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Summerfest: Monday, June 28

Eric Clapton w/ Roger Daltrey, Blue yster Cult and Hawthorne Heights

Jun. 10, 2010
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Eric Clapton w/ Roger Daltrey

Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.

When an admiring fan wrote “Clapton is God” on the wall of the London Underground’s Islington station in 1965, the stage was set for the musical ascension of the then-20-year-old Eric Patrick Clapton. The illegitimate son of an unwed teenage mother and a Canadian soldier stationed in England has since risen to become one of the most influential voices in the blues guitar pantheon. Whether performing with blues giant B.B. King, channeling the music of the legendary Robert Johnson or adding to the blues lexicon as he did with Cream and Blind Faith, Clapton carries a musical cachet like none of the other “guitar gods” slinging their axes today. Clapton continues to reinvent himself at every turn, but always while thoroughly rooted in the blues, much to the pleasure of generations of blues fans worldwide.

Clapton will share the Marcus Amphitheater stage with fellow music legend Roger Daltrey, the lead vocalist of The Who, fresh from the legendary blues-rock band’s Super Bowl XLIV halftime performance. Both together and separately, the pair should present an evening that provides proof of why the blues never die. (Michael Muckian)

Blue yster Cult

M&I Classic Rock Stage, 9 p.m.


You know you’ve made it as a classic rock band when you’re part of multiple “Guitar Hero” video games, still have some original band members left in the lineup and continue to tour after 43 years as a band.

That’s right, 43 years. That dates Blue yster Cult back to the late ’60s, minus the Summer of Love—call it instead the Season of Heavy Metal. While Blue yster Cult found new audiences in the ’70s with their monster hit “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” along with “Godzilla” and “Burnin’ for You,” the boomers among us remember the “real” guitar distortions of “7 Screaming Diz-Busters,” “Hot Rails to Hell” and “Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll,” among other gems.

Hard to believe that these tough-looking, tougher-sounding guys from New York started out as Soft White Underbelly. Fortunately the name changed and the sound was a forerunner to other heavy-metal bands of the time, despite Blue yster Cult touring with groups as diverse as folk rockers The Byrds and jazz fusionists Mahavishnu Orchestra (shock-rock meister Alice Cooper was a much better fit).

Eric Bloom (lead vocals, rhythm guitar and keyboards) and Buck Dharma (lead guitar and vocals) still remain, while the group has added some sonic youth in the form of Rudy Sarzo on bass (a veteran of the Ozzy/Dio/Whitesnake circuit), Jules Radino on drums and Richie Castellano on keyboards and guitar.

Expect Blue yster Cult to set the summer night aflame with rock ’n’ roll—they way they’ve been doing it for more than 40 years. (Harry Cherkinian)

Hawthorne Heights

U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 10 p.m.


Hawthorne Heights has far more reason to feel angst about their relationships than any of their emo brethren.The Dayton, Ohio-based screamo quintet is at the center of a nasty, public breakup (a litigious split from the notorious label Victory Records) that is still festering years later. In a story that brought the band considerable bad publicity, the label told street-team volunteers to sabotage a Ne-Yo album released the same day as Hawthorne Heights’ sophomore effort, allegedly authorizing the mayhem without the band’s consent.

Hawthorne Heights comes to Milwaukee just a month after its first non-Victory release, and it’s their first album since their debut that doesn’t carry the weight of the awfulness of life. If 2006’s If Only You Were Lonely was marred by overaggressive business tactics, its 2008 follow-up, Fragile Future, was more tragically cursed by the death of backup screamer Casey Calvert after he accidentally overdosed on prescription medications. The new disc, Skeletons,is an admirable example of a band re-examining itself after tragedy while trying to move beyond it. It’s the rare return to form that adds a full-time lute player to the mix.

If this is the start of calmer times for Hawthorne Heights, they have certainly paid their dues to get here. So be nice and don’t try to start any drama. They’ve been through quite enough already.(Joe Uchill)


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