Tuesday, July 7,2009
Werewolf Sequence’s Strange Transformation
By David Luhrssen

If The Band had gone on to exclusively perform the music of Bob Dylan, they might have set the example for Werewolf Sequence's relationship with songwriter Martin Jack Rosenblum. Werewolf Sequence vocalist-guitarist James Redding offers a more recent analogy. "It's the Blind Melon thing, except Shannon Hoon is dead and Marty is just invisible."

To explain, Werewolf Sequence is a young Milwaukee band that formed to back Rosenblum, a veteran poet, recording artist and spokesman of the ideal for what once was biker culture. And that's what Werewolf Sequence did, until one night when Rosenblum begged out at the last moment. Instead of canceling the gig, they played without him. And instead of turning down the next performance, they played without him again. And again.

It's not, by any means, a hostile separation or even much of a separation at all from either perspective. Werewolf Sequence has recorded a four-song EP of Rosenblum's songs. According to Redding, "If you come to a show and know it exists, and corner one of us and say, 'Give me the EP,' we'll give it to you." Meanwhile, Rosenblum is preparing to make another record of his own, probably with Werewolf Sequence.

Redding met Rosenblum in one of the latter's rock 'n' roll history classes in the UW-Milwaukee music department. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Redding was already leading Union Pulse, a band that found itself on the Americana road. Perhaps Rosenblum, whose lyrics and music conjure up a mythopoetic America considerably elevated above the twang-accented rock often passed off as alt-country, was an inspirational figure for the younger players. Redding will only say: "It began by me offering my services as a supporting musician for anything he ever needed. I told him, 'I don't mind learning your material and playing it.' Why he took me up on that, I don't know, but one day he did."

In any event, the personnel of Union Pulse and Werewolf Sequence have become almost interchangeable. Each Werewolf was a UWM music major and enrolled, at one time or another, in Rosenblum's classes. In addition to Redding, the band consists of Kiran Vedula (keyboards), Allen Russell (violin), Karl Lerud (bass) and Tad Unold (drums). They aren't simply copying Rosenblum's songs in the manner of a tribute act. Although the words and chords are unchanged, Werewolf Sequence has moved the material from one generation to another, transliterating Rosenblum's folk-blues roots into post-grunge.

Where is Werewolf Sequence headed? "I think the goal of Marty as a teacher, as a person, as a Jewish man, as a father, as a singer, as a motorcyclist, maybe as a poet as well, is to teach people that arriving somewhere is not important. Taking the most interesting path is," Redding says.

For his part, Rosenblum is thrilled. "Artistically, the songs have become more theirs than mine. They leave me out and therefore they leave out the past. As an artist, I had to get out of the way."

Werewolf Sequence performs July 11 at Monkey Bar. Martin Jack Rosenblum will reportedly perform with the band.

Electronic Press Release In Advance Of Above Print Story

One week from today (on Saturday, July 11th) five young men -- and one old timer -- will assemble at Milwaukee's Monkey Bar (1619 S. 1st St.) for an evening of ground-breaking music. Each of these six performers brings a different voice with him, and all are past and present members of notable Milwaukee-based groups. Below, you'll find an incomplete list of these groups:

+ Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum (the Holy Ranger, ex-Under Wicked Moon, ex-Last Canyon Band, ex-Spirit Farm)
+ Tad Unold (Union Pulse, Slo-Fi, ex-Live Nude Girls, ex-Love Junkies)
+ Allen Russell (Fresh Cut Collective, Union Pulse, ex-Last Canyon Band, ex-Snapcat)
+ James Redding (Union Pulse, ex-Under Wicked Moon, ex-Last Canyon Band)
+ Karl Lerud (Scott Hlavenka, ex-Last Canyon Band, ex-Snapcat)
+ Kiran Vedula (Fresh Cut Collective, ex-Fly Neurotic)

This ensemble is called Werewolf Sequence, and exclusively features the songs of its creator, Martin Jack. But for the last two years, Dr. Rosenblum has been traveling without the band on a humanitarian mission, leaving the boys to perform his music without him. The result has been a musical evolution into a band missing its primary visionary, but learning to see for themselves -- and morphing into a psychedelic mixture of blues, folk, rock, and what we'll call shoegaze. Keep an eye on the Shepherd Express next Thursday, July 9th, for an in-depth article explaining the musical transformation.

But now the (former, once, and twice) Holy Ranger has returned as if walking into an inverted parable. All of the music is his, but he's been around the world since he last sang these songs. The music has changed - and even if it hasn't, he has. Not a soul knows how these six scientists will sound. Yet.


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