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This Week in Milwaukee: Dec. 1-7

Nov. 29, 2016
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Thursday, Dec.1
Whitney @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
While frontman Cullen Omori set off on a solo career after the breakup of the Chicago power-pop ensemble Smith Westerns, his former bandmates Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich started a new group called Whitney. That unassuming band name really doesn’t do justice to what a treasure their debut album is. An exuberant, relentlessly hooky blend of pop, soul and psychedelia with periodic traces of folk and country, Light Upon the Lake raked in rave reviews from publications like Paste and Pitchfork and earned the band a vocal fan in music legend Elton John, who was so enthusiastic about the record that he interviewed the group for a New York Times magazine feature this fall. The band headlines one of Turner Hall Ballroom’s Ten Buck Shows tonight.

Radio Milwaukee Music Awards @ Radio Milwaukee Studio, 6:30 p.m.
Each year, Radio Milwaukee 88.9 invites listeners to vote for their favorite Milwaukee band, album, song and music video of the year. It’ll announce the winners of those categories and others at its annual Radio Milwaukee Music Awards, which feature performances from some of the many artists nominated. This year’s lineup includes Milo, Soul Low, D’Amato and NO/NO, along with DJ Ian Ewing of Noh Life. 

Friday, Dec. 2
The Head and the Heart w/ Fitz and the Tantrums, Jimmy Eat World and Bishop Briggs @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Milwaukee’s alternative station FM 102.1 always rounds up a wide array of talent for its annual Big Snow Shows. This year’s is no different, with a lineup featuring several headliners culled from very different corners of modern rock, including the folk-rockers The Head and the Heart, the nostalgic electro-pop group Fitz and the Tantrums and emo pioneers Jimmy Eat World. This tour comes at a particularly interesting and bittersweet time in The Head and the Heart’s career. After a couple of hugely successful LPs for the indie label Sub Pop, the group moved to Warner Brothers Records for their new album, Signs of Light, which glosses up their sound significantly under producer Jay Joyce—best known for his work with country starts like Eric Church and Carrie Underwood. Unfortunately, the group is touring behind the album without a core member, co-founder Josiah Johnson, who has been on hiatus from the band to focus on his battle with addiction. His struggles inform many of the record’s songs.

Rx Drugs w/ Split Single and Midnight Reruns @ Anodyne Coffee, 8 p.m.
You’d be hard pressed to name many Milwaukee bands with a more impressive pedigree than Rx Drugs, which pairs former Championship frontman Joe Crockett with Promise Ring/Dashboard Confessional bassist Scott Schoenbeck, keyboardist Dustin Dobernig and drummer Justin Krol, a veteran of Hugh Bob and the Hustle, and at least half a dozen local other local acts. Blame the band’s busy schedule, perhaps, for this delayed release show. It was this summer that the group released their debut album, Future Friction, a melancholy yet deeply inviting set of ’80s-shaded rock ’n’ roll, but the group is only now getting around to playing this official release show. They’ll be joined on the bill by Split Single, the new band from Superchunk and Bob Mould Band veteran Jason Narducy, which released their sharp sophomore album Metal Frames in November.

Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet @ Latino Arts, 7:30 p.m.
Under the leadership of trumpeter Gabriel Alegria, also the Associate Director of Jazz Studies at New York University, the Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet puts a modern, decidedly Peruvian spin on traditional Latin jazz. The ensemble’s performance begins at 7:30 p.m. but attendees would do well to arrive early since the concert follows a 5 p.m. opening reception for the Latino Arts Gallery’s latest exhibit, “Pastoral Testimony,” featuring the drawings of Rafael Francisco Salas.

Leroy Airmaster @ Von Trier, 6:30 p.m.
Local blues fans have a new Friday night destination. Every Friday night in its back room from 6:30-9:30 p.m., Von Trier will host a performance from harmonica master Steve Cohen, drummer Marc Wilson and bassist Dave Kasik, who will be joined each week by a guest. This week’s guest is a player the band has a long history with: guitarist Bill Stone, who for decades has played alongside the trio in the band Leroy Airmaster. Future guests for the trio’s Friday night residency include Stokes, Billy Flynn and Peter Roller.

Brewers Clubhouse Sale @ Miller Park, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
It’ll be months before Miller Park hosts another baseball game, so fans looking for ways to pass the time before spring training should relish the change to visit the stadium this weekend for the team’s annual clubhouse sale. Held in the stadium’s visiting clubhouse, the sale features up to 75% off on Brewers shirts, jackets and hats, as well as a variety of game-used merchandise. Customers will receive a free 2016 Brewers yearbook with each purchase—while supplies last. (Also Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.)

Saturday, Dec. 3
Money B and Young Hump of Digital Underground w/ Elephantroom and The Rusty @ Red Dot, 9 p.m.
In recent years, Wauwatosa’s Red Dot has become a kind of secret destination for old-school hip-hop acts, hosting performances from veterans like Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. This weekend it hosts another one: Digital Underground—or at least what’s left of Digital Underground. The group officially disbanded in 2008, but founding member Money-B has carried on touring behind more or less the same act, this time with new member Young Hump filling founder Shock G’s role as the “Humpty Hump” character. Digital Underground, of course, is best remembered for their novelty hit “The Humpty Dance,” but their contributions to hip-hop run far deeper than that. They also helped launch the career of 2Pac, who appeared in the “Humpty Dance” video before launching his famed solo career. Digital Underground also produced and guested on 2Pac’s hit single “I Get Around,” which Money B continues to include in his live sets.

Sunday, Dec. 4
WMSE Big Band Grandstand Benefit w/ Live at the Sands @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 4 p.m.
WMSE has no shortage of music savants on its volunteer staff, but few of them are more knowledgeable about their respective genres than Dewey Gill, who plays some of the rarest music from the swing era on his Sunday morning “Big Band Grandstand” show. For three years running, Gill has also hosted an annual gala and fundraiser for the community radio station. This year’s lineup features Live at the Sands, an act that pays tribute to Frank Sinatra and Count Basie and the duo’s legendary 1966 live album, which featured standards like “Come Fly with Me” and “It Was a Very Good Year.” The Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra will perform, as well.

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