Trapper Schoepp hit the airwaves this past Thursday for our inaugural performance in our “Rock the Stream” concert series to raise funds and benefit Milwaukee musicians & environmental nonprofits. Rock the Green pairs a Milwaukee musician/band with a local environmental nonprofit group in an effort to provide joy through music and awareness for our planet. Trapper was partnered with Milwaukee Riverkeeper, a grass-roots, science-based nonprofit working for swimmable fishable drinkable water in the Milwaukee River Basin.
While in-person performances and group activities have been put on hold for the time being, human innovation, ingenuity and creativity continue to soar. “We can be socially distanced yet socially together,” Schoepp stated as he kicked off his streaming show, which featured over an hour-long set which spanned his rich catalogue of original material and included some well-placed covers including gripping renditions of “Warren Zevon's “Keep Me in Your Heart for a While,” and a gorgeous version of “Walls,” by Tom Petty among others. We are used to seeing Schoepp and his bandmates perform all around the city, including stand-out shows at the Rock the Green Sustainability festival in 2016 and Earth Day Celebration on the famous Pedal Power Stage in 2017. Whether live on stage or across the screen on a streaming show, Schoepp’s earnestness, sincerity, warmth, and passion come across. A master storyteller, Schoepp told tales of his songs and was as engaging and personable as ever.
We had an opportunity to check in with Trapper Schoepp to hear about how things are going for him during these times.
Rock the Green: The pandemic has certainly had large effects on the music community. What are some things that you are finding that are bringing you joy during this uncertain time?
Trapper Schoepp: Camping in my backyard, cooking pasta and playing piano. The downtime has allowed me to dive into the songs for the next record.
Rock the Green: With the quarantined times, how has that affected your creative process? Are you working on any new projects at this time?
Trapper Schoepp: It’s allowed me to take my time and not focus on any immediate deadlines. Art can benefit from having deadlines but also from forced downtime. For the time being, there’s no shows or studio sessions.
Rock the Green: What do you enjoy the most about doing streaming shows? What is that like for you on the artist's side of things?
Trapper Schoepp: I like the magic trick in performance - it’s there and then it’s gone. You share that experience and then that’s it. I like that aspect of the streams but not that they hang around on the internet. The tech side can also be a bit frustrating but that comes with the territory. It’s nice doing the more personal streams and making a few people happy.
Rock the Green: As someone who is passionate about the environment and environmental causes, is there anything that you are doing differently now compared to pre-COVID19 to 'rock the green' so to speak? Anything that you think others could be more mindful of too?
Trapper Schoepp: There’s been less emissions and pollution, which has obviously been good for the environment. The power is ultimately in the hands of the people to make strides against this environmental crisis happening.
Schoepp was partnered with Milwaukee Riverkeeper, an organization committed to helping protect and sustain our waterways, including the Milwaukee River Basin.
We had a chance to connect with Jennifer Bolger Breceda, the Executive Director of Milwaukee Riverkeeper to learn more about how this great organization is still helping our environment during these quarantined times.
Rock the Green: With the COVID19 situation, for the first time ever the annual spring clean up, a marquee event of yours was postponed. Do you have any plans in the works for a future clean up?
Jennifer Bolger Breceda: We are hopeful that we might be able to pull off our cleanup yet this year, but we are taking it day by day and will make a decision that is the safest and best for the community. It is such an important event because after our long, cold winters, there is much trash and debris that can get into the waterways. Usually we bring around 4,000 volunteers to the water’s edge and nearby parklands to remove about 100,000 pounds of trash in one day! To try to help during this time when we cannot gather, we are promoting a DIY cleanup where folks can simply pick up debris and nuisance trash on their daily walks. Wear gloves, practice social distancing, stay in your community and help spring clean and improve our environment. All trash that is uncontrolled and upland can eventually make its way to our rivers through wind, stormwater and geography, so removing this is helping our waterways. We ask that folks maintain proper social distancing and best safety practices and only do what they are comfortable doing. Together, we can continue to make a difference while remaining healthy and enjoying the outdoors. #MeMyselfAndDebris.
Rock the Green: Do you have any advice for families about ways to continue to enjoy Milwaukee rivers and the outdoors during these times?
Jennifer Bolger Breceda: When there are so many things we love and regular things we are not able to do right now, it feels like being outside and with nature is more important than ever.There are many things to do. The obvious ones are nature hikes, walks, gardening, bird watching, and even if folks have been doing these things, to mix it up, play a game on a hike like “I spy” or “20 questions” or bingo, take a new route and do a DIY cleanup. If people have the right gear, fishing and paddling are great ways to enjoy our waterways. Other ideas including planting native prairie species, a butterfly garden, planting trees, installing (and maybe decorating/painting) a rain barrel (garage is probably best), or building that stand for your rain barrel so that gravity makes it more effective, building bird houses or feeders, or bat houses, too. Star gazing is another great way to connect with nature, family and learn something new. I would also add that right now may not be the best time to trim your trees because of migrating and nesting birds. And as always, if going near the river, use caution and be careful as the water levels are high in the spring and water can be moving fast. If folks cannot spend much time outside, there are so many things to do inside to learn more about nature and our waterways like reading or watching movies and specials, doing a nature-inspired puzzle, drawing or painting a river scene. We have a list of free movies on our website that relate to rivers. We also have a playlist on Spotify that people can listen to that is river focused and quite eclectic.
Rock the Green: Do you have any tips or ideas about ways to keep being green during these times, especially with things changing rapidly (not allowing reusable bags in most stores, increased plastic carry out containers. etc.)
Jennifer Bolger Breceda: We try to reuse containers and of course recycle. While many are supporting our local restaurants through curbside orders, many are also cooking a lot, so using those take out containers more than once and for freezing extra food or sharing food is one way to reduce single use. When ordering take out be sure to let them know that you do not need extra napkins or plastic ware and request that they package as much as they can in paper, wax paper, or non-plastic items. Some grocery stores will allow reusable bags if you bag your own groceries, so be sure to ask and if they don’t, please use paper bags, buy in bulk and look for options with less plastic and more sustainable packaging. It’s a great time to also think about how as a community we are driving less, using less water, conserving energy, generating less light pollution and noise, and how all of these things are helping the earth restore itself. Taking some of these habits as lessons for the future would be great.
You can still donate if you'd like to support Trapper Schoepp & Milwaukee Riverkeeper