This Week in Milwaukee
Nick Lowe, Def Harmonic and Iron & Wine
Thursday, Oct. 7
Nick Lowe w/ Geraint Watkins @ The Pabst Theater 8 p.m.
Costello’s cover of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love
and Understanding” turned the song into a hit, but it was Curtis
Stigers’ lesscelebrated cover of that song from the massive-selling
soundtrack to The Bodyguard that earned Lowe a fortune in royalties.
Perhaps because of that wealth, Lowe now works at the leisurely pace of a
retiree, recording a new album every five years or so and touring when
he feels like it—tonight’s show will be the songwriter’s first tour of
the United States with a full band in more than a decade. Though Lowe
was instrumental in transforming British pub-rock into New Wave and
power-pop, he has mostly left those sounds behind on his latest albums.
He now favors roots and country music.
Friday, Oct. 8
The Ragadors w/ The Wildbirds and The Delta Routine @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
how The Black Crowes might sound if they recorded in the raw,
bare-budget style of The Black Keys, Milwaukee’s The Ragadors revel in
sleazy blues-rock on their debut album, blackinkyswells, dialing up the
hooks and volume alike. This is down-and-out, whiskey-soaked
blues—though judging from the band’s slick, tuneful choruses, the
whiskey is a good deal more top-shelf than that of their Mississippi
forefathers. The Ragadors share this album release show with their
similarly styled peers The Wildbirds. The $10 admission includes a copy
Faun Fables @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
the sprawling, theatrical song structures of British folk with Wiccan
imagery, Faun Fables leader Dawn McCarthy has been recording with her
band since 1997, making her a predecessor to both the freak-folk
movement and the recent boom of witch-themed folk and rock bands. The
band’s output has become lighter and more accessible over the years,
while still remaining true to McCarthy’s original muse. Their upcoming
Light of a Vaster Dark, their latest for Drag City Records, is an eerie
song cycle about magic rituals and the passage of time.
Willy Porter w/ The Carpe Diem String Quartet @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
spring, Mequon folk singer Willy Porter joined Columbus, Ohio’s Carpe
Diem String Quartet for an intended one-off show featuring expanded
arrangements of Porter’s songs, including selections from his latest
album, 2009’s How to Rob a Bank. That show yielded the new album Willy
Porter & Carpe Diem – Live at BoMA, so Porter and the quartet have
re-teamed for several more shows to promote the
Saturday, Oct. 9
before Kanye West was sampling Tears for Fears and Kid Cudi and Drake
were recording rapless rap songs, Milwaukee’s Def Harmonic was weaving
spaced-out, wildly experimental hip-hop records from electronic music
and synthesized ’80s pop and R&B. Rappers J Todd and Lunaversol 9
reunited Def Harmonic in 2009 after several years spent working on
outside projects, and tonight they mark the release of their new album,
Figs, a typically odd, funky record containing some of the duo’s most
confessional songs yet. Def Harmonic’s album won’t be the only one on
sale at this show. The group’s label, Listening Party, will set up a
market space at the show for other local record labels, including
Uni-Fi, Dusty Medical and Wolf Interval, to sell their recent releases.
Bad Religion w/ Bouncing Souls and Off With Their Heads @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
hindsight, it only makes sense that one of the most mature punk bands
of their time would also be among those that aged the best. Thirty years
and 15 albums into their career, Southern California punks Bad Religion
still sound vital on their latest record, The Dissent of Man, a
typically charged set of their signature melodic punk. This spring the
group also released the concert album 30 Years Live for free download.
Widespread Panic @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
of the oldest staples of the American jam-music scene, Athens, Ga.,
rockers Widespread Panic have been playing together since the mid-’80s,
well before the jam scene was the organized network it is today.
Nonetheless, they found their audience quickly, the same way that
today’s younger jam bands do: through relentless touring. This spring
the group released its 11th studio album, the Southern-rockoriented set
Dirty Side Down. (Also Sunday, Oct. 10.)
Sunday, Oct. 10
The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass @ Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 3 p.m.
Bel Canto Chorus celebrates bluegrass in both its past and present
iterations in the company’s latest program, “The World Beloved: A
Bluegrass Mass.” Spotlighting the Bel Canto Boy Choir, the concert
includes performances of folk traditionals and spirituals like
“Shenandoah” and “Down by the Riverside,” as well as a full set from the
contemporary area bluegrass quartet Above the Town. The program
culminates in a performance of Bluegrass Mass, a classical/bluegrass
hybrid piece commissioned several years ago by Minneapolis’ VocalEssence
Tuesday, Oct. 12
JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys w/ Amy Correia @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Chrissie & The Fairground Boys’ Fidelity!, the first full-length
album that singer Chrissie Hynde has ever recorded outside of The
Pretenders, opens with “Perfect Lover,” a song where Hynde sings, “I’ve
found the perfect lover but he’s half my age/ He was learning how to
stand when I was wearing my first wedding band.” You don’t need
CliffsNotes to know that the 59-year-old icon is singing about her
partner and collaborator JP Jones, a 32-yearold Welsh singer/songwriter.
Written in Cuba, Fidelity! is a testament to their May/December
relationship, and though the set’s lovey-dovey lyrics aren’t always
Hynde’s most graceful, they’re certainly among her most personal, and
along with Jones (himself a charismatic singer), she sells them with her
Jukebox the Ghost, Elizabeth and The Catapult and Ruby Coast @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
the Ben Folds Five before them, the Philadelphia piano-rock trio
Jukebox the Ghost employs a mix of irreverent, quirky pop and
heart-on-sleeve sentimentalism, with ample nods to Billy Joel and The
Beatles. That’s not to say that they’re bound by these influences,
though. On their hyperactive, hook-a-minute new sophomore album,
Everything Under the Sun, the band goes some ways toward shaking those
inevitable Ben Folds comparisons, dialing up the energy for a peppy set
that often plays more like The Dismemberment Plan’s Emergency & I
than Folds’ Rockin’ the Suburbs.
Wednesday, Oct. 13
Iron & Wine w/ Heidi Spencer @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
& Wine songwriter Sam Beam has a lot more company these days. In
the years since the lovely, lo-fi folk albums The Creek Drank the Cradle
(2002) and Our Endless Numbered Days (2004), countless other bearded
folk singers have sprouted like dandelions in May, yet few can rival the
gentle grace of Beam’s easy, rootsy songs. Beam is planning a new Iron
& Wine album for early 2011, but so far there’s no word on whether
it will follow in the sparse mold of his early releases or the fuller
folk-rock of 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog. Iron & Wine is well paired
tonight with opener Heidi Spencer, a poignant Milwaukee
singer-songwriter who this year signed to the indie-rock and folk
clearinghouse Bella Union records.
Agent Orange w/ The Berettas @ The Miramar Theatre, Iron & Wine 8 p.m.
of the most popular Southern California skate-punk bands of the ’80s,
Agent Orange was one of the first punk acts to draw extensively from the
melodies and guitar work of surf rock—among their earliest recordings
was a cover of Dick Dale’s “Misirlou.” The band enjoyed a resurgence in
the ’90s, when punk bands like The Offspring sang their praises,
introducing them to a younger audience, but has slowed down considerably
over the last decade—they haven’t released a new studio album since
1996. They have, however, recorded a new Halloween single: “This House
Is Haunted,” a fun piece of kitsch that easily could have been cut in
the late ’80s.
The Temper Trap w/ Delphic and The Hundred in the Hands @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Like so many alternative-rock groups formed around 2005, Australia’s Temper Trap began as post-punk revivalists, but they had broadened their palette considerably by the time they released their 2009 album, Conditions. The record has emerged as a modest hit, largely on the back of its shimmering single “Sweet Disposition,” a flashy, U2-styled skyscraper that has memorably appeared in commercials for (500) Days of Summer, Rhapsody.com, Diet Coke and several TV shows. Openers Delphic are touring behind one of the year’s best British rock records, Acolyte, a debut that draws from both modern and ’80s-styled dance music, with particular debt to New Order.