The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    What’s in a name?

    Eau Claire has emerged as a creative center of jazz and indie/folk music. The city hosts the annual Jazz Festival and shows can be seen on any night of the week at a number of cafés and clubs around the city, whenever the mood should strike.

    The Inspiration

    As an Eau Claire native, Strei is a junior music major, and is no stranger to the music scene. She began playing violin in fifth grade and played mostly saxophone and clarinet up through college.
    She was in the jazz band at Eau Claire Memorial High School and traveled to New York City for the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program when she was a senior. She said going to EE made a huge impact on her relationship with music because it gave her “the opportunity to be with other really cool musical people.”

    Strei didn’t play anything but jazz until last year or so. Over her college career she has played in Eau Claire’s award-winning Jazz I ensemble and numerous student jazz groups. She played with other notable local bands like Feathe and Thresher Shark at The Cabin in Davies Center and venues around the city.

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    Strei said Eau Claire was an inspiration to her music because of all the great local talent.

    “I take inspiration from other local people doing great things,” she said. “It’s inspiring just to see up and coming musicians that I can look up to, especially folk artists since I’m new to (playing) it.”

    Strei said she was also greatly influenced by her band teachers, both in high school and at UW-Eau Claire.

    Robert Baca, director of Jazz Studies, taught Strei at UW-Eau Claire. She said he had a great influence on her because he “is welcoming to everyone and is so motivational.”

    When asked what he thought about Strei’s music he said she has remarkable creativity and understands music far beyond genre.

    “Because of her unique background, growing up in the jazz-saturated Eau Claire environment she internally feels the influence of jazz in all music and speaks it naturally in the soul of her compositions,” Baca said.

    Within the last year, Strei was inspired to write her own music, “just simple things,” she said. She began to hang out and play with her younger brother Leo and his friend Pat Kuehn.

    The Music and the Band

    After a few months of playing together and writing songs, Adelyn Rose began to get gigs around the city and open for a few artists. However, their trio seemed to be missing something.

    When Strei started work at Ron’s Castle Foods in Eau Claire in May, little did she know they would be gaining another band member.

    Paul Brandt, a recent UW-Eau Claire graduate, was working at Ron’s and recognized Strei right away. Brandt said he knew of Strei from the jazz program at Memorial but was a fan of Adelyn Rose and knew their music from their Myspace page.

    “I decided to break the ice by humming one of her songs that I really liked,” he said.

    Strei said she was surprised that Brandt recognized her and knew her music enough to hum it, especially since he was already fairly well known in the Eau Claire music scene.

    Strei invited him to one of their band practices.

    “I convinced them that they needed a fourth band member to round out their sound,” Brandt said. The band agreed.

    Adelyn Rose continued to play venues like The Cabin, Acoustic Café, Infinitea and the Nucleus.

    Strei said Adelyn Rose is different than most bands because they don’t have a clear vision.

    “Not having an established sound is exciting and frustrating,” she said. “We’re a new band and new to the genre so we’re making our own thing, which is really sweet.”

    As the primary songwriter for the group, Strei said she gets a lot of her song material from nature and going on walks.

    “That may sound kind of silly, but a lot of my lyrics come from places that have a lot of meaning for me, where I have strong memories,” she said. “We don’t really have any songs about love or anything like that.”

    The Dream

    Over the summer the band decided to record an album and released an EP with three songs in October.

    Even though Kuehn left for college in Boston last fall, the band’s ultimate goal is to finish the record.

    “We’re just focused on finishing the record, we want to make it good but done soon,” Brandt said. “We’re kind of building our songs as we go.”

    Even though the band was named after Strei because she was the sole songwriter and lead singer when the band first started, she said the band is far from being just about her.

    “It’s a collaborative effort, so we’re trying to find a new name,” she said. “They have contributed so much, it’s not just my thing anymore.”

    The other members add a lot of different instruments to their songs, Strei said, and everyone adds a different sound.

    “I play guitar and sing but also add instruments I know, like sax and other woodwinds,” she said. “I’m kind of known and teased for taking a long time to tune my guitar. I’m still new to guitar.”

    Leo Strei plays bass and sings, Kuehn plays drums and writes, and Brandt plays piano and sings as well. She said even though she may write the songs, everyone works on arrangement  and  getting the right sound.

    Adelyn Rose aims to have their record out soon and their ultimate goal is to go on tour. Strei hopes to maybe have a small tour this summer but for now will continue to play in venues like the Grand Little Theatre (on March 8th) and The Cabin this weekend.

    She said the reason they do so well is because they all get along and share the same goal. They all want music to be a part of their lives.

    “Practicing and recording is just hanging out for us,” she said. “The guys are my best friends.”

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