Brothers Mike and Boris Levchets at the Milwaukee lab.
Brothers Mike and Boris Levchets at the Milwaukee lab.

CBD startup seeks to differentiate through quality lab, local hemp

CBD is everywhere these days, and that offers a lot of hope for those who swear by its effects.

But not all CBD is good CBD, and just because it you can buy it at gas stations, online and at farmers markets, chances are you don’t really know what you’re ingesting in your body. And that’s not just a little sketchy; it also hurts the legitimate players in the industry who are trying to put out a quality product that can improve peoples’ lives.

One Milwaukee company is seeking to do just that.

Brothers Boris and Mike Levchets own CanniLabs, a CBD manufacturing company on the northwest side of Milwaukee. The company produces CBD tinctures and topicals that are available either in bulk or white labeled for wholesalers. Recently, they launched a consumer line called GleeCBD.

There are no signs at their facility, because when you walk in, it looks and smells like a marijuana lab that is processing more product than most pot smokers will ever see in their lifetime.

But this isn’t weed. It’s locally-sourced hemp that goes through a rigorous, independently-tested production process that focuses on a passionate dedication to quality. While neither Mike nor Boris come from a science background, Mike has worked in production – and they almost moved to Colorado to open a lab where marijuana is fully legal.

Once hemp became legal with the Farm Bill in 2018, the Levchets realized they could make CBD work in their hometown. While they support the legalization of marijuana in Wisconsin, for now, they are squarely focused on making the best CBD possible – because they believe it works.

"We definitely support cannabis, and we support drug reform," says Boris. "But we do this because it’s a tool to help people with things that they haven't been able to do with regular drugs and other alternative medicine."

While the FDA prevents them from making specific claims as to what CBD can and cannot do, the founders of Glee realize that plenty of advocacy already exis…

Brent Suter as Doc Brown.
Brent Suter as Doc Brown.

The making of a Brewers viral video

Each spring, the Brewers produce a viral movie parody video to get fans ready for the season.

In 2020, that video almost died on the vine.

But because there will be baseball this summer – even if it’s unlike any other season – the Brewers were able to release their homage to "Back To The Future" this month, although it was shot way back at the beginning of the spring training in Phoenix.

"There has been a real need for fans to feel some sense of unity and connection, and I do think we have an important role," says Sharon McNally, Brewers vice president of marketing. "We have worked hard to put a lot of content in the void. Everything from re-airing of classic games, to other messages that we tried to put in the world from our players, who have been just phenomenal."

But, McNally admits that she was concerned that this year’s video would never see the light of day. Between the communications team, the Brewers’ legal team, baseball ops, coaching staff and players – McNally says so many pieces need to come together to make a video like this each January and February.

"We just had to sit on it for several months," she says.

The creative team chose "Back to the Future" as this year’s homage, because the film is celebrating its 35th anniversary, and the Brewers are kicking off their 50th season. Previously, the Crew has produced videos playing off of "Mean Girls," "The Sandlot," "Dumb and Dumber" and "Wayne’s World."

"I think you could call it a Brewers tradition at this point," says McNally. "Our social and creative team have found success with movies that are something of a pop culture icon that have staying power, and that helps us in knowing that a movie has broader appeal."

Obviously, getting players and coaches on board to participate is the most important part of a successful video. Pitcher Brent Suter and second baseman Keston Hiura starred in this year’s video as Doc Brown and Marty McFly, respectively.

"We do have a team culture that…

Joanne Williams, journalist, and now, filmmaker.
Joanne Williams, journalist, and now, filmmaker.

Veteran journalist Joanne Williams nears completion of her first film

A generation of Milwaukeeans have watched Joanne Williams’ on television news. A fixture on Fox 6 and before that, TMJ 4, where Williams launched her career as an anchor beginning in 1971, she joined Milwaukee Public Television as host and producer of "Black Nouveau" in 2012.

Since then, she won an Emmy for her work in 2018, and numerous awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Milwaukee Press Club and more.

But the Milwaukee native is now finishing her first film, "Kaukauna & King: 50 Years Later." We caught up with Williams to get an update on that project, as well as to reflect on her career as a journalist.

OnMilwaukee: I’m sure there are some Milwaukeeans who know you mostly from your decades in Milwaukee TV. But you left FOX6 12 years ago. Why did you get out of commercial television news?

Joanne Williams: Wow! It doesn't seem like 12 years. Television news changes. After 38 years both in front of and behind the camera, I could feel a shift in direction coming. An unexpected opportunity was presented to me outside of television and I thought it was time to take a chance. Better hours, too!

It was a very difficult decision. It was a very emotional decision. I still believe in the importance of local TV news and the responsibility that goes along with it. It is a culture that I knew very well.

Today, in 2020, my Fox 6 audience is shrinking. Most of the people watching TV today don't remember me from WITI, but now many recognize me from Milwaukee PBS and "Black Nouveau."

How is "Black Nouveau" different than the career you had since 1971?

Public television has a different approach to its relationship with viewers. It emphasizes the content of the programs it produces and asks for their support to continue to create programming. We are given the freedom to produce stories that will fit the shows, and have much more time to develop and produce those stories.

What was it like to win an Emmy for this work?

It was breathtaking, awes…

CHIEF's Matt Liban, Chris Tishler and Dave Benton.
CHIEF's Matt Liban, Chris Tishler and Dave Benton.

CHIEF drops new single in advance of concept album, "The Galleon"

If there ever was a time for a power-rocking concept album about a mysterious ship helmed by a frightening being …

Milwaukee’s CHIEF, a trio led by Chris Tishler, thinks that time is now. And on Friday, the band drops the first single from the 15-song album, "The Galleon." "For Those Who Live A Light" will be released on Bandcamp, with the full-length double album coming June 20.

With a running time of almost 70 minutes, "The Galleon" took three years to complete and is CHIEF’s first release in almost six years. It was recorded at West Allis’ Howl Street Studios.

According to Tishler, he began writing "The Galleon" as a simple conceptual idea in early 2017. "It actually started as a short story, kind of based on the passage in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ where the Count sails in on the ‘Demeter,’ sleeping in boxes of Transylvanian soil by day and feasting on the crew as his sustenance at night."

If you know Tishler or his music, this sounds very much on-brand.

Says Tishler, "Dave (Benton, bass guitar) is a sci-fi/horror author. I’d just finished reading his book ‘Fauna’ and it really inspired me to write some kind of thing in the areas of Dave’s interests … vampires, zombies … cool shit like that. The ‘story’ only made it to a couple of pages in somewhat lyrical form and sat idle."

Over the next year, Tishler says that he, Benton and drummer Matt Liban put this concept to music, and took it to Howl Street Studios to record.

If you’re not familiar with CHIEF, you might recognize the names of some in the band from their other outfit, The 5 Card Studs. But this band is not a parody. It rocks, and it rocks hard.

Tishler says CHIEF’s previous releases (the self-titled debut, "The Reign Of Rock" EP and the follow up full-length "CHIEF II") helped hone and create the "CHIEF sound, and this album keeps that core essence – yet branches out and explores many different sounds, styles and textures.

"Having spent hours and hours ref…