In an era of odd and fascinating musical obscurities, Milwaukee-native Sigmund Snopek III may be one of the most fascinating artists to emerge from the late '60s and early '70s. On his own and with his band the Bloomsbury People, he began playing an unconventional mixture of avant-garde rock, classical music, and baroque pop that eventually came to be characterized as progressive rock when it hit the mainstream a couple years later. He continued making intriguing music -- ranging from Top 40 pop songs to electronic pieces and jazz compositions to symphonies and operas (more than 300 pieces in all) -- in a career that lasted well over 30 years, culminating in his most conspicuous role as a sideman for the much-loved alternative pop band (and fellow Milwaukee natives) the Violent Femmes. As a teenager multi-instrumentalist, Sigmund Snopek III began a quest to find a way to combine rock music with classical music, electronics, and theater, a quest that led him to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to study composition in the late '60s. He instantly set out to start a band, forming the Bloomsbury People in 1968. The band immediately gained a degree of local success, playing frequently around Milwaukee and the surrounding region and recording a couple of 45s over the next couple years. Their sound also earned acclaim in critical circles despite the inability of those critics to categorize the music (it was frequently saddled with the labels "psychedelic" or "classical" rock, or in some rare instances as "progressive", rock years before the term was widely used). The band released their self-titled debut album on MGM in 1970 and followed it up two years later with Virginia Woolf, although the latter was credited to Snopek III only, and the band disintegrated not long thereafter. Snopek III continued experimenting, writing his first two symphonies before 1975, as well as releasing the electronic LP Trinity Seaseizesees on Akashic in 1974. In the late '70s, he formed the band Snopek and it became popular through a series of album and single releases. During this period he also came into high demand as a sideman for other artists, appearing throughout the latter half of the '70s and '80s on records by Tom Paxton, Brian Ritchie, and the Violent Femmes, among others. He developed a longstanding relationship with the Femmes in the '80s, in fact, he frequently joined the band in concert and on tours and finally joined them full-time in the 1990s. The classical works of Snopek III have been showcased by nearly every major cultural and arts organization in the area, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. His career as a performer, sideman, bandleader, and composer continued into the next millennium. ~ Stanton SwihartPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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