This Week in Milwaukee
"Weird Al" Yankovic, Drugs Dragons and The Dodos
THURSDAY, JUNE 2
Jazz in the Park w/ Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound @ Cathedral Square Park, 6 p.m.
The venerable, free Jazz in the Park launches its 2011 season with the Cathedral Square Park concert series' first-ever performance from Milwaukee institution Paul Cebar. With his latest ensemble, Tomorrow Sound, Cebar is playing some of the loosest, funkiest shows of his long career, melding the sounds of New Orleans, Cuba and Latin America into a thick, swampy global fusion.
“Weird Al” Yankovic @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Nearly 30 years after his self-titled debut album, polkaloving satirist “Weird Al” Yankovic is still gently mocking modern pop music. His latest album, Alpocalypse, arrives this month with typically ridiculous mock-DJ Drama mixtape cover art and a track list that parodies Taylor Swift, T.I., Miley Cyrus, B.o.B. and Lady Gaga, whose management created a minor stir when it initially rejected Yankovic's “Born This Way” riff “Perform This Way.” There's also a “Polka Face” medley, built from snippets of recent Flo Rida, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Jamie Foxx hits.
Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Savoy Brown's brand of hazy '60s British blues lives on through the only remaining member of the group's original lineup, Welsh guitarist Kim Simmonds, and his constantly revolving crew of grizzled rockers. Later this year the group, which has been touring relentlessly in the United States to mark the band's 45 years together, will release a new album, Voodoo Moon. The record marks a decidedly more contemplative direction for Savoy Brown, with ruminative lyrics focused on Simmonds' personal life.
Ex Fabula All Stars @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Taking its name from the Latin term for “from stories,” Ex Fabula is Milwaukee's resident storyslam, inviting members of the community to share comedic or dramatic autobiographical stories without using notes. Audience favorites from past Ex Fabula events, including Brooke Maroldi, Scott Heaton and Bob Murray, will be among the storytellers at this season-ending event, spinning yarns around the theme “Secrets and Lies.” Milwaukee historian John Gurda and WMSE personality Tom Crawford will also take the stage.
ART Milwaukee: Arabian Nights @ Casablanca, 6 p.m.
ART Milwaukee teamed with Arab World Fest to curate its latest event, a Middle Eastern-themed block party on Cass Street, next to the Casablanca restaurant on Brady Street. There will be hookah tobacco samplings, Rishi tea tastings, belly dancing lessons, henna tattoos, gallery displays, a bazaar of local retailers and live re-enactments of scenes from the Humphrey Bogart film that lends Casablanca its name, courtesy of the traveling performance group The M.U.T.E.S.
FRIDAY, JUNE 3
Old School @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Most of the ingredients of director Todd Phillips' 2009 hit The Hangover and its record-breaking 2011 sequel were in place for Phillips' 2003 comedy Old School, a similarly ribald comedy about grown men bucking adult responsibilities, often at the risk of extreme bodily harm. The movie, which stars Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell as 30-somethings who start their own fraternity, screens tonight at 8 p.m. as part of the Turner Hall Ballroom's “Beer and a Movie” series following a 6:30 p.m. happy hour.
SATURDAY, JUNE 4
Drugs Dragons w/ White Faces, Cyborg Fortress and Moon Curse @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Milwaukee scuzz-rockers Drugs Dragons gave beer-swilling hard-rock a glammy, nightmarish makeover on their self-titled debut last year, drawing from horror-punk and shock-rock muses like The Misfits, The Cramps and Alice Cooper on a set of confrontational songs about deformed freaks, grave dwellers and flesh eaters. Tonight the group marks the release of its new vinyl-only EP, Milorganight, on a bill with White Faces, Cyborg Fortress and Moon Curse, a new band featuring members of Father Phoenix and Mother Orchis.
Brett Dennen @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8:30 p.m.
In a volatile music industry struggling with slipping album sales, illegal file sharing and gen- eral economic malaise, having a tune featured in ad campaigns and hit television shows is one of the quickest and most profitable ways for artists to promote themselves. It has certainly worked for Brett Dennen, the sun-bleached songwriter whose whimsical Cali-folk tunes have found a home on the soundtracks to shows like “Scrubs,”“Grey's Anatomy” and “House” (the hospital theme is probably coincidental). This year, the hard-touring 31-year-old released his latest album, Loverboy, which introduces a full backing band and, subsequently, a more danceable groove to his music.
SUNDAY, JUNE 5
The Maine w/ Augustana and Austin Gibbs @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
While the Arizona quintet The Maine didn't depart fully from their trademark saccharine emo-pop on their debut album for Warner Bros., 2010's Black & White, the band did trade in their hooky high-school punk tendencies for mid-tempo, wistful pop-rock reminiscent of major-label successes The All-American Rejects. San Diego openers Augustana have similarly weaned themselves away from pop-punk toward more mature rock sounds over the years. Their new self-titled album takes its cues from Bruce Springsteen (perhaps by way of The Killers, the band that seems to have re-sparked a fascination with the Boss in alt-rock circles).
Michael Bublé @ Bradley Center, 8 p.m.
Canadian crooner Michael Bublé has amassed two Grammys and several Juno awards over the last decade for his swinging big band jazz vocals and pop balladry. In 2005, Bublé's boyish, nostalgic revival of Sinatra-like songs caught on with It's Time, which reached the No. 1 spot in three countries. Bublé's most recent effort, Crazy Love, consists of several covers and original songs, including the hit single “Haven't Met You Yet.”
SUNDAY, JUNE 5
The Dodos w/ Gauntlet Hair @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Down-tempo baroque poppers The Dodos formed six years ago when singer-songwriter Meric Long met guitarist Logan Kroeber. Melding Long's West African Ewe drumming with Kroeber's acoustic guitar strumming, they composed percussive, string-laced folk songs with bold, arty arrangements. Though the duo produced an EP in 2005, their 2007 album, Visiter, proved to be their breakthrough, earning the band critical buzz in Internet circles and also some unlikely exposure in a Miller Chill commercial featuring their single “Fools.” The band's latest album, No Color, includes vocal spots from Neko Case and instrumental contributions from vibraphonist Keaton Snyder.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8
Taylor Swift w/ NeedToBreathe @ Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
After becoming one of country's biggest stars with her 2006 self-titled debut, it didn't take Taylor Swift too long to become one of music's biggest stars, period. Her sophomore album, Fearless, became the best-selling album of 2009, thanks to crossover hits “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me.” On her 2010 blockbuster Speak Now, she further sharpened her songwriting voice, penning each of the record's 14 tracks herself (a rarity for commercial country artists regardless of their age or gender). The record contrasts Swift's usual, girlishly lovelorn musings with barbed jabs at ex-lovers and romantic rivals.
U.S. Air Guitar Championships @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Air guitar has been practiced as a competitive event since the '80s, gaining particular attention after the 2006 documentary Air Guitar Nation and newfound interest following the success of “Guitar Hero” and related games. Though these competitions began as a joke, they've evolved into a surprisingly organized sport, culminating in a worldwide championship bout each year. The Turner Hall Ballroom hosts the U.S. Air Guitar Championships' Milwaukee regional, where competitors will vie to advance to the July 23 national finals in Chicago.