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Milt Trenier is one of those great oxymorons of Chicago's music scene: a living legend that no one seems to have heard of. This is testament not to his performing abilities but to the fickle tastes of city dwellers. The irony here is that in this case the trends of musical styles have come full circle. Swing may not be the hot ticket it was only a year ago, but search the record collection of almost any Chicagoan nowadays and you're likely to turn up a Sinatra or Mighty Blues Kings album. If Trenier and his band could only turn up in the right club at the right time there is no doubt that he could quickly build a whole new generation of fans.
Milt got his start in the music business when he joined his family band, The Treniers, in 1951. Being the youngest of ten musically gifted children did not stop Milt from shinning in his role as vocalist. The Treniers seemed to have played with everybody and performed in everybody's movies in those days. Check out the films "Don't Knock the Rock," "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Calypso Heat Wave" to name a few. While the emergence of rock and roll could have easily rendered a lesser R & B group into obscurity the Treniers were loved and encouraged by such rockabilly greats as Bill Haley. Milt began his solo venture in 1959 and hasn't stopped wailing since. He owned a small club in Chicago for a while then moved his act to an unmentionable Asian restaurant's lounge before finding a temporary home at Gianotti's in Norridge.
The music Milt performs today includes Sinatraesque ballads, dirty rock and roll sing-a-longs and straight up rhythm and blues played loud and rough. His band includes a man known only as Buddy on saxophone and a host of other musicians with enough names on their resumes to make the entire cast of "Swingers" blush.
During Friday's performance at Liquid Milt looked back in his element once again. Energized by the young, enthusiastic crowd he and his band pulled out all the stops. I don't want to give away all the bands gimmicks, you'll have to see them for yourself, but let me advise you to watch out for whiskey swilled through saxophones and a tune so sexually suggestive that Milt can leave it to the audience to provide the punch lines!