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This Week in Milwaukee: Nov. 3-9

Nov. 1, 2016
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Friday, Nov. 4
The Jayhawks w/ Folk Uke @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The Jayhawks emerged from the flourishing Twin Cities music scene of the ’80s with a sound and feel deeply rooted in the soil of American music. Their 1989 album on Twin/Tone Records, Blue Earth, gained them a nationwide college-radio cult following on the strength of the superb, often bittersweet songs of Mark Olson and Gary Louris. After Olson left at the end of 1995, Louris took charge and led the band in other directions. The band was dormant for much of the 2000s, but Olson and Louris reunited for occasional shows beginning in 2009. History has a way of repeating itself, though, and Olson departed once again after the 2011 reunion album Mockingbird Time. Louris has carried on without him, recruiting Tucker Martine and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck to produce the group’s latest album, Paging Mr. Proust.

Laughing Liberally @ Comedy Sportz, 8 p.m.
This presidential election has been equal parts hilarious are terrifying (the scale tips depending on whatever Donald Trump’s chances of actually getting elected are at any given time). With just a few days to go before America heads to the ballot box, though, tensions are at an all-time high, which makes this as good a time as any to step back and laugh a little bit. A mainstay of the progressive blogosphere whose work has been featured on NPR, Salon, the New York Times and the Huffington Post, comedian and talk radio host Matthew Filipowicz hosts this night of left-leaning comedy, which will also feature comedians Addie Blanchard, Patrick Tomlinson, Bekah Cosgrove, Ton Johnson and Marcos Lara, along with the sketch comedy group The Accountants Of Homeland Security.

Blackberry Smoke w/ Luke Combs @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
The members of southern rock act Blackberry Smoke are on the road more often than not. They spent years touring throughout the United States as a supporting act for artists such as Zac Brown Band, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but with their powerful 2012 album The Whippoorwill they established themselves as headliners with a set of powerful, haunting blues rock accompanied by soaring pipe organ. The group’s latest records, 2015’s Holding All The Roses and the just-released Like an Arrow, have scaled back some of the jamming that marked their previous releases in favor of tighter country-rock songs designed to please a wider audience. Both records debuted at number one of on the country charts.

Dia de los Muertos Celebration @ Latino Arts, 5 p.m.
Most cultures regard death as a scary, mysterious thing, and their traditions around it are accordingly solemn. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Each year, Mexico’s Day of the Dead honors the departed with bright colors and cheerful festivities. Latino Arts, Inc. hosts one of the Midwest’s largest arts exhibitions in conjunction with the holiday. In addition to the requisite colorful skeletons, this year’s exhibit includes a sub-exhibit from photographer Eddee Daniel and environmental artist Melanie Ariens called “The Kinnickinnic River: Death and Resurrection” and an exhibit from fifth graders from the University School of Milwaukee called “Ventanas al Pasado (Windows to the Past),” which does indeed use actual windows. This opening reception for the exhibit will feature a 7:30 p.m. from Mariachi Flor de Toloache, an all-female mariachi band.

Saturday, Nov. 5
Brett Newski w/ The Kickback and Detlef Schrempf @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Milwaukee indie-pop songwriter Brett Newski has spent much of the last few years on the road, logging countless gigs around Vietnam, Germany, South Africa and the American Midwest. All of those travels inspired his latest album, Land, Air, Sea, Garage, a celebration of his nomadic lifestyle. Even more than his self-effacing 2016 EP Hi-Fi D.I.Y., the album is quirky and lighthearted, indebted equally to the sugary power-pop of Matthew Sweet and the boyish wonder of The Modern Lovers. Following a handful of shows opening for the Violent Femmes on the West Coast late last month, Newski plays this local release show at the Cactus Club.

The Naked and Famous w/ XYLØ and The Chain Gang of 1974 @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
The latest Naked and Famous album arrives amid some Fleetwood Mac-style drama. Since their last album, the Alan Moulder-produced In Rolling Waves, the New Zealand alternative rock band’s co-vocalists Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith ended their romantic relationship, a split that nearly broke up the band. Instead they decided to carry on. Inevitably, that break up casts a shadow over some of the album, which Powers produced himself in his newly adopted home town of Los Angeles. Some of them are wistful and remorseful, but others are loud and vigilant, drawing more than ever from the rumbling low end of contemporary EDM.

John Prine w/ Billy Prine @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
One of the most influential songwriters of his era, John Prine gained national attention with his 1971 self-titled debut, which would eventually rank 458th on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time. The acclaimed singer-songwriter survived a battle with throat cancer in the late ’90s. It left him with a much hoarser growl, but he’s put that gravelly voice to good use on his recent run of poignant studio albums, including 2011’s bare-bones The Singing Mailman Delivers and this year’s For Better, or Worse. Recorded after surviving a second bout with cancer, the new album is a bit of an anomaly for Prine. It’s both a covers album and a duets album, pairing Prine with an all-star cast of all-female country singers like Susan Tedeschi, Alison Krauss, Lee Ann Womack, Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert for renditions of some of Prine’s favorite classic country songs.

Flea Bitten Dawgs @ Beulah Brinton House, 5:45 p.m.
The Bay View House Concert Series provides one of the city’s most unique live music experiences: the chance to see live music in a cozy home venue. This show at the Beaulah Brinton House, the home of the Bay View Historical Society) will feature a performance from the ukulele jazz group Flea Bitten Dawgs, and begins with a 6 p.m. ukulele workshop about chords. Then there will be complementary appetizers and beverages (including beer and wine) ahead of the 8 p.m. concert. The cost for the workshop and concert is $30.

Tuesday, Nov. 8
Lecrae w/ Ambre @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
When former Clipse rapper Malice announced that he had converted to Christianity, in the process changing his name to No Malice, there was one rapper he sought out for guidance: Lecrae. It made sense: Lecrae is perhaps the biggest name in Christian rap, a status the Houston native cemented in 2014 when his most recent studio album Anomaly topped the Billboard charts—an almost unheard of feat for a Christian artist. Of course part of that success is in part due to Lecrae’s appeal to secular audiences, as well, which has made him a controversial figure in Christian rap circles, as has his vocal support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The strain of the spotlight has at times caused him to go into depression and question his faith, he admitted in an open letter last month titled “The Pains of Humanity Have Been Draining Me,” but he’s remained committed to touring.
 
Wednesday, Nov. 9
Richard Shindell @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Since the genre’s very beginning, folk songwriters have been putting themselves in other people’s shoes, but few have taken it to further extremes than Richard Shindell. The veteran troubadour has sung songs from the points of view of soldiers, widows, junkies, thieves and saints—his songs show a particular sympathy for societal outcasts, but he can humanize just about any subject. The Argentinian songwriter has released more than a dozen records, the latest of which is Careless, which highlights his electric guitar playing and features a more bluesy feel than some past efforts, though as always it puts Shindell’s lyrics remain front and center.

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