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Best of Milwaukee 2013: Music

Best rock group, hip-hop artist and more

Nov. 13, 2013
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Acoustic Musician

Female Vocalist

Nora Collins

Some artists just seem more dedicated than others. Though she’s barely out of high school, Brookfield native Nora Collins has gigged relentlessly over the last three years, averaging about 200 performances a year, charming audiences in any venue that’ll have her with her personal songs and beguiling, honey-sweet voice. Her latest album, Only The Beginning, puts that voice front and center; it’s a mostly acoustic set modeled after her recent solo shows. (Evan Rytlewski)


Runners-up Acoustic Musician:

Jayme Dawicki
LJ & Bill

Runners-up Female Vocalist:

Annie B.
Jayme Dawicki



Rebel Grace

You’ll find quite a few hits by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood in Rebel Grace’s playlist, which only makes sense, given the vocal resemblance of singer Amileigha Blue to those stars. Made up of past and current members of other cover bands, including Chasin’ Mason and The Toys, the group also covers hits by country radio mainstays Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean and Thompson Square. (E.R.)



Hugh Bob and The Hustle
Buffalo Gospel


Blues Band

Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys

There is no shortage of accomplished veterans in Milwaukee’s blues scene, but guitarist Reverend Raven can trade tales with the best of them. In his four-plus decades of playing the blues, he’s shared stages with legends including B.B. King and Junior Wells, and he brings that experience to his seasoned blues combo the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys. On their fourth and latest album, Shake Your Boogie, the group piles high tricky guitar solos, blazing harmonica and plenty of sax. (E.R.)



Alex Wilson Band
Misha Siegfried & His Band


Choral Group

Milwaukee Symphony Chorus

Milwaukee Symphony Chorus is without question one of the city’s premiere choral groups and is ranked as one of the finest symphony choruses in the country. The group has been featured on public television and broadcast radio, and continually takes part in many exciting collaborations with other performing arts groups. This volunteer chorus is conducted by accomplished Music Director Edo de Waart and continues to receive critical acclaim for its high-caliber artistic excellence, performing more than 135 concerts each season. MSC also offers educational and enrichment opportunities for all ages. There’s no wonder why Milwaukeeans voted the Chorus as the best. (Amanda Sullivan)



Bel Canto Chorus
Master Singers of Milwaukee


Classical Music Ensemble

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Under the leadership of Music Director Edo de Waart and the batons of many distinguished guest conductors (including a recent appearance by former director Andreas Delfs), the MSO continues to perform concerts in which great familiar works of the classical canon are punctuated with little-known gems and newer pieces. The orchestra is unafraid of challenges, including the more difficult work of composers such as Gustav Mahler. (David Luhrssen)



UW-Milwaukee Community Orchestra
Nineteen Thirteen


Club DJ

DJ Manny

Many DJs pride themselves on their narrow devotion to a specific genre or subgenre, but DJ Manny values variety above all else. In one of this Racine-based DJ’s wide-ranging sets, you might hear house, disco, dubstep, hip-hop (of the sort your little brother in college likes), trap rap (the kind your little brother in college most certainly does not like), funk, reggaeton and moombahton. That eclecticism has made Manny a big draw at clubs around southeastern Wisconsin, including Kenosha’s Red Iguana, where he’s the resident DJ on Saturdays. (E.R.)



Asher Gray
DJ King James


Cover Band

Chasin’ Mason

If you’ve heard a song semi-regularly on country radio over the last couple years, odds are good Chasin’ Mason can cover it. The group’s wide-ranging playlist is particularly thick with hits from the last couple of decades of modern country, but they’ve been known to throw classics from outlaw figures like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard into their shows, too. They also write originals. This year they finished a new record, Real Life Real Loud. (E.R.)



The Toys
The Now



Greg Koch

The title of Greg Koch’s latest album, Plays Well with Others, is a signpost to what’s within. Koch composed the songs with one of his favorite Milwaukee writers, John Sieger, and invited a half-dozen of his favorite musicians from around the country to perform them. The music follows the blues-rock trajectory the Milwaukee guitarist set for himself as far back as his first disc in 1993, yet the presence of so many ace players pushes the markers farther down the road. (D.L.)



Keith Pulvermacher
Evan Christian


Jazz Musician

Warren Wiegratz

The only musician to win the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Award (WAMI) 11 times, multi-instrumentalist Warren Wiegratz works at the intersection of a number of musical styles. A “smooth jazz” radio staple, a seasoned veteran of R&B groups (the Supremes, the Temptations and Gladys Knight and the Pips) and a sideman for greats such as Jaco Pastorius and Al Di Meola, Wiegratz certainly possesses the versatility demanded of a jazz musician. Check his website for abundant opportunities to catch Wiegratz improvising around town. (Tyler Friedman)



Devin Drobka
Carlos Adames

Male Vocalist

Paul Cebar

For decades, Paul Cebar has been Milwaukee’s world music ambassador, helping introduce the city to the sounds of Louisiana, Latin America and the Caribbean, first with his longtime band The Milwaukeeans and more recently with his latest ensemble, Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound. He’s got the perfect voice for that kind of genre hopping, an easy-going, bluesy scat that glides agreeably from style to style, keeping pace with his quick guitar. (E.R.)



Billy O’Dwyer (of Chasin’ Mason)
Joey Gleesing (of The Now)

Rap/Hip-Hop Artist

Legacy Musik

One of the remarkable things about hip-hop is how it can be bent to accommodate all value systems; it’s a platform that welcomes everyone from delinquents and corner boys to activists and preachers. Count South Side Milwaukee rapper Legacy Musik in that latter camp. A Christian rapper who uses hip-hop to teach unity and acceptance, last year he self-released his debut album, Catch Me If You Can, which is available on iTunes. (E.R.) 





Rock Group

I’m Not a Pilot

With their unusual lineup, the Milwaukee quartet I’m Not a Pilot easily stands out from other acts with a similar pop-rock mentality. In lieu of a guitarist, singer-pianist Mark Glatzel and cellist Peter Thomas tag-team the band’s melodies, backed by the bright rhythms of drummer Steve Vorass and bassist Adrian Esguerra. The band’s following has continued growing since the release of their 2010 full-length debut Need Money for Rocket Fuel. (E.R.)



Trapper Schoepp & The Shades
Kane Place Record Club


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