This Week in Milwaukee
Kings Go Forth, Pete Yorn and Merle Haggard
THURSDAY, FEB. 24
The Blasters w/ James Intveld @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
they were better associated with the punk-rock scene at the time, in
1980 The Blasters released a song that would become a roots-rock rally
cry, “American Music.” “We got the Louisiana boogie and the Delta
blues,” they sang. “We got country swing and rockabilly, too/ We got
jazz, country-western and Chicago blues/ It’s the greatest music that
you ever knew/ It’s American music/ It’s the greatest sound, right from
the U.S.A.” Three decades later, the band’s lineup has changed
considerably, but its love of American music remains untarnished. They
share this bill with rockabilly revivalist James Intveld, who gained
infamy as Johnny Depp’s singing voice in the John Waters flick Cry-Baby.
Joshua Radin @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
TV series “Scrubs” helped break the music career of one-time
middle-school art teacher Joshua Radin when the show premiered Radin’s
song “Winter” in a 2004 episode. Sales of Radin’s EP skyrocketed,
bringing the songwriter a deal with Columbia Records. His songs were
subsequently used in other shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree
Hill.” He even played at Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding.
But things started to get complicated as Radin clashed creatively with
Columbia over his second record, prompting him to move to independent
label Mom Pop to record his 2008 album Simple Times and last year’s
The Rock and the Tide, the whispery folk-pop singer’s most
instrumentally varied record yet.
The BoDeans @ South Milwaukee PAC, 7:30 p.m.
natives The BoDeans have had their share of commercial highs and lows
since they signed to Warner Bros. back in 1985. Recording their debut
album Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams with T-Bone Burnett, and
having its single “Closer to Free” become the theme song for the ’90s TV
show “Party of Five” put them on the map during their heyday, but legal
disputes with their label slowed the band considerably last decade.
Nonetheless, the band has sounded revitalized on its two latest records:
2008’s Still, which reunited them with producer Burnett, and last
year’s unexpectedly melancholy Mr. Sad Clown.
FRIDAY, FEB. 25
Pete Yorn w/ Ben Kweller @ The Pabst Theater, 8:30 p.m.
the course of an album trilogy that began with his 2001 breakthrough
debut, musicforthemorningafter, New Jersey songwriter Pete Yorn took on
an unflattering reputation as adult-contemporary radio’s answer to Ryan
Adams, but on recent releases Yorn has reinvented himself by taking some
unlikely risks. He teamed with Bright Eyes’ producer Mike Mogis for
2009’s Back and Forth, then with The Pixies’ Frank Black for last year’s
guitarcentric self-titled album. Perhaps most daring of all, however,
was Break Up, his criticbaiting 2009 collaboration with actress Scarlett
Johansson, which cast her as the Brigitte Bardot to his Serge
Gainsbourg. Yorn shares this bill with folk-pop troubadour Ben Kweller.
The Terminal Orchestra @ The Borg Ward, 7 p.m.
Mich.’s post-rock ensemble The Terminal Orchestra crafts rustic and
foreboding instrumentals in the spirit of Rachel’s and The Dirty Three,
with stabbing strings inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s most menacing
movements. For this show, the group will perform in its entirety its
debut album The Seasons, a lush, frequently unsettling song cycle about
their home state’s ecological extremes. Released through Cincinnati’s
Phratry Records, the album is posted for free streaming on the group’s
Milwaukee Admirals w/ Dropkick Murphys @ The Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
Dropkick Murphys had already carved out a well-earned niche as one of
the best of the Celtic punk bands when their roaring 2005 “I’m Shipping
Up to Boston” took on a life of its own. Prominent placement in the
Martin Scorsese hit The Departed established the song as the unofficial
theme to that movie, and the song has since gone on to become perhaps
the most unlikely jock jam ever, a home-pride anthem for the Boston
Celtics and Boston Red Sox, as well as a favorite for the New England
Patriots and a staple of pretty much any stadium that serves oversized
cups of beer. In advance of the March 1 release of their latest album,
Going Out in Style, the Dropkick Murphys will play a concert following
the Milwaukee Admirals’ game against the Chicago Wolves.
Kings Go Forth w/ The Soul Trio and Herman Astro @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
10-piece Kings Go Forth attracted immediate attention for their
note-perfect throwbacks to the sweaty, horn-braised soul and funk of the
1960s, parlaying the buzz around their self-released 7-inch singles
into a contract with David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. Their 2010 debut The
Outsiders Are Back cemented the group’s status as one of the hottest
commodities of the soul-revival movement.
SATURDAY, FEB. 26
Johnny Cash Fest w/ God’s Outlaw @ Frank’s Power Plant, 9:30 p.m.
The Milwaukee outlaw country trio God’s Outlaw celebrates country in its most bruising, hard-drinking incarnation, and no country icon embodies that spirit better than the late Johnny Cash. On what would have been the singer’s 79th birthday, the band will honor Cash with a cover set that will span his entire career.
SUNDAY, FEB. 27
Robert Earl Keen @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
and raised in the Lone Star state, Robert Earl Keen strips away the
pop-polish of modern country music to emphasize its storytelling roots.
After meeting neighbor and future country musician Lyle Lovett in
college at Texas A&M, the two began to develop their styles playing
on the front porch together, with Keen drawing from folk traditions and
old-fashioned country. Beginning with his 1984 debut album, No Kinda
Dancer, Keen has amassed 10 studio albums, the latest of which is 2009’s
The Rose Hotel.
Charlie Parr w/ Christopher Porterfield @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 8 p.m.
nine mostly self-recorded and often self-released albums, grizzled
Duluth, Minn., songwriter Charlie Parr has conjured the spirit of Dust
Bowl-era blues and Americana, singing murder ballads and tales of the
down and out accompanied while playing a resonator guitar or fretless
banjo. Despite its antique sound, Parr’s latest, When the Devil Goes
Blind, often speaks to modern concerns, drawing parallels between the
current economic crisis and the Great Depression.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Merle Haggard w/ Kris Kristofferson @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Haggard was integral in popularizing some of country’s most memorable
movements, from the rugged, electric Bakersfield sound to outlaw country
and eventually the Western-swing revival. His true legacy, though, is
his songwriting. Like so many of the genre’s greats, his canon is marked
by conflicted patriotism and fluid politics. His signature song, “Okie
from Muskogee,” is either a loving tribute to or a scathing indictment
of conservative values, depending on the performance, while his 2000s
output documented his ever-firming opposition to the war in Iraq in real
time. Tonight he shares a bill with fellow country great Kris