This Week in Milwaukee: June 5-11
Thursday, June 5
Indigo Girls @ The Pabst Theater, 6:30 p.m.
The Indigo Girls have been a staple of the folk music scene for more than two decades. Consistent touring, as well as a steady stream of albums have kept them relevant years after their 1987 debut Strange Fire broke into the world of mainstream pop with its hit “Closer to Fine.” The duo’s latest album Beauty Queen Sister is a mix of folk-inflected harmonies and pop sensibilities that yields an energetic yet polished sound. Expect them to play favorites from their entire career when they appear at the Pabst Theater tonight on the eve of PrideFest.
Jazz in the Park w/ Nabori @ Cathedral Square Park, 6 p.m.
The year’s Jazz in the Park series kicks off with a bang, as Milwaukee’s Nabori brings the spicy rhythms and brassy energy of salsa to Cathedral Square Park. The group plays salsa music in the modern sense, blending traditional Spanish and Mexican music with contemporary R&B and funk, all of which makes for a hip-shaking live show. That sound is well captured on their latest album, Escucha De Neuvo En El Solar.
Friday, June 6
Cher w/ Cyndi Lauper @ BMO Harris Bradley Center, 8 p.m.
From her wholesome origins as the taller half of the clean-cut duo Sonny & Cher, Cher reinvented herself as one of the most iconic divas of all time, continually updating her sound to embrace new styles of disco, pop and dance music. Last year the singer released her latest album Closer to the Truth, her 25th, and it’s one of her most club-minded ever, featuring production from beatmakers like Paul Oakenfold, Timbaland and Billy Mann. She keeps that club vibe running through her latest “Dressed to Kill Tour,” a typically lavish affair inspired by all her years in Las Vegas, featuring grand sets and costume change after costume change. She’s joined on this tour by another feminist icon with high standing in the LGBT community, Cyndi Lauper.
Tony Bennett w/ Antonia Bennett @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
As anybody who has ever seen VH1 knows, music history is packed with great comeback tales, but few have been more remarkable than Tony Bennett’s. Popular throughout the ’50s and ’60s, the pop and jazz crooner fell upon hard times commercially and personally in the ’70s as he struggled to contemporize his sound for rock audiences. Broke and rejected, he nearly died from a cocaine overdose in 1979. But he rehabilitated his image in the ’80s, and by the ’90s he was widely regarded as a national treasure and praised for reintroducing the American Songbook to younger audiences. He even landed an Album of the Year Grammy for 1994’s MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett. Bennett celebrated his 85th birthday in triumph in 2011, as his Duets II album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, making him the oldest artist ever to reach that position.
Bay View Gallery Night and Bay View Jazz Fest @ multiple locations
The annual Bay View Gallery Night showcases dozens of local artists and musicians at more than 50 galleries, restaurants and bars, offering participants the chance to stroll the streets of Bay View while perusing handmade crafts and touring local landmarks. Highlights this year include showings at the Hide House, a building complex with space for resident artists, creatively aligned businesses and a gallery, and a showing of historically inspired art at the Beulah Brinton House. This year also sees the addition of a concurrent Bay View Jazz Fest, a showcase of local jazz musicians at Club Garibaldi, Tonic Tavern, Highbury Pub and the BYO Studio Lounge. Headliners for the inaugural jazz fest include Devin Drobka’s Bell Dance Songs, Jacobi and the Pillow Snatchers, the Kevin Hayden Band and De La Beuna.
Tuesday, June 10
Elvis Costello @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
It’s amazing that at this stage of his long career Elvis Costello still has surprises left in him. Over the years the one-time angry young man has dabbled in jazz, opera and even classical music, in between albums that have touched on pop and, in particular in recent years, Americana, but his latest album Wise Up Ghost paired him with his most unlikely collaborators yet: The Roots, the famed hip-hop band that shares little in common with Costello aside from a big music collection and an open mind. The result was nothing less than Costello’s most inspired album in a decade, a soulful, socially conscious record that sounds like little else in his discography but still feels unmistakably like a Costello album. It’ll be interesting to see how the singer-songwriter adapts some of those songs for this solo tour, a rare outing without his usual backing band The Imposters.
Chill on the Hill w/ Extra Crispy Brass Band @ Humboldt Park, 6 p.m.
Formed in Milwaukee by trombonist Greg Cramer, the Extra Crispy Brass Band brings the amped-up Dixie jazz of New Orleans to the streets of Milwaukee. Big and decidedly brassy, their sound is perfect for summer festivals and outdoor performances. Traditional blues and jazz standards performed with crowd-pleasing flair and colorful panache like “St. James Infirmary” and “Little Liza Jane” make up the bulk of their repertoire, although they compose originals as well.
Spanish Gold w/ Clear Plastic Masks @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Formed by My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan, ex-Grupo Fantasma guitarist Adrian Quesada and singer/guitarist Dante Schwebel of City and Colour and Hacienda, Spanish Gold arrived out of nowhere this year with an eclectic debut album, South of Nowhere, that celebrates styles including blues, rock, pop and soul. The group’s single “Out On the Street” gives a sense of what they’re all about, pairing a groove inspired by Rockwell’s lone hit “Somebody’s Watching Me” with slashes of bright guitar. Given the band members’ other musical commitments, there’s no telling how long this group will stick around, but if South of Nowhere is a one-off record, it’s a mighty fun one.
Wednesday, June 11
Michael Ian Black w/ Johnny Beehner @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
To casual TV viewers, Michael Ian Black may be best known as one of the drier commentators on VH1’s endless “I Love The…” specials, but to comedy enthusiasts, he’s renowned as one of the creative forces behind the sketch-comedy shows “The State” and “Stella,” and for his many projects with former cast mates from those programs. Since Comedy Central canceled his most recent show with frequent collaborator Michael Showalter, “Michael and Michael Have Issues,” Black has stayed plenty busy, launching the podcast Mike and Tom Eat Snacks, co-hosting the TBS game show “Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host,” and touring behind his latest stand-up material.
River Rhythms w/ 5 Card Studs @ Pere Marquette Park, 6:30 p.m.
Billed as the “hardest-working lounge band in the Midwest,” the 5 Card Studs have been performing the hits of the ’60s and ’70s for nearly 20 years now. The area veterans are appearing at the first River Rhythms performance of the summer to deliver an evening of charmingly sleazy entertainment. Dressing and acting the part, the lounge-lizard act brings a roguish appeal to the well-worn tunes. Drawing from a repertoire of hundreds of classic hits, the group delivers consistently varied and enjoyable shows straight from the smoky, neon-lit lounge of a seedy Vegas casino.