Gig Seeker Pro


Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Band Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Continental Drift"

MILWAUKEE: Midwest rock critics have stumbled over their own words, fashioning such phrases as "progressive power pop" to describe True Heart Susie. A new self-released album, "Lately Story," includes all the elements of the band's unique musical sensibility. Fronted by songwriter/pianist/vocalist Julie Niedziejko, framed by the eerie Gypsy fiddling of Tom Jansen and the metallic roar of guitarist John Southmayd, and anchored by drummer Brian Bruendl and bassist Steve Tyczkowski, True Heart Susie plays chords more common in classical music than rock, its songs backing up memorable melodies with rock energy. "We're heavily orchestrated [and] into melody and rich, descriptive lyrics," says Niedziejko, who gives periodic recitals of her own classical piano compositions. "Lately Story," the follow-up to the band's 1995 "Three Sheets," has been played on Milwaukee college station WMSE along with commercial outlets WLUM and WLZR. The band has enjoyed sponsorship deals from Zildjian cymbals and GHS strings and has played Milwaukee's Summerfest, Minneapolis' Ryan's and 1st Street Entry, Chicago's Double Door and Cabaret Metro, and clubs and colleges throughout Wisconsin. True Heart Susie tracks have been included on Insider magazine's "Bugs & Cherubs 2" and "Bugs & Cherubs 3" compilation discs. Contact: Rock Paper Scissors Management at 414-643-4353. - Billboard Magazine

"The Way I See It"

On Friday, April 11 2008 I had the pleasure of capturing a show at Linneman's Riverwest Inn in Milwaukee WI, featuring The Micah Olsan Band with Julie B Well.

First up was Julie B Well, a five piece prog-pop band from Milwaukee, fronted by Julie Brandenberg. The nucleus of Julie B Well was formed from her previous band, Quark Quintet. Julie B Well picks up where Quark left off and, to my ears at least, is surpassing what that band had achieved ... and Quark was really good.

Their arrangements are imaginative, with inventive pop passages woven comfortably into more progressive musical interludes. The musicianship is very tight and lyrically the moods are very evocative, with Julie's lovely voice carrying you from a lilting soundscape one moment to hell-bent cacophony the next. Julie's mastery of the keys is evident through most of the numbers.

Kramer Kelling on bass and Jordan Roepke on drums provide a solid backbone. Guitarist Eric Lundgren can only be described as a prodigy. Solid and rhythmic chords when called for, but when it was time to solo, he laid down some of the hottest licks I've heard in awhile ... this young man can play! At only 21 years of age, Eric will only get better and is one to watch in the future. Finally, there's Tom Hansen on violin, who created some very interesting and melodious musical passages. I'd love to see the fiddle explored a little more in their sound, although in all fairness the lack of violin parts might have been due to the time constraints of being the opening act. Tom was featured prominently, however, during "Holding a Chinese Beetle," which was very tasty, indeed.

Another song which really stuck with me was called "Rag Factory." To my ears somewhat of a protest song, it speaks of sweatshops and those who are forced to work there. A very touching and powerful number.

A fine performance I must say, and I look forward to the musical frontiers this new band will be exploring in the future.

- Photos and Musings by Gareth Glynn Ash—The Celtic Camera Photography...Documenting the Revolution Si

"local music: Challenging Melodies"

2006 article by Dave Luhrssen about Julie B as a composer.

In music as in life, some are satisfied with early, easy accomplishments. Others never stop pushing themselves. Julie Brandenburg falls into the latter category. The Milwaukee pianist and singer could have continued on with her locally popular band True Heart Susie, but ended it in 1996 because it was no longer challenging. “I felt I wanted to say things that were more complicated and deeper,” she says of her decision to start a new band, the Quark Quintet.
Ten years on, Quark is still playing without ever having regained True Heart’s momentum, but then, the quintet is more a creative outlet than a career move. Even so, the progressive rock of Quark can’t contain Brandenburg’s energy. This month is a busy one for Brandenburg and none of the red-letter days involve Quark. April marks the release of her CD for solo piano, plus performances of two of her more ambitious, serious-music works by a pair of established ensembles.
With lovely voicings and tricky chord changes, her piano disc occasionally brings to mind the music of Renaissance and other melodic progressive rock groups from the ’70s. Brandenburg’s Cantata Portique, a lovely and reflective piece for flute, cello and piano, will be performed by Madison’s L’Ensemble Portique. The harsher tonalities of her work, Receiver, will be presented by a small orchestra of strings and woodwinds by UW-Milwaukee’s Music Now and From Almost Yesterday.
Cantata Portique is especially interesting because it was commissioned by the Madison group in honor of its flautist’s grandmother, Madeleine Stanley-Jossem, a painter-sculptor who survived the Nazi occupation of Paris and later emigrated to the United States. Brandenburg wove snippets of the artist’s voice from old taped interviews into the sometimes Debussy-like impressionism of the music. “That piece needed to speak about the person, not about me,” Brandenburg says. For inspiration, she read Stanley-Jossem’s autobiography and studied her art work, using five pieces as the starting point for the cantata’s five movements.
“I’m more melodic than many modern abstractionists. I’m not doing 12-tone music,” Brandenburg explains. “I take a lot of things from a lot of places. I like dissonance but I like melody.”
Brandenburg has worked all across the spectrum, producing a whimsical piece of children’s music for Present Music, Clarence and Othello, about a pair of cats (one represented by clarinet, the other by cello) who decide to leave home and wander the neighborhood. The audience was given pencils and a maze on paper, and instructed to follow the progress of the cats based on directional motifs indicating left, right or forward movement. “Most of the kids in the audience got it right but the adults were lost,” Brandenburg says.
Later this year she hopes to begin recording a CD with the quintet’s members—Drew Ritgers, Tom Hansen and Dave Schoepke. Brandenburg is teaching music at Milwaukee Area Technical College, giving private lessons and finishing her master’s in music at UWM. “I was writing music before I could read music,” she says. “My inspiration doesn’t come from my education but from inside me. The musical education just helps me to communicate with people better.”
Brandenburg’s CD release party takes place 8 p.m., April 8 at La Taza, 810 S. 5th St. L’Ensemble Portique performs Cantata Portique 7:30 p.m., April 21 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1904 Winnebago St., Madison. Music Now and From Almost Yesterday performs Receiver 7:30 p.m., April 27 at the UWM Recital Hall.
—David Luhrssen
- The Shepherd Express

"Sixth Station"

The Sixth Station

Friday, December 22, 2006

Night of Prog. Hey, I remember I like prog!
I'm not supposed to like prog. When I was in college, and discovered punk, I kind of had to keep my prog albums hidden, and in fact, got rid of a bunch of them. The first records that went to the used record store to cover the rent and pay for beer (in that order, honestly), were my prog albums. Buh-bye, ELP. Ciao, Yes. (Well, I kept my three-album set of Yessongs. I still have it, and my copy of Todd Rundgren's Utopia.) Even the Court of the Crimson King had to go. (But I did pick up a copy of Discipline my senior year). But to an emerging new waver punk like 19-year-old me, prog was the Anti-Johnny-Rotten. It was supposedly everything that was wrong with rock and roll. It was the thing that had to be totally deconstructed and flattened out so that we could make room for some I-IV-Vs and two chord antiestablishment anthems again. The first amendment junkie in me was loathe to actually burn my prog albums, but I had to get them out of my dorm room before the cute punk boy across the hall would see them and write me off as a boring suburban stoolie who didn't know who Patti Smith was. Thank god for Record Service.

So when I moved to Milwaukee, one of my first musician friends was Julie (then Niedjiecko, and god help me remember how it was spelled) Brandenburg. She played keyboards in the Trance and Dance Band, and one fine day I approached her and we hit it off instantly, despite the fact that I was a garage-band loving, three chord singing, punk. She was in my first band, Fistfull of Bimbos, and she got it. Maybe that's why I like her prog. Unlike a lot of progs, she understands the value in others' music, doesn't look down on it, but at the same time holds herself to the exacting standards of the classically-trained musician that she is. This is a woman who wasn't too good to play an unbalanced bass in a three chord joke band led by me, who'd been playing guitar for a grand total of three months, but yet is always good enough to attract top musicians to play with. That's why I always enjoy going to see her, rather than thumb my nose at her, the way I thumbed my nose at those Keith Emerson albums Record Service traded for beer money.

Thursday night she debuted her latest pair of top notch musicians as accompanists: Micah Olsan and Eric Lundgren. I wasn't aware that they hadn't rehearsed together, she just handed them sheet music and they sightread their parts. (That old joke about "how do you get a guitar play to turn down his amp" "put sheet music in front of him" was flashing in my head). Afterwards they were kvetching about how "this part wasn't right here" and such, but I just butted in and said, in all honesty, "I heard no mistakes." But they're progs, and part of being prog is being meticulously exacting about one's music, so I let them go. Julie's tunes are still melancholy as ever, but her voice, over the past five years, has caught up to her instrumental virtuosity. (Julie, honestly, your voice used to get drowned out by your band).The songs themselves are on the level of Tori Amos introspectiveness, but without the annoying shrill. No, Julie's voice is capable of belting out some emo blues: it's full and expressive, and is doing justice to her work. She's ready to rock should she decide that someday, she just wants to strap on this awful bass I know she still has and just blast out some three chord anthems. She has the leather pants for it!

Saturday March 3, 2007

As I said I would, I popped into Caroline's to see Julie B, pretty much by herself. I really have got to get out and see her heavy prog combo, the Quark Quintet. She's really learned to play her voice as well as her keyboard, and writes the right kinds of songs to showcase this talent. I'm not a fan of singer-songwriter-y stuff though, but these are songs that can hold up under the weight of a full-blown prog band and its about time I expose myself to that. Still, Julie can work a small room wonderfully, not overhwhelmingly, and the songs work because they're well-crafted pieces to begin with.

My only comment: seems to me if you're going to play a jazz club, you had better be ready with more than one remotely jazz tune to cover. She apologized as she introduced her jazz cover, like she was anticipating some hardcore jazzbo snorting "Oh, look at little prog girl trying to move into our world." But there was none of that going on and therefore nothing to apologize about the fact that it might have been a "common" song for such a seemingly purist jazz joint like Caroline's. Does a band at the Cactus Club ever get booed off the stage for breaking into "Teenage Lobotomy" or "Pretty Vacant"? No, they don't. It’s a sign of respect for the clientele that you at least do something you know they're gonna recognize, if not like/love. And you really can't go wrong with a standard, especially one Julie renders as well as she does "Someone to - Veronica Rusnak


Still working on that hot first release.



Currently at a loss for words...