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This Week in Milwaukee

Dec. 9, 2010
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Thursday, Dec. 9

Jeffrey Foucault w/ John Sieger @ Alterra on Prospect, 7 p.m.

Whitewater singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault’s sixth and latest album, Cold Satellite, is a collaboration with poet Lisa Olstein, author of the books Lost Alphabet and Radio Crackling, Radio Gone. Recorded with Morphine drummer Billy Conway and Booker T bassist Jeremy Moses, as well as other Nashville players, it captures Foucault at his most rocking. Tonight’s free performance pairs Foucault with another Wisconsin Americana artist with deep ties to Nashville: John Sieger, a local alt-country institution who between solo endeavors also plays with the bands Semi-Twang and The Subcontinentals.

Hot Buttered Rum w/ The Liberty Bluegrass Band @ The Miramar Theatre, 9 p.m.

Though they’re inspired more by The Grateful Dead’s twangy, jammy tributes to Americana than bluegrass’ Appalachian forefathers, Hot Buttered Rum is nonetheless one of the more traditional modern bluegrass (“newgrass”) acts, a San Francisco quintet that may exaggerate the genre’s sharp tones, but never plays them for novelty. Of course, the group brings its own ideology to the music. It’s doubtful, for instance, that Bill Monroe would have written a jam about biofuel, as Hot Buttered Rum did for the title track of their 2006 disc, Well-Oiled Machine. The group’s latest album, Limbs Akimbo, takes them even further from their string-band beginnings, incorporating eclectic rock and jazz infl uences.

Pearl Snap Kings @ The Jazz Estate, 9:30 p.m.

Milwaukee guitarist Kenny Knoll’s interest in pedal steel led him to Nashville, where his knack for the instrument earned him gigs playing with Carl Smith, Marty Robbins, Dottie West and Crystal Gayle, among many others. Knoll is now the lead sound engineer for the 2K Productions Recording Studio, just outside of Milwaukee, but he continues to play in the local scene.

His latest project is the country band Pearl Snap Kings, which pairs him with brothers Mike and Brian Kasprzak, of Mississippi Cactus, and Josh Tovar, of the late Freshwater Collins.

Cloud Cult w/ Dark Dark Dark @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Minneapolis’ Cloud Cult shares Eels’ love of quirky, electronic beats and cinematic soundscapes as well as Beck’s knack for dynamic, fl ashy live shows. Thematically, much of the group’s music is inspired by the 2002 death of frontman Craig Minowa’s young son—somber subject matter that only furthers the Eels comparisons—but the band’s visually loaded concerts feel more like colorful birthday parties than funerals. The group’s new album, Light Chasers, fi nds Minowa in better spirits, reveling in the recent birth of his son. It’s one of the band’s most upbeat records, fl ushed with bright electronics and Arcade Fire-esque grandeur.

Friday, Dec. 10

Sweet Water Festive Fund-Raiser @ Sweet Water Organics, 6 p.m.

Tucked away unassumingly in Bay View, the Sweet Water organic fish and vegetable farm has been a leader of the growing urban agriculture movement. Tonight’s fund-raiser offers guests tours of the Sweet Water facilities, as well as samples of its fish and produce. Volunteer Maggie Muza has created a menu that includes a cilantro cocktail, spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce and a Brazilian fish stew made with Sweet Water’s tilapia. Beans & Barley, La Merenda and Coquette will also provide food, while DJs from WMSE and Radio Milwaukee provide music. Tickets are $25 and include two complimentary drinks.

Zappa Plays Zappa @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Dweezil Zappa has been playing guitar for much of his life, but of his many, scattered musical projects, he’s found the most success fronting Zappa Plays Zappa, a rotating tribute band paying homage to his legendary father, Frank Zappa. Their shows tend to focus on the more rock-oriented compositions Zappa played in the ’60s and ’70s, but they keep the set lists fresh by featuring music from all phases of Zappa’s career. Tonight the band tackles Frank Zappa’s 1974 classic Apostrophe in its entirety.

Saturday, Dec. 11

Santa Cycle Rampage @ Café Hollander, 10 a.m.

It’s one of bike-friendly Milwaukee’s most unusual Christmas traditions: Every year cyclists hop on their bikes dressed as Santa and cruise from bar to bar spreading cheer and trying their best not to wipe out on ice-slickened roads.

This year the motley band of St. Nicks meets at Café Hollander on 2608 N. Downer Ave. for free coffee and Fat Tire beer, then rides to the Lakefront Brewery, Great Lakes Distillery, Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall and Café Centraal, where there will be a 3:30 p.m. party with DJs, a bonfire and food and drink specials.

Ex Fabula Spectacular @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

The Ex Fabula storytelling series invites Milwaukeeans of all stripes to tell stories to a live audience without using notes. At the end of most Ex Fabula events, the audience votes for its favorite story, but the series’ super-sized event at the Turner Hall Ballroom drops the competitive element and tinkers with the usual format a bit, giving proven Ex Fabula storytellers longer than the usual five minutes to weave their latest yarns. Featured storytellers on this bill include teacher Emmett Gross, nurse Cindy Grover, singer-songwriter Lisa Gatewood and local theater staple Amie Losi, all of whom will tell tales relating to the night’s seasonally appropriate theme: “gifts.”

The Watchman’s Charity Toy Drive @ Fuel Café, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Watchman is one of Milwaukee’s most eccentric figures, a comic-book fan who dons a superhero costume and patrols Riverwest to keep neighbors safe. But his altruism extends beyond just crime-fighting. The real-life superhero is hosting a toy drive outside of Fuel Café to benefit West Bend’s Gingerbread House, which gives toys to low-income families, and Riverwest’s Meta House, a rehab center for women and their children. Donations of toys, art supplies and cash are welcome.

Mustard Plug w/ Something To Do @ Bay View Brew Haus, 9 p.m.

No band better mastered the marriage of ska and punk in the ’90s than Michigan’s Mustard Plug. In their perky horns, dynamic pop-punk chords and fist-pumping choruses they found a winning formula they stuck to even after their brand of punchy third-wave ska fell hopelessly out of vogue. To keep with the times, though, they’ve leaned more on punk in recent years. Nostalgia, a reputation for festive live shows and renewed interest in skapunk have kept the group a viable touring act.

Sunday, Dec. 12

EMP 4 The Kids Toy Drive @ Hyde Bar, 10 p.m.

Milwaukee crunk enthusiasts Streetz & Young Deuces have rounded up some of the city’s best rap acts for a toy drive supporting the House of Peace on 1702 W. Walnut St. Scott Knoxx, Misen Lync, Prophetic, Ray Rizzy, B-Eazy The Prince, Payroll, B-Dubb, Sheba Baby, SPEAK Easy, Major and T. Keyz are among the performers. Admission is free with a donated gift of sports equipment, gift cards, MP3 players, jewelry, sweatshirts or other donations.

Monday, Dec. 13

The Big Snow Show w/ Cake, OK Go and Switchfoot @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

Milwaukee’s alternative rock station FM 102.1 decided to split its annual Big Snow Show into two nights. Night One spotlights the lighter side of the station’s playlist, with performances from quirk-rockers OK Go and postmodern smart alecks Cake, longtime alternative staples who are preparing their first album in seven years, Showroom of Compassion, for release in January. The event’s second night, Tuesday, Dec. 14, caters to the harder-edged, “Who are you looking at?” side of modern rock, with performances from the alt-metal trio Chevelle and post-grunge aggressors Finger Eleven, as well as Terrible Things, a group that unites members of Taking Back Sunday, Coheed and Cambria and Hot Rod Circuit.


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