Who is Shirley Green?

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Alixe Rheeve of Shirley Green

Alixe Rheeve of Shirley Green

By most accounts, Alixe Rheeve and Jason Rieve (don’t ask about the last names – it’s a long story) are your typical Cedarburg couple.  Jason’s lived in Cedarburg all his life, while Alixe grew up in nearby Random Lake, but moved to the ‘burg after high school, where she met Jason when she worked at the former Coffee Pot (now Pipers).  They’ve been married for 14 years.  Their daughter, Ava, is finishing her last year at Westlawn Elementary, and will be moving on to Webster next year.  They are surrounded by extended family.   It’s about as Oz as it gets.

Except for when they are Shirley Green; the band that they play in together.

Well, for Jason, it’s not all that unusual – he’s been playing drums since he was a kid, and is mainly self-taught.  By his count, he’s been in 10 different bands since high school – in fact, he’s in two of them, at the moment:  Shirley Green and Moses’ Gunn.  “I just love it so much.  I feel very at home behind a drum set.”

Alixe, on the other hand, had a different musical upbringing.  She took piano lessons from age 6 to 16, when she sold her piano to buy a car.  “It just shows you where the priorities were at at that age.”

For Alixe, making music took a backseat to school, marriage, a baby, and a move out to Portland.  Instead, she supported Jason’s music.

Not long after returning home to Cedarburg to be near family, though, Alixe met Tony Kashinn, a bass player for a local cover band, through their daughters.  They got to talking music, and Tony invited Alixe to sing back up with their band.  Alixe discovered that she liked being in her own band, and rediscovering her musical side.

The band eventually split up.  Ironically, some of the other members wanted to do original music, but Alixe and Tony, along with bandmate John Schiefelbein, who plays synth and sax, were among the ones that thought it would be too time consuming.  Then, in the fall of 2012, Alixe started writing music.  Jason began to practice with them, and he brought in the final member of the band:  Tom Robinson, a guitarist who Jason had worked with at the old Faymous Music in Grafton years ago.

John Schiefelbein, Tom Robinson, Alixe Rheeve, Tony Kashinn and Jason Rieve of Shirley Green

John Schiefelbein, Tom Robinson, Alixe Rheeve, Tony Kashinn and Jason Rieve of Shirley Green

The name, Shirley Green, happens to be a color choice for a 1935 Cadillac, which Jason had come across and thought would be a good name for a female-fronted band.  When Alixe took the reins, Shirley Green was born.  So it was that, after 14 years of marriage, Jason and Alixe found that they really could make beautiful music together.

Writing music was something Alixe hadn’t realized she could do.  “[The lyrics] just came to me,” said Alixe.  “They’re all based on personal experiences.  It was therapeutic to write.”

Jason was surprised.  “I always knew she could sing, but I never knew she could write as well as she does.”

The couple both agreed that, although the stereotype of a husband and wife in a band together is not always good, their experience has been a positive for their relationship.

“It’s art, and we respect each other,” said Alixe.  “A band is like a family – I feel blessed to be with these guys.”

The music of Shirley Green is difficult to categorize into any genre.  On the band’s website, they jokingly describe it as “Experimental, atmospheric modern rock with nuanced, emotionally unstable undertones,”  and advise that “You’ll dig it if you enjoy classically-melodic musical passages with hints of bergamot and orange peel.”

You can decide for yourself this Friday night at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, where the Shirley Green will be having an EP Release Party/Show!  Doors open at 7 p.m., and Jason’s other band, Moses’ Gunn, will start at 8.  It’s $10 at the door; however, if you go to their website – www.shirleygreenband.com – by this Thursday, you can pay $10 in advance and get a free CD at the show.  You can also follow Shirley Green on facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/shirleygreenband.

Being a husband and wife in a band is one thing, but having a pre-teen daughter is another –  one must wonder what Ava thinks of all of this.

Alixe  “She thinks it’s cool!”

Jason:  “She does?”

Alixe:  “I think she’s proud of us.  I think it’s important for her to see that you should follow your dreams and interests; that you shouldn’t lose sight of yourself.  It’s like the title of our EP – Lessons – we were all learning a lot of lessons as a group.”

Jason:  “That’s not why it’s the title!”

Alixe:  “It isn’t?  Well, why do you think it’s the title?”

Jason:  “Because it’s the last song on the EP.”

Ah, marital bliss….

 

 

Mary Boyle is a lifelong resident of Oz, and currently resides in Port Washington with her husband and her two children, collectively known as "the bubbies."

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