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This Week in Milwaukee

Dr. Manhattan, Anthony Bourdain, Grant Hart, Pablove Benefit Concert and Langhorne Slim

Jan. 20, 2010
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Thursday, Jan. 21

Dr. Manhattan w/ Direct Hit, Handguns and Number 9 Hard @ The Borg Ward, 8 p.m.

Illinois’ Dr. Manhattan released their first album on Vagrant Records and are regulars on the Warped Tour circuit, but they aren’t anywhere near the by-the-numbers emo-punk band suggested by that biography. The group’s second album, last summer’s Jam Dreams, is a bizarre quirk-fest with shades of the art-punk of The Mae Shi, the nervy post-punk of Public Image Limited, the screamo of The Blood Brothers and the psychedelic fits of The Flaming Lips. It’s the type of restless, manic record that promises a spectacle of a live show. Tonight the group shares an $8 bill with one of Milwaukee’s smartest pop-punk groups, Direct Hit.

Opera After Hours @ Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 7:30 p.m.

As part of its ongoing Thursday Conservatory Nights series, Helen Bader Hall evokes the early 1900s tonight, hosting a candlelit, cabaret-style performance from the Florentine Opera Studio. The company will be revisiting popular European cabarets from the ’20s and ’30s. An intermingling of serious and lighthearted compositions will capture the era’s glamorous (but often loud and bawdy) sensibilities.

Friday, Jan. 22

Anthony Bourdain @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.

In the past decade, cable television has cranked out more celebrity chefs than can be counted on two hands, but Anthony Bourdain earned his initial notoriety not through TV but by writing Kitchen Confidential, a tell-all memoir that revealed the restaurant industry’s dirty secrets, infamously cautioning diners against ordering fish on a Monday. The book’s real intention wasn’t to scare readers away from restaurants, though, but rather to encourage them to sample new foods, a cause he makes a better case for on his popular Travel Channel program “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” where he eats some of the most exotic food the planet has to offer. He’ll speak about his travels, philosophies on food and experiences in the restaurant industry tonight.

Saturday, Jan. 23

Grant Hart w/ Surgeons in Heat @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.

While his band mate and eventual rival Bob Mould went on to cement his legacy with a prolific, impressively consistent solo career, Hsker D’s more overlooked co-lead Grant Hart struggled after the band’s breakup, recording only erratically as he fought through periods of drug addiction. He’s achieved moments of glory, though. His 1999 album Good News for Modern Man was an accomplished, inviting power-pop record, and its follow-up, Hot Wax— released a full decade later, in 2009—is even more adventurous, pairing him with members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion. Don’t expect Hart to recreate that album’s baroque sound live, however. In concert, he prefers to play solo with a guitar and amplifier.

Saturday, Jan. 23

Bryan Lee w/ Katz Sass @ Vnuk’s Lounge, 8:30 p.m.

A Wisconsin-born longtime staple of the New Orleans blues scene, guitarist Bryan Lee splits the difference between the Midwest and the South, conjuring a sound with the celebratory rowdiness of Bourbon Street and the electric bite of Chicago blues. The blind performer, sometimes billed as “The Braille Blues Daddy,” has recorded at a workmanlike pace over the past 20 years. His latest album is 2009’s My Lady Don’t Love My Lady, which pairs Lee with a brass section and features marquee guest guitar spots from Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Pablove Benefit Concert @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.

Since losing his son Pablo to a Wilms’ tumor, Milwaukee native Jeff Castelaz’s Pablove Foundation has strived to increase awareness about childhood cancer and raise money for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where Pablo underwent treatment. A one-time staple of the Milwaukee music scene who managed the city’s most successful acts from the ’90s, including The Gufs, Citizen King and The Promise Ring, Castelaz has assembled a litany of big names in Milwaukee music past and present for tonight’s Pablove Benefit Concert: Fever Marlene, The Gufs, The Lackloves, Maritime, Mike Benign, Old Man Malcolm, Pet Engine and Truth in Fiction. The bill is rich in local music history: Mike Benign, for instance, was the singer-songwriter for the ’90s alternative group Blue in the Face, while Pet Engine was one of the city’s most ubiquitous alterna-pop bands of that decade, staples of Summerfest and one of the few bands to receive regular radio play at a time when Milwaukee radio wasn’t as hospitable to local music as it is now.

We Are Your Father @ Stonefly Brewery, 9 p.m.

The restless Milwaukee rock trio We Are Your Father subverts traditional blues structures with wild slashes of wiry, distorted guitars, drawing from the grind of metal, the showy guitar heroics of math rock and the nimble groove of funk music. For a trio, they have remarkable range, seldom exploring the same sound twice on their self-titled EP, which they recorded with Call Me Lightning’s Shane Hochstetler last year at his Howl Street Recordings studio.

Ryan Magner w/ The Backbeat, Silent Anthem @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

After a five-year break from playing music prompted by the breakup of his former band, Habitat, and a move to New York, Milwaukee native Ryan Magner returned to his home city with intentions of making a name for himself in local singer-songwriter circles. Tonight he releases his latest EP, Beatific Atelier, a collection of tuneful, Jason Mraz-styled folk-pop that supplements Magner’s acoustic guitar with bongos, whistles and piano. Tonight’s cover includes a copy of the EP.

Tuesday, Jan. 26

Langhorne Slim w/ April Smith and the Great Picture Show @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Langhorne Slim is the more dramatic, fitting stage name of Brooklyn songwriter Sean Scolnick, a whirlwind banjo player and folk, rock and blues enthusiast with a strident, unabashedly nasal voice. He’s too self-aware to be a straight-faced old-timemusic revivalist, though, and his hooky songs borrow from the modest pop sensibilities of ’80s college rock and alt-country. Slim’s latest album, Be Set Free, released last fall, is his fullest yet, padded by the rich, symphonic production of The Decemberists’ Chris Funk.


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