As a kid growing up on the south side of Chicago, Joe DeLucia experienced the music industry first-hand. His father, an Italian immigrant, had his own record label in 1955, recording rock bands, blues singers, songwriters, big bands, and country singers. "I remember driving many miles with him as we delivered the records (45 rpm vinyl) to radio stations across Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana. His biggest 'hit' was a recording of Edgar Allen Poe's Annabel Lee put to music and sung by The Coeds. It rose to #21 on WLS's Silver Dollar Survey!"
When DeLucia arrived in Wisconsin in 1975, he started a music career of his own. "It started at the Sunday open mic at the Gasthaus in the basement of the student union at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. As I got more confident, I got paid gigs at such places as the Blue River Cafe, the 19th Street Coffeehouse, Numero Uno's on Oakland, Prima's on Downer (where I first started promoting local musicians), Marquette University and UW Milwaukee. I made a recording in 1979, a 45 rpm record, and received airplay in Milwaukee."
A wife, kids, and home put his music career on the back burner for many years, until 1991, when DeLucia moved his father in with his family, rediscovering all of those old 45 records, and realized how important music was to him. With many of his old haunts gone, DeLucia decided that he would have to create a place for singers and songwriters on his own.
In 1992, with the help of musician friends, DeLucia started the Wisconsin Singer Songwriter Series in a partnership with the Cedarburg Cultural Center, where it remained for 16 years until, for financial reasons, the concert series was moved to the Unitarian Church North in Mequon, where it continues today.
For twenty-five years, WSSS has been a successful, non-profit, volunteer-driven organization, with all of the proceeds of the event going to the artist fees and operating expenses. The small army of loyal volunteers, along with sponsorship from North Shore Bank, the law firm of DeWitt, Ross & Stevens, and Muermann Engineering, as well as DeLucia's passion for original, lyrical oriented music, has made WSSS an incredibly popular indoor concert series; so much so that DeLucia no longer has to find artists to perform; instead, they come to him, and the hardest part is choosing who gets in.
The concerts are held throughout the fall, winter, and spring at the Unitarian Church North (13800 N. Port Washington Road) in Mequon. The doors always open at 7 p.m., and the music begins at 7:30; soda, coffee, and homemade treats are available for purchase. Ticket prices vary (student prices are $10 at all times), but are less expensive if bought in advance, and season passes and mini-package deals are available for purchase through September 24th.
WSSS just released their 25th Season Line-up:
Saturday, September 24 - Reggie Harris & David Roth - advance/at the door $17/$21
Friday, October 7- Ronnie Cox & Band - advance/at the door $18/$22
Saturday, October 22 - Anne Hills - advance/at the door - $16/$20
Friday, November 4 - WSSS Song Contest - admission $5 anytime
Saturday, Nov. 5 - Michael Hough, David Tamulevich, Jan Krist & Matt Wattroba - advance/ door $17/$21
Saturday, November 19 -Julie Rust - advance/at the door $15/$19
Friday, December 9 -Jon Vezner & Don Henry - advance/at the door $17/$21
Saturday, January 21 - Bonnie Koloc - advance/at the door $18/$22
Friday, February 10 - Dan Navarro - advance/at the door $15/$19
Friday, March 3 - Brother Sun - advance/at the door $18/$22
Friday, April 7 - Joe Crookston - advance/at the door $15/$19
Saturday, April 29 - Johnsmith w/ Dan Sebranek - advance/at the door $16/$20
Friday, May 5 - Claudia Schmidt & Sally Rodgers - advance/at the door $17/$21
If you are a music lover, the WSSS is the place to be. "Our venue is a listening room, and is casual and family friendly. It is also a wonderful opportunity to purchase CD's of artists that you would normally not find at the stores," says DeLucia. "For these past 25 years, I have met musicians/songwriters of such rare quality and character, who share the same mission: to share the love of lyrics and music with everyone!"
For more information, visit the Wisconsin Singer Songwriter Series Facebook Page.