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Thursday, March 3, 2011

This Week in Milwaukee

Eddie Griffin, Jim Jeffries and the Rocabilly Chili Contest

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THURSDAY, MARCH 3


Eddie Griffin @ Jokerz Comedy Club, 8 p.m.


Known for his cutting social observations and over-the-top impressions (including an infamous bit that imagines a crack-addicted Michael Jackson), Eddie Griffin hinges much of his raunchy comedy on biting racial satire. After getting his start in the sitcom "Malcolm & Eddie," Griffin moved on to movies, appearing in fare like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and Norbit and starring in Undercover Brother as the title character, though so far few of his films have captured the confrontational energy of his stand-up performances. (Multiple shows through Saturday, March 5.)

FRIDAY, MARCH 4

Blues at the Crossroads w/ Big Head Todd and The Monsters @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.

Like fellow early-'90s breakouts the Spin Doctors and Rusted Root, Big Head Todd and The Monsters were a jam band before there was an organized jam scene, earning their initial following through radio play instead of on the road. The band still has a loyal following around their native Colorado, and their early-'90s hits "Bittersweet" and "Broken Hearted Savior" continue to draw faithful fans to their shows elsewhere. Tonight the group flaunts its blues credibility by topping a bill honoring the great blues guitarist Robert Johnson, sharing the stage with a host of more traditional blues artists: David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Hubert Sumlin and Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm.

Sen Dog of Cypress Hill @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

After a long run as a member of West Coast hip-hop group Cypress Hill, Sen Dog began to yearn for more individual expression in his music and decided to produce his own record on the side. His solo debut, 2008's Diary of a Mad Dog, adopts a much more confessional tone than Sen Dog's usually short verses with Cypress Hill, detailing the 45-year-old rapper's history with gangs and his recent heart attack. The record mostly retains Cypress Hill's signature sound—Latin accents, hardcore beats and rock instruments—while touching on contemporary rap styles. Scheduled openers for this show include The DRP, 1Fifty1 and MicLordz & Sauce Funky.

Griffin House w/ Charlie Mars @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.


Ohio singer-songwriter Griffin House channels the frustration of unrequited love through his folksy country-alternative music. With his latest album, last year's gospelcolored The Learner, he continues to ruminate on romance, conveying emotion through acoustic guitars and plinking pianos.

Rodney Crowell @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.


A contemporary of Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell cut his teeth playing in Emmylou Harris' Hot Band before marrying into country royalty, wedding Rosanne Cash and producing her albums until their 1992 divorce. Among his most celebrated solo feats are his 1978 debut, Ain't Living Long Like This, a commercial disappointment that nonetheless cemented his reputation as a great songwriter, and his 1988 commercial breakthrough, Diamonds & Dirt, a mean collection of traditional country and rollicking pub rock. Even as he's embraced mostly acoustic sounds on his recent albums, including his latest, 2008's Sex and Gasoline, Crowell has lost little of his songwriting ferocity.

Jews and Baseball @ The Times Cinema, 6:30 p.m.


The uplifting tale of how Jackie Robinson broke baseball's race barrier has been told many times. Less examined, though, has been the long story of how Jewish ballplayers gradually overcame their own hurdles, including stereotypes and outright anti-Semitism, to make their mark on America's most celebrated pastime. Directed by Ken Burns associate Peter Miller and narrated by Dustin Hoffman, the 2010 documentary Jews and Baseball charts how Jews have shaped the game since its 1860 beginnings, and includes interviews with reclusive great Sandy Koufax, who once sat out a World Series game during Yom Kippur, and Red Sox slugger Kevin Youkilis. (Through Thursday, March 10.)



SATURDAY, MARCH 5

Head for the Hills @ The Miramar Theatre, 9 p.m.

With their galloping strings, spirited four-part harmonies and pseudo-yodeling, Head for the Hills invites instant comparisons to fellow Colorado natives the Yonder Mountain String Band. Like that group, the band updates acoustic bluegrass for the jam scene. After forming in a Colorado State University dorm, Head for the Hills recorded its 2007 debut album, Robbers Roost, and has toured aggressively in the years since.

Jim Jefferies @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 9 p.m.

Angry and brash, but with a genuine sense of humility, Australian stand-up Jim Jefferies made a name for himself in England, where he was dubbed "Britain's most offensive standup comic" by Q Magazine. Obscenities spew from the Aussie's mouth as he uses virtually any controversial topic as ammunition against social decency, chivalry and any other moral philosophy he can line up in the crosshairs of his vulgarity. Last year Jefferies followed up the 2009 HBO special that buoyed his stateside profile, I Swear to God, with the Comedy Central DVD Alcoholocaust.

SUNDAY, MARCH 6





Rockabilly Chili Contest @ MSOE Kern Center, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.

The largest and most anticipated of Milwaukee's many chili cook-offs, now in its ninth year, WMSE's Rockabilly Chili Contest pits 50 competitors and 63 varieties of chili against each other. Restaurants and catering companies from all over the city will be battling for top honors in best meat, best vegetarian, hottest chili and best-presented chili categories, while WMSE DJs spin a mix of rockabilly, country and bluegrass tunes. Proceeds from the popular event, which drew more than 1,000 people last year, benefit the radio station. Nonperishable food items will be collected at the door for the Hunger Task Force

Cadillac Sky @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Complex banjo, violin, guitar, mandolin and piano accompaniments augment the ambling country warbling and nostalgic saloon feel of Cadillac Sky's music. Aligning themselves with pop-friendly roots revival acts like The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, the fi ve-piece outfi t created their third and latest album, Letters in the Deep, under the tutelage and production of The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach.

TUESDAY, MARCH 8

Mucca Pazza @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 9 p.m.

From their political beginnings as the 80-piece group the All-American Anti-War Marching Band, Mucca Pazza has evolved into the biggest party act in the Midwest, playing sets that unfold as full-fl edged halftime shows. The ensemble, now pruned to a still-impressive nearly 30 members, dresses in marching-band uniforms, complete with cheerleaders, and has earned gigs on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and at Lollapalooza, as well as a memorable role in Andrew Bird's "Fitz and the Dizzyspells" video, where the group marches into Chicago's iconic venue The Hideout, their early stomping ground.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9

Tommy Castro @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Evoking the spirit of guitar great B.B. King, Tommy Castro belts out soulful R&B tunes that run the gamut from downtrodden blues to upbeat funk. Castro began his music career by playing with cover bands in the San Francisco Bay Area, which he followed with a short stint with The Dynatones. After 1991, Castro decided to front his own bands. Later, Castro was invited to tour and perform with his muse, B.B. King, from 2001 to 2002. Since 1994, Castro has released 12 albums, including his most recent, 2009's Hard Believer.