A Million-Dollar View, and Free Music, Too!

by Jean Scherwenka, photo by Nik Kovac

At the new Kadish Park on the curve of East North Avenue music lovers, children, and friendly dogs turned out three Tuesday evenings in July to enjoy local groups Christopher’s Project, The Misfits, and Berkeley Fudge perform free music that wants to be heard. Their drums, keyboards, guitars, horns, and vocals streamed music up and downhill from the Park’s amphitheater.

With three more Tuesday concerts to come – Organica (featuring members of De La Buena and King Solomon) on July 31, One Drum on August 7, and Duchie Rogers and the Black Earth Band on August 14 – you need to mark your calendars and get out to the Park. This is special stuff!

Skyline Music it’s called – and if you look south over the river, you’ll know why. This is the “million dollar view” from Riverwest across the Milwaukee skyline – the kind of thing that reminds us why we live in the city.

The events are sponsored by the Harley-Davidson Foundation with support from Riverwest, Beerline, Brewers Hill and Harambee Neighborhood Associations, and Riverworks. Local Attorney Allen Silverstein chaired the Planning Committee. COA Youth & Family Centers present the events. COA Executive Director Tom Schneider describes Skyline Music as a melting pot of musical styles ranging from R&B, Jazz, Reggae, and Classic Soul, in a city where “too many cultural events are segregated.” Schneider sees Kadish Park “as the center of a diversity wheel: Riverwest, Harambee, the surrounding Hispanic population, Brewers Hill, and the new condos along the river all circle Kadish Park, the hub.” Schneider and the other event planners want Skyline’s music, artists, and audience to celebrate Milwaukee’s diversity.

Alice Bertschy Kadish Park, named after a Milwaukee Public School teacher who dedicated her life to children, art, and philanthropy, represents a stunning reclamation of green space risen from a piece of city land leased to COA to operate as a public park. COA and residents from surrounding neighborhoods gathered their visions, clean-up crews, earthmovers, landscapers, and artists to miraculously transform the “dump” site for used needles, remnants of safe sex in the dark, and empty beer, liquor, and food containers, into the safe and beautiful urban park it is today.

Kadish Park provides picnic areas, sports fields, and Milwaukee’s best view of the city skyline. Nestled in one of the park’s hills overlooking the Milwaukee River you’ll find a mini-amphitheater facing semi-circles of concrete benches where spectators can enjoy their music up close and intimate. Riverwest artist Marina Lee (Beginning Dreams Forever) created the sculpture alongside the music stage.

Bench seating is limited, but grassy hillside space is abundant for folding chairs or stretching out on your own blanket. All seating guarantees perfect acoustics and that awesome skyline view.

Tuesdays’ concerts run from 5-8 pm, perfect timing for picnic suppers and home before dark. Bring your own food and drinks or purchase grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers at the park, along with snacks, cookies, soda and bottled water.

COA provides childcare for children whose parents need some free time with adult friends and neighbors or some pure, uninterrupted music appreciation. COA also provides the wonderful teens who clean up the park after the event.

“We hope that the lure of great free music, picnics, a great view, and a relaxed atmosphere will bring people together,” says Karen Thompson-Sprewer, COA’s Associate Executive Director. What more could you want on a warm and lazy summer evening?

If You Go:
Concerts staged on the slope between North Avenue and Commerce Street next to COA, 909 E. North Ave.
Tuesdays July 31, August 7 & 14, 5-8 pm

Riverwest Currents online edition – August, 2007