I spent about 15 years total in the greater Milwaukee area, and though I now reside in various places out West, this is where my roots were sewn. My first basement shows were experienced there, my first bands toured out of there, hell I even got my degree from that city!


The first time I saw the .357 String Band was at a street festival in the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee. Four guys were on a small stage playing pumped-up bluegrass music. I got a kick out of it, then they covered punk bands Fear and The Misfits by way of string band rendition. I fell in love. I ended up going to so many of their shows. When they broke up, I was long gone from Milwaukee, but I can’t say that I wasn’t sad to see a band that influenced the Milwaukee music community and all of this roots punk/punk Americana/whatever you want to call it make their final exit from the stage.


But that happens, and if you ask me, this band breakup happened for the better. Though I’m sad that there won’t be a consistent tour schedule for the .357 String Band, the projects that have come from the band’s members have been nothing short of impressive.


Derek W Dunn’s first solo release, “Poisonous Serpents”, is a sometimes hard but mostly heartfelt portrait of frustration. Lyrics on this EP describe loss, perseverance, the pangs of financial woes, and so much more. At least that’s what I can draw from my listening. A lot of these songs are written in metaphors. I love when a solo artist does that. It takes a strong writer to be able to communicate something as personal as a song using a language that keeps everything open to interpretation by a listener.


My favorite tune on this release is “Feels Like I’m Blue.” This one isn’t written in too many metaphors, but for my ears it encapsulates how life can just pound us in the face with a bag of bricks. “I just don’t know what else I can do when I’m still blue.” Dunn sings with a longing in his voice. We’ve all been there. That feeling of being lost amidst everything that life can throw on your plate. I wish my favorite song on this collection wasn’t so depressing, but it helps to have a song to relate to when we feel down.


As the former members of the .357 String Band continue to pursue their upcoming adventures in music/performance/television/all other things, you’ll find me at the front lines cheering for them. This band, and all their members, have made history with what they’ve done for all of us in this “new roots” musical community.


 Click the picture below to download the record!



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Ando Ehlers | 
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