|By SHANNON VENEGAS - Special to TimeOut||
August 15, 2013
- A singer and songwriter who embraced a limb difference to become
a talented musician, Tony Memmel travels the country playing
professionally and collaborating with nonprofit organizations.
the 11th week of Waukesha’s Freeman Friday Night Live music
series, he will bring his fun and upbeat music to the Steaming
Cup, People’s Park and Almont Gallery stage.
was born missing his left forearm, but having always loved music
and having already played trumpet in the school band, he was
determined to find a way to play the guitar.
convinced his parents to split the cost of an instrument and
eventually was able to buy his first guitar.
it came to figuring out a method that would allow me to strum the
instrument,” Memmel said. “So I thought if I secured a pick to
my arm using tape, which I now use gorilla tape. It took me about
eight years to come up with that taping method I use today.”
is self-taught on the guitar, but took piano and vocal lessons at
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and holds a bachelor’s degree in
music business from Oshkosh, where he met his wife and fellow
musician Lesleigh, a pianist from the age of 10.
describes his style as “a blend of rock, folk rock and
Americana.” He also won this year’s Wisconsin Area Music
Industry award for singer/songwriter of the year.
loved everything about music, and at the time I just wanted to be
able to write and play my own songs and over time that developed
into something with a deeper meaning with the work we’re doing
now with the charitable organizations we work with,” Memmel
Lucky Fin Project, a nonprofit organization for people with limb
differences, sponsors Memmel when he goes on the road with his
music, and in turn, Memmel acts as an ambassador for the
organization, meeting other children with limb issues and bringing
people together through the Lucky Fin project. He even wrote a
theme song for Lucky Fin, which is one of Lesleigh’s favorite
really moving,” Lesleigh said. “It’s a really meaningful
song. It’s fun to play.”
Memmel also collaborates quite a bit with MS Run the US, Inc., a
nonprofit organization run by Waukesha native Ashley Kumlein.
Memmel pointed out that Kumlein is passing through the Midwest in
the midst of a run from New York to California.
believe in finding people that are doing things in their
respective fields and co-working together and bringing our own
individual talents and abilities to the table to reach more people
and make a bigger impact,” he said.
Friday night, Tony and Lesleigh will be joined by fellow band
members drummer Brian Farvour and bassist Mike DeAngelo. Tony will
play the guitar and harmonica, and Lesleigh will accompany him on
of Tony’s performances are composed of his original music, which
he said is inspired by the people he meets throughout his travels,
as well as by his family and his own life experiences.
try to keep my lyrics genuine and honest to hopefully connect with
my fans in that way,” he said.
of Tony’s favorite original songs is “Lord Knows We’ve Got
Time,” which fans can check out on his website
me, the lyrics are about the struggle associated with learning to
be patient,” Tony said. “It’s about two people who, for an
unknown reason, can’t seem to make something work. It’s about
forgiving one another and hoping you both come out OK on the other
side. But that’s just my take. One of the best things about
music is two people experiencing the same piece of music and
finding two different meanings.”
is a really magnetic storyteller,” Lesleigh said. “You can
definitely tell his personality. He also tells stories in his
songs that make it accessible. People can find their own
identification with the song. They’re upbeat and fun and
addition to his five CDs full of original music, Tony said he also
likes to include a few familiar cover songs to get the crowd
excited. One song his group really loves to perform is Paul
Simon’s “Down by the Schoolyard.”
love being in front of people,” Tony said. “I love the
opportunity to share songs that I’ve written with people
especially when it gets to a point that people start singing along
to songs that you wrote. There’s nothing quite like being at a
concert and all the people are experiencing the same thing at the
same time. I think that’s one of the really powerful things