This Week in Milwaukee: March 2-8, 2017
Thursday, March 2
Kristin Chenoweth @ Kohler Memorial Theatre, 8 p.m.
Prolific actress Kristin Chenoweth reached a wider audience with roles on TV series like “The West Wing,” “Pushing Daises” and “Glee,” but she’s best known for her extraordinary Broadway run. Since winning a Tony Award in 1999 for her performance as Sally in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, she’s appeared in a parade of high-profile Broadway productions, including Wicked and On The Twentieth Century—both of which she received Tony nominations for. Along the way, Chenoweth has also recorded six albums, including her latest, The Art of Elegance, a trip through the Great American Songbook that includes standards by George and Ira Gershwin, Frank Sinatra, Ray Noble and Hoagy Carmichael. She appears at the Kohler Memorial Theatre as part of the venue’s Distinguished Guest Series.
Friday, March 3
Strangelander w/ Etherium Ensemble @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Jazz guitarist Steve Peplin rounded up a cast of elite Milwaukee talent for his latest project, Strangelander, a band including De La Buena mainstay Dave Wake, saxophonist Aaron Gardner and singer Amanda Huff. Given their collective experience, the septet covers about as much ground as you’d expect on their self-titled debut album, slithering back and forth between gypsy jazz, classical music and exotica on a set that’s as gorgeous as it is impossible to pigeonhole. At this CD release show, the band will be joined by Etherium Ensemble, a soul-jazz group that puts a funky, downtempo spin on songs from acts as unlikely as Radiohead and Nirvana.
Saturday, March 4
JD Eicher w/ Ruby Rose Fox @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
JD Eicher hails from Youngstown, Ohio, but you could be forgiven for assuming he comes from somewhere with warmer weather and a prominent coastline based on his music. His music exudes the same beach-forward, happy vibes as Jack Johnson and Sister Hazel; he’s the kind of guy who literally whistles on some of his songs. Last year, he released his first album since retiring the band name JD Eicher and the Goodnights, The Middle Distance, as well as an EP to accompany the latest Nicholas Sparks novel, Two by Two.
Sunday, March 5
Rockabilly Chili @ MSOE Kern Center, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Everybody loves a good chili cook off. They’re a staple of corner bars and office parties alike, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many on the scale of WMSE’s annual Rockabilly Chili contest—the station’s largest annual fundraiser and one of the largest chili celebrations in the Midwest. This year’s event features chili from more than 50 area restaurants and caterers, competing for awards in five categories: best meat, best vegetarian, most unique chili, best heat and best vendor display-presentation. Between chili samples, guests can enjoy Miller Park sausage race-style chili pepper races, a lively children’s area and music. Tickets are $12 and include four chili samples; additional sampling tickets are $1 each. Bring two non-perishable goods to donate to the Hunger Task Force and you’ll get two extra sampling tickets.
Uli Jon Roth @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Before they glammed up their sound and became a hair metal band in the ’80s, Scorpions were one of the most inventive metal acts of their time, especially during their mid-to-late ’70s run, when Uli Jon Roth served as their lead guitarist and a primary songwriter. Unhappy with the band’s commercial ambitions, Roth split from the group in 1978 and went on to continue exploring neo-classical metal—first with his band Electric Sun and then as a solo artist. He also invented his own guitar, the six-octave Sky guitar, which was designed to evoke the higher registers of a violin. Many of his solo albums are planted solidly in prog-rock (he’s recorded a few of them with orchestras), but recently, Roth seems to be in a Scorpions state of mind. His last couple of live albums: 2015’s Scorpions Revisited and last year’s Tokyo Tapes Revisited—Live in Japan feature new arrangements of songs from his Scorpions run.
Tuesday, March 7
Joe Bonamassa @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Bluesman Joe Bonamassa has had a long and storied career for a player who hasn’t even hit 40 yet, but he benefited from an early start. He began playing at age 8, and by 12 he was already opening for B.B. King. Though born and raised in Utica, N.Y., Bonamassa shreds through the blues more like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and other British guitarists than any of his American predecessors. Perhaps for that reason, his albums have fared better on the U.K. charts than in the States. His 2014 album, Different Shades of Blue, was a guitar lover’s paradise, recorded with 20 rare vintage guitars and 13 amps, all of which he listed in descriptive detail in the liner notes. It’s that wonky attention to detail that has made Bonamassa such a favorite of blues purists. Last year, he topped the blues charts once again with his 12th studio album, Blues of Desperation, another hour’s worth of all-original tunes.
We The Kings w/ Cute Is What We Aim For, Plaid Brixx and Astro Lasso @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
From Panic! at the Disco to Fall Out Boy and Paramore, many of the biggest emo acts of the ’00s have survived and thrived by moving their sound away from pop-punk and toward pop plain and simple, flirting with Top 40 sounds. For We The Kings, that move wasn’t all that much of a stretch: They were plenty poppy to begin with. The band’s self-titled 2007 debut was a fairly standard, Jimmy Eat World-inspired pop-punk album, but their second record, 2009’s Smile Kid, was so youth-skewing it featured a cameo from then-Disney starlet Demi Lovato. From there, they’ve only grown poppier, especially on their last couple of albums, 2014’s Stripped and 2015’s Strange Love—both of which were produced by former Metro Station member Blake Healy. They’ll be joined on this bill by fellow ’00s pop-punk mainstays Cute Is What We Aim For, who have endured a long cycle of lineup changes and hiatuses in the nearly nine years since their last record, 2008’s Rotation.
Wednesday, March 8
Ina Garten: A Conversation with The Barefoot Contessa @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
The warmest and most relaxed of the Food Network’s many personalities, Ina Garten has hosted “Barefoot Contessa” for the network since 2002, showcasing recipes and hosting tips she’s featured in cookbooks. Even if you’ve seen just an episode or two, there’s a good chance you’ve heard her lovingly reference Jeffrey, her often-off-screen husband. It happens so frequently that “30 Rock” made a joke of it: Tina Fey aspirationally described Garten as “that woman on the Food Network whose husband only comes home on the weekends and spends the rest of the time eating and drinking with her gay friends.” Garten pays homage to Jeffrey, once again, with her latest cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, which compiles recipes for his favorite dishes. It’s the perfect gift to share with that somewhat-absentee significant other in your own life. Autographed copies of the book will be available at this appearance, where Garten will participate in an interview and Q&A session moderated by author Deborah Davis.