The Vitrolum Republic
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The Vitrolum Republic

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Folk Indie

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Jan
27
The Vitrolum Republic @ Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts

Brookfield, WI

Brookfield, WI

Nov
11
The Vitrolum Republic @ Anodyne Coffee Roasting

Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee, WI

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

Music

Press


Every man gets that ache for new music. That time when the playlists run dry and the old favorites go stale, if only for a week or two. A man can go into a musical drought, where nothing seems to quench his thirst. I myself was in such a place and it was exhausting. Even Bob Seger’s Live Bullet wasn’t doing the job… LIVE BULLET. Then, as if some higher power looked upon me and could not stand to see the state I was in, new music revealed itself to me. From the western shores of Lake Michigan, a music fan drops MWG a line and in it, a message of hope. As I press play, I rise out of my chair in slow motion (dramatic, I know) my eyes wide and ears open, I was instantly drawn to the sound and the search for new music was over, The Vitrolum Republic had entered my life.
As I write, I struggle to find the words to even describe what it’s like hearing them for the first time. It’s almost as if I could just link to their latest album “For The Lovespun Ramblings and Ghosts in Our Shoes” with a simple message… “you’re welcome.” From the beginning you are pulled into their world. It’s as if you are listening to them live on a street corner, the corner of Bourbon St. and Broadway, lost in a blend of orchestrated Americana, folk-rock and burlesque pop. However, you are more likely to find them on the corner of Center St. and Fratney in Milwaukee, kicking back a Focus Pocus prior to hitting the stage. This sound is a hodge podge of influence, brought together to become a sound of its own.

Like many artists from the Midwest, the final product is inherently genuine, it is creative and it stands on its own. The album kicks off with “Don-Pravotchka” where you feel as though you are lost in a market place of sinners and gypsies each drawing you into a tent of misfortune. Even with the first song, you are brought into a different world, your surroundings are no more and you are drawn into the fiddle of Jordan Warkasa who compliments his strings with a vocal style reminiscent of Chris Thile. The album is a journey and just a few tracks in you are awaken by “A Fumbling Fool” – a melodic track that gives your mind a strong morning like stretch, it’s invigorating. The fiddle and accordion work in tandem to carry the track and allow you to experience nearly 6 minutes of bliss.

There is such a whirlwind of influence on this album that it goes beyond any real genre. A great example of this is the track “Get Love.” The opening has the hint of a hip-hop sample, and continues to layer on to itself with harmonic elements, rock n roll drums and more. By far one of the marquee tracks on the album. Rounding out the album, is “Storms Call Me Out” and “Magnata.” Both of these send the album out in the same fashion you entered it, a chaotic painting of beauty. I can only really identify this piece of work as “Medival Pop Music” carrying with it all majesty, creativity and emotion that one would think of when going to a place in time. - MIDWESTERN GENTLEMEN


Way back in 2010, Milwaukee gypsy-folk outfit The Vitrolum Republic came onto the scene with the then-trio’s debut full-length, For Highbrow Sideshows And Rowboat Serenades, a 14-song introduction rife with emotive strings, acoustic guitar, and piano waltzes. Not counting a 2012 Cream City Session, which featured live versions of primarily old material, and video shot in a Bay View hat shop last year, The Vitrolum Republic had subsided from the stage and ventured into the studio to expand upon its encouraging first record. With a new member, 10 new songs, and fully-realized arrangements conveyed by adept instrumentation, they’ve made a record few Wisconsin bands would think to make and even fewer could pull off.

“Dom Pravotchka” is a deceiving opening For The Lovespun Ramblings And Ghosts In Our Shoes volley, with its hastened tempo and almost zydeco implementation of accordion, violin, and upbeat auxiliary percussion. However, the rowdy beginner quickly gives way to a subsequent string of slow numbers that are as gorgeous as they are devastating. “Show & Tell” and “Lady Of Stone” (among others) manage to incorporate lush and quasi-classical string arrangements with barren acoustic strumming, and splashy minimalist percussion. The four-piece’s supplies an abbreviated symphony with 11 different instruments employed on the record between them. Not counted among those is Jordan Waraksa, whose voice soars above the rich instrumental mix in most efforts—the barren and beautiful “Pause” paramount among them—and fills any gaps with alternating falsetto and force.

At a time with infinite sub-genres featuring the word “rock” and most folk acts congealing in an overused mold of contrived themes, it’s refreshing when a band like The Vitrolum Republic can push elements of folk down an unfamiliar path, heap in classical influence, and project it through an indie rock lens to forge something you won’t hear anywhere else in Milwaukee, and something that’s well worth the four years it took to arrive. - Milwaukee Record


Every once in a while, an album comes along that forces you to exclaim, "This is how this entire genre should sound!" The Vitrolum Republic’s debut For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades is one of those albums. Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this trio offers more to classic folk music than the likes of bigger modern acts such as Bon Iver (QRO album review) or Fleet Foxes (QRO album review) ever could.

One cannot help but notice FHSaRS‘s beautiful harmonies from the very beginning. There’s something in the way that the three sing "Doo doodoo doowah" in the chorus of the opening track "Willow Song" which instantly hooks the listener for the rest of the fifty-six minute runtime, which goes by practically unnoticed. Through the use of the accordion, violin, and piano as well as the standard acoustic guitar, The Vitrolum Republic are able to offer a retro style rarely seen nowadays, sometimes giving them an almost gypsy-like quality to their sound.

The album’s title is fitting, bringing the listener back to a classic, nearly forgotten time during the early 20th Century. It reflects the era’s general feeling of hope in times of desperation, a cliché that many attempt for this modern generation but few pull off this well. Tracks like "Sunday Drive" act as a literal time machine into the past, swooning listeners over to a simpler time with its catchy banjo melody. It effectively makes them yearn to throw their computers and cell-phones down for just an hour and forgot about the stress of modern life in favor of a simple Sunday afternoon drive with the top down.

This is an album and a band that should not go by unnoticed. Two years in the making, the effort and talent put into this record is blatantly obvious. For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades universally transcends anything recorded before it, dropping modern bells and whistles to display the core beauty of music at its absolute finest. Folk like this, put simply, does not exist like this anymore. Vitrolum, a fictional word invented by the band, represents a conduit of expression, while Republic stands for the other members they’ve played with as well as the audiences they play for. Rarely can one find a group with a more fitting and deserving name. - QRO Magazine


Every once in a while, an album comes along that forces you to exclaim, "This is how this entire genre should sound!" The Vitrolum Republic’s debut For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades is one of those albums. Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this trio offers more to classic folk music than the likes of bigger modern acts such as Bon Iver (QRO album review) or Fleet Foxes (QRO album review) ever could.

One cannot help but notice FHSaRS‘s beautiful harmonies from the very beginning. There’s something in the way that the three sing "Doo doodoo doowah" in the chorus of the opening track "Willow Song" which instantly hooks the listener for the rest of the fifty-six minute runtime, which goes by practically unnoticed. Through the use of the accordion, violin, and piano as well as the standard acoustic guitar, The Vitrolum Republic are able to offer a retro style rarely seen nowadays, sometimes giving them an almost gypsy-like quality to their sound.

The album’s title is fitting, bringing the listener back to a classic, nearly forgotten time during the early 20th Century. It reflects the era’s general feeling of hope in times of desperation, a cliché that many attempt for this modern generation but few pull off this well. Tracks like "Sunday Drive" act as a literal time machine into the past, swooning listeners over to a simpler time with its catchy banjo melody. It effectively makes them yearn to throw their computers and cell-phones down for just an hour and forgot about the stress of modern life in favor of a simple Sunday afternoon drive with the top down.

This is an album and a band that should not go by unnoticed. Two years in the making, the effort and talent put into this record is blatantly obvious. For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades universally transcends anything recorded before it, dropping modern bells and whistles to display the core beauty of music at its absolute finest. Folk like this, put simply, does not exist like this anymore. Vitrolum, a fictional word invented by the band, represents a conduit of expression, while Republic stands for the other members they’ve played with as well as the audiences they play for. Rarely can one find a group with a more fitting and deserving name. - QRO Magazine


The Milwaukee gypsy-folk trio The Vitrolum Republic often jokes about having to learn how to cover their own songs. “We often have to teach ourselves how to play a song live after we’ve finished it in the studio, because the recordings have so many instruments layered over each other,” says bassist Chuck Lawton, “but we’re only three guys, so we can only pull off so much live.”

The band’s dense sound was perhaps inevitable, given the players’ backgrounds. Songwriting brothers Nick and Jordan Waraksa are both classically trained musicians and prone to ornate arrangements, and both play multiple instruments. Nick primarily handles piano and accordion, while Jordan mans the violin and guitar. Mandolin and banjo also pepper the album. In addition to upright bass, Lawton also plays guitar and doubles as the band’s producer. He’s an unabashed perfectionist. The band spent two and a half years recording their latest album, For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades, in his home studio.

At their core, The Vitrolum Republic’s songs are kindred to the emotional folk-pop of Mumford & Sons, but they touch on far more influences than that group, juggling both American roots and Eastern European folk-music traditions.

“We’ve compared ourselves to Ray LaMontagne and Nickel Creek, but when you think of those artists, you have a very strong idea of what style of music you’re going to hear,” Lawton says. “Listening to our record, what comes across is how diverse it is. We start with a bluegrass song, and from that we go into blues and jazz, then East European gypsy music and piano ballads. You really get this musical tour of the world. This is music that all really resonates with us, but it presents an interesting challenge as a producer, because how do you turn that all into an album? You can’t just throw 10 or 12 completely different tracks on an album and call it a day, because that would be disjointed, so we really had to rely on certain sounds and arrangements to carry a thread through the album, like vocal harmonies or Jordan’s violin.

Another consideration while recording the album, Lawton says, was incorporating classically informed arrangements without sacrificing the organic feel of folk music.

“We’ve learned it takes us about three hours to record any one part of a song,” Lawton says. “If we’re recording vocals on a song, that takes about three hours. If decide we need harmonies on a song, we can expect to spend another couple hours figuring those out. But deciding those things is a very natural process. A lot of times, we’re surprised how the songs come out. The track ‘Pretty,’ for instance, we had originally conceived as a piano ballad, a solo song for Nick, but he felt too naked, so we tried to find ways to add to it without detracting from its core feel, and that’s how Jordan ended up double tracking this beautiful violin part.” - Express Milwaukee


The Milwaukee gypsy-folk trio The Vitrolum Republic often jokes about having to learn how to cover their own songs. “We often have to teach ourselves how to play a song live after we’ve finished it in the studio, because the recordings have so many instruments layered over each other,” says bassist Chuck Lawton, “but we’re only three guys, so we can only pull off so much live.”

The band’s dense sound was perhaps inevitable, given the players’ backgrounds. Songwriting brothers Nick and Jordan Waraksa are both classically trained musicians and prone to ornate arrangements, and both play multiple instruments. Nick primarily handles piano and accordion, while Jordan mans the violin and guitar. Mandolin and banjo also pepper the album. In addition to upright bass, Lawton also plays guitar and doubles as the band’s producer. He’s an unabashed perfectionist. The band spent two and a half years recording their latest album, For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades, in his home studio.

At their core, The Vitrolum Republic’s songs are kindred to the emotional folk-pop of Mumford & Sons, but they touch on far more influences than that group, juggling both American roots and Eastern European folk-music traditions.

“We’ve compared ourselves to Ray LaMontagne and Nickel Creek, but when you think of those artists, you have a very strong idea of what style of music you’re going to hear,” Lawton says. “Listening to our record, what comes across is how diverse it is. We start with a bluegrass song, and from that we go into blues and jazz, then East European gypsy music and piano ballads. You really get this musical tour of the world. This is music that all really resonates with us, but it presents an interesting challenge as a producer, because how do you turn that all into an album? You can’t just throw 10 or 12 completely different tracks on an album and call it a day, because that would be disjointed, so we really had to rely on certain sounds and arrangements to carry a thread through the album, like vocal harmonies or Jordan’s violin.

Another consideration while recording the album, Lawton says, was incorporating classically informed arrangements without sacrificing the organic feel of folk music.

“We’ve learned it takes us about three hours to record any one part of a song,” Lawton says. “If we’re recording vocals on a song, that takes about three hours. If decide we need harmonies on a song, we can expect to spend another couple hours figuring those out. But deciding those things is a very natural process. A lot of times, we’re surprised how the songs come out. The track ‘Pretty,’ for instance, we had originally conceived as a piano ballad, a solo song for Nick, but he felt too naked, so we tried to find ways to add to it without detracting from its core feel, and that’s how Jordan ended up double tracking this beautiful violin part.” - Express Milwaukee


Instead of taking the standard clichéd band photo for its website - the kind when the musicians look like they just got out of bed, strolled into some anonymous room and won't be bothered to smile or look at the camera - the Vitrolum Republic went through the trouble of designing a striking, multi-layered, wilderness-inspired backdrop to pose in front of (with help from the bass player's wife) and suited up in vintage costumes.

To create its debut album, "For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades," the band invested a substantial 21/2 years, crafting an assured collection of restrained yet stirring old-fashioned European folk songs, elegantly realized through graceful violin, accordion, piano and sweet vocals.

It's no wonder Jordan Waraksa, the band's primary string musician, was invited to perform as part of Peter Gabriel's New Blood Orchestra in Milwaukee this summer.

Who's who: Nick Waraksa, 29 (keyboards, accordion); Jordan Waraksa, 26 (violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin); Chuck Lawton, 30 (bass, occasional guitar); Benjamin Schaefer, 25 (drums). Jordan spoke for the band.

Website: www.thevitrolumrepublic.com

Day jobs: Jordan Waraksa is a sculptor and interior designer. Nick designs motion graphics for Blend Studios. Lawton maintains the server at Cardinal Stritch University as its network administrator. Schaefer works in retail and studies architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In the family: "Our grandfather was in swing bands in Milwaukee, and my grandfather's brother Leroy played violin. My first violin was my Uncle Leroy's. It didn't occur to us until adulthood that my brother and I are echoing our grandfather and his brother."

When formed: The brothers Waraksa performed as KSA in 2005, writing some of the music that ended up as part of the Vitrolum Republic catalog. Lawton joined the group in 2006. The band changed its name to the Vitrolum Republic in 2010. Schaefer became a member this year.

Most recent album: Last year's "For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades," streaming at thevitrolumrepublic.com/music.html, and available for sale on Amazon, Bandcamp, iTunes and at Vitrolum Republic shows.

Band name back story: Vitrolum is a word the band created to define a conduit of expression, according to Jordan. "And the word republic calls upon the communal experience we want from an audience."

They say they sound like: "It's hard to put in a box. There are a lot of different styles. There's a little bit of classical music, lots of layering of lush strings. There's some singer-songwriter folk. .?.?. The closest we've gotten is calling it gypsy noir."

We say they sound like: A wandering folk band crosses paths with a chamber music ensemble, aligning their instruments for some gentle soul cleansing.

Sell yourself in 20 words or less: "The Vitrolum Republic is a great show. There's energy, there's melancholy and there's laughter."

Describe your look: "Barnyard chic."

Favorite food on the road: "The guilty pleasure is Taco Bell and the seven-layer burrito."

Unofficial band beverage: "Honey whiskey. When we first finished the album, we toasted to it and it's what we order here and there. But it's a good metaphor (for our music). Whiskey is serious, but adding honey to it sweetens it up. It's that dichotomy that we bring to the show. We're goofing around, then we play this song that will make you cry."

First gig: "The (now-defunct) Mosaic Piano Bar (on N. Downer Ave.) We picked a piano bar because the piano (at the time) was the third member of the band, and we wanted to have a grand piano at the performance. It adds so much. It was cold. My brother had big cut-off mittens and a scarf, and the streetlights were illuminating the entire bar. It was very dim, it was very quiet, but people came in and the place was packed."

Worst gig: "We do weddings here and there, and sometimes the brides can be a little bit crazy where they want seven songs for walking up the aisle. But we haven't had a terrible gig. The scenarios were as interesting as the band. We just smile at each other."

Song you've written that you're most proud of: "?'Beautiful Release.' I really love the orchestral feel of it, all these different violins, and there's a nice, beautiful piano sound. I don't know if most people know what it's about, but we lost our dog and wrote this song. He was 19 years old, and we had him since I was a kid, so all my life I could remember he had been there. The animal in your life, it never talks, but it says more to you sometimes than any other person."

Favorite cover song you've performed: "?'Elephant Gun' by the band Beirut. We use the lyrics and chord progressions but really make it o - JSOnline


Instead of taking the standard clichéd band photo for its website - the kind when the musicians look like they just got out of bed, strolled into some anonymous room and won't be bothered to smile or look at the camera - the Vitrolum Republic went through the trouble of designing a striking, multi-layered, wilderness-inspired backdrop to pose in front of (with help from the bass player's wife) and suited up in vintage costumes.

To create its debut album, "For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades," the band invested a substantial 21/2 years, crafting an assured collection of restrained yet stirring old-fashioned European folk songs, elegantly realized through graceful violin, accordion, piano and sweet vocals.

It's no wonder Jordan Waraksa, the band's primary string musician, was invited to perform as part of Peter Gabriel's New Blood Orchestra in Milwaukee this summer.

Who's who: Nick Waraksa, 29 (keyboards, accordion); Jordan Waraksa, 26 (violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin); Chuck Lawton, 30 (bass, occasional guitar); Benjamin Schaefer, 25 (drums). Jordan spoke for the band.

Website: www.thevitrolumrepublic.com

Day jobs: Jordan Waraksa is a sculptor and interior designer. Nick designs motion graphics for Blend Studios. Lawton maintains the server at Cardinal Stritch University as its network administrator. Schaefer works in retail and studies architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In the family: "Our grandfather was in swing bands in Milwaukee, and my grandfather's brother Leroy played violin. My first violin was my Uncle Leroy's. It didn't occur to us until adulthood that my brother and I are echoing our grandfather and his brother."

When formed: The brothers Waraksa performed as KSA in 2005, writing some of the music that ended up as part of the Vitrolum Republic catalog. Lawton joined the group in 2006. The band changed its name to the Vitrolum Republic in 2010. Schaefer became a member this year.

Most recent album: Last year's "For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades," streaming at thevitrolumrepublic.com/music.html, and available for sale on Amazon, Bandcamp, iTunes and at Vitrolum Republic shows.

Band name back story: Vitrolum is a word the band created to define a conduit of expression, according to Jordan. "And the word republic calls upon the communal experience we want from an audience."

They say they sound like: "It's hard to put in a box. There are a lot of different styles. There's a little bit of classical music, lots of layering of lush strings. There's some singer-songwriter folk. .?.?. The closest we've gotten is calling it gypsy noir."

We say they sound like: A wandering folk band crosses paths with a chamber music ensemble, aligning their instruments for some gentle soul cleansing.

Sell yourself in 20 words or less: "The Vitrolum Republic is a great show. There's energy, there's melancholy and there's laughter."

Describe your look: "Barnyard chic."

Favorite food on the road: "The guilty pleasure is Taco Bell and the seven-layer burrito."

Unofficial band beverage: "Honey whiskey. When we first finished the album, we toasted to it and it's what we order here and there. But it's a good metaphor (for our music). Whiskey is serious, but adding honey to it sweetens it up. It's that dichotomy that we bring to the show. We're goofing around, then we play this song that will make you cry."

First gig: "The (now-defunct) Mosaic Piano Bar (on N. Downer Ave.) We picked a piano bar because the piano (at the time) was the third member of the band, and we wanted to have a grand piano at the performance. It adds so much. It was cold. My brother had big cut-off mittens and a scarf, and the streetlights were illuminating the entire bar. It was very dim, it was very quiet, but people came in and the place was packed."

Worst gig: "We do weddings here and there, and sometimes the brides can be a little bit crazy where they want seven songs for walking up the aisle. But we haven't had a terrible gig. The scenarios were as interesting as the band. We just smile at each other."

Song you've written that you're most proud of: "?'Beautiful Release.' I really love the orchestral feel of it, all these different violins, and there's a nice, beautiful piano sound. I don't know if most people know what it's about, but we lost our dog and wrote this song. He was 19 years old, and we had him since I was a kid, so all my life I could remember he had been there. The animal in your life, it never talks, but it says more to you sometimes than any other person."

Favorite cover song you've performed: "?'Elephant Gun' by the band Beirut. We use the lyrics and chord progressions but really make it o - JSOnline


There a few things that define the true mettle of a musical group. The band must first write and perform music that elicits an emotional response: this is always important for you to truly feel the music. It’s not just coming up with a cookie-cutter top 40 hit, but it’s the way the music creeps into your bones, your soul, your very being. Also, it helps if the group in question performs well live. The Vitrolum Republic, reviewed here, is one such band.

Milwaukee based The Vitrolum Republic recently released Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades to great acclaim. At least, my acclaim, which is about as great as acclaim one can really get. A sound of Southern Bluegrass mixed with haunting melodies with gospel influence and Cajun twang, The Vitrolum Republic is that one such group that gets into the little tiny veins that run to the tips of your fingers. Even more so when you watch them perform live.

While I didn’t have the pleasure of being there in person, The Vitrolum Republic recently performed live at one of Milwaukee’s oldest landmarks, the cathedral in downtown Milwaukee on the campus of Marquette University called the Church of the Gesu. The performance was in conjunction with the opening of Current Tendencies II at the Haggerty Museum of Art. The exhibit features sound sculptures by The Vitrolum Republic’s Jordan Waraska. The Vitrolum Republic – Jordan, along with band members Chuck Lawton (a fellow GeekDad), Benjamin Schaefer and Nick Waraksa – added organist John Weissrock for this acoustically enlightened live performance. The whole performance has been compiled and released as Cream City Sessions ~ Gesu Cathedral over at Bandcamp, as a free or name your own price album.

This is music that you can escape into, sort of how I feel when I listen to the siren voice of artists like Marian Call. This is just “take me away” music, perfect when you need an hour of zen. It’s not that it’s relaxing, just that it has that mystery, that sense of feeling and being that you have no choice but to succumb to. Live, seeing the emotion play out along with improvisation only adds to the growing legend of The Vitrolum Republic. Well, don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself, here’s a couple videos from their recent performance. First up “A Sinking Ship/Rowboat Serenade” then “Willow Song.” You can check out the rest on their website. See you on the other side. - wired.com


There a few things that define the true mettle of a musical group. The band must first write and perform music that elicits an emotional response: this is always important for you to truly feel the music. It’s not just coming up with a cookie-cutter top 40 hit, but it’s the way the music creeps into your bones, your soul, your very being. Also, it helps if the group in question performs well live. The Vitrolum Republic, reviewed here, is one such band.

Milwaukee based The Vitrolum Republic recently released Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades to great acclaim. At least, my acclaim, which is about as great as acclaim one can really get. A sound of Southern Bluegrass mixed with haunting melodies with gospel influence and Cajun twang, The Vitrolum Republic is that one such group that gets into the little tiny veins that run to the tips of your fingers. Even more so when you watch them perform live.

While I didn’t have the pleasure of being there in person, The Vitrolum Republic recently performed live at one of Milwaukee’s oldest landmarks, the cathedral in downtown Milwaukee on the campus of Marquette University called the Church of the Gesu. The performance was in conjunction with the opening of Current Tendencies II at the Haggerty Museum of Art. The exhibit features sound sculptures by The Vitrolum Republic’s Jordan Waraska. The Vitrolum Republic – Jordan, along with band members Chuck Lawton (a fellow GeekDad), Benjamin Schaefer and Nick Waraksa – added organist John Weissrock for this acoustically enlightened live performance. The whole performance has been compiled and released as Cream City Sessions ~ Gesu Cathedral over at Bandcamp, as a free or name your own price album.

This is music that you can escape into, sort of how I feel when I listen to the siren voice of artists like Marian Call. This is just “take me away” music, perfect when you need an hour of zen. It’s not that it’s relaxing, just that it has that mystery, that sense of feeling and being that you have no choice but to succumb to. Live, seeing the emotion play out along with improvisation only adds to the growing legend of The Vitrolum Republic. Well, don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself, here’s a couple videos from their recent performance. First up “A Sinking Ship/Rowboat Serenade” then “Willow Song.” You can check out the rest on their website. See you on the other side. - wired.com


Discography

For the Lovespun Ramblings and Ghosts in our Shoes (2015)

For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades (2010)

Cream City Sessions ~ Gesu Cathedral (2012)

Photos

Bio


The Vitrolum Republics sound is a combination of various styles that can best be described as classically infused folk music. Over the course of their latest album, they cover many different styles of music, but all in a way that feels rooted in a style all their own, which they have come to call Gypsy Noir.

Their original compositions blur genres, combining classical elements with singer songwriter, folk, bluegrass, blues and gypsy tango styling. Their music is diverse and draws upon the acoustic instrumentation each member brings to the stage; violin, piano, acoustic guitar, accordion, mandolin, banjo, upright bass and a variety of percussion instruments.

The group was founded by two brothers, Nick and Jordan Waraksa. They grew up performing classical music, and as a duo, they recorded two full-length albums of original music and composed an award-winning soundtrack for a short film that was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. Each graduating from both MIAD and the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee with degrees in visual arts and music performance, Nick and Jordan have no shortage of creative talent. Jordan toured with Tuscia de Operafestival in Italy in 2006 and 2007, while Nick has lent his composition skills to various ad campaigns including Alverno College.

In 2006, the duo expanded to a trio with the addition of bassist Chuck Lawton. A self-taught musician, Chuck was coached by his father who got him started with drums, bass and guitar. Through his formative years, he explored a wide variety of musical stylings from rockabilly and blues to pop-punk, and developed a love of music production and recording through independent releases of his bands music. With The Vitrolum Republic, the group gained not only a bassist and guitarist, but also an outside influence, which helped take the group in new directions with additional vocal harmonies and ideas for arrangements rooted in musical improvisation.

At the end of 2008, The Vitrolum Republic began work on their first full-length album, For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades. Produced by Chuck Lawton with the members of The Vitrolum Republic, the group focused on creating a more complex and diverse album than their previous efforts. Their music reflects the collective talents of all of its members, and the album features musicians outside the core group who resonate with their ideas and expression of music.

Following the 2011 release of For Highbrow Sideshows and Rowboat Serenades, the group again expanded to a quartet with the addition of percussionist Benjamin Schaefer. Benjamin began exploring percussion at age 15, migrating from his first drum kit, to congas, bongos, djembes, and cajons. At age 18, Benjamins musical interest led him into a phase of prolific recording and touring. After 7 years playing with various acts in different styles, Benjamin comfortably blended into The Vitrolum Republics diverse catalog. He now uses his background with world percussion to translate a traditional drum kit into a dynamic range of sounds that help push and pull the band in live performances.

The Vitrolum Republic continues to perform around the midwest, creating live experiences that captivate listeners and draw them in. They continue to write and record new material for an eventual new full-length release, and theyve begun shooting live one-take music videos in historic Milwaukee landmarks that demonstrate their artistry, musicianship and roots in their home town.

Band Members