Blue Suede News, Summer 1997
Smack-dab in the middle of an historic and eclectic Madison, WI neighborhood stands Mother Fool's -- a tiny, intimate, smoke-free coffeehouse that is home to some of the city's most creative and refreshing musicians. But because Mother Fool's holds fewer than 100 people, owners Jon Hain and Stephanie Rearick decided to form their own record label, compile many of the coffeehouse's finest moments and release for the masses 16 stellar (and mostly acoustic) recordings from 1996 Mother Fool's performances. The 66-minute disc begins and ends with brief but humorous acoustic ditties by Biff & Blunt, whose representation here only hints at this celebrated local duo's tuneful wit. Packaged in between Biff & Blunt are some truly diverse and intimate musical messages from fun artists who still manage to take their craft quite seriously. Highlights include a cover of Willie Dixon's "Mellow Down Easy" by acoustic roots rockers Durable Goods; "Day In, Day Out" by Andy Ewen, lead guitarist and singer for the blues-rock band Honor Among Thieves; "Magnificent Sky" by the bossa-rock quintet Swimming Pool Blue, which also combines modern touches of pop and jazz for an immediately listenable blend; and "What Possesses You" by Rearick's own absurdist rock troupe Your Mom. The Only non-Madisonian appearing on the disc is Iowa's Jhaun Renken, who turns in a stunningly sparse acoustic performance with "Life of the Sparrow." Granted, not everything on Live at Mother Fool's is for everyone, although Pascal's frantic folk farce "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" grows on you. But this disc, which features exceptional sound quality for a label's first-ever release (and a live one, at that), introduces listeners to a growing colony of diverse and innovative performers. Hain and Rearick plan to release full-length albums by some of the artists appearing on Live at Mother Fool's later this year. And why not? You can never get too much of a good thing. Uvulittle Records, 1101 Williamson St., Madison, WI 53703.