Rock the 802! Remembering William Axel Ringwig
Cider Magazine Bellows Falls, Vt. Nov. 2013
BURLINGTON, VT. - I only had the opportunity to connect with William (Bill) “Axel” Ringwig on two occasions along the musical path and in both instances, Axel had reached out to this local music journalist to simply say that he “liked what I was doing… helping to promote the Vermont music scene.” I wish I had been able to get to know this man better, because from what I have gathered in researching this very article, he was a one-of-a-kind man with a big heart and true-blue ear for Vermont music.
Photos 1. Cider Magazine cover 2. Rock The 802 is (l to r) Taylor Arsenault, Teri Richer and Axel 3. Axel in all his rock-and-roll glory!
Originally from Burlington, Axel graduated from Mount Mansfield High School in Jericho, studied respiratory therapy at Champlain College (Burlington) and Art, music and theatre at Community College of Vermont. He worked for Dynapower Company and Burton Snowboards in South Burlington and of course, music was his passion and life’s work.
“I first met Bill Ringwig when he was in college and worked as a temp at IBM,” friend Linda Crossman stated in an email response for this article. “At first glance, here was this awkward looking kid with long, frizzy hair and I noticed some of the older folk just looked at Bill and rolled their eyes. I, myself, am 17 years his senior, but I don’t make snap judgments about people. Well, as fate would have it, Bill was assigned to work with me.
“I trained him on various production processes and tools and found a willing and smart kid without a chip on his shoulder. Someone who would do anything asked of him with enthusiasm and a teamwork mentality. I quickly took a liking to this kid and would sometimes get into long, deep discussions with Bill about life, people and philosophies. We got to know each other pretty well and would share our personal lives as well… he would ask my take on personal situations or about what he should do next. This guy was like a little brother to me and I can honestly say that I loved him… he was like the little brother I never had.
“Bill eventually left IBM and I never saw him again, but I never forgot about him either. What really struck me about Bill was his amazing capacity to love and care about others and he was one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. Recently, I opened the obituary page of the Burlington Free Press and my heart just went straight to my feet and tears rolled down my face. Bill, you made your mark on this world and I always knew you would. I will never forget Bill Axel Ringwig and it was an honor to have known him.”
Rock The 802 is created and designed to promote all bands, musicians, artists and genres of Vermont. Axel originally launched his music venture in 2012 and after an original partnership had dissolved, re-launched with new partners, Teri Richer and Taylor Arsenault.
“Axel and I originally met almost two years ago at a Justice show,” Teri Richer said in a recent Cider Mag interview. “He was a big supporter and promoter of local music and I was working on building a business that catered to musicians and their needs for promotional material. A mutual friend had introduced us and we spent the evening discussing our individual ventures and decided to keep in touch… so we could help each other out when the time arose.
“Rock the 802 was originally started by Axel and another party in May of 2012, and I got involved that November. I had run into Axel at a Pleasure Dome show and at the end of the night, he walked my friend and I back to our car and we started talking a little music and business. He mentioned wanting to get a Web site up and running, which was part of his original vision from the previous year.
“I offered to help with the financing of the site, plus a couple additional things and when the original partnership had dissolved, Axel and I decided to keep moving forward with the projects he had previously started and I was onboard. Rock the 802 was then officially re-born in mid-January of 2013.”
Sponsored by Frazzle Gear, (www.FrazzleGear.com) which supports and promotes animal rescue and welfare groups through their pet products, Rock the 802 strives to promote, showcase and support all genres of Vermont-based music. Their cool and informative Facebook page (also on Twitter @802ROCK) allows anyone - bands, artists, promoters, venues and fans - to promote all Vermont music through the posting of announcements, information, stories, links, photos and videos.
“Rock the 802 has given local musicians and the public a platform to come together,” Teri said. “Bands and musicians can promote their shows and music projects, while also giving Vermont music fans a place to check out what is going on for music in the area. It has been a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
To this end, Axel was a beacon of opportunity and awareness, realizing the need for a grassroots platform in which all musical talent throughout the Green Mountain State can be deservedly recognized, heard, and appreciated. “Axel touched a lot of lives and was always quick with a smile and a comment to make you laugh,” Teri added. “He was one of the most genuine people I have ever met and you always knew where you stood with him.
“Axel seemed to have a natural ability for drawing people together… one big thing I noticed over the last year was the number of local musicians who were going out to each others’ shows. Axel was always encouraging this and inviting people and musicians to come out and meet other bands and hear different music. Music was his passion! Axel truly loved life and lived for the moment… he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”
Axel may no longer be here, physically, but in researching and writing this article I can confidently tell you that he is going to remain with a whole lot of people who will carry on his passion for enjoying and promoting the Vermont music scene... this writer included! In fact, it has already started, for on November 30 there will be a tribute to Axel at The Venue nightclub in South Burlington.
Appropriately dubbed 802 For Axe, the benefit show will feature nine Vermont bands spread out over two rooms and stages, with all proceeds benefiting the Axel Foundation – which was recently created to assist Mr. Ringwig’s family in moving forward. The featured bands include Justice, MindTrap, Quadra, Last Words, Stone Bullet, Nightrain, Barbie-N-Bones, Pleasure Dome and W.A.R. (William Axel Ringwig) Machine – a band recently created to specifically honor Axel and featuring musicians from a few of these aforementioned bands.
Taken directly from the W.A.R. Machine Facebook page: “Just a group of guys who decided to throw a band together in honor of our good friend William Axel Ringwig. Combining members from Pleasure Dome, Justice, Nightrain and Area 51, this band sets out to play the songs that Axel would have loved.”
It is these types of gestures that show just how much of an impact and impression a person has made on others and with Axel, there is no doubt that he made a lot of people’s lives richer and this world a better place. I recently read this quote on the Rock the 802 Facebook page and I believe Axel’s sister, Marey, said it much better than this Vermont music journalist ever could. Amen.
“He was all about showing support for local music and now, all his love is coming back full circle. Lil’ brother really had no clue how much of an impact he had on so many people and this (tribute show) is the chance for all of us to celebrate his life in the way he would've wanted. When someone you love becomes a memory, the memories become a treasure... so dry them tears, throw up those horns and let’s send out a roar that cannot be ignored.”