MKE Music Night Pushes a Scene Forward
By Bryon Cherry
Tlalok Rodriguez would not call his project, MKE Music Night, a movement but he will say that the phrase “movement” might be aligned with his vision for it. On Saturday May 28th, at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn at 7pm, Rodriguez will be hosting the 29th MKE Music Night. The musicians featured at tomorrow’s event will be Jacob Slade, Jordan Anaya, West Nile Crows and Rodriguez himself.
MKE Music Night started when with it’s first installment back in January of 2019. “I had made friends with a few local bands and musicians performing original music which gave me the idea of putting on MKE Music Night,” Rodriguez says. From that small intention, it has flowered into an incredible showcase for Milwaukee’s quirky and beautiful talent.
Rodriguez is quick to give a lot of credit for MKE Music Night’s successes to his girlfriend, Tristyn Foss. Foss has been helping him book artists to display and sell their artwork in the front room of Linneman’s during the shows. Rodriguez says that anyone interested in displaying their artwork at a future event can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the night of music at Linneman’s every month, Rodriguez also hosts 3 open mics in Milwaukee. Mondays he hosts at Bremen Café from 10pm-1am. Tuesdays he hosts at Dino’s MKE from 9pm-Midnight and lastly, he hosts Wednesdays at the High Note Karaoke Lounge from 7:30pm-9:30pm. If all this sounds like a lot, and it obviously is, Rodriguez sums it up with what seems to be his normal mix of optimism and sunniness. “It really felt like everything just naturally fell into place,” Rodriguez says.
Anyone that looks at Rodriguez’s own playing schedule with the bands that he is involved in might be shocked at just how involved he is in just that aspect. Currently he is in Cream City Players, Hopper’s Luck, Sleepy Gaucho, and the Samuel Catral Quartet. He also picks up gigs with some heavy hitters in Milwaukee like Cullah, Colorblind Chameleon, Funk Club Wagon, and Pocket Change. Rodriguez spent a few years in Mexico as a small child but says he’s actually from Chicago and moved to Milwaukee when he was 10. His presence in the Milwaukee music scene almost feels like it’s been here forever.
When asked what his favorite thing about the music scene in Milwaukee is, Rodriguez quickly says, “It’s polyamorous! I love how so many of our local working musicians are in so many bands and side projects. I think it’s amazing when musicians can come together to create something beautiful while continuing their own individual path.” Rodriguez’s own path also includes writing original music. “I think original music is kind of like looking into someone’s soul, and I truly believe that performing my original songs is my truest form of expression,” Rodriguez continues.
Fostering all of this connectivity, pushing all of this promotion for shows, while making time for his own creativity begs the question. How does Rodriguez find the time to do all of this? Again, with typical coolness, Rodriguez says, “Honestly, I want to get to a point where it runs itself. I can only do so much promoting my myself and I totally rely on the musicians I work with promoting in tandem with my efforts… After doing things for so long, you kind of must get into a rhythm of things and don’t even think about how much work it actually all is.”
Rodriguez says the best way to keep up with the dizzying pace that he is creating is to follow him on his personal Instagram page (@tla.ok). Otherwise, he and his band Hopper’s Luck are on Spotify and Colorblind Chameleon is dropping a new single on all platforms on June 3. As for future plans Rodriguez plans to finish up his degree at UW-Milwaukee and then dedicate himself to releasing his own music. Spending time around Rodriguez, you kind of get the idea that he is one of those people that will be able to do whatever he wants with his life provided his interest and focus is there.