This Week in Milwaukee
Colbie Caillat, Fine Line Release Party and Steely Dan
THURSDAY, AUG. 25
Colbie Caillat w/ Andy Grammer @ Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
The daughter of Fleetwood Mac producer Ken Caillat, clean-scrubbed adult alternative “it girl” Colbie Caillat offers a fluffy alternative for “Grey's Anatomy” viewers who find Norah Jones too heavy or Jason Mraz too dark. Caillat's preciousness can sometimes get the best of her—her 2009 sophomore album, Breakthrough, leaned a little too hard on her sprightly personality, to cloying effect—but her latest album, All of You, adds a welcome dose of caffeine to her coffeehouse-friendly pop. It's a much livelier album, and a good deal more eclectic than its predecessor, drawing liberally from reggae and soft-pop and even making room for a guest rap from Common on the track “Favorite Song.”
Particle w/ Undercover Organism @ Miramar Theatre, 9 p.m.
For a laid-back jam band, Particle seems to be in an endless state of flux, constantly bringing in, and then losing, new members. Their 2006 album, the guest-laden, hip-hopinfluenced Transformations Live for the People, heralded the arrival of two new players who brought vocals to the group's previously instrumental, “jamtronica” sound. Within a year those new members were gone, though one of those ex-members, guitarist Ben Combe, has occasionally still played with the band, another testament to the group's revolving door. Tonight the group headlines this “Back to School Blowout” with Milwaukee's own jamtronica band, Undercover Organism.
Jazz in the Park w/ De La Buena @ Cathedral Square Park, 6 p.m.
Purveying the catchiest kind of contemporary Latin jazz, De La Buena has developed a large local following made up of newcomers and fans of traditional Latin rhythms alike. The group is one of Milwaukee's most in-demand, playing gigs throughout the year and bringing audiences to their feet to dance to their raucous and subtly psychedelic take on samba and world dance music. Keyboardist and musical director David Wake took inspiration from his time playing with reggae legend Lee “Scratch” Perry while mixing the band's latest album, La Tortuga, giving it a thick, reverb-heavy sound that lends to the live-in-studio aes- thetic of classic old-school salsa and Latin jazz albums of the '70s.
De La Buena
FRIDAY, AUG. 26
Fine Line Release Party @ Sky High Gallery, 6 p.m.
Created by Milwaukee art enthusiasts and former Armoury Gallery proprietors Cassandra Smith and Jessica Steeber, the quarterly Fine Line Magazine is an art magazine in the most literal sense—not a magazine about art so much as a piece of art itself. Free of advertising, reviews and even artist biographies, the magazine compiles contributions from artists from all over the world. The magazine celebrates the release of its fourth issue tonight with this party at the Sky High Gallery, 2501 S. Howell Ave. The issue includes contributions from seven artists, including Nina Nolte, Jesse Draxler, Angelina Gualdoni and David Maisel, all working around the loose theme of “change.”
Couch Flambeau w/ The Pills @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
Milwaukee's iconic Couch Flambeau, veterans of the city's off-kilter '80s punk scene who played really, really silly punk rock well before it was fashionable to play even faintly silly punk rock, are hardly one of the city's most active bands these days, but they still perform a show or two most years. They occasionally debut new songs, too. Singer/guitarist Jay Tiller's latest tunes are very much in the same irreverent spirit as old favorites like “Picasso's Mailman” or “Santa Claus Skips Cudahy,” retaining the band's signature, childlike humor even as they address adult concerns of homeownership and proper lawn maintenance. There's still no word of when (or if ) the band will release new material, but their 2004 anthology I Did a Power Slide in the Taco Stand collects the best of their classic output.
SATURDAY, AUG. 27
Steely Dan @ Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
Steely Dan was always more subversive than it seemed on the surface. Although in the '70s the group's jazzy soft-rock seemed like a safe alternative to the brasher rock of the day, Steely Dan (a band named after an adult novelty toy) detailed a drug-addled underworld as seedy as anything glam rockers sang about. After a decade's hiatus, co-leads Donald Fagen and Walter Becker reformed Steely Dan in the '90s as a popular touring act—ironic, since the group had famously stopped touring altogether in the '70s. Since reuniting, their recording schedule has been as laid-back as their music. They've only released two discs, but both are winners: 2000's Two Against Nature won an improbable Grammy for Album of the Year, while 2003's Everything Must Go is probably their loosest, most-carefree album since, well, ever. They do two shows at the Riverside Theater this weekend, performing their 1977 masterwork Aja on Saturday and a greatest-hits set on Sunday.
Asian Fest @ Arlington Heights Park, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Around the 600 block, National Avenue is home to some of the city's most popular Mexican restaurants. Just a few miles west, the scenery changes considerably, and the street displays one of Milwaukee's richest deposits of Asian culture. Since 2007, the city's “Little Chinatown” has showcased this culture at a free, annual festival. Attractions include dance demonstrations, live music, authentic cuisine and a contest to determine the city's best egg roll. This year the festival will be held in Arlington Heights Park, just under the 35th Street Bridge near National Avenue.
Community Arts & Funk Festival @ Marcus Center, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Local funk hero Harvey Scales hosts a day of art workshops and exhibitions and live funk and soul music at the Marcus Center. Musicians performing will include The Mustache, Room 11, Evan Christian, Fallllen, Urban Sol, Iberia SoulSinger and e'Lectrick Warbabyz. Admission is free, and there will also be a series of kid-oriented theater performances in the building's Peck Pavilion.
SUNDAY, AUG. 28
Rock & Roller Remote Controller @ Linneman's Riverwest Inn, 8 p.m.
Like an even lower-budget, more-absurdist version of comedy and music-video programs MTV used to run late at night, back when the channel broadcast both comedy and music videos, the locally produced TV show Rock & Roller Remote Controller follows the adventures of the dimwitted man-child Tabman and his magic remote control, a format that breaks frequently for eccentric music videos from garage-leaning local bands. Tonight the crew hosts a screening party for the show's fourth episode, in which a nemesis tries to steal Tabman's trusty remote. The event will include performances from the bands featured in the latest episode: Drugs Dragons, The Elephant Walk, Holy Shit! and Liquor Store.
American Ghost Hunter
TUESDAY, AUG. 30
American Ghost Hunter @ The Times Cinema, 6 p.m.
After his father was severely burned in an auto-shop accident, Chad Calek's family moved from Florida to Iowa when he was 12 years old and immediately began experiencing unexplained terrors that would follow them for decades. The filmmaker examines those hauntings in his documentary American Ghost Hunter, which eschews the cheap scares of current cable ghost-hunting programs in favor of a deeper, ultimately more unsettling exploration of the ethics and psychological toll of paranormal investigation. Calek and the cast of the documentary are touring behind a six-hour event that includes a screening of the film, a Q&A session and evidence presentations.