Scam Likely, a band with strong PSOA connections, plays new Milwaukee venue

Scam Likely is seen on stage at a concert
From left to right: Denzel “Ducky” Dondiego, Cary Dean Elger, Charlee Grider, and Thierry Diatta address the crowd at their Vivarium show | Photo by Cameron Wise (BFA, Film)

Peck School of the Arts students, alumni and faculty foster a strong community for artists throughout Milwaukee to converge and offer support for one another. A notable collective that embodies that creative spirit is Milwaukee’s local sensation Scam Likely, a band that took shape at UW-Milwaukee.

Made up of PSOA students Charlee Grider and Thierry Diatta, alum Cary Dean Elger, and guitarist Denzel “Ducky” Dondiego, Scam Likely traces its roots to when Diatta and Grider met in a Film class. Grider was impressed by Diatta, who wrote and recorded an original score for his film. They decided to start a band.

After filling out their lineup with Dondiego and Elger, Scam Likely was born and has been a proud Milwaukee band ever since, garnering an especially devoted following among UWM students. As a result, they have stayed heavily involved in the community of PSOA.

“There are so many artists in this city, and it’s really beautiful to see Peck as a central place of solace for students to express themselves how they want,” said Grider.

Throughout their young career, the band reports feeling constant support from PSOA faculty who recognize that students’ involvement in the arts naturally branch beyond their majors.

“I love that professors are okay with me doing band stuff when I need to,” said Grider. “They don’t fault me; they encourage it. [Peck] is just an all-around creative place and we’re all in this together for the same thing. The school’s lovely for that and always understanding.”

It is support like this that has encouraged Scam to stay involved in the happenings of UWM, including last Fall when they headlined the student-run Prowl Radio’s Battle of the Bands event.

PSOA student and bassist Thierry Diatta | Photo by Cameron Wise (BFA, Film)

Taking place at UWM’s Spaights Plaza, the event reflected how strong Scam Likely’s reach is among students, drawing a massive crowd of passionate music fans.

“I’d always wanted to see music at Spaights Plaza,” said drummer Cary Dean Elger. “That’s such a natural place and Battle of the Bands was a really good use of that part of campus.”

More recently, the band set major milestones off campus, releasing their second studio album, Yolk, and performing a massive release show. More than 300+ people packed into the newly opened Pabst Theater Group venue, Vivarium.

For the occasion, they brought longtime friend and fellow musician Caden Quinn to play rhythm guitar for a song.

“It was like, especially special for me to have Caden playing this set with us, because I truthfully believe that the relationship I fostered with Caden, meeting him at UWM, is a large part of the reason that I’m playing music,” said Diatta.

Playing Vivarium was a poetic moment for the band as they start to wind down their time in Milwaukee, with plans to relocate to Chicago this summer. As they prep for the upcoming move and reflect on their first two years, they remain appreciative of the influence Milwaukee and PSOA have had on them.

“We are collectively going to miss the scene that raised us in these early years of Scam,” said Grider on behalf of all band members. “It’s bittersweet to be leaving the nest, but we hope to spread the word about how sacred Milwaukee is. We will always be from Milwaukee, and always be proud of it.”

Story by Jason McCullum ’25