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This Week in Milwaukee: Aug. 18-24

Aug. 16, 2016
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Photo by Holly Whittlef
Thursday, Aug. 18
Irish Fest @ Summerfest Grounds
As Irish music and dance have grown more popular over the last couple of decades, Irish Fest has risen to the occasion, welcoming fuller and fuller lineups each year. This year’s is typically loaded, with more than 100 bands playing its 17 stages over four days, including returning favorites like Gaelic Storm, Frogwater, The Kilkennys, Reilly and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. There’s plenty going on between the music stages, too, including a cultural village, a Celtic marketplace, a red hair and freckles contest, cooking demonstrations, a Celtic canine area (yes you can pet them), whiskey tastings, tug-of-war and hurling competitions and a 5K run/walk. (Through Sunday, Aug. 21.)

X w/ Dead Rock West @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
For those who missed the pioneering Los Angeles punk band X when they played a free show at Juneau Park for Sprecher Brewery’s 30th anniversary party last summer, the band makes this return appearance to Milwaukee. It’s been a productive year for the band. Prolific as ever, singer-songwriter John Doe released another new solo record as well as a book about a subject he’s dearly familiar with, Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History Of L.A. Punk. Even better: This year, guitarist Billy Zoom made his return to the stage after sitting out a tour while getting treatment for cancer last year.

Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival @ Wilson Center
More than 50 guitarists from more than 35 cities around the world will show off their chops this weekend at the fourth annual Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival. In addition to competitions in four categories—rock/blues, jazz, classical and fingerstyle—the three-day event will feature headlining performances from fingerstyle master Andy McKee, guitar savant Al Di Meola and the classical ensemble Duo Montesinos Tamayo, as well as a variety of free daytime activities, including guitar master classes and concerts in the Biloba Beer Garden. For the complete schedule, visit wilson-center.com. (Through Saturday, Aug. 20.)

Friday, Aug. 19
Zoo a la Carte @ Milwaukee County Zoo
As anybody who’s visited the Milwaukee County Zoo knows, the zoo’s dining options are limited, to say the least. That’s not true, however, during the zoo’s annual A La Carte festival, which this year features food from more than 25 area restaurants, including Saz’s, The Hala Guys, Café el Sol, Blackfinn Ameripub and Hue. The entertainment isn’t half bad, either. The first three nights of the event feature a big 8 p.m. headliner: Los Lobos on Thursday, The Spinners on Friday and Soul Asylum on Saturday. (Through Sunday, Aug. 21.)

Kesha and the Creepies @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Whatever you think of Kesha’s music—and to be sure, it’s music that invites strong opinions—it was impossible not to feel for the singer when she came forward and accused her longtime producer Dr. Luke of sexual assault. Observers were appalled this fall when a judge refused to free Kesha from her contact with Sony Music, in essence ruling that the pop singer may have to continue working with the man she alleges tormented her physically and emotionally for a decade. Her career is now in limbo, and it remains to be seen whether Sony will even let her release a new record, but in the meantime, Kesha is taking matters into her own hands, touring behind a more rock-minded show with a band she’s dubbed the Creepies. And lest there’s any doubt about how Kesha feels about her situation, she’s dubbed the band’s tour “The Fuck The World Tour.”

Driveway Thriftdwellers w/ Derek Pritzl and the Gamble @ Anodyne Coffee Roasters, 8 p.m.
The twang may suggest the South, but Driveway Thriftdwellers’ accents are decidedly Midwestern. At this show, the Madison-Milwaukee alt-country quintet will release their debut album, Cutover Country—11 tracks of hard-edged storytelling and escapist honkytonk with shades of Son Volt and Waylon Jennings. They’ll share the bill with Derek Pritzl, a rootsy singer-songwriter who hails from the tiny village of Valders in Manitowoc County.

Fish Fry & A Flick: ‘Trainwreck’ @ Discovery World, 5 p.m.
Amy Schumer had already established herself as a top stand-up comic and a TV presence with her Comedy Central sketch show, “Inside Amy Schumer.” But it was last summer’s Judd Apatow-directed romantic comedy Trainwreck that made her a star with general audiences. Schumer plays a commitment-phobic magazine writer whose attitude toward relationships is challenged by an accomplished sports doctor (Bill Hader) who happens to be best friends with LeBron James. Discovery World screens the film for free tonight at dusk as part of its Fish Fry & A Flick movie series.

Saturday, Aug. 20
IndiaFest @ Humboldt Park, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Milwaukee’s festivals at the Summerfest grounds get the most attention, but the city hosts a number of worthwhile ethnic festivals away from the lake, too. One of the newest and most exciting of the bunch is IndiaFest, a daylong, free party in Bay View’s Humboldt Park celebrating the music, culture and cuisine of India. In addition to folk dancing and classical and Bollywood-style Indian music, there will be a wide variety of authentic Indian dishes, including dosas—a crepe-like pancake, and biryanis—a heavily spiced chicken and vegetable rice dish. Vendors will be on hand as well, selling clothing, jewelry and art. This year’s festival opens with a ceremony celebrating the 70th anniversary of India’s independence, featuring a parade, flag hoisting and the Indian national anthem.

Lil Uzi Vert @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Like so many mixtape rappers, Lil Uzi Vert came up fast. This spring, the 22-year-old Philly native released his breakout mixtape, Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World; by the summer its hit single “Money Longer” was all over the radio, and the industry had pegged him as the next big thing. Will he make good on the promise, or will he become another Bobby Shmurda and flame out before he gets the chance? Time will tell, but in a sign of just how well things are going for the young upstart, his scheduled show at The Rave has been relocated upstairs to the venue’s larger Eagles Ballroom—not bad at all for an act with just one hit to his name.

Caley Conway and the Lucy Cukes w/ Boom Boom Klap, Abby Jeanne and Kyle John Kenowski @ Company Brewing, 10 p.m.
Milwaukee singer-songwriter Caley Conway writes about heavy subjects—relationships, betrayals, people pushed to the brink, the burden of expectations—but she does so with an extraordinarily light touch, delivering her quippy lyrics behind a barely concealed smirk. Think of her as a more laidback Gillian Welch—if Welch doused her records in casual profanity. At this show, Conway will celebrate the release of her latest record, Silk For Life, as well as a bittersweet milestone: It’ll be her last show with her band the Lucy Cukes, which decided to go their separate ways after recording the record. They’ll share the bill with folksinger Kyle John Kenowski, glam-soul singer Abby Jeanne and live hip-hop/soul quartet, Boom Boom Klap.

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