24 Jul 2006

Weekend Activities

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bobby's World, Family, Milwaukee

Weekend Activities

The weekend was filled with activity. On Friday I went with a group of friends to Italian Fest and took in a concert by Sammy Hagar. The whole thing was loud but enjoyable. Sammy came out and did a four hour show (literally). There was no opening band, it was all Sammy. He covered his “classics” from Montrose (Bad Motor Scooter, etc), his solo days, tunes from the movies Heavy Metal (i.e. Heavy Metal) and Footloose (Girl Gets Around) and then his Van Halen era. Mindless entertainment!!!

After the show a few of us went through the late night drive through of Taco Bell. We pulled into a parking spot and talked about Scripture to about 2 am (I am sure that was not inspired by Sammy though). It was wonderful.

On Saturday I took in a long bike ride with my baby doll, Pamella. Then we made the trip to north of downtown Milwaukee for the Garfield Avenue Blues, Jazz, Gospel & Arts Festival. As you can imagine this was much different than Sammy! Garfield Avenue was the center of a thriving black cultural community literally called Bronzeville. Bronzeville was bordered by State Street to North Avenue and Third to 12th Streets. From 1900 to 1960 this area had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and the blues. It was a city within a city. Some have called Bronzeville the Milwaukee version of Harlem.

For a number of years in an effort to revitalize the area, bring back interest in black history and culture a number of locals have sponsored this festival. There are five stages (one for Gospel, Blues, Jazz and two more for other acts) that are never silent. The atmosphere was great.

Pamella and I had hot water cornbread, some awesome barbecue ribs and simply enjoyed ourselves. One of the highlights for us was the legendary Clara Ward Singers appeared twice on the Gospel stage. They put on quite a show for us.

I had some conversations with a number of fascinating people. I talked with the author of a new book coming out called Bronzeville: A Milwaukee Lifestyle, I visited with some workers at the black Holocaust Museum, and with some folks from the Nation of Islam. All in all it was a delightful experience and I recommend it to everyone. The weather was magnificent, only about 78 degrees and sunshine galor.

I enjoyed myself!

Bobby Valentine

4 Responses to “Weekend Activities”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Bobby, I love the insight that you always seem to have. However, I must admit many times I am ashamed of my own lack of knowledge and history.

    I have lived here all my life, grew up in the neighborhood your speaking of, and still work there. I drive those streets at 2:30am Monday – Thursday. While I often am intrigued by the activity and the things I see, I also struggle with a sense of hopelessness for that very community.

    Thank you for another perspective. I’ve encountered some pretty rough times around there and have allowed fear to get the best of me.
    In the past I’ve also encountered the hope of new life and your post did a nice job of reminding me.

    Thanks Again,

  2. Dee O'Neil Andrews Says:

    So, did you go listen to any blues at the festival? That’s where WE would have been the entire time. And from your desciption of the area, I would imagine there would have been lots of good blues to listen to.

    That kind of neighborhood is where the “urban” blues was created.

    Tom also thinks that some of the very best BBQ he’s ever eaten and good blues music he’s ever heard were both in Minneapolis at the same place about 3 years ago when he was up there on a business trip. I don’t remember the name of the place he went (two nights in a row, no less, with all of his fellow seminar participants he could round up), but he’s raved about it ever since.

    They have a website, I know, that he’s showed me. Something like “Uncle Dave’s” or the like. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about here?

    Just wondering . . ..

  3. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:


    It is always a blessing to have you come by . . . including the Bible class.

    I did not know you grew up in that neighborhood. Sometimes neighborhoods go through many changes. Apparently the development of the freeway had a major “negative” impact on the economic development of this area too. I will do a little more digging.


    There is a chain called “Famous Dave’s” which has incredible BBQ. And it is originated here in the upper midwest. Dave is a Native American (according to the story I heard) who started the eatery, he now works for the Bush Administration on the council for Indian Affairs.

    We did listen to the blues stage for over an hour. We had a great time.

    Bobby Valentine

  4. Frank Bellizzi Says:


    When my now-17-year-old was just 3, I taught her a phrase to repeat any time she rode her little training-wheels bike: “Get on your bad motor scooter and ride.”

    She learned to say it with such gusto, that it no longer seemed so cute to me. I started having nightmares of her, all grown up, hanging on the back of a Harley, tattooed (before that was so acceptable), with a bottle of Jack Daniels in her hand, thanking me for the great start I had given her in life.

    She’s about to start her senior year with no tattoos or drinking problems. It appears that my attempts to corrupt her have failed.

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