Foster Fest celebrates two years of Hotel Foster, decades of Milwaukee music memories
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As Hugh Bob And The Hustle drummer Justin Krol watched his bandmates set up for their album-release show last fall at Hotel Foster, his father began reminiscing about the first time the two of them encountered the building, back when it was The Globe East. “My dad mentioned that he remembered dropping my drums and me off in his minivan when I played my first show back when it was The Globe,” the younger Krol says. “Seventeen years ago, that very same month. And then I felt really old.”
As he began to play, he couldn’t help but feel a connection to the place and a similar feeling to his first few times playing in a band. “For shows, [Hotel Foster] is hands-down the first venue to open up in this location that has even come close to rekindling the spirit of The Globe,” Krol says.
Ben Gucciardi of Sat. Nite Duets shares this sentiment. Sat. Nite Duets is one of the many local and national acts playing Foster Fest, May 2-5, a celebration of the venue’s two-year anniversary. “Going to Hotel Foster is like going 40 years back in time, and then two weeks into the future,” Gucciardi says. “People look good there in a way that’s classic and simultaneously progressive. Hotel Foster brings beer and togetherness to the community.”
If these opinions speak for the majority, then owner John Revord has succeeded in making a “craft cocktail party bar music” venue that everyone wants to hang out at. “We’re a multi-headed beast that has the ability to cater to different folks looking for different things,” Revord says. “My grandma loves my bar. So do my tattooed rocker friends. There’s a small level of magic in that.”
“We own The Globe. It would be a travesty to own The Globe and not honor the live-music legacy that’s ingrained here,” he adds.
Krol is glad that Revord and others took the challenge of building a venue in the fabled building. He’s known Revord since he was in sixth grade, so he’s gotten a front-row seat at watching the transformation of Hotel Foster into what it is today. “I would like to mention that he was also there at my first Globe show. I think he may have even been a ‘roadie’ for us to dodge the cover charge,” Krol says. “Who would have ever thought that 17 years later he would be one of the dudes running the place?”
The two-year anniversary bash at Hotel Foster follows in the footsteps of the venue’s booking of major music events like Hugh Bob’s record release and Juniper Tar’s residency last year. Revord worked in conjunction with Mark Goldstein and his blog Seizure Chicken in setting up several days of eclectic and unique artists. “I had a few shows booked. Mark from Seizure Chicken had a few shows he wanted to book around the same time. We threw ’em together and decided to make a bonkers weekend out of it,” Revord says.
For Goldstein, this provided a fun opportunity to bring bands he’s always wanted to see to Milwaukee. “I met Har Mar Superstar on a cruise in December, and after seeing him perform, I knew I wanted to get him to Milwaukee. I think seeing a half-naked Har Mar dancing on the Hotel Foster bar top is going to be special,” Goldstein says. “I’ve always been a fan of the guitar pop the Generationals write, and Colleen Green’s really been coming up in the garage/pop-punk scene. Building around the touring acts, adding some of our favorite local bands—and the amazing Kid Millions—I think the fest came together nicely. Every night’s going to be a blast.”
Hotel Foster is no stranger to creating memories for musicians, music lovers, and anyone just looking for a good night out. “The environment is relaxed, and I always have a great time,” Krol says. “I still can't believe that the chandeliers and mason jars survived the Call Me Lightning show.”
For Revord, special memories include pulling shots of Old Crow with the Schleicher brothers from Juniper Tar, as well as witnessing both the first stage dive at the Call Me Lightning show and a failed stage dive at a Hot Coffin show. And then there’s booking a train-hopping bluegrass band—and kicking them out.
Still, it hasn’t always been an easy road to success. But Revord is thankful for all the bands that have helped the venue, and is eager to keep it going into the future. “Bands make the scene. It’s all about them,” he says. “We’re just a place for them to work their magic.”