Musical legends: Where are they now?
“Madison Musical Legends” were the words that graced the May 2001 cover of Madison Magazine, along with the (mostly) smiling faces of nine local music standouts. We caught up with these musicians to see what they’ve been up to the past fourteen years.
Clyde Stubblefield’s fast hands set the standard for funk drumming, and his time with James Brown in the late 1960s solidified his place in musical history. Stubblefield played with his own group, the Clyde Stubblefield Show, at the King Club in Madison every Monday for nearly two decades until its closing in 2008. The weekly gig moved to the Frequency, where Stubblefield continued playing until turning over the band to his drumming nephew Brett Stubblefield in 2011. He now travels around the city giving talks and clinics about his drumming days. Stubblefield has continued to collaborate with his James Brown Band co-drummer, John “Jabo” Starks, and he keeps at his drum set once in a while on WPR’s national show Whad’ya Know? In 2014, Stubblefield’s hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, declared November 8 Clyde Stubblefield Day, and Madison will give him the same honor on Oct. 8.
Ben Sidran’s fancy fingers haven’t stopped since we featured him in 2001. The Racine native turned Madison resident has released eight new records in the past fourteen years, including Dylan Different, a tribute to Bob Dylan featuring jazz interpretations. Sidran is highly involved with Jewish education; in 2012, he released his fourth book, There Was a Fire: Jews Music and the American Dream, and was appointed an honorary scholar at the UW–Madison Center for Jewish Studies the same year. He performs a few times a year around the world, spreading his trademark jazz-y rhythm.
Metropolitan Opera veteran Kitt Reuter-Foss spent her career on stages across the world, with a repertoire spanning Handel to Rogers and Hammerstein. These days, Reuter-Foss is entertaining in her spare time. In March, she gave her first on-stage performance in over a year due to epilepsy issues that have kept her out of the spotlight. Reuter-Foss teaches students around Madison and, more recently, has become involved with a number of research organizations, lending her voice to raise money for epilepsy research. She is highly involved with the Wisconsin Epilepsy Foundation and Madison-based Lily’s Fund for Epilepsy Research.
Paul Black of Paul Black and the Flip Kings could not be reached for an update.
Legendary producer and drummer Butch Vig got his start on Madison’s east side at his recording studio, Smart Studios. Over three decades since Smart Studios opened in the early 1980s, Vig has become one of the most notable rock producers in the world. After producing for the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana in the early 1990s, Vig started his own band, Garbage. Since then, Vig has continued making music with Garbage and producing for internationally renowned groups like Jimmy Eat World, Muse and the Foo Fighters. In 2014, director Wendy Schneider launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce The Smart Studios Story, a documentary about Vig’s studio. The film is now funded and collecting archives. In early 2015, Waves, an audio plugins and signal processors developer, announced the release of a Butch Vig Vocals plugin. Vig lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles.
Trumpet player Doc DeHaven started his first band at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the early 1950s. For the next five decades, he devoted his life to music, playing with his band three times a week at the Pirate Ship Bar in Madison from 1956 until 1970, and continued with his daughter, jazz singer Kelly DeHaven. DeHaven served as band director at Monona Grove High School before retiring in 1989. In 2012, the Madison Area Music Association honored him with the Michael St. John Lifetime Achievement Award. DeHaven now teaches privately around Madison and has performed at Good Sheperd Lutheran Church.
A man of many instruments, Roscoe Mitchell is hailed as one of the most renowned musicians of his time. His work has continued to roll out over the last decade to include premiere pieces and commissions. Mitchell is now a professor of music and the Darius Milhaud Chair at Mills College in Oakland. He was recently commissioned to compose a piece for the twentieth anniversary of the Vision Festival, New York City’s longest continuous jazz festival. Mitchell recently collaborated with Jack DeJohnette for “Made in Chicago,” a reunion of musicians integral to the city’s jazz scene in the 1960s, along with Muhal Richard Abrams and Henry Threadgill. He travels around the country performing and composing solo and with trios, quartets and quintets.
Bill Malone has ascended from being a country musician to becoming one of the most notable scholars on the genre today. After retiring from his professorship at Tulane University, Malone continued his research and relocated to Madison. His 2002 book Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’: Country Music and the Southern Working Class won the Chicago Folklore Prize for the best work on American folk music. He’s published two other books since then for a total of seven. These days, Malone hosts a weekly radio show, Back to the Country, on WORT-FM. He is working on a new biography of Bill Clifton. Malone and his wife, Bobbie, still make music and can often be heard at Claddagh Irish Pub in Middleton. He also serves as a consultant for an upcoming Ken Burns documentary on country music.
Richard Davis and his smooth bass are one of the most distinguished couples in jazz history. His recording credits include work with Sarah Vaughan, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Van Morrison. After spending twenty-three years in New York City, Davis relocated to Madison in 1977. Davis received the N.A.A.C.P. W.E.B. DuBois Advocates Award in 2002, the Michael St. John Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and the Exceptional Service Award from UW–Madison in 2009, and he was named a 2014 “Jazz Master” by the National Endowment for the Arts. Davis continues to teach bass at UW. He is also a notable advocate on race issues in Wisconsin, focusing on minority retention and disproportionate rates of African American men in prison. He is currently working on an autobiography.