MU is proud to present some of music industry's leading luminaries for this one-of-a-kind gathering of musical minds. Our speakers are invited not only to share their unique perspectives, but also to discuss new ideas and innovate in collaboration with attendees.
Andrew W.K.’s true will is to create feelings of pure joy, true fun, total love, endless freedom, and infinite possibility, using music, performance, visual art, lecturing, writing, nightclubs, television, and more.
Born in California in 1979, Andrew W.K. is a multi-faceted musician and performer. Starting his musical career at age 4 with classical piano lessons, then exploring experimental and avant garde interests, he went on to create his own extremely high-energy rock ‘n’ roll music. After having been accepted to The Art Institute of Chicago, Andrew instead to decided to bypass college, and move to New York City at age 18 to pursue art and music on his own.
Andrew has released four full-length albums, numerous EPs and special releases, including his now infamous debut album, “I Get Wet”, featuring the world-wide smash single, “Party Hard”. He’s more recently expanded into a Grammy-nominated record producer for artists such as, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Current 93, SIGHTINGS, Aleister X, Bad Brilliance, and Cherie Lily. And he co-owns the Santos Party House music venue and nightclub in Chinatown, Manhattan, New York City.
- Artist Website
- Andrew W.K. featured in The New York Times
- Andrew W.K. sets the World Record for longest drum session
Sound Opinions' Greg Kot & Jim DeRogatis
Take two nationally respected rock critics, the latest music news, personal commentary, and exclusive interviews and performances, add a huge pile of records old and new, and the result is “Sound Opinions,” which, in the style of the Rolling Stones or Creem magazine, is proud to call itself “the world’s only rock and roll talk show.” Based in Chicago, “Sound Opinions” is hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, two of the finest and best-recognized pop music writers in the nation. For over a decade, they were dedicated competitors at Chicago’s two daily newspapers—Jim at The Chicago Sun-Times and Greg at The Chicago Tribune.
Today, Jim writes about music for WBEZ.org and teaches criticism at Columbia College, while Kot continues to cover his beat at the Trib.
Every week, “Sound Opinions” – which just celebrated its 500th episode on WBEZ – fires up smart and spirited discussions about a wide range of popular music, from indie rock to classic rock, hip-hop to R&B, techno to soul, and every genre under the sun. Its consistently informed, engaging, and controversial dialogue makes it a unique and essential source for the top stories, albums, and trends in popular music. This is cutting-edge criticism and journalism presented in the great tradition of Siskel and Ebert, and the discussion is as indispensible to the hardcore music fan as it is to the casual music fan who feels out of touch.
More on Greg Kot:
Greg Kot has been the music critic at the Chicago Tribune since 1990 and is the cohost of the nationally syndicated Sound Opinions. He has written several books, including Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music and Wilco: Learning How to Die. In 2014, Scribner published his biography I‘ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom’s Highway. He also coauthored The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Rivalry with his Sound Opinions colleague Jim DeRogatis. Kot's Tribune-hosted blog, Turn it Up, debuted in 2007 and covers all aspects of music. A longtime basketball junkie, he coauthored the best-seller Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Basketball. Kot also has made major contributions to books on Johnny Cash, George Harrison, and the Beatles. He has written extensively for Encyclopaedia Britannica, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly, as well as Details, Men's Journal, Guitar World, Vibe, Request and other publications.
More on Jim DeRogatis:
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the year the Beatles arrived in America, Jim DeRogatis began voicing his opinions about rock ‘n’ roll shortly thereafter. He is a full-time lecturer in the Professional Writing Program of the English Department at Columbia College Chicago, concentrating on Reviewing the Arts and Writing About Arts and Media, and he continues to write about popular music for WBEZ Chicago. Together with Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune, he co-hosts Sound Opinions. DeRogatis spent fifteen years as the rock critic at The Chicago Sun-Times and is the author of several books about music: Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic; The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side; Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips; Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock; and Milk It! Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the '90s. In 2010, he and Kot issued their first book together, The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Rivalry, written in the fun but combative style of the radio show. DeRogatis has played in punk-rock bands since age thirteen but jokes that he is a drummer, not a musician.
Karl Morse (Windish Agency)
Karl Morse is a booking agent at The Windish Agency where he as worked the past four years developing touring strategies for clients such as José James, Natalie Prass, La Santa Cecilia, Ben Sollee, Dawn of Midi and many others. Prior to his time at Windish, Karl was a music educator in the states and overseas, and has toured with several bands. Karl attended the University of Miami and Virginia Commonwealth University where he studied Jazz Studies.
The Windish Agency is an independent booking agency devoted to the artistic development and vision of its incredibly talented roster of musicians, bands and DJs. The Windish Agency has emerged as one of the most innovative leaders in key aspects of the music industry – touring and connecting with fans – and is committed to the sustainable, long-term success of its artists, concert promoters, partners and the internal talent that is at the heart of the company.
The company was created by Tom Windish in 2004 out of his Chicago apartment with two employees, 50 bands and a commitment to building something unique. A music expert and entrepreneur who began booking bands when he was 19, Tom recognized that agents would play an increasingly important role in every musician’s career.
Today, The Windish Agency is known as a tastemaker and musical curator, spotting and nurturing a wide range of talented artists and focusing on the longevity of their careers. The agency has a long history of seeking out and developing alternative venues, bringing music to previously untapped places, and has established a strong presence at nearly every major festival and music industry event. The company also ensures the most beneficial, seamless deals for its artists and creates new opportunities to bring exciting live performances to fans.
The company’s leadership, risk-taking and passion has led to well-deserved recognition– the company has been honored as Pollstar’s “Independent Booking Agency of the Year” for three of the past four years (2012, 2013 and 2015). With its growing Performing Arts division, the company now also possesses one of the most diverse rosters of any agency. Additionally, the agency has responded to the current shifts in the music industry and the heightened importance of live performances in an artist’s career by building services and skills that focus on development, awareness and alternative revenue sources – through technology partnerships, international brand collaboration and more.
For years, the agency has provided its roster of more than 800 artists and their creative teams the most extensive services available while they are on tour, including a personalized database where show offers, contracts, itineraries and venue details are accessible 24/7. The staff also has vast experience with visa and immigration requirements, IRS tax compliance, tour accounting and show settlements, along with a full-service tour marketing division. The Windish Agency now has offices in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles with satellite offices in Toronto, Boston, and Oakland, continuing to solidify its status as the premier independent booking agency, with a top-notch team of more than 80 people booking nearly 18,000 gigs a year.
Rob Sevier (Numero Group)
Rob Sevier is co-founder of The Numero Group, an archival record label founded in 2003 in Chicago, Illinois. The label is a dogged, obsessive faction in an ongoing war. Its mission is dirty and labor-intensive...and it’s urgent as all hell. Time kills off precious bits of passed-over sound, story, and ephemera every day, just as fast as they can haul out of exile our sprawling treasury of under-heard recordings—along with the musicians, writers, and entrepreneurs who created them.
With more than 175 titles in its diverse catalog of LPs, CDs, cassettes, 45s, 12"s, and DVDs, every Numero production is a modest miracle of localized sound creation, a shedding of fresh light on the efforts of men and women who sang, played, recorded, and peddled—largely to shallow rewards, if any. Each track lives and breathes at the nexus of story and song, preserving human work and hope gone lost into freshly etched grooves. Every recording unearthed is painstakingly re-mastered and carefully researched, with obsessive attention to narrative and factual detail unmatched in the so-called reissue field. By self-imposed law, everything numbered by Numero is a stunning new artifact of image and word, tailored to the sounds it safeguards.
Eccentric Soul, the label's flagship series, has documented lovingly mishandled soul labels from Columbus, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami, and Kansas City. The Wayfaring Strangers compilations collect the privately issued song-fruits of wandering folkies. Each Cult Cargo release visits the sonic shores of some tiny, isolated nation, while Good God! titles seek the profanely spiritual, as enshrined on reels of audio tape neglected until now. And with Local Customs Numero investigates isolated, mom-and-pop recording outfits, each operated by a homespun Alan Lomax who gave neighbors and friends studio time, a microphone, and a shot at being heard a generation later. We’ve even crossed the street from time to time to deliver hidden worlds of unsung power pop, kitchen-sink New York disco and rap, kid-group soul, fiery rockabilly gospel, Franco-Belgian electro-samba, phantom blaxploitation funk, psychedelic heartland pop, orchestral UK chanteuse folk, decaying art-soul, the forebears of Minneapolis Sound, and Chicago’s funk-blues club life captured in glorious black & white.
Numero's world-class vinyl sets the pace: Lavishly packaged top quality LPs from every Numero series have been joined by a 12” run and several limited-pressing singles. The Numero Group’s 1200 line jumps genre barriers to present undiscovered LPs in their entirety, while Numerophon, a vinyl-only imprint, has been tasked with the sort of sonic excavations formerly carried out by aging academicians with Greek fisherman's caps and a jones for pipe tobacco. And after 10 years and more, Numero is just getting started.
In 2013, The Numero Group merged with Bloomington, Indiana’s Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar, and Dead Oceans labels to form the Secretly Label Group. Numero Group founders Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley would go on to head Numero’s ongoing creative and A&R endeavors, with Darius Van Arman, Chris Swanson, and Ben Swanson managing business affairs, accounting, and distribution.
Ryan Ohm & Jackson James (Weird Life Films)
Both in their early twenties, filmmaking duo Jackson James & Ryan Ohm have become established in the Midwest film scene. With work ranging from narrative driven features to an array of wild music videos and short films, Weird Life Films aims to constantly create exciting work - and have fun whilst doing it. The duo met in film school in 2010 and since have completed over 30 music videos for local and international bands releasing through Rolling Stone, MTV, NPR & more, finished numerous short films garnering festival selections & online prestige through a Vimeo Staff Pick Award, completed their first feature length film which is currently entering the festival circuit and currently are delving into their second full length and more and more music videos. The boys live around Chicago, love coffee, and work out of their garage office in Wicker Park known as "Chiller's Paradise."
Popstache.com mentions Weird Life Films in an interview saying, "Weird Life merges familiar, old school references while keeping it, well, weird. It's propelled by the love of the craft." NPR refers to the duo's music video with Chicago band YAWN, saying "It's all a fantastically trippy scene." Their films of all sorts can be found on the world wide web and specifically at: vimeo.com/rohm.
Jesse Elliott (These United States, Colorado Creative Industries)
Jesse Elliott is the founder and songwriter of two rock and roll bands, These United States and Ark Life, and a small business owner. He’s released 6 albums and performed live 1,200 times in the last decade, appearing everywhere from SXSW and Glastonbury to Lollapalooza and your favorite local dive. Before music recaptured his heart, Elliott wrote books and speeches with economist Richard Florida, co-founded a community networking nonprofit in Iowa City, helped shoot a documentary on water rights in southern Mexico and Guatemala, and ran an Italian deli on the Jersey Shore. He now resides in Denver, where he works with the city on festival programming, Colorado Creative Industries on the governor’s statewide music strategy, the Bohemian Foundation on building a Fort Collins music district, and the Biennial of the Americas on a western hemisphere exchange of arts, culture, and ideas.
- These United States
- The Ark Life
- Biennial of the Americas
- Bohemian Foundation
- Colorado Creative Industries
- Denver Music Summit
Aaron Shaddy is the residing board president of Maha Music Festival, an independent indie rock music festival held in Omaha, Nebraska. The festival is owned and operated by YFC, Inc., a non-profit organization. Founded in 2009, the festival has hosted acts ranging from Death Cab for Cutie and The Flaming Lips to Ben Kweller and Guided by Voices.
Brandon W. Clark
Brandon W. Clark is an intellectual property attorney whose primary focus is on music industry transactions, copyrights, and entertainment law.
Brandon’s clients include artists, songwriters, producers, record labels, publishing companies, recording studios, and nearly all other functions of the music industry. He received a music scholarship to attend the University of Northern Iowa and is still an avid musician having played hundreds of shows in eight different countries. Brandon worked at both record labels and music publishing companies before joining McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC in 2015 in the firm’s Copyright and Entertainment Practice area.
Brandon is a frequent panelist and member of The Recording Academy, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Des Moines Social Club.
Tobi Parks (Sony Music, Station One Records), Ryan Peterson (80/35 music festival)