My Brown Face in the Place – Blu Milwaukee

Blue Milwaukee

In a sweet beautiful way a song can open minds to receive messages made murky by biases and prejudice. A melody written in the innocent sincerity of the song writer’s experiences has a way of penetrating anger, hurt, shame and so many other emotions.  A good song, a wonderfully written song can and will make you fall in love. It will make you cry. It will make you hate injustice. A song, a simple little song can change the world.

And beyond the song, music especially live music is exhilarating.  Even slow sweet tunes are made better by a good live band.  Coupled with a passionate soulful articulate singer, nothing can match the sound. No computer generated tune can compare to those calculated strokes of the drummer’s sticks to drum. Or the deliberate way the piano player’s fingers cuddle the keys. And certainly not the way the saxophone player’s long deep breaths of control and science push out forceful thrusts of poignant sound. Ah, yes, there is nothing better than live jazz music.

So when I was invited to attend a birthday celebration on the 23rd floor of the Pfister Hotel inside Blu, I was thrilled.  Blu is an after five bar and lounge that is known for its elegant appearance, superbly blended cocktails and most importantly its live music. Actually, it sits in a location that perfectly illustrates Milwaukee’s skyline and lake views, so my expectations were pretty high.  I was not disappointed, Blu’s views were spectacular. The lowered lights created a dark romantic vibe that enhanced the city lights. I was in love.

Moscow Mule
Moscow Mule

Sitting in comfortable cigar chairs arranged in convenient conversation areas around the band made me feel grown up and special. The atmosphere was perfect.  The wait staff seemed overwhelmed by the crowd and could have been a tad bit more responsive but they were friendly and knowledgeable.  The drinks were priced well, comparable to other downtown spots in the city. My current favorite drink, Moscow Mule was on the menu so of course I had to order it and for $10 it was well worth the price. It was made deliciously and served as per course in a tin cup, but I wished the lime juice would have been sweeter.

Then the band started to play, the Kevin Hayden band to be exact. Sounds from this band caressed my soul. The soft even stroke of Kevin’s talented gripe on the drum sticks was surprising. I wasn’t used to a drummer being so subdued, but it worked. It really worked. Next Marcus Adams joined in with his sax.  He is an amazing sax player with great talent and the sounds he produced easily swept me a way.  But perhaps what brought home my desire to return to Blu was the charming brilliant voice that is Joe Jordan. His voice is amazing, masculine, yet sweet, soulful, dramatic and melancholy but in a good way. I could listen to him all day. The entire room was enthralled.

Speaking of the room, it was filled with a diverse crowd of young, old and mixes of races. This is something Milwaukee is not known for, but here I sat in a crowd of people who did not all look like me. Some did. Some did not. It was wonderful.  My Brown Face in this Place was happy.

I loved every minute of my experience at Blu and I will be back because it is yet another wonderful example of my love, my city, Milwaukee.


My Brown Face in the Place – Introduction

I love Milwaukee. I always have.  I was born in Milwaukee but when I was in 1st grade my family moved to Rochester, MN. I was young but I never really connected with Rochester. I do have fond memories of my life there and I met my very first best friend in Rochester, but mostly I think of it abstractly as a place I lived outside of my body.

Each summer while in Rochester my family would make the five-hour drive to Milwaukee whereby my brothers and I would sleep most of the way. However, as soon as I got the whiff of the breweries I knew I was home and in a way it would awaken my heart. That sounds a bit dramatic, but really it isn’t because Milwaukee was truly home. Home to my many cousins, that were my best friends. Home to my grandparents love, care and complete spoiling by giving me the sugar that my parents were completely against their children consuming. Home to a city where I was not the only Black Face in the Place (

When I was thirteen my family moved back to Milwaukee. The transition for me at first was very traumatic because coming back into middle school and not sounding like everyone else made me stand out. Middle school is not about standing out, not at all. But the beauty in sounding different and therefore being different is that it eventually would give me the strength to be confident in my skin no matter what the people around me looked like, sounded like or even were like.

So I would say my deep-rooted love of Milwaukee began in those summer visits and that my love was only heighten when we finally moved back.  Don’t get me wrong Milwaukee is far from perfect. There are many issues. But just like you don’t give up on your child for misbehaving I will not give up on my city.

Perhaps the thing I hear the most is that Milwaukee is segregated. It is true, it is. I won’t deny it.  But I am not. I have many friends, from many cultures. Of all races, religious backgrounds and living in various locations around the city.

Some of the places I go to are diverse, many are not. Sometimes I don’t look at all like anyone in the room, sometimes I look like everyone in the room. Sometimes there is a mixture.

In this blog, I want to explore Milwaukee with the perspective of being a Brown Girl. My Brown Face in the Place will be a series about the places around the city that I visit. In any place, no matter the intended demographic, I visit. Like I always have, but now I will write about my experiences.

So join me here to discover or re-discover my city, my love, Milwaukee.