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This Week in Milwaukee: Nov. 14-Nov. 20

Nov. 12, 2013
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james blake
James Blake @ Turner Hall Ballroom, Nov. 14
Thursday, Nov. 14

Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkin @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

One of rock ’n’ roll’s great charmers, Jonathan Richman inspired a generation of punks with his celebrated first band The Modern Lovers before moving on to a more acoustic, traditional style of rock ’n’ roll inspired less by his heroes the Velvet Underground than by the music of his youth. Richman’s narrating role in the Farrelly Brothers’ hit There’s Something About Mary introduced him to a new following in the late ’90s, but did little to shake up his low-key career: He’s continued releasing intimate little records (mostly on small labels) and touring clubs with his longtime drummer Tommy Larkin, who will join him for this show at Shank Hall—his first in Milwaukee in far, far too long.


James Blake and Nosaj Thing @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.

Not to be confused with the tennis player of the same name, British dubstep wunderkind James Blake rose to attention in 2010 on the strength of a trio of EPs, and solidified that acclaim with an intimate, inward 2011 self-titled album, which was widely cited as an anecdote to the bigger, louder, brasher brand of dubstep that’s currently running amok on radio and in the clubs. The songwriter and producer’s latest album, Overgrown, is a bigger, more open work, and features collaborations with Brian Eno and The RZA, suggesting Blake isn’t quite the wallflower that critics often painted him as.


Tales From The Duck Commanders @ The Riverside Theater, 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The latest reality show rounding up proud rednecks and hillbillies for the entertainment of a disbelieving cable audience, A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” has become a bona fide phenomenon, shattering ratings records with the seemingly scripted antics of a colorful family that manufactures duck calls. A sign of how popular the series is: This year it spawned a Christmas album, Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas. For these appearances at the Riverside Theater, the Robertson’s Phil, Kay, Korie and Uncle Si will share stories and answer audience questions, most likely while goofing around a lot.


Shane Mauss w/ Joe Kilgallon and Erik Koconis @ Comedy Café, 8 p.m.

With his droll frat-boy persona, La Crosse, Wis., native Shane Mauss has worked his way out of Wisconsin and onto the national comedy scene, thanks to some support from Comedy Central, which hosted his comedy special in 2010 and released his first album, Jokes To Make My Parents Proud. He’s since become a reoccurring guest on Conan, where he’s riffed on racist co-workers, kinky sex and the many things that people say that don’t make much sense when you really think about them. Like every comedian, he also has his own podcast: the often very funny Double Date Podcast, where Mauss riffs on relationships and philosophy (sometimes while stoned). He does three nights at the Comedy Café this weekend. (Also Nov. 15 and 16 at 8 and 10:15 p.m.)


Friday, Nov. 15

Trashfest @ The Miramar Theatre, 7 p.m.

Since debuting in 1984, Trashfest has been alienating audiences with all sorts of loud, obnoxious and obscure music at venues all over the city including Café Voltaire, The Unicorn, Odd Rock Café, Stone Toad and other places that no longer exist. Thirty years in, the event hasn’t changed much: It’s still celebrating music best described as “a matter of taste.” This year’s lineup includes the death-metal polka outfit Cheese of the Goat, the psychedelic grab bag Agnes Emerson Interview, goofball entertainers Prettiest Star and a host of other metal and novelty acts. Will you like all of them? Almost certainly not, but that’s kind of the point. Besides, the cover is just $5.


Turn Up The Volume: Poems About the States of Wisconsin @ Woodland Pattern, 7 p.m.

With its beautiful woods and bountiful lakes, Wisconsin has long been a fruitful muse for poets, but lately the state’s turbulent politics have been inspiring writers as much as its landscapes. Turn Up The Volume: Poems About the States of Wisconsin collects the writings of 27 authors, many of them from the state, in a limited-edition, hand-bound chapbook. Proceeds from the book go to the First Amendment Protection Fund to help defend the more than 300 peaceful protesters who were arrests for singing in the Wisconsin Capitol. Poets will read from and sign the book at this event.


Built to Spill w/ Slam Dunk and The Warm Hair @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.

Along with Pavement, Built to Spill was one of the most important indie-rock bands of the ’90s, laying the groundwork for bands like Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins and Modest Mouse with a string of masterful guitar-pop albums. The last decade has seen the Boise, Idaho, band slow its studio output considerably as the group spent long stretches on the road, jamming new life into its existing songbook (they haven’t released a record since 2009’s minor effort There Is No Enemy, which balanced short and sweet autumnal pop songs with heavier, more brooding jams). When the group returns to Milwaukee for the first time since 2010, they’ll look a little different than they did when they last played the Turner Hall Ballroom. Longtime drummer Scott Plouf and bassist Brett Nelson have left the band, replaced by new guys Steve Gere and Jason Albertini.


Saturday, Nov. 16

Brian Setzer Orchestra @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.

Much was made in the ’90s of rockabilly guitarist and former Stray Cats leader Brian Setzer taking on a second career as a swing orchestra leader, but less has been made about what could be described as the third phase of his career: his reinvention as a cheerful Christmas ambassador. Since 2002, the Brian Setzer Orchestra has released a whopping five holiday albums, including 2005’s Dig That Crazy Christmas and 2010’s Christmas Comes Alive!. The group will dedicate a considerable chunk of its performances to that yuletide spirit during its three-night stay at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Northern Lights Theater. (Also Monday, Nov. 18, and Tuesday, Nov. 19.)


Monday, Nov. 18

John Legend w/ Tamar Braxton @ The Riverside Theater, 6:30 p.m.

John Legend is the first to poke fun at his image as a silver-tongued, ivory-tickling crooner. He’s parodied his image on Stephen Colbert’s Christmas special, where he sang a typically sensual song about nutmeg, and in his own video for his 2008 hit “Green Light,” which opened with him boring a party with a quiet rendition of his signature ballad “Ordinary People.” He’s open to shaking things up, though. His 2008 album Evolver added an electronic dance pulse to his smooth soul songs, and his 2010 collaboration with The Roots, Wake Up!, put his velvet voice to work on a collection of vintage soul and funk covers. His new record is his most varied yet. Love in the Future features production from Kanye West, Hit-Boy, Q-Tip and Dave Tozer, as well as guest spots from Kimbra, Rick Ross and Seal and a cover of Anita Baker’s “Angel.”


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