This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, Dec. 2
Roster McCabe @ Miramar Theatre, 9 p.m.
The Minneapolis quintet Roster McCabe is familiar with Milwaukee by now, having played several sets at Summerfest and clubs including the Rave and the Miramar Theatre. The band formed at the University of Minnesota in 2005, fi rst playing acoustic rock, which they ditched in favor of the blend of ’70s funk and reggae they now tour behind. With eyes squarely fi xed on the jam faithful, this month the group released their new album, Through Space & Time, a trippier follow-up to their 2007 debut, The Rhythm/The Elements.
Better Than Ezra @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
No, the alt-rock trio Better Than Ezra, whose 1995 hit “Good” sounded more like something out of Minneapolis than their native New Orleans, isn’t the fi rst group listeners typically associate with Mardi Gras, but the band is nonetheless counting down to the holiday with a “Road to Mardi Gras” tour months in advance of the March celebration.
Jamey Johnson and Josh Thompson @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
There aren’t too many country singers releasing double albums these days, let alone double albums as conceptual as Jamey Johnson’s new The Guitar Song, which the Alabama outlaw country revivalist divided into a dark “black” side and a redemptive “white” side. The black side in particular builds on 2008’s The Lonesome Song, the stark album Johnson recorded in the wake of his divorce, tapping Waylon Jennings at his most down and out. Johnson is joined tonight by Cedarburg native Josh Thompson, whose rowdy 2009 single “Beer on the Table” teased his 2010 debut album for Columbia Nashville Records, Way Out Here.
The Batusis @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Named for Adam West’s camp-tastic Batman dance, The Batusis unites two seminal punk figures: The New York Dolls’ Sylvain Sylvain and The Dead Boys’ Cheetah Chrome. Though the tempos rarely match those of their punk days, the group’s self-titled EP, which they recorded with members of Joan Jett’s band and released this spring, gives the two guitarists plenty of room to trade licks over sleazy, boogie-woogie grooves.
Friday, Dec. 3
Borg Ward Benefit @ Borg Ward Collective, 7 p.m.
D.I.Y. all-ages venues in Milwaukee have a woefully short life expectancy, so even the most optimistic supporters of the Walker’s Point nonprofit arts space the Borg Ward probably would have doubted that the venue would still be running three years after its opening. This weekend some of the bands that have been regulars at the venue are repaying the favor, playing a two-day benefit to help the venue raise money for a revamped sound system. Friday night’s lineup features Busybodies, IfIHadAHiFi, All Tiny Creatures, Absolutely and Coelacanth. Saturday night features Northless, Impatience, Lines and Terminals and Slob Donovan.
Christmas in the Ward @ Catalano Square, 5 p.m.
The Historic Third Ward hosts its 22nd annual holiday celebration this weekend in Catalano Square. The two-day event kicks off this evening with a 5:30 p.m. tree-lighting ceremony, a 5:45 p.m. performance from the Trinity Irish Dancers, and 6 p.m. fireworks over the river. There will also be horse-drawn carriage rides, Santa photo ops, live reindeer and music until 8 p.m. The event continues Saturday afternoon with entertainment and children’s activities from noon to 3 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 4
Faux Fir w/ The Fatty Acids, Made of Oak and The Glamour @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Trafficking in the same sort of kid-in-a-candy-store synth-pop as Passion Pit, the burgeoning Milwaukee quartet Faux Fir recorded its debut EP this year with Decibully’s Ryan Weber. Spring-loaded with bright keyboards, grinding bass and glammy disco grooves, the EP plays like a digitalized, more danceable reimagining of Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The band hosts an EP-release show tonight.
Sunday, Dec. 5
HoverCraft @ Bay View Brew Haus, noon
inaugural craft fair HoverCraft showcases a mix of both amateur and
professional designers and artists, including dozens of local vendors
that have never been featured at the city’s annual Art vs. Craft
gathering. It promises a particularly eclectic marketplace where the
requisite jewelry, pottery and knickknacks are sold alongside comic
books, guitars and music. There will also be demonstrations, tutorials,
DJs and performance art throughout the day, as well as food vendors.
The craft fair runs until 6 p.m., and will be followed at 8 p.m. by a
rock show featuring The Spectras, The Midwest Beat and Magic Milk.
Tuesday, Dec. 7
Cyndi Lauper @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Though she’ll always be best known for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” ’80s icon Cyndi Lauper has branched out considerably since her New Wave days, showing little interest in making the same album twice. Over the last decade she’s tackled jazz standards (on 2003’s At Last), acoustic rock (on 2005’s The Body Acoustic), club music (on 2008’s Bring Ya to the Brink) and, most recently, on this year’s Memphis Blues, electric blues. The new disc features guest spots from Jonny Lang, B.B. King, Allen Toussaint and Ann Peebles. (Also Wednesday, Dec. 8.)
Wednesday, Dec. 8
Uncle Kracker w/ Frankie Ballard and Ty Stone @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Like his sometimes collaborator Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker began his career as a crass, country-loving rap-rocker but has mellowed considerably over the past decade, deferring to the more traditional tastes of country radio. He’s not subtle about targeting the country crowd. His latest release, Happy Hour: The South River Road Sessions, gives six tracks from his 2009 record a blunt country makeover—essentially, he re-recorded the songs with fewer Top 40 drumbeats and more pedal steel guitars.