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This Week in Milwaukee

The Tossers, Semi-Twang and Huey Lewis and The News

Mar. 17, 2011
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The Tossers @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.

While not as commercially successful in their genre as contemporaries the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, The Tossers formed years before those bands, in 1993 in Chicago's Irish south side neighborhoods. Rowdy and raucous, The Tossers' energetic approach imports the flair of a raging Irish pub scene, replete with furious fiddles, banging banjos, merry mandolins and truculent vocals distilled by malt whiskey. On a Fine Spring Evening was released last year under their primary label, Victory Records, and is the six-piece Celtic-punk outfit's eighth studio album.

Gaelic Storm @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

A cameo in James Cameron's 1997 weeper Titanic—performing "An Irish Party in Third Class" as the ship's steerage band—helped establish Gaelic Storm as one of the more popular Celtic-rock touring acts. The bagpipe- and bouzouki-assisted Santa Monica, Calif., quintet now plays over 125 shows a year and has released seven albums, the most recent of which was last year's Cabbage.


Natalia Zukerman w/ Garrison Starr @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Born into a family of musicians, Natalia Zukerman didn't follow the route of her violinist father, Pinchas, or opera-singing sister, Arianna. Instead, she took to influences Ani DiFranco and Joni Mitchell and forged her own path in rustic Americana folk-jazz. Well versed in a variety of guitar styles including slide and lap steel, Zukerman varies her tempos and vocals to perform either bluesy roots ballads or swinging roadhouse funk numbers. Zukerman is also a member of the band Winterbloom, which formed with fellow folkies Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson and Anne Heaton in 2008. Gas Station Roses, Zukerman's fifth album, dropped earlier this month.


The Fighter @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

David O. Russell scored a critical hit with his 2010 boxing drama The Fighter, earning seven Academy Award nominations, including supporting acting wins for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo (who beat co-star and fellow nominee Amy Adams). The film was a labor of love for Mark Wahlberg, who stars as working-class boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and worked without a stunt double, taking real punches. The film screens for $5 tonight as part of Turner Hall Ballroom's "Beer and a Movie" series.


Semi-Twang w/ The Rocktails and Jeffrey Foucault @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

It's been 23 years since Milwaukee's country-rock band Semi-Twang last released a record.

That album, 1988's Salty Tears, was intended to be the first of a seven-album deal for Warner Bros. Records and made the band early heroes of the burgeoning alt-country scene, but its modest sales limited the group's time on the label. This week sees the release of Wages of Sin, the long-awaited follow-up album from the reunited band, which has played scattered shows in recent years around singer-songwriter John Sieger's other projects. The new record takes on a harder, bluesier edge than the group's long-ago debut, yet retains the same deep reverence for Americana.

Milwaukee Admirals w/ Huey Lewis and The News @ The Bradley Center, 7 p.m.

The Milwaukee Admirals conclude this season's post-game concert series with a performance from Huey Lewis and The News following the team's match against the Lake Erie Monsters. The soul-inspired rock band, best known for '80s hits like "Hip to Be Square" and Back to the Future tieins "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time," last year released its ninth studio album, Soulsville, a tribute to Stax Records that draws from some of the less obvious corners of the label's songbook.


The Constellations @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.

Before the Atlanta soul/rock/hip-hop group The Constellations landed a home on Virgin Records, they were receiving regular radio play in, of all places, Milwaukee. Radio Milwaukee took an interest in the band, spinning their Cee Lo-assisted single "Love Is a Murder," among other tracks, and the group has repaid the favor, visiting the city regularly. Last year saw the major-label re-release of their 2008 album Southern Gothic, and a singles push for its Asher Roth collaboration "We're Here to Save the Day," which has been licensed to TV shows including "Chuck" and "The Vampire Diaries."

Brewcity Bruisers Roller Derby @ U.S. Cellular Arena, 7 p.m.

Since its feminist makeover last decade, roller derby has been on the rise internationally, with leagues in over 20 countries. Aided by word of mouth and some extra attention from the 2009 Ellen Page/Drew Barrymore flick Whip It, the full-contact sport has been working its way to the mainstream over the last few years. In cities like Milwaukee, D.I.Y. roller derby bouts have grown into massive spectacles; last month the city's Brewcity Bruisers broke an attendance record, drawing more than 3,500 people to its event at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The league will try to top that record again with two bouts this evening, when the Shevil Knevils take on the Crazy Eights and Maiden Milwaukee battles the Rushin' Rollettes.


Walter Trout w/ Altered Five Band @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

New Jersey native Walter Trout began his professional guitar-playing career during the '60s, backing up blues acts like Joe Tex and playing as a member of Canned Heat and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. In 1989, he founded his blues- and Southern-rock-minded Walter Trout Band and began releasing a steady stream of albums with that group and its offshoots. His latest record, 2010's slow-burning Common Ground, is his 20th as a solo artist or band leader.


Chick Singer Night @ Caroline's, 8 p.m.

For over five years, Milwaukee's Chick Singer Night concert series has been showcasing women singer-songwriters. The event's latest bill touches on rock, jazz and country music, with performances from Ellen Winters, Katie Smith, Jamie Brace and Charissa Mrowka, a 14-year-old country singer and guitarist. Despite its name, the event isn't a womenonly affair. Guys will back some of the performers as the Chick Singer Night Band, and singer-songwriter Jim Bohn will perform during the show's "Are You Man Enough" segment.


Patty Larkin @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Milwaukee-raised Patty Larkin grew up with the piano, but became an eminent guitar player after teaching herself in high school and then honing her jazz-based style at the Berklee College of Music. Larkin's urban-infused folk-pop hinges on inventive, spellbinding guitar spirals that aptly frame her tale-telling. In 1985, Larkin released her first album, Step into the Light, but she didn't crack the Billboard charts until 2003's Red=Luck. Two years later, Larkin produced the collaboration album La Guitara, a collection of songs by accomplished women guitarists. Released last March, her most recent album, 25, contains 25 new tracks as a tribute to her 25th anniversary as a professional recording artist.


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