from Milwaukee: 30 minutes

SummerStage offers a night out that’s close to home. The outdoor amphitheater in the Kettle Moraine State Forest Lapham Peak Unit hosts more than just plays – there are also magic shows, performances by local musicians and improv nights. On July 18, be sure to catch On Golden Pond, a touching story about family and aging by Academy Award-winner Ernest Thompson.

Northern Sky Theater

Drive time from Milwaukee: 3 hours

If you’re hankering for never-before-seen entertainment, you’ve come to the right place. This woodsy theater in Ephraim specializes in original musicals, often written by Midwesterners. We Like It Where? – a take on Winneconne’s 1967 stunt to secede from Wisconsin – makes its world premiere this summer (with performances Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays).

Peninsula Players Theatre

Drive time from Milwaukee: 2 hours, 50 minutes

Located in the quaint town of Fish Creek, right on the banks of Green Bay, this theater’s view can’t be beat. Enjoy a picnic by a bonfire, and then get your whodunit fix with Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced (July 10-28). Or, if supernatural romance is more your thing, you won’t want to miss the critically acclaimed Ghost the Musical, opening July 31.

SummerStage of Delafield

Thumbs Up or Down for the Pedal Tavern?

Few local institutions are as polarizing as the Pedal Tavern, a party bike that rolls through town in the summer. Depending on whom you ask, the bus-sized bike is either a fun way to connect with friends or a slow-moving public menace that ought to be banned.

We asked two staffers where they stand on this important issue.

A pedaled scrouge

Executive Editor and Fun-Hater Chris Drosner

“I reject pedal pubs as a believer in proper tavern etiquette and an ally of people who work in the service industry, who put up with enough already without having to suffer a gaggle of drunken, entitled louts and their obnoxious tornado of ‘WOOOO’s. I’ll let my friend Chris Lay, who ran trivia night at a bar in Madison, tell it: ‘They’d show up and dump a pile of ding-dongs into the bar who would each pay for a single beer with a card and rarely tip.’”

All Aboard!

Digital Editor and Frosé Fan Karisa Langlo

“If there are two words that rarely belong together, it’s tavern and proper. Two words that do: biking and beer. A communally powered vehicle is the transcendent marriage of cardio and camaraderie that places like SoulCycle can only approximate. To ‘WOOOO’ is to express collective joy. Cresting a Third Ward (or Walker’s Point) hill, legs pumping, lungs burning, music thumping, beer can sweating … it’s a downright wholesome experience. It seems the only people who don’t appreciate the Pedal Tavern are those not riding it; for that, I offer one obvious remedy.”

Insider’s Guide: Party Playlist

Kendrick Acken

IT’S THE SEASON of backyard barbecues, block parties and outdoor weddings. Which means it’s also the season of sweaty dance sessions. We asked Kendrick Acken, a local DJ who works for Milwaukee Airwaves, for some playlist picks.

“Old Town Road” (Remix)

Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good country crossover. The addition of Billy Ray Cyrus on this track is genius, and the beat is on point.

Lil Nas X
Billie Eilish

“bad guy”

Billie Eilish

I dare you to not bob your head when the beat comes in to this alternative hit. It’s just swanky and decadent.


Taylor Swift, featuring Brendon Urie

Talk about an anthem! It’s the kind of song you want to pump out the windows driving around town.

Taylor Swift

“Outta My Head”

Khalid with John Mayer

Nothing says summer more than the voice of Khalid. I’d been waiting for his next album since American Teen (which was my summer album of 2017), and he nailed it.

Meet Local Chanteuse Robin Pluer

She often headlines clubs like the Jazz Estate, but she’s best known for her Bastille Days performances. Catch her at the French festival again this year (July 11-14). – NATALLIE ST. ONGE

Robin Pluer
This is your 25th year at Bastille Days. How do you feel about that?

I’m honored to be asked back every year. John Ertl booked me originally in 1995 when I was living in Buffalo, New York. He called me and said “You sing French songs, don’t you?” and I said “No, I don’t!” But I did live in France when I was 16 … so I locked myself in my pantry and memorized a French repertoire. I think I learned 15 songs.

So how did you come to live in France?

I was a foreign exchange student when I was about 16. I lived in Brittany. I had taken French in high school and that sort of made me fall in love with French culture.

What makes you keep coming back to Bastille Days?

When I first started singing, I looked out at the audience and I thought, “They don’t understand French. Probably 95% of the audience doesn’t understand what I’m saying.” And yet, they feel the same thing I do when I’m singing. They feel the story and the emotions in the song regardless of whether they really understand the French language or not.

What’s this Necklace All About?

One artistic genre has always stood head and shoulders above its competition: the portrait.

From now through Sept. 1, the Racine Art Museum celebrates portraiture in all its forms through an exhibition called “Represent: Exploring Portraits from RAM’s collection.”

RAM curator Lena Vigna was kind enough to elaborate on one of her favorite works, a necklace by Katharine Wood titled Transit Riders I. “This piece is provocative because it is unexpected as either a portrait or jewelry,” she says. “When someone hears the word ‘portrait,’ there is likely an assumption that it is a more straightforward representation of someone – a painting, sculpture or photograph.” – LINDSEY ANDERSON

  • The artist collected material for the piece by riding trains around New York City and sketching other passengers.
  • Wood transformed her initial sketches into line drawings, and then into etchings on copper.
  • The necklace is made of copper, gold and enamel.
  • Wood has no formal training, but she grew up around art – her mother was a well-known enamelist and jeweler.
  • Enamel forms when powdered glass is heated to extremely high temperatures (sometimes over 1,500 degrees).

“July: Culture Cosmos” appears in the July 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning July 1, or buy a copy at

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