Talkin' Baseball: Talkin' music with FSN's Brian Anderson
We let the Brewers broadcaster not talk about work for a change
Since 2007, FSN’s Brian Anderson has been talkin’ baseball almost every night from April to September, joining Bill Schroeder in the booth for Brewers game telecasts. So maybe he, you know, gets sick of talking about the Crew all the time. For this edition of Talkin' Baseball, we wanted to give Anderson the A.V. Club treatment: a chance to talk about his love of music (a recurring subject on his blog), which was fostered growing up in one of the country's hotbeds for live music, Austin. Maybe it's a little strange not to talk about the Brewers, but Anderson—who lets his Texas drawl drip a little heavier when away from the mic—was more than game to discuss one of his other great loves for a change.
The A.V. Club: Austin is known as one of the country’s best cities for live music. What impact did that have on you growing up?
Brian Anderson: The best part of Texas is that every 10 miles there’s a great, old honky tonk. Like Gruene Hall, where they shot that movie with John Travolta where he was an angel, Michael. That’s where George Strait got his start. And you could see any of these guys—Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Gary P. Nunn, Jerry Jeff Walker. Little did I know that you couldn’t get that eclectic mix of music in one spot anyplace else in the country. For all of us growing up there, it was just part of it. It’s like, “Stevie Ray Vaughan is playing The Back Room. Wanna go check it out?” When I was in high school, he was really big in Texas, and he was playing a lot of local places. Every year there was an event called Aqua Fest, and it’s morphed into the Austin City Limits Festival now. Stevie Ray Vaughan would always anchor one stage, and Willie Nelson would anchor the other, two Austin legends.
AVC: What other kinds of music did you like?
BA: I was into metal. I didn’t do the hair-band stuff. I hated that stuff. I liked Metallica and Anthrax. Pantera is from Austin. Pantera used to play at Aqua Fest, so we’d go see Pantera all the time. And we’d sneak into The Back Room to go see them. They were just loud and crazy and violent. I was in high school, man! That was the thing to do. We’d always crank up Pantera before football games and baseball games.
AVC: Do you have any photos of your metal phase that you’d like share?
BA: I looked exactly the same. I just enjoyed the music. I loved the passion of it and the aggressiveness. I still do. I’m a huge Metallica fan, and always have been. We were following them when Cliff Burton was playing bass, and even when Dave Mustaine was in the band. Then it evolved into more of the singer-songwriter thing, when I got to college. Every weekend I was going to Gruene Hall and Luckenbach Texas. I’ve seen some great shows in Luckenbach. My wife and I when we first got married, we would travel around and see Gary P. Nunn play. He wrote most of the songs that made Jerry Jeff Walker famous, with the exception of “Mr. Bojangles.”
AVC: With your busy schedule as a broadcaster, do you get the chance to ever see shows here in Milwaukee?
BA: That was one of my great thrills when I moved to Milwaukee, discovering these music venues downtown. My first off-season here, which was ’07, we went to as many shows as we could at the Pabst and Riverside. That’s when I said, “This is the place for me right here.” This is as good as it can get, with these venues and the acts they’re bringing in. We’ve seen Old Crow Medicine Show, Raul Malo, Lyle Lovett a few times, Bonnie Raitt—these are the people I enjoyed watching in Texas, and there were a lot of people from Texas at these shows. Instead of standing on a dirt floor and sitting at a card table in the middle of Luckenbach Texas, we’re in this historic venue. I’ll go see anybody there.
AVC: Back in April Jeff Tweedy from Wilco hung out with you in the booth. What was that like?
BA: I got a lot of mail about that, that I didn’t really give him the time he deserved. I don’t know Wilco that well, I have to admit. When you bring guys in the booth, that’s a whole different scenario. I’m trying to call the game, and Tweedy doesn’t know anything about the Brewers. He’s trying to promote a show, and we’ve got action going on. I remember it was, like, a five-run inning. All hell was breaking loose on the field and I was trying to keep this interview going. There wasn’t much to talk about without going into it Behind The Music, VH1-style. You kind of know who your audience is. Anybody old enough would probably say, “I liked that band more when they were The Grateful Dead.”