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My Summerfest Choice

My Summerfest Choice

Deepak Chopra totally nailed it when he said “When you make a choice, you change the future”.  He probably wasn’t talking about Summerfest specifically (sidenote: let me use this forum to personally invite Mr. Chopra for a night of Summerfest, my treat).  My choosing skills will once again be put to the test at this year’s 51st annual Summerfest.

Every year, as soon as the bands, times and stages are announced my brain goes to a special place. A place where I visualize two band names on two different signs with arrows pointing in different directions, and a choice has to be made.

I remember 1994, the first time I had to make my Summerfest choice. I was a sophomore at UW-Whitewater and arrived at Henry Maier Festival Park with 3 of my fellow Warhawks (apartment neighbors). It was Carlos Santana playing at the exact same time as Candlebox. My choice was simple, Carlos Santana! I plead my case to the other three “He played Woodstock!”. It fell on deaf ears and we went our separate ways and agreed to meet up later. It should be noted that none of us had pagers or early cell phones (broke college students) so you just picked a meet up spot and hoped for the best.

I hunkered down near a picnic table before Carlos Santana took the stage and did not move from that spot the entire show because I had a perfect unobstructed view of the stage. I even befriended an older married couple (I was 20 so everyone just fell into the category of old) who seemed to be equally as big of fans of Santana as I was. Biggest difference was they had several drinks (stacking the cups, ahh, “the stack”) and they made out during most of “Evil Ways”. Even with that, I did and still do feel I made an incredible choice. Years later, Santana would record Supernatural (which won 8 Grammys) and I would tell people of the time I saw him at Summerfest.

Fast forward to 2018. Once again the Summerfest choice hits me like a 10 degree drop off of Lake Michigan. This time it’s July 7th at 4pm. Not just two but THREE bands playing at the same time. Howard Jones (Miller Lite Oasis), Molly Hatchet (US Cellular Connection Stage) and once again, Candlebox (Harley-Davidson Roadhouse). As far as “problems” go, it’s like the folks from the Wisconsin Lottery asking you if you’d like your winnings paid to you in $50 bills or $100 bills, not a real problem but it’s a problem nonetheless.

I’m a child of the 80s who grew up listening to everything and my synthy pop sensibilities are telling me I should check out Howard Jones (now without the tall hair and stylish long coat that I remember from the MTV videos). But have you ever seen the album cover to Molly Hatchet’s Flirtin’ with Disaster?  Go check it out right now….I’ll wait…… See! I feel like I have to see them because they’ve been playing longer than I’ve been alive and because I’m guessing the crowd will be just as powerful to watch.

Then there’s Candlebox. Do I owe them from 1994? It’s the Summerfest choice again.  I get older but the choice never gets easier.  I wish I could end this with telling you where I’m going to be on July 7th this year but unless Deepak Chopra takes me up on my generous offer and demands that we see Candlebox because he’s always been meaning to see them, it’s a choice that will be made at the very last minute.

Author: Jon Adler
Jon Adler

Jon Adler wakes up Milwaukee with his upbeat, fast-paced style.  He has spent nearly twenty years in radio and TV. Adler has been on the air at FM 102/1 since 2006 and regularly talks to some of the biggest names in music and entertainment, like members of the Foo Fighters, Cage The Elephant, Bob Odenkirk (of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul), Tracy Morgan and Henry Rollins. @AdlerFM1021 on Twitter and Facebook

Hailing from (now infamous) Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Adler graduated from UW-Whitewater and lived in Madison before calling Milwaukee home. Once he's done with his show in the morning he heads home to his wife and young son (technically, he takes a nap before they return home).