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Thursday, March 10, 2011

This Week in Milwaukee

Ice Cube, Cold War Kids and Call Me Lightning

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THURSDAY, MARCH 10


Keller Williams @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Keller Williams generates a sound much bigger than that of the typical one-man band. The touring troubadour uses live looping to layer multiple instruments over each other, creating perpetually morphing suites of jazzy funk and acoustic rock that have made him a novelty in the jam-music scene.

Williams has also shown more of an interest in the studio than many of his jam counterparts. Since his 1994 debut, Freek, he has released more than a dozen records, including a 2010 kids' album titled, fittingly enough, Kids.

FRIDAY, MARCH 11


Beer and a Movie: Reservoir Dogs @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

The Turner Hall Ballroom premieres its "Beer and a Movie" series with a screening of Quentin Tarantino's 1992 directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs. A heist movie without an actual heist, the fi lm introduced many of Tarantino's trademarks: a nonlinear narrative, shocking violence and glib, larger-than-life characters with epic stretches of dialogue. Future screenings in the series include Inception (March 12), The Fighter (March 18) and Clerks (March 25).

Arumim @ Artist and Display, 7 p.m.

Plenty of artists paint to music, but the Netherlands' Tali Farchi and Michigan's Royce Deans have turned the act into performance art. As Arumim, they make improvisational paintings in response to live music. For tonight's show at Artist and Display, 9015 W. Burleigh St., they'll be painting to the sounds of local musicians Matthew Riebe and Tony Smith. Farchi will also host two painting-with-music workshops at Artist and Display on Saturday, March 12.

The Spinners @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.

Though they were born of Detroit and initially signed to Motown, The Spinners were mostly ignored by the legendary Motor City label, even after the 1970 success of their Stevie Wonder-penned hit "It's a Shame." It was only after Atlantic Records and the visionary Philly soul producer Thom Bell adopted the group in the '70s that The Spinners went on to record some of the biggest soul hits of their era, including "I'll Be Around," "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love," "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" and "The Rubberband Man." The group never stopped touring, even after their reign on the charts had ended by 1980, and although in the last decade they've suffered the deaths of several members, they still tour with original vocalists Bobby Smith and Henry Fambrough.





The Sandcarvers w/ Green Tea @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Though The Sandcarvers categorize themselves as a Celtic music band, aside from some sly Irish lyrical jargon or the occasional wind instrument cameo, they don't much abide by the conventions of the genre—at least not these days. The Sandcarvers began as a more traditional Celtic act on their album This Time Around, but ramped up the vocals and guitar riffs for a sound more attuned to alternative rock on their next two releases, Dealin' Craic and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, records replete with churlish Irish innuendo and fast-paced rock riffs in the style of The Dropkick Murphys.

SATURDAY, MARCH 12


DJ Abilities w/ Kid Millions @ MOCT, 9 p.m.

Minneapolis' DJ Abilities is now on the road as an unwilling solo artist, following the tragic death of his longtime collaborator, battle rapper Eyedea, last October. As Eyedea & Abilities, the two left behind a rich recorded legacy, including a spry self-titled 2004 album and a darker, grunge-inspired 2009 album, By the Throat. The last album is a near masterpiece, albeit one that's diffi cult to listen to in the wake of Eyedea's drug overdose. It's haunted by lyrics that read like suicide notes.

Ice Cube @ The Rave, 8:30 p.m.

With his trifecta of essential early-'90s albums—AmeriK- KKa's Most Wanted, Death Certifi cate and The Predator—Ice Cube established himself as the most controversial fi gure in rap, shocking the public with unforgiving, vicious takes on race relations. Nobody could have predicted that such an incendiary fi gure would go on to star in such family-friendly movies as Are We There Yet? Between his frequent acting gigs Ice Cube has continued to cut records at a decent clip. On his latest, 2010's I Am the West, he makes the case that Hollywood hasn't changed him while rapping over contemporary beats by producers including Tha Bizness, Bangladesh and The Fliptones.



Cold War Kids w/ A Lull @ The Rave, 7 p.m.

On Cold War Kids' breakout debut album, 2006's Robbers & Cowards, the Long Beach quartet's signature clanging piano keys, off-kilter guitar and murky bass notes collude with Nathan Willett's soaring, gospel-like vocals for an unusually raw and soulful listen. Recreating that "Hang Me Up to Dry" magic has proved difficult for the group, however. The band's politically minded 2008 follow-up, Loyalty to Loyalty, was overbearingly loud and bluesy, lacking their debut's finesse, and their new record, Mine Is Yours, suffers from the opposite problem. Willett's throaty squall has settled into an easygoing Tracy Chapman emulation, and the band's jarring instrumentation has mellowed into a barely there, radio-tame purr.

Joe Bonamassa @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

Bluesman Joe Bonamassa has had a long and storied career for a player who is still in his early 30s, but he benefited from an early start. He began playing at age 8, and by 12 he was already opening for B.B. King. Though born and raised in Utica, N.Y., Bonamassa shreds through the blues more like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and other British guitarists than any of his American predecessors. Perhaps for that reason, his albums have fared better on the U.K. charts than in the United States. He plays this show in advance of his latest studio album, Dust Bowl, slated for release on March 22.

SUNDAY, MARCH 13

Fishbone @ Miramar Theatre, 8 p.m.

Perhaps the most singular American ska act of the '80s, Fishbone fused the hyperactive rhythms of ska with the freaky, oddball spectacle of vintage Parliament-Funkadelic performances. And the band's sound only grew heavier and weirder throughout the '90s. Their output slowed considerably around the turn of the century amid record-label turmoil and a slew of lineup changes. The band's latest album is 2006's Still Stuck in Your Throat, a typically manic set of ska-punk.




Eilen Jewell @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Idaho native Eilen Jewell began her music career 12 years ago as a college student playing in bars, becoming a constant presence in the Boston-area music scene after teaming up with drummer Jason Beek. Together, they created a return-totradition form of Americana country blues on the 2006 album Boundary County. Breezy folk tales and spunky instrumental arrangements draw emotion from Jewell's forlorn singing and the clip-clopping of Beek's percussion. Jewell's latest album, Sea of Tears, further plays on these motifs, drawing deeper from the dark soul music of the '60s.

MONDAY, MARCH 14

Call Me Lightning w/ Holy Shit @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.

WMSE celebrates its 30th anniversary with a slew of sponsored concerts throughout the week of March 14, among them several free local showcases, including this bill, which joins the epic, Who-inspired local punk trio Call Me Lightning with the nimble hardcore group Holy Shit.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16

The Dirty Heads @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.

Though they've been playing reggae-rock together in some form since 1996, The Dirty Heads only recently made a commercial dent, with last year's summertime hit "Lay Me Down." That song's Sublime-esque feel was no coincidence: Its guest vocals came from Sublime's replacement singer and Bradley Nowell sound-alike Rome Ramirez, whose merry chorus played off the band's island-themed grooves and Dustin "Duddy" Bushnell's rasta-raps.

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