Robot Rickshaw Might Be the Most Out There Act at Homegrown

Paul Whyte

If you go to Robot Rickshaw’s Facebook and read the short description it states, “Robot Rickshaw is a rapidly-deployable, human-driven, two wheeled cart full of robots that play music. Piloted by a lunatic in a hazmat suit+teddy bear.” When the band members include an, “AMI: Automatic Monochord Instrument, CARI: Cylindrical Aerophone Robotic Instrument, MADI: Multi-mallet Automatic Drumming Instrument,” you can pretty much make a safe bet that you're not dealing with a typical music act. The man behind the robotic mayhem is Troy Rogers who has created these robotic musicians.
Rodger’s just released an album on that is titled “Robot Rickshaw meets Steve Snider + other semi-nomadic robot herder’s music.”
The term “experimental” gets thrown around quite a bit to describe something going on with music that is out of the norm or something that takes on a different approach. I’m not sure I’ve heard much of anything that takes on the approach of a chaotic robot band mixed with the dynamic percussion featuring Steve Snider on this album. The songs give the feeling of a computer that has gone haywire and is somehow expressing itself over the backing of jazz drumming. If the sounds were conventional wind instruments and things like piano, it could possibly be considered avant-garde jazz in a way. As far as this area is concerned, Robot Rickshaw just may be the most out there act during this year’s Homegrown and with bands like Bratwurst and Lorenzo’s Tractor around, that’s saying something. Robot Rickshaw will be playing at The Underground on Saturday at 6:45 p.m.  

Hanging Out at the Homegrown Music Video Showcase

On Tuesday, April 26, the 17th Homegrown Music Festival was just getting started into it’s third night at 7 p.m. when the first encore of the Homegrown Music Video Showcase was to begin. It didn’t really begin until 7:30 due to technical difficulties and the audience was informed that the music videos for Low Forms’ “Cherry Tigers” and Timmy Jacks Off “Here I was alone and everything was finished” would be cut from that night’s showing due to computer problems. The rest of the videos would be shown, but just not in the order that they appeared on schedule. It was a little bump in the road for the festival, but considering how much goes on over the week, it’s expected for a slight snag here and there, overall, it wasn’t too big of a deal. There were no problems during Monday’s showing and there will still be a chance to catch the two left out videos on the second encore of the video showcase on Sunday, the final day of Homegrown 2015, at Noon at the Red Herring.
The video showcase emphasizes what Homegrown is all about. There’s a lot of talented people up here that play all sorts of different genres of music. Needless to say, there’s also a lot of talented people who don’t play music, but put their skills to work doing other things like painting, photography and filmmaking. “The nice thing about seeing this (the showcase) earlier in the week is that there’s a lot of bands you wouldn’t check out, but ending up seeing them because you saw there video,” said Breanne Marie, a local musician.
It should be noted that the videographers who participate in the showcase are assigned one song from a random area act and either work with the band or work independently to come up with a video for the song. The showcase features some beautiful and artistic work such as with Brian Dack’s instrumental guitar song, “Loon Lack Liftoff,” done by Kathy McTavish. What the showcase also brings out is that some people have a pretty whacky sense of humor up here. I don’t want to ruin or spoil what exactly the showcase entails, but here are a few things: a band gets beat up by a bum, there’s a shovel versus knife fight on the shores of Lake Superior, a man gets into a death match with a squirrel, there’s a couple videos with dolls and one is creepier than the other, some weird computer animation and let’s not leave out the first video I’ve seen taking on the ball-slasher. Whether it be more profound and artistic or just off-the-wall ridiculous, the showcase plays it’s part in the festival. Sunday will be the last chance to see the showcase but there’s sure to be a few of the videos end up on Youtube at some point, but it’s hard to say which ones. Other band’s not mentioned include videos for Phillip of Nazareth, Jim Hall, The Electric Witch, Wolf Blood, Steve Johnson, Danecdote, The Brothers Burn Mountain, Maddy Siiter, Giljunko and Starling of Athens.


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

View more of Paul Whyte's work »