Photo by Jack Orton
It’s a Friday night in Milwaukee, and a crowd of young men in jackets, jeans and boots is beginning to assemble outside the Riverside Theater, the old vaudeville hall and movie theater transformed into a modern music shrine.
Behind the locked doors, inside the grand lobby, the ticket takers, ushers and bartenders go through their final countdown, making sure the jumbo-size $6 bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are on ice, the floors are swept, the cash registers are ready.
Eight floors above the lobby, members of the rock band My Morning Jacket sit down to eat dinner in a warm, inviting room that is done up in shades of gray, with banquet tables covered in white linen and a Mortal Kombat II arcade game stashed in a corner. A waitress serves food from a buffet table overladen with meats, vegetables, salads and sweets. Some of the band members and crew cut into slabs of prime rib the size of Frisbees. Others pick at salads.
Amid the calm before a rock ‘n’ roll storm sits Gary Witt, a 49-year-old with a shaved head, trimmed mustache and goatee. He dresses casually in jeans and work shirt.