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Musical transformation: Chippewa Falls man among top candidates for Best Jazz Album Grammy nomination

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Sherry and Mario Friedel

Mario (right) and Sherry Friedel (left) regularly perform in the Chippewa Valley with their acoustic group, Songa.

Transforming decades of original music into something new, a process best done under the Venus moon.

Mario Friedel is a Chippewa Valley based musician with decades of experience under his belt. Friedel has served as an educator in both public and private schools and has gained experience as a musician, songwriter and performer. Friedel’s latest project, “Under the Venus Moon: The Music of Mario Friedel Ft. Jazz Vocalist Janet Planet,” sees Mario’s greatest hits being reimagined into big band jazz arrangements.

“If you have a really good song, it can be done in a number of different ways,” Friedel said. “Adding orchestration to these tracks brings new life to them, as it changes the nature of them entirely. I’ve played, and recorded, these songs a number of times over my lifetime, so it is nice to have them recorded in this way as a way of documenting them to show their transformation.”

Under the Venus Moon album cover

The record sees seven of Friedel’s tracks making the jump to jazz. The album was recorded at Steel Moon Recording and features performances from prominent jazz vocalist Janet Planet as well as a host of prolific jazz instrumentalists. Tom Washatka, a saxophonist, composer, arranger and recording engineer/producer on the record, helped Friedel along the process to seeing “Under the Venus Moon” come to fruition.

The album was submitted to the Grammy boards for consideration, and has advanced to the ballot portion of the nomination process, therefore reaching the top 78 entries out of 10,000 submissions for the Grammy award for Best Jazz Album.

“It’s an honor at my age to have complete versions of all of these songs,” Friedel said. “I listen through the cd and it’s incredibly heartwarming. It’s very touching to have so many fantastic performances on the record, and to know other people believe in it too is something new for me. I don’t take it for granted.”

Janet Planet and the UW-Oshkosh Jazz Ensemble will perform selections from “Under the Venus Moon” at the Grand Oshkosh Theater on Sunday, Dec. 5. at 7:30 p.m. under the direction of Marty Robinson. Tickets are available now at https://thegrandoshkosh.org/.

When Mario isn’t making jazz records, he performs regularly with his wife Sherry Friedel in the acoustic group Songa, as well as other projects. Happy with where he is, Friedel said there are no plans for a follow-up to “Under the Venus Moon,” but he is open to revisiting the stylistic big band jazz sounds if his musical compass points that way in his retirement years.

You can stream “Under the Venus Moon” now on Spotify and all other major streaming platforms.

Throwback Time Capsule: Explore the history of Chippewa County

Each Saturday, the Chippewa Area History Center showcases a piece of local history in the Herald. The Area History Center at 123 Allen St., has multiple rooms of displays about Chippewa County history and genealogy.

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This Memorial Day weekend, we remember and honor all military veterans and highlight the service and sacrifices of the Bushland family of Chip…

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From the Oct. 11, 1934, Herald-Telegram:

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Chippewa Herald, May 13, 1913

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This 1908 photo shows the Gotzian Shoe Co. of Chippewa Falls.

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Flooding has been a frequent occurrence in Chippewa Falls through the years. This September 1941 photo shows floodwaters covering River Street…

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This A. A. Bish photograph of a fisherman on Long Lake is a great example of how Chippewa County residents did “social distancing” in years past.

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Father Charles Francis Xavier Goldsmith was born in Rochester, New York. At the early age of 13, he entered the provincial seminary of St. Fra…

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In 1994, local citizens began planning for a Senior Center to call their own.

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Born in 1872 at Jim Falls to a French-Canadian father and a Belgian mother, Louis “Louie” Blanchard saw Chippewa County grow from a wooded wil…

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April 3, 1913, The Daily Independent (excerpt.)

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The supper club near the south edge of Lake Wissota that is known today as Connell’s Supper Club was built about 1932 by George and Charlotte …

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Flora and George Ginty are the founders of the original Chippewa Falls newspaper, publishing the first issue on Jan. 29., 1870.

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On Feb. 18, 1902, the Daily Independent newspaper (now the Chippewa Herald) published the following letter as written to Mr. Leslie Willson fr…

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Born in Germany in 1846, August H. Mason moved with his parents to Green Bay when he was three years old. The Mason family moved to Chippewa F…

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The May 3, 1929 issue of the Chippewa Herald-Telegram announced the following news.

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The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis sent Sister Rosa and three other sisters to Chippewa Falls in June 1885 to a small home, their first hospi…

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When plans were finalized for the Wissota Dam and Lake Wissota, it was realized that the existing Yellow River Bridge would be below the water…

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On Wednesday morning (Dec. 24, 1873), about 3 o’clock, a fire broke out in the Waterman House, and in less than an hour, the whole structure w…

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Santa (Chuck Card) and Mrs. Claus (Marie Meinen) brought the spirit of Christmas to the children (and adults) of Chippewa Falls for many years.

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Time Capsule: 1868 view of Chippewa Falls from the Notre Dame Church (East Hill)

 

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Deer hunting is a tradition that many Chippewa County families take very seriously. This 1988 photo shows second and third generation members …

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Dr. Bill Hopkins visited his ninth great-grandpa, Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower voyage, in 2008 at Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massach…

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The history of Chippewa Falls begins with the Ojibwa who lived here as early as 1797. That year Michael Cadott who was the principal trader fr…

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“Lansing A. Wilcox, last surviving Wisconsin veteran of the Civil War, was born in Kenosha (WI) March 3, 1846. In February 1864 he enlisted fr…

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On December 20, 1924, as the Soo train No. 2 was traveling east across the railroad bridge on the west side of Chippewa Falls (near where the …

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Mr. Leslie Willson (1847-1906) was born in Pennsylvania. He moved to Minnesota with his parents in 1862 and in 1867 moved to Eau Claire to wor…

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From 1920 to 1977, a building 5 miles east of Chippewa Falls on Highway X was a popular entertainment destination. The building was known over…

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Before Seymour Cray Jr. became the “father of supercomputing,” he honed his science skills at Chippewa Falls High School. The following articl…

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Recently, the family of Duane Boettcher donated photos and historic football clothing that belonged to their dad. Duane played football for Bl…

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This vintage colorized postcard depicts historic log driving on the Chippewa River.

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Lorenz Bischel, a German immigrant and farmer, moved to Chippewa Falls in 1863. He began his first meat market in 1883 on Bridge Street in Chi…

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In the fall of 1926, plans started for the construction of the Northern States Power Co. hydroelectric plant located at the foot of Bridge Str…

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Chester Adgate Congdon was born in Rochester, New York, in 1853, the oldest of six children born to Sylvester Congdon, a Methodist Episcopal M…

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Glen Loch Dam neared completion of its repairs in the fall of 1984. The familiar feature of Irvine Park was originally constructed in about 1875.

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June 13, 1931: Chippewa Herald newspaper: An A&W root beer stand was opened in Chippewa Falls at Bridge and River streets.

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