Stan Attenberger used to work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, as a nuclear physicist. Or maybe a rocket scientist. Or maybe something else. The thing about working at Oak Ridge is you don’t really talk about it. It’s the site that was established in 1943 for pilot-scale production and separation of plutonium for the World War II Manhattan Project.

But when it came time to retire, Stan and his wife Peggy approached it in a most scientific way. “Peggy was tired of the southern heat down in Tennessee,” Stan said, “so moving south was out. And though we are from Michigan, we didn’t want the northern cold either. We drew a band on the map, right across the middle of the country, and started to explore.

“We started over at the Atlantic coast, and started moving west, checking out the smaller towns as we went. We were looking for a walkable city, with a vibrant music scene, and nice shaded sidewalks.

“As luck would have it we hit Madison on a weeknight when JoeyG’s open mic was going on. Bill Lackner was hosting. Somebody loaned me a guitar and I sang ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong. We were pretty much hooked after that. We moved here in 2010.

“Madison is my sweet spot. It’s the kind of life I want to have. I get to play and sing for people, and I can pursue my painting. The arts scene here is very supportive. Moving here has been a blossoming of music for me, with so much great live music going on all around.

“The GuitarBQ thing that Scott Murray Bate started some years back was an inspiration to write some original songs, too. Today I regularly play at the Taproom, Thomas Family Winery, Mad Paddle and I’ve done some of the big Red Bike ensemble shows.

“This December I’ll be doing my annual Christmas show at Thomas Family Winery. The first show is Dec. 1 at 1 in the afternoon, and then also on Dec. 8 and 15. I have a bunch of beautiful holiday songs people may not have heard, plus I do the traditional favorites, but with a twist.

“Some of the titles include ‘A New Star Shining’ as recorded by Ricky Skaggs, ‘Cherry Tree Carol’ by Jose Feliciano, and ‘Christmas for Cowboys’ by John Denver. I encourage people to come out and enjoy a nice Sunday afternoon at the Winery. It will be very low-key and fun.”

Or if you prefer your holiday music in a more classical style, the Louisville Brass Ensemble will be back at Trinity United Methodist Church Wednesday, Dec. 3. I caught up with Brett Shuster, trombonist and spokesman for the ensemble, and got all the details.

“The ensemble has been around for about 30 years,” Brett said, “but we first started coming to Madison 15 years ago when Alvin Tripp contacted us. We do about half holiday music and half classical. We have about 100 arrangements, so people will never hear the same thing year to year.

“This year we will be opening with a very special new composition titled ‘Flare’ by University of Louisville faculty member Steve Rouse. In addition to me on trombone, we also have two trumpets, a horn and a tuba. The sound is very symphonic, especially in the great acoustics at Trinity church.

“People can expect to hear some very fine brass music played at the highest level by artists who’ve played around the world in various chamber ensembles and orchestras. Plus, we like to talk and give a lot of good informative info on each piece before we play it.”


The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is always a hopping night downtown. Everyone is home for the holiday, especially younger adults, looking for a fun place to hang out. And I can say unequivocally, the hot spot on Wednesday night will be the Red Bicycle Hall for Jimmy Davis’ Funktastic Dance Party. In Jimmy’s words, “It’ll be a ‘60s/’70s funk party featuring James Brown, P-Funk, Stevie Wonder, and Mavis Staples songs, complete with horns, keys and a couple hours of just getting down!”

Charlie Rohlfing is a stalwart of the RiverRoots Festival committee, a campfire guitar strummer, and a partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening. Find him out and about or at

This week in music

Wednesday, November 27:

Red Bicycle Hall – Jimmy Davis Funktastic Dance Party

Friday, November 29:

Off Broadway Taproom – Tim Brickley and the Bleeding Hearts

Rembrandt’s – Leonard Miller at the piano

Saturday, November 30:

Off Broadway Taproom – Robby Cox

Thomas Family Winery – Guilderoy Byrne

Rembrandt’s – Leonard Miller at the piano

VFW – Jokers Wild

Village Lights – John Schneider on piano (noon)

Sunday, December 1:

Mad Paddle Brewery – Broken Spokes

Off Broadway Taproom – Davy or Daryl

Thomas Family Winery – Stan Attenberger’s Christmas show (1 p.m.)

Tuesday, December 3:

Trinity Methodist – Louisville Brass Ensemble