This Week in Milwaukee
Locust Street Festival, The Cave Singers and Future Islands
THURSDAY, JUNE 9
Southern Culture on the Skids @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Southern Culture on the Skids creates an eccentric mélange of rockabilly flair, swamp pop and humor to send up the boisterous country culture of the South. Their inaugural self-titled album in 1986 gave them a reputation for a raw, unprocessed sound, but with 1995's Dirt Track Date their style became cleaner and more listener-friendly, resulting in the group's biggest hit, “Camel Walk.” The band's latest effort, The Kudzu Ranch, released last year, builds on their trailer-park parodying while returning the band to garage-rock messiness.
FRIDAY, JUNE 10
The Moody Blues @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Known for their jazz-tinted symphonic rock, The Moody Blues rose to fame among British bands after the release of their orchestral second album, 1967's Days of Future Passed, which yielded the notable psychedelic, drawling singles “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin.” Since then, The Moody Blues have established themselves as a reputable part of England's progrock history, producing 14 more albums and pioneering the integration of classical sounds in '70s rock. The Moody Blues recently celebrated their 45th anniversary, and though the band hasn't been immune to lineup changes—founding flautist Ray Thomas retired in 2002—the core of their classic lineup has stayed intact.
Matthew Santos w/ Dick Prall and Stolen Silver @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Minneapolis native Matthew Santos rose to attention after collaborating with Lupe Fiasco on the rapper's 2007 album The Cool, where he lent his haunting voice to the melodic hooks of songs like “Streets on Fire” and the hit single “Superstar.” After releasing his first solo album, the rootsy folk-minded Matters of the Bittersweet, Santos was signed to Lupe's 1st and 15th Entertainment record label. Since Santos' latest album, This Burning Ship of Fools, dropped last year, he has released a new single, the romping, entreating “Burning Up (Come On Down).”
Okka Fest @ Sugar Maple, 9 p.m.
Sugar Maple and Palm Tavern owner Bruno Johnson is passionate about two things: beer and free jazz. For the third year in a row, he'll host an assortment of free jazz and improvisational music by artists signed to or affiliated with his longrunning Okka Disk record label at Okka Fest, a three-day run of performances at his bars. The Ken Vandermark Trio and the vibes/bass-drums trio Sun Rooms share a show Friday night at the Sugar Maple. Mats Gustafsson performs Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Palm Tavern, followed that night by the Jason Adasiewicz/Mats Gustafsson duo and Made to Break at the Sugar Maple. Afternoon performances from Christof Kurzmann and the Chicago Double Quartet close the festival on Sunday.
SATURDAY, JUNE 11
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Since their rapid-fire, tongue-twisting verses and ultra-smooth choruses made them crossover rap stars in the mid-'90s, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony have had a notoriously rocky career, falling out of commercial favor for long periods at a time while enduring difficult lineup changes. They released a commercial and critical comeback with 2007's Strength & Loyalty, a vital record that found the rappers racing against propulsive, kinetic Southern-rap beats, and their 2010 album Uni5: The World's Enemy returned to the fold wayward members Flesh-N-Bone (the incarcerated one) and Bizzy Bone (the erratic one). But the group's full reunion was short-lived. Like clockwork, Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone left the group this spring.
The Bottle Rockets w/ Andrew Hawthorne @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Long after many of the seminal No Depression bands have either disbanded or abandoned alt-country, The Bottle Rockets remain true to the genre. Years of lineup changes and record-label debacles have slowed the band some, but leader Brian Henneman, a former guitar tech and auxiliary player for alt-country icons Uncle Tupelo, continues to turn out solid, Woody Guthrieinspired songwriting on the group's recent albums, including 2009's Lean Forward, a briskly rocking set for Bloodshot Records.
Kevin Hart @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
With his self-deprecating humor and critical eye, Kevin Hart's comedy is both comically insightful and relatable, pertaining to subjects like family and marriage. Hart's stand-up led him to roles in films like The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, Little Fockers and the Scary Movie franchise. In 2009, Hart appeared in a chain of eBay commercials in which he put in his two cents on topics ranging from flatscreen TVs to Bluetooth headsets. Last year Hart mined humor out of his dysfunctional family for his 2010 stand-up special, Seriously Funny.
Rusted Root @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Part of a crop of positive, feel-good jam bands to make it to mainstream radio in the '90s, when the current jam scene was just beginning to emerge, Rusted Root melded Grateful Dead-styled folk and Paul Simon's ear for world music on their crossover hit “Send Me On My Way.” That song is where the Pittsburgh band's greater fame begins and ends, but they continue to support themselves as a popular live band, where their fusion of bluegrass, rock and world music fills a unique niche. In 2009 they released their sixth studio album, Stereo Rodeo.
SUNDAY, JUNE 12
Locust Street Festival @ Locust Street and Humboldt Avenue, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
From its modest beginnings as a neighborhood festival with an understated bohemian streak, the annual Locust Street Festival, which this year marks its 35th anniversary, has blossomed into one of the city's most crowded outdoor gatherings, without losing the friendly, oversized-block-party feel that made it so charming. Drum circles, arts and crafts and street food abound, but the biggest draw is still the music, of which the festival offers a whopping five stages. Performers this year include I'm Not a Pilot, The Ragadors, The Fatty Acids, The Delta Routine, Matt Hendricks, The Subcontinentals, Crappy Dracula, Group of the Altos, God's Outlaw, Frogwater and Juniper Tar.
LeAnn Rimes @ PrideFest, 7 p.m.
With lush, sultry vocals, LeAnn Rimes' breakthrough hit “Blue” introduced a singer with an uncanny resemblance to Patsy Cline. Unlike Cline, however, Rimes recorded her first album at age 13. It was certified multi-platinum and reached the top spot on the country albums chart. Since then, Rimes' catalog has become more pop-oriented, including a spot on the Coyote Ugly soundtrack for the song “Can't Fight the Moonlight” and her most renowned single, “How Do I Live.”
MONDAY, JUNE 13
Future Islands w/ Wumme and Golden Coins @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Like its hometown compatriot Dan Deacon, the Baltimore trio Future Islands makes wonderfully weird music unbound by genre conventions, though the group's latest album for Thrill Jockey Records, In Evening Air, marks a decided turn toward synth-pop. It's a giddy cocktail of chilly, post-punk bass, new wave hooks and seasick tropical rhythms, all tied together by the deepchested groans of vocalist Samuel T. Herring, whose obtuse, Tom Waits-esque growl disguises the emotional directness of his lyrics.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15
The Cave Singers w/ Young Man @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Neither Pretty Girls Make Graves nor Hint Hint were known for restraint or subtlety, so it was a surprise when members of those wild-eyed indie-rock bands formed The Cave Singers, a trio that prefers terse folk-rock and bluesy dirges. While nobody will mistake them for Fleet Foxes—their songs are sparse and raw, often leaning on a primal, percussive thump—this Seattle group has emerged as an unlikely but welcome addition to the thriving indie-folk scene. The group filled its 2009 album for Matador Records, Welcome Joy, with elemental images of death, nature and baptism, and the group's new No Witch is similarly moody.