Local musician performs at Summerfest, spreads message of hope
Carole Meekins reports Video by tmj4.comvideo
MILWAUKEE - 'Tony Memmel & His Band' packed the seats at the Summerfest Cascio Stage last Saturday.
"It's an opportunity to play for a a lot of new fans," Tony says.
Tony's songs tell stories of life, love, and perseverance. He explains, "The deeper message of you can do anything you set your mind to, no matter what your setback is."
It's a message close to Tony--who was born without a left forearm.
"I was a complete surprise to my parents when I was born!" Tony exclaims. He defied the odds--playing sports and music in school.
He remembers when he first told his parents he wanted to play guitar. "My folks specifically asked me alot. Would it be something that I would continue with, or something I would buy, and then let sit in the corner collecting dusk--that was the quote."
It did anything but! Tony worked for years on the perfect way to play guitar with only one arm.
He demonstrates, "I have this little spot right on the end of my arm where I figured a pick would be perfect--if there's a perfect spot for a pick on a one-armed man then that's where it would go!"
The band is also a family affair. Tony's wife Lesleigh plays the keys. The two met at UW-Oshkosh.
"He walked into choir, and I was like oh, he's kinda cute, and he sat right next to me and I didn't really notice until he was sitting right next to me that he was missing his left arm," Lesleigh recalls.
The two have been making beautiful music together ever since: Whether it's a quiet night at home making dinner, or jamming together in their Wauwatosa home studio.
"Just everything, every challenge he just blows it out of the water," Lesleigh says.
Tony adds, "We really enjoy the same things and have similar goals."
One of those goals is to continue touring, and meeting people--spreading their message.
"I've been doing a lot more work with children and their families and adults alike who have hand and limb differences," Tony says.
Tony is even getting national attention.
The 'Counting Crows' picked Tony's cover of their song 'Recovering The Satellites' as the winner of a national contest!.
The young family is excited to see what the future holds.
"I would say to continue growing from here, have these neat experiences," Tony says.
'Tony Memmel and His Band' plan to go on a west coast tour this fall! Meantime--they have several local shows coming up, including this Saturday, July 7 at Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall.