Jan. 22 - Jan. 28
This Week in Milwaukee
Trampled by Turtles @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Bluegrass thrives on dynamism—part of its thrill is seeing musicians gleefully blitz through complex chord changes and solos with whirlwind speed. Trampled By Turtles, despite what their animal namesake suggests, play as fast as any other bluegrass outfit on the market, while keeping the genre’s rootsy integrity intact, which can’t always be said of some of today’s punkier bluegrass offshoots. This Duluth, Minn., band’s flashy shows have made them rising stars in the modern bluegrass scene and the jam scene alike.
Friday, Jan. 23
Decibully @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Def Jam rappers aren’t the only ones subject to development hell. Milwaukee’s saturnine indie-rockers Decibully took years to craft a follow-up to 2005’s Sing Out America, only to learn their one-time label, Polyvinyl, has no interest in releasing it (a slap in the face, considering how the label still makes time for all the side projects that Tim and Mike Kinsella crap out). It could be quite a while until the band finds a distributor for their new World Travels Fast, a sonically amorphous collection of trans-global Americana, but in the meantime the band is streaming the record online, testifying however unintentionally to the album’s themes of instant communication.
Cannibal! The Musical @ The Times Cinema, 11:50 p.m.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s love affair with musicals predates South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Team America: World Police. It began with 1996’s remarkably confident student film Cannibal! The Musical, a comically exaggerated account of the trial of Alferd Packer, a hapless accused cannibal. Though nothing in the movie lives up to its frantic opening scene—a hilariously violent re-enactment of Packer’s alleged crimes—the film finds time for several incongruously chipper parodies of Oklahoma!-styled pomp, including “Let’s Build a Snowman,” a song sung in spite of gruesome frostbite. (Also Saturday.)
Bob Uecker’s Brewers Winter Warm-up @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
The Milwaukee Brewers ended their volatile 2008 season by making the playoffs for the first time in a quarter century, though their postseason was cut short by a crushing 6-2 loss to the eventual World Series champs. Though some of the talent that made last year’s postseason possible has been snatched by teams with far deeper pockets, there’s still palpable buzz around Brew City’s perennial underdogs, which Mr. Baseball himself will capitalize on tonight with Bob Uecker’s annual Brewers Winter Warm-up. This variety-like show combines stories from Uecker’s long history with the sport to skits involving members of a team looking to make back-to-back postseasons for the first time in franchise history.
Eileen Ivers @ The Wilson Center for the Arts, 8 p.m.
A prime stint as the lead fiddler with the Irish dance troupe Riverdance gave Eileen Ivers her breakthrough in 1995, and a mournful contribution to the Gangs of New York soundtrack, “Lament for Stalker Wallace,” increased her notoriety in Celtic music circles in 2002. Ivers’ latest work, however, is perhaps her most ambitious. The violinist is touring behind a piece titled Beyond the Bog Road, a richly researched history of Irish emigration to North America told through music, dance and film. This conceptual show illustrates how traditional Irish music changed as it cross-pollinated with native North American musical traditions. (Also Saturday.)
Saturday, Jan. 24
Apart From That @ The Alchemist Theatre and Lounge, 10 p.m.
This weekend sees the introduction of Transmutative Cinema, a free film series with a fondness for outsider independent movies that provide more questions than answers. The series, which runs most Saturday and Sunday nights at the Alchemist Theatre and Lounge, debuts with a screening of the 2006 drama Apart From That, which charts a seemingly unrelated ensemble of characters, including an exhibitionist who finds her audience by phoning in fake calls to local fire departments and a student group that dances for a hospital patient on her deathbed. The characters have little in common aside from all being at once sympathetic and reprehensible in their efforts to be approved by others. (Also Sunday, 8 p.m.)
Reverend Raven and His Chain Smoking Altar Boys w/ Hounds Tooth @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
If he were so inclined, Reverend Raven could go to sleep every night on a pile of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards he’s earned since the ’90s as one of the city’s most popular blues players. His brand of barroom blues is cutting and capricious, marked by wild harmonica solos. A younger addition to the city’s bar-blues scene, Hounds Tooth has already emerged as staples of just about every regional blues festival worth its salt, thanks in large part to singer Jamie Brace, whose potent wail is loud enough to set off car alarms from blocks away.
Cradle of Filth @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
With growing disinterest in gothic, pulse-pounding metal in the United States, veteran English rockers Cradle of Filth now spend most of their time touring Europe. The band’s latest album, Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder, won’t do much to win the band a new stateside following, but it will please the established faithful. This time out the band supplements their skull-crushing riffs and from-the-grave vocals with a themed song cycle about Gilles de Rais, the French soldier who fought side-by-side with Joan of Arc—then emerged infamously as a serial killer. Ambitious and almost proggy in its grandeur, the album takes a mostly sympathetic look at the storied child murderer.