This Week in Milwaukee: July 17-23
Thursday, July 17
Jazz in the Park w/ AhVantSoul @ Cathedral Square Park, 6 p.m.
AhVantSoul is the creation of Jon Pierre Gee, a soul singer and onetime leader of Junior Walkerâ€™s All Stars. The group performs in the spirit of Walker, playing some of the soul greatâ€™s most loved songs, such as the blistering saxophone-driven â€śShotgunâ€ť and â€śCome See About Me,â€ť along with a broad sampler of soul and R&B songs from the â€™60s and â€™70s. The group has a deep catalogue of classic Motown to draw from, rendering each performance instantly recognizable.
The Dirty Heads w/ Pepper @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Given how the measured cadence and singsong vocals of reggae were a major inspiration for hip-hop, The Dirty Heads arenâ€™t stretching too far by rapping over relaxed island grooves. Songs like â€śCabin by the Seaâ€ť and â€śDance All Nightâ€ť evoke an endless beach party, while African drums and staccato acoustic guitar give the songs an instantly danceable groove. The California band has close ties to the reunited Sublime; they even tapped Sublimeâ€™s replacement singer Rome Ramirez to sing on their breakout single â€śLay Me Down.â€ť
Friday, July 18
Hot Tuna @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Formed as a side project of Jefferson Airplane in 1969, Hot Tuna is the musical love child of Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen, the bandâ€™s founding members and sole constants. The band opened for Jefferson Airplane, playing their covers along with traditional blues and rock material, until Jefferson Airplane faded out and Hot Tuna made an independent name for itself. Following a series of test runs in electric rock and a profound drift from its beloved blues and acoustic mix, Hot Tuna released several albums but eventually fizzled out by 1979. Their second act has proven to be a long one, though. Since theâ€™80s, theyâ€™ve reunited in various configurations and, in particular over the last decade, theyâ€™ve toured aggressively. All those shows led to an album of new material, Steady as She Goes, in 2011.
Festa Italiana @ Henry Maier Festival Grounds, 11:30 a.m.
Milwaukeeâ€™s celebration of all things Italianâ€”and the latest installation in the parade of ethnic festivals the city offersâ€”Festa Italiana will bring classic cuisine, authentic entertainment and plenty of Parmesan to the Summerfest grounds this weekend. Aside from dozens of vendors serving up meatballs, rice balls and many types of noodles in various combinations, Festa offers dancing, an Italian Idol singing competition, a bocce ball competition and fireworks shows each night. Strolling musicians are on hand to serenade festivalgoers, complementing four stages of music featuring Italian acts such as Tre Bella as well as more American entertainment in the form of Milwaukee country act Bella Cain and a Bruce Springsteen cover band. (Also July 19-20.)
Saturday, July 19
Port Fish Day @ Port Washington Harbor, 10 a.m.
Outsiders are often surprised to hear that Wisconsin claims the worldâ€™s largest music festival, but theyâ€™d probably be a lot less surprised to learn that it also claims the worldâ€™s largest one-day outdoor fish fry. Set near Port Washingtonâ€™s Downtown harbor, Port Fish Day serves up about 10,000 pounds of cod and 13,000 pounds of fried potatoes every year. This yearâ€™s 50th anniversary installment of the event will feature an 8K run and 2 mile Fun Run/Walk at 8 a.m., a parade through Downtown Port Washington at 10 a.m., a classic car show, carnival rides, helicopter rides, a smoked fish-eating contest and fireworks, along with five stages of food and entertainment. The dayâ€™s big headliner is country singer Josh Thompson, a Cedarburg, Wis., native who has scored hits with drinking-themed songs like â€śBeer on the Tableâ€ť and, more recently, â€śCold Beer with Your Name on It.â€ť
The Voice Tour @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Following in the footsteps of â€śAmerican Idol,â€ť NBCâ€™s singing competition â€śThe Voiceâ€ť hits the road for a summer tour. The tour features soul singer Josh Kaufman, this seasonâ€™s winner, as well as runner-up Jake Worthington and third-place finisher Christina Grimmie. Unlike past tours, however, this one will feature performers from multiple seasons, including Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin, the previous seasonâ€™s winner, and Dia Frampton, one of the breakouts from the showâ€™s inaugural season. Expect plenty of duets and collaborations.
Over The Edge @ Miller Park, 9 a.m.
Face your fears while helping Wisconsin Special Olympic athletes to realize their dreams. Over The Edge is an organization that holds rappelling events as a fundraiser for nonprofits, and the Milwaukee event gives participants a chance to rappel down one of the cityâ€™s most iconic buildings: Miller Park. Participants who raise $1,000 will get the chance to slide down a rope assisted by a team of professionals. Those who raise $1,500 or more and feel a bit squeamish about going alone can take advantage of a buddy rappel.
Monday, July 21
Jack White w/ Benjamin Booker @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Retiring The White Stripes certainly hasnâ€™t hurt Jack Whiteâ€™s brand any. With his many side projects and, more recently, his solo albums the singer/guitarist has continued to enjoy the kind of â€śrock legend in progressâ€ť cache otherwise reserved almost exclusively for Dave Grohl. Whiteâ€™s latest album Lazaretto was influenced by a series of plays and short stories he wrote when he was 19 and features typically eclectic songs skipping across and often melding a range of styles, from operatic hard rock to choir-driven blues. The album received nearly as much press for its unorthodox vinyl release as it did for the music itself. A special deluxe edition of the record features hidden songs, a secret song intro and, most imaginatively, a hologram that appears when the record is played.
Tuesday, July 22
Panic! At The Disco w/ Walk the Moon and Magic Man @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Panic! At the Disco have a complicated relationship with emo. They debuted with a decidedly Fall Out Boy-esque sound, but on their sophomore album, Pretty. Odd., they took a sharp turn toward Beatles-inspired baroque-pop, revealing themselves to be a much more creatively restless band than anybody could have guessed from their straightforward inaugural 2006 hit â€śI Write Sins Not Tragedies.â€ť Apparently not thrilled with the new direction, founding members Ryan Ross and Jon Walker left the band in 2009, but Spencer Smith and Brendon Urie carried on as a duo, continuing their baroque flirtations while drawing from modern indie-rock on their 2011 album Vices & Virtues. Their latest release Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, however, is less of an either/or proposition. It finds them striking a middle ground between emo theatrics and their more traditionalist pop leanings.
Wednesday, July 23
Phantom of the Opera @ Marcus Center, 8 p.m.
Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera has become one of the most enduring Broadway musicals of all time. Debuting in 1986 with music from Andrew Lloyd Weber, the tale of a mysterious musician and his pursuit of a beautiful opera singer has continued to wow audiences with its epic scale and unusual juxtaposition of romance and horror; it reached its 10,000th Broadway performance in 2012. This grand-scale Cameron Mackintosh-helmed production of the musical, which features a cast and orchestra of more than 50 players, runs at the Marcus Center from July 23 through Aug. 3.