Cranky Pat’s in Neenah, Wisconsin has long been known for their fantastic food, casual atmosphere, and high quality live music. Over the past year or so, however, the amount of concerts at the Fox Valley eatery has waned drastically, causing some concern that their days as a live music venue were numbered.
Enter local music fan and Cranky’s employee Jacob Kleinschmidt.
Kleinschmidt was simply unwilling to let the live music aspect fade away into the night, so he took it upon himself to rejuvenate the local hot spot, along with owner David Earle. The result is a full slate of high quality shows, upgrades to the sound and stage, and a relieved local fan base. I spoke with Kleinschmidt -who is now in charge of live music at Cranky Pat’s- about what’s on the horizon for the Neenah institution.
WIJAM: I can’t tell you how thrilled we are here at WIJAM, and how excited I am personally, that one of Wisconsin’s most beloved live music venues is back in action.
Jacob Kleinschmidt: Yes, it is back and in full force! I’m so grateful and enthused to be part of promoting a live music venue and atmosphere that is a staple of our community, and has had so much history, prestigious acts, and unforgettable nights. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for live music. It’s really great to be allowed the opportunity to schedule and create live music events at Cranky Pat’s with awesome support from the individuals getting involved; the musicians, the owner, the staff, sound techs, booking agents, and most importantly the fans.
WIJAM: How did you get things rolling again?
JK: Some of the duties and research to begin this journey required business forecasting with our previous music manager, Mike McMillan, and the owner of Cranky Pat’s, David Earle. Our venue strives to maintain the best practice in show management by communicating with colleagues, artists, and similar establishments. Every upcoming show is one to look forward to. We are looking at exceptional, quality events for the present and future. Cranky Pat’s Live Music will have a cure for the winter blues with our “Cranky’s Bluegrass Showcase,” shows as well as a variety of acts to accommodate all music listeners.
WIJAM: What’s your history with Cranky Pat’s?
JK: My personal journey began a while ago when I started coming to enjoy music at Cranky Pat’s. I didn’t want to see it continue without live music. That’s when I decided to take on the responsibilities of booking and bringing our stage back to life.
JK: Afternoon Moon from Illinois has a captivating sound that has been described as psychedelic roots rock ‘n’ roll that flows into funky grooves with melodies you can sing along to. The following weekend, it’s Ifdakar!! I’ve been a fan for a long time and have built some great friendships with the members and supporters of Ifdakar. I can’t thank you enough for your past, present, and future relationship with myself and Cranky Pat’s.
(Article author Jon Schinke is a founding member of the Appleton band Ifdakar, who will be returning to the Cranky Pat’s stage after nearly 3 years away on Saturday, January 23rd)
Our next “Cranky’s Bluegrass Showcase,” show includes The Last Revel, an amazing act from Minneapolis. On February 27th, we have Cornmeal coming to town with our local friends, 2nd Strings opening up the evening. On March 5th, traveling all the way from Colorado, is Rowdy Shadehouse, an amazing Denver based funk rock explosion. Their music taps into an innate wildness where some primal part of the body wants to simply feel good, be free and share that sensation with others.
WIJAM: Share some of the improvements that fans will see, once they start coming back to Cranky’s.
JK: The upgrades are tremendous and improves our stage set up, stimulating the crowd and environment for an ultimate light and sound experience. Not only have we made improvements in our lighting, but we have invested in brand new speakers, a new mixing board, and acoustic ceiling tiles for a crisp and clean sound that is unbelievable. I have to give a huge thanks to David Earle and Cole Grygny for making these changes happen. The room is looking and sounding better than ever!
WIJAM: You’re a Neenah guy. You know better than most what Cranky Pat’s has meant to so many music fans over the years. How important it is to have this venue delivering high quality music events for the people of the Fox Valley, and beyond.
JK: Yeah, I’ve been living in Neenah most of my life and have had the pleasure to enjoy a ton of shows at Cranky’s for years. It’s really key for our community to have the opportunity to see live music at Cranky Pat’s, and that’s part of the reason I decided to take on the perpetual project that is “Cranky Pat’s Live Music.” It’s a central location in the Fox Valley, which is great for the people of the area considering the acts gracing our stage.
WIJAM: One thing that I definitely want to know, will the Midnight Pizza Buffet still be available on show nights?
JK: Oh yeah, midnight buffet will be available for anyone looking to eat all they can on show nights. That is one huge perk of our venue ,considering our bread and butter is the best pizza in the world! I am very proud of what we do, considering I also manage the kitchen at Cranky Pat’s. I encourage everyone to come enjoy our extensive menu before, during, or after shows.
WIJAM: Live music, a great atmosphere, a wonderful staff, and a midnight pizza buffet, to boot. I think I can speak on behalf of all Fox Valley music fans when I say how thankful I am that Cranky Pat’s is back. And once we’re all back there at that amazing venue, reliving the memories of old while making brand new ones, we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it.
Visit Cranky Pat’s online for all the latest!
1. Our official website (http://www.crankypats.com/neenah/music)
2. Our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CrankyPats/?ref=br_rs)
3. The Entertainer (http://entertainernewspaper.com/)