by Chloé Allyn
When there’s a knife drawn on the sanctity of the vision, you’ll hope Crutch of Memory is around. Don’t ask why the world needs creative endeavors, you’ll sound like a kid who doesn’t want to do his math homework, whining “why does algebra exist?!” Imagine instead: a need for atmosphere, for catchy riffs, for ink on a page, for the right color, for the age.
And doesn’t that sound big? Where will it all go? What will it look like? Do you have the measuring tape?
These are the recent questions that Julia Blair, Amos Pitsch and Chloé Allyn have been contemplating in the upper floor of 501 N. Richmond Street, Appleton’s deceased VFW.
In the months since Crutch of Memory Enterprises (C.O.M.E.) moved into the vacant brick building across from a block-sized parking lot, the walls have started to breathe. Not in the House (1977) way, but because now there’s fresh plaster, primers, colors, and a sense of choice involved. Although most of the last half year has gone to cleaning, repairing, painting, refinishing, designing and outright building, the crew still found time to put out a single with Honeytone Records. “What I Could and Could Not Do” by Julia Blair is a limited-edition handmade lathe cut 45, with a risograph cover by Chloé. Both components were Midwest made, from Outta Wax in Minneapolis and Bear Bear in Milwaukee, respectively.
So here comes the elusive part, the new headquarters generally will not be open to
the public. Though it will, as always, be a consistent factory of interesting ephemera and conscious, quality media. Dreams of an onsite recording studio swirl on. Currently, renovation and rejuvenation continue, ever an odd bald light bulb or paint-chipped radiator to contend with, but charm is close enough to taste.
It’s at this point, that the Appleton recording studio and record label leans into the
Enterprises part of the visage. Hatched in 2018 by Blair, Pitsch and Colin Wilde, as
collaborative impression of the Motown label, things have since complicated. The
trio aimed to foster a team oriented creative output, relying often on members of the band Dusk. In addition to record production and release C.O.M.E. also deals live video sessions, a literary journal, soundtrack creation and soon, a record store. At the core, the endeavor will always have its Midwestern niceness, as sure as cows snack on Wisconsin pastures in the summer sun.
It’s a group of working-class friends who love the sugar maples and folk music of this land. There’s always teamwork and projects.
Over the years, artists have come and gone, rotating in and out of the recording studio to laugh and sing. Most recently, Appleton poet Chloé Allyn has joined the outfit to nurture the label’s new literary imprint, Only Child. In 2021, the group found itself growing, looking for Chloé’s corner office and space for Amos Pitsch’s Odd Note, a collection of musical obscurities and oddities and more due in Fall 2023.
A new location was necessary as further visualization and explorations have widened the horizons of elusive American creative force C.O.M.E.
The space, however exciting and appropriate, was at first in a state of decay, the reversal of such has been no small feat for the chronic DIYers, Amos and Julia. With freshly sanded floors, bands of sunlight, and the steady trickle of records and old illustrated books, Crutch of Memory’s new iteration is coming alive.
The gang has gone for it, featuring a mural by Eric Mayer in the bathroom and a floor-al by Amos in the record room. A world is being divined. This explains the outward quiet over the last few months. There’s been also lot to learn, like how to sell books, or that Chloé is very bad at painting walls. Plus, so much more interior work to do. Plans for the future include more live video sessions, a celebratory opening event and another issue of The Bastard’s Review. Of course, you can always find information online about goings-on, but now you heard it here first anyway.
Just like you can always expect another guitarist to join affiliated local-country-rock-band Dusk, you can expect original releases from C.O.M.E.
Chloé Allyn is a midwestern love poet and artist. Her work has been featured in
WUSSY Mag, Five South, and exhibited at 5 Points Art Gallery, the Rahr West Art
Museum, as well as the Trout Museum of Art. She runs the creative enterprise
Crutch of Memory with her friends in Appleton, Wisconsin. Allyn is part of the 2022-2023 cohort of Native American Authors through All My Relations Arts and the Native American Community Development Institute; most recently, she received the 2023 Idyllwild Arts Writers Week poetry fellowship.