By Dylan Deprey
Attic Jams began a year ago in an attic on Milwaukee’s Lower Eastside. As Matt Miller moved into his house, the space was unlike anything he had ever seen. He showed his local musician friend, Joe Quinto.
“It was like we were blessed with the perfect setup,” Quinto said. “We were like, ‘Alright, let’s do something with it.’”
Along with a rickety homemade bar, they built a stage from four doors found in the basement and strapped them to ‘borrowed’ milk crates from a local store.
Though the premiere college party spot may have seemed like an appropriate use in their scenario, Miller and Quinto took a slightly different route.
“It was set up to enjoy music,” Miller said. “The Attic was about giving kids a space to go.”
Quinto began reaching out to some of his musician friends to perform in the attic to play benefit shows in the attic.
“It was more about trying to give people a place to go while also doing good with their night by donating because there aren’t many all-ages venues around the city,” Quinto said.
Attic Jams began by hosting their Christmas show last year, and raised $200 and nearly 300 lbs. of food for the Hunger Taskforce.
Since then, the stage has been blessed by the likes of Milwaukee artists: Mike Regal, Lex Allen, Siren, Bear in the Forrest, Painting Silence, Mic Kellogg, Cullen Sampson, Ar Wesley and Von Alexander.
After six shows, with charities ranging from book drives for the Veteran Center of Wisconsin to necessity drives for The Guest House of Wisconsin, Attic Jams has grown out of the Attic and onto a new stage, and just in time for Earth Day.
Attic Jams held its first post-attic, Eco Show, at The Cactus Club on April 15, 2017. The Eco Show was raised awareness and $750 for the Milwaukee Riverkeeper and its 22nd Annual Spring River Cleanup on April 22, 2017.
Quinto and his Milwaukee- Based Hip-Hop Funk Band, Painting Silence took the stage, along with singer/songwriter Bear in the Forrest, Madison bred alternative band, The Earthlings and Milwaukee rapper, Dad.
Miller and Quinto agreed the change of location alleviated some of the worry, unlike the attic shows in the past.
“It’s been easier because we don’t have to deal with that looming dread of doing this in an attic with underagers, and having it get shutdown and ultimately delegitimize it,” Quinto said.
Just as Attic Jams has grown out of the attic, so has its team as Miller and Quinto added three new team members: Nathan Eggenberger (business/ legal work), Mitchell Merz (finances/accounting) and Jack Schlederer (Website Design).
Attic Jams is a passion project for the entire team. Miller has takne the semester off to focus on Attic Jams and works two part-time jobs, Quinto is a hip-hop artist and works a full-time job and Eggenberger, Merz and Schlederer are all full-time students.
“Each show it ramped up more and more, and that’s what we’re looking to do with this,” Miller said.
He added that a gallery show and rooftop event were in the works, and shows for June and August were set. The August charity will be a back-to-school drive.
“We try to pick things in the community that we see as helping out. Our children, our waterways, our homeless, those are things that we need to help them out and foster that,” Quinto said. “I think it all comes from a need and desire to raise up the community.”
Though Attic Jams first post-attic is over, their work isn’t done. The Attic Jams crew will be getting their hands dirty at the 22nd Annual Riverkeeper Clean-Up.
“We’re not only about the talk, you know we try and walk it as well within the community,” Quinto said.
As for the future of Attic Jams, Quinto and Miller were hoping to make Attic Jams into a non-profit organization by the June show.
“Attic Jams is a personal thing, we like to think of everybody who comes in and donates, as the Attic Fam. A lot of them have been here since the first one, and we’re looking to build that family,” Quinto said
Watch out for the next Attic Jams shows at https://www.facebook.com/atticjams/