This Week in Milwaukee
Denis Leary, Aziz Ansari, Summer Soulstice Festival and MGMT
Thursday, June 17
Denis Leary w/ Adam Ferrara and Lenny Clarke @ The Riverside
Theater, 8 p.m.
While many of the stand-up comedians who rose to fame
during the ’80s have faded into obscurity, Denis Leary has proved
himself remarkably versatile. He parlayed his acerbic observational
comedy into MTV stardom in the ’90s, then enjoyed a robust film career
(most memorably appearing in The Sandlot and The Ref) before starring as
a troubled firefighter in the FX comedy-drama “Rescue Me.” That show,
which launches its sixth season this month, pairs Leary on screen with
fellow stand-ups Adam Ferrara and Lenny Clarke, who join him tonight as
part of the second “Rescue Me Comedy Tour.”
Chick Corea Freedom Band @ The Northern Lights Theater, 8 p.m.
As a solo artist and as a player for Miles Davis in the 1960s,
pianist and composer Chick Corea was instrumental in shaping the sound
of electric jazz fusion, though in the decades since the ’70s he’s
increasingly dabbled in acoustic settings. Corea’s latest group, the
Chick Corea Freedom Band, reunites him with many of the players he’s
crossed paths with over his career, including alto saxophonist Kenny
Garrett (an alum of Davis’ later lineups) and 85-yearold drummer Roy
Haynes, who before joining the group had last played with Corea on the
pianist’s landmark 1968 album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs.
Polish Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park,
noon America’s largest Polish celebration reconvenes this weekend
for three days of pierogies, folk-art demonstrations, vodka tastings and
music. More than 40 vendors will sell wares and keepsakes at the
Sukiennice Marketplace, while young talent will compete in the Chopin
Youth Piano Competition and the Little Miss Polish Fest pageant. The
festival offers a number of ways to get in for free or at a reduced rate
this year. Friday’s admission, for instance, is just 50 cents before 5
p.m. (Through June 20.)
Lakefront Festival of Arts @ Milwaukee Art Museum, noon One of the nation’s premier juried art festivals, Milwaukee’s Lakefront Festival of Arts has been going strong for four decades, drawing thousands of people each year. This year the tented, outdoor festival has expanded to include additional artist booths inside the Milwaukee Art Museum, in Windhover Hall. The event showcases 181 artists from around the country and includes live music, a Fiber Arts Fashion Show, a Silent Art Auction
and a wine garden. (Through June 20.)
Aziz Ansari @ The Pabst Theater, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Should his critically
acclaimed but low-rated NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” not last
beyond its next season, Aziz Ansari will still have plenty of work to
keep him busy. He’s been in talks to star in as many as three films
produced through Judd Apatow, including a Funny People spin-off about
Ansari’s arrogant, standup alter-ego, Raaaaaaaandy. Ansari is also a
rising star on the real stand-up circuit, this year having released his
first record, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, a sharp,
popculture-obsessed set capped by memorable routines about Kanye West
and R. Kelly.
JJ Grey & Mofro w/ Brandi Shearer @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Mofro, the rock ’n’ roll
brainchild of Jacksonville, Fla., storyteller JJ Grey, is more or less
an extension of its bandleader’s innate melodic gifts. From humble,
late-’90s beginnings in the swamplands of northern Florida, the
blues-funk group quickly rose through word-of-mouth in the receptive jam
band circuit. The band’s Fog City debut, 2001’s Blackwater, captured
the soulful minimalism of Grey’s influences, while subsequent
albums—Lochloosa (2004), Country Ghetto (2007) and Orange Blossoms
(2008)—have broadened Mofro’s audience, allowing Grey to share stages
with one of his icons, Booker T.
Tracy Morgan @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
For seven years on “Saturday Night Live,” actor and
comedian Tracy Morgan specialized in offbeat, bizarre and sometimes
mentally ill characters, playing them not just for easy laughs but also
for audience sympathy. An infamously forgettable sitcom on NBC in 2003
cast Morgan as a cookie-cutter family man, but since 2007 a
scene-stealing supporting role on “30 Rock” has allowed him to tap the
weird energy he displayed on “SNL”—it helps that Morgan essentially
plays a caricature of himself. Capitalizing on his renewed popularity,
last fall Morgan released an autobiography about his early life in the
Bronx, I Am the New Black.
better part of their two years together, Milwaukee quirk-pop
aficionados The Fatty Acids played most of their shows in basements.
Though they’ve recently begun gigging aboveground, their self-recorded
debut album, Stop Berries, Berries and Berries, Berries, which they
release tonight, retains the raw, do-it-yourself sound of those early
shows, suggesting the spacey psychedelia of Beck and MGMT and the
unabashed pop of Peter, Bjorn and John on a much smaller budget.
Saturday, June 19
Summer Soulstice Music
Festival @ North Avenue, noon The East Side’s Summer Soulstice
Music Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with a lineup
topped by the Milwaukee rock and bluegrass group The .357 String Band
and the ’90s grunge-rock band Sponge, former alt-rock staples
remembered for dreary hits like “Molly” and “Plowed.” Among the other
performers are Will Phalen & The Stereo Addicts, The Sandcarvers
and The Lovelies. Outside of the music, the event offers a Division BMX
demonstration, Milwaukee’s Rage in the Cage dodge ball tournament, a
climbing wall, an American Apparel sale and a Qdoba burrito-eating
Sunday, June 20
Tame Impala @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
release of their 2007 debut album, Oracular Spectacular, MGMT ascended
from Brooklyn buzz band to bona fide modern rock stars, thanks largely
to three infectious synth-pop singles, “Time to Pretend,” “Electric
Feel” and the inescapably perky “Kids.” The group cautioned that their
2010 follow-up, Congratulations, wouldn’t contain anything as poppy as
that hit, and sure enough the record is far more psychedelic and far
less hook-oriented. Nonetheless, it garnered welcoming reviews and
debuted near the top of the Billboard charts.
Tuesday, June 22
Chill on the Hill w/
Leroy Airmaster @ Humboldt Park, 6 p.m.
The origins of Leroy Airmaster date back to the late ’60s, when its members were highschool students eager to decode the blues.
innovative harmonica player Steve Cohen, the group grew to become one
of the city’s finest blues acts, drawing eclectic crowds throughout the
’70s and ’80s. The band broke up in 1990, but reunited after two
decades apart last year for some sporadic gigs, including two that
contributed to the band’s new concert album, Live at Turner Hall. The
group plays Bay View’s free Chill on the Hill concert series tonight.
Wednesday, June 23
Quintron and Miss
Pussycat w/ Cave @ The Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Since 1994 under the pseudonym Quintron, inventor and former nightclub organist Robert Rolston has performed at his own private New Orleans club, the Spellcaster lodge, and patented inventions like the Spit Machine, the Disco Light Machine and the Drum Buddy, a light-activated drum machine. Backed by these machines, Rolston performs as a one-man-band, playing on a Hammond organ designed in the shape of a vintage car (complete with working headlights). He’s frequently joined in concert by his wife, Miss Pussycat, a backup singer and puppeteer.