Lost Orange Cat are Finding Their Way

Photo by DeWook

By Bryon Cherry

Lost Orange Cat is a self-described rock n roll band disguised as a bluegrass band. They sound anything but lost when the 4 members get together like a folky Voltron on area stages. Lost Orange Cat is composed of Josh Konkel (vocals, rhythm guitar and bass), Daniel Rathmann (bass, guitar and vocals), Joe Royten (mandolin and vocals) and Kyle Ciske (drums and percussion). This Saturday, December 18th, they bring their raucous, soulful parade to the iconic Linneman’s Riverwest Inn (1001 E. Locust St., Milwaukee, WI). Versatile indie rockers Cassini Echoes and singer-songwriter Ali J will open the show.

Lost Orange Cat is a band of Milwaukee scene veterans that is growing and evolving through their shows and loose, playful nature. They originally formed out of the ashes of the now closed D14 Brewery in Bay View where the members hung out. It was actually the last day of that venue’s existence in November of 2018 when they set up a session to try and hash out some ideas and they haven’t looked back since. In regards to the band’s formation, Konkel says, “I had started writing music and getting into it more and more. I knew there was an open mic at D14. I told (Royten) I was going and asked if he could join me.” Konkel had made up his mind that he wanted to share his budding songs and he was going to go to the open mic regardless of Royten’s response. Thankfully, Royten agreed and they played together there pretty much every week for about a year. It was there where they eventually met Rathmann and the seeds of a folk-rock band were planted.

The last piece was Ciske, who also plays in the formidable Delta Routine, was the last piece to help solidify the line-up. His experience playing all over the country and helping to craft Delta Routine’s tunes are instantly apparent when watching Lost Orange Cat get after it. Rathmann, when pressed to pick an element that best represents the band, says, “I think we are earth, I think the music is grounding.” On brand and without missing a beat, Ciske follows and says, “I disagree, if you combine the elements fire and water, you get firewater, aka whiskey. That’s the element that Lost Orange Cat is.”

Whatever their element is it’s working for them as they combine disparate influences such as Sturgill Simpson, The Beatles, Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones and The Devil Makes Three. Konkel says that his incisive songwriting always starts with him and his guitar, where he collects the chord progressions and melodies out of the ether. His songs transform into Lost Orange Cat songs when he allows all of the remaining band members to sprinkle their magic on his compositions.

Lost Orange Cat is still a relatively young band but they sound wise beyond their years. They say that they are having fun bouncing around gigs and writing together. When asked how they will know when they have made it, the last word goes to Ciske. Ciske says, tongue fully planted in cheek, that they will know they have made it, “When (Royten) quits because (Konkel’s) ego has fully consumed him. When (Konkel’s) about to go on stage in a leotard to a sold-out arena. That’s when we know we’ve made it! Or at least when we get roadies to haul and set up our gear.”

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