2014 is ¾ complete, but the year has already been filled with awesome experiences, travel, and great people.
My spring, summer and fall seasons are always packed tight between play and work with the 2 businesses Progress Label, Offbeat Press. Both Progress and Offbeat had our busiest summers in the t-shirt business. With Progress Label, the heart of our busy times surround selling Progress political shirts at various Wisconsin summer festivals and beyond. This year Progress Label participated in a bunch of awesome street festivals and here’s one chunky recap of my summer season…
My summer festival season began in the spring with the WORT Block Party – in support of 88.9, WORT FM, Madison’s finest independent radio station. We are both supporters and fans of WORT and the WORT Block Party is always a blast! The 2014 event moved from Bedford Street to MLK Blvd near the Capital for the first time and I found it to be a great success. The highlight of the WORT Block Party is always the music and the phenomenal selection of local Wisconsin craft beers. With dozens of donated barrels at the free event, WORT fills its pockets by hosting “No Crap on Tap” Madison beer garden. It’s really a great formula, free music, drink beer and support indie radio in Madison. Everybody wins but Monday morning gets a little hazy!
In early June we double-dipped, simultaneously slingin’ Progress Label tees in Milwaukee at the Locust Street Festival and in Denver at the Capital Hill People’s Fair. My MKE friends ran Progress.2 at the Locust Street Fest and they had an awesome day at an awesome event. Locust Street neighborhood is an edgy and diverse neighborhood that has a lot going on, great people and good Milwaukee culture! Meanwhile I was in Denver at the Capital Hill People’s Fair doing the same.
Unfortunately for me, Denver didn’t live up to the usual 300 days of sunshine as we were rained on day one and hailed on the 2nd day of the Cap Hill People’s Fair. Regardless, I love Denver and had a great time visiting with friends, mountains and artists while I was there. I met up with screen printing illustrator and designer, Jon Vogle – aka The Bungaloo and dorked-out over screen printed posters and design process and picked up a few of his prints. Here’s my favorite new poster by Jon Vogle.
The rest of June went pretty quickly with a weekend slinging tees at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, WI. The MREA Energy Fair is home to great friends, filled with young hip folk ,old do-good hippies and local family farmers. We enjoy meeting and connecting with new people every year. 2014 brought a re-design to the event and we arranged to be next to Just Seeds – a political artist co-operative that I’ve been following for years. Just Seeds is an awesome group of activist artists that I first came across from discovering Swoon and again in 2008 or 2009 when I became a customer and supporter of Just Seeds and later when I met Chris Stain with the Sheboygan Project. It was awesome to meet Colin Matthes and Nicolas Lampert from Just Seeds at 2014 Energy Fair.
I spent annual weekend with great friends and nature in the Wisconsin Driftless Region, camping at Wildcat Mountain State Park and paddling the Kickpaoo River. Southwest Wisconsin is a beautiful escape to a beautiful place
July was spent 2 weekends of selling fine political t-shirts at the Oshkosh Farmers Market and the Brady Street Festival in Milwaukee in addition to a really exciting house project. The Brady Street Festival is always a great event for Progress Label t-shirts. Brady Street area has a history of consciousness and activism related to war and the ongoing fight for equality. We’ve been slinging social and political t-shirts and progressive messages at Brady Street Fair for 8 years now! We don’t party as hard as we used to at Brady Street Fest, but we always have a great with our loyal Milwaukee customer base. We had the pleasure of catching some shows by The Sleepwalkers and Miles Coyne and the Rusty Nickels and a glimpse of “Dudes will be Divas”– aka the Brady Street Drag show is always the highlight of BSF. With entertainment like no other festival, the drag show easily brings the largest crowd and was an entertaining finish to the 2014 Brady Street Festival.
I kicked off August with an awesome weekend relaxing and camping with old college friends. About 25 of us got together at in Central Wisconsin for a weekend or relaxation and consumption at Lake Emily. The strange summer weather continued with an eerie August afternoon of hail, an incredibly rare occurrence. The weather cooled and a beautiful fog steamed the throughout the evening. After a few drinks I went for a midnight paddle under stars.
For Labor Day weekend, I took off for the mountains and supposed sunshine of Denver again. As my Denver trips usually go, I left Wisco before sunrise and arrived in Denver in time for dinner with friends ahead of the Taste of Colorado weekend of work. Taste of Colorado is a huge downtown Denver event and 4 full days of retail work. I met a bunch of previous customers, old friends and hundreds of new customers. In addition to slinging fine political t-shirts in downtown Denver, I did a little hiking and a good amount of gallery-hopping and street walking. I introduced some locals to my favorite Denver gallery, Blackbook Gallery where one can always view a good show with regular works by Evan Hecox, Ravi Zuppa, Sam Flores,, Hari & Deepti, and other talented artists and illustrators. I also made the rounds and met with a handful of retail shops that customers referred me to, my favorites were MegaFauna in River North Art District, Hope Tank on trendy South Broadway and Soul House just off Colfax– each a different independent store with a unique vibe in a different part of Denver. I look forward to growing those connections and making Progress Label available in local Denver retail stores.
The second weekend in September was my busiest weekend of the summer. Kwas represented Progress Label at the Bayview Bash and I was split between FightingBob Fest political festival back in Baraboo and the Willy Street Fair in Madison. The Bayview Bash is in one of my favorite Milwaukee neighborhoods and hanging out with Honeypie and Hi-Fi Café all day makes for good eating in addition to all sorts of good people.
Fighting Bob Fest changed hands in 2014 and is now organized and run by the The Progressive Magazine. Matt Rotschild and Ruth Conniff moved the event back to its roots and were awesome new hosts. Senator Bernie Sanders was the keynote speaker with Mary Burke, John Nichols, Chris Hedges and Lisa Graves also staring amongst the speaker lineup at the 2014 Fighting Bob Fest. I was invited to design one of the Fighting Bob Fest t-shirts again this year and all shirts were again printed by my print shop Offbeat Press.
The second half of this busy weekend was the Willy Street Fair – Madison’s best street party, with the Willy Street parade and dozens of familiar faces and old customers. We had a blast with awesome weather and friends from the Fat Pinky, MadCat, and the Weary Traveler. Our final busy weekend of the festival season was a great way to end our travels before one final weekend of camping and the inevitable cycle of the seasons.