This Week in Milwaukee
The Daredevil Christopher Wright, Sammy Llanas and Dirty Dozen Brass Band
THURSDAY, FEB. 16
The Daredevil Christopher Wright w/ Big Falls @ Tonic Tavern, 9 p.m.
Eau Claire's The Daredevil Christopher Wright has proud ties to that city's biggest star: Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, who produced the band's 2009 debut album, In Deference to a Broken Back. The group's bombastically orchestrated baroque folk invites immediate comparisons to The Decemberists, though perhaps Page France comparisons are more apt—not only because Christopher Wright evokes a similar twee vulnerability, but also because the band's songs are so immersed in Christian Scripture and folklore that they make early Sufjan Stevens seem agnostic by comparison. The 2011 EP The Longsuffering Song continues the band's exploration of the sounds of church and the forest.
Re:Generation @ Multiple theaters
Amir Bar-Lev, director of the documentary My Kid Could Paint That, details the creative process of electronic producers and DJs who have been paired with unlikely collaborators in his latest documentary, Re:Generation. DJ Premier teams with Nas and the Berklee Symphony Orchestra; Mark Ronson takes a stab at jazz with Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Trombone Shorty and members of the Dap-Kings; and The Crystal Method does a version of “I'm Not Leaving” with Martha Reeves of the Vandellas. The oddest collaboration? Dubstep star Skrillex worked with the surviving members of The Doors for a new song, “Breakn' a Sweat.” The documentary screens tonight at Marcus Theatres' Menomonee Falls Cinema, Majestic Cinema, Ridge Cinema and South Shore Cinema.
Justin Horn @ Caroline's Jazz Club, 8 p.m.
Jazz vocalist Justin Horn resides in New Zealand, where he's pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy of music at the University of Auckland, but he spends a considerable amount of time in Milwaukee, where he recorded his debut album, Hornology, with members of the local jazz scene, including guitarist Mike DeRose and saxophonist Andrew Spadafora. The album features 10 original compositions and a funk reworking of the Wayne Shorter classic “Footprints.” Horn will be backed by an eight-piece band for tonight's release show.
FRIDAY, FEB. 17
Oscar-Nominated Live Action Short Films @ Times Cinema, 6:30 p.m.
If you're a serious cinema buff, you've probably already seen The Artist and The Descendants by now. Unless you've earned some serious frequent flyer miles visiting film festivals around the country, though, it's unlikely you've seen all the live-action short films nominated for Oscars this year. This program makes it easy to catch up. Among the five nominated films are The Shore, from Hotel Rwanda director Terry George, and Raju, a German film about a couple that discovers great poverty during a trip to adopt a child in India. Those dramas are offset by light comedies: The Irish short Pentecost likens the Catholic Church to soccer, the surreal Norwegian black comedy Tuba Atlantic covers the final acts of a grizzled fisherman whose doctor gives him one week to live, and the lone American contender, Time Freak, introduces a physics student who creates a time machine. (Multiple screenings through Feb. 23.)
Sammy Llanas @ Linneman's Riverwest Inn, 9 p.m.
After spending more than a quarter-century as half of the songwriting team behind the Waukesha heartland-rock act the BoDeans, Sammy Llanas surprised fans by splitting from the band last year, citing long-simmering creative differences. While the BoDeans have carried on without him—there's talk of a new album this year—Llanas has rededicated himself to his solo career. Last fall he released his second solo album, 4 A.M. (The Way Home), his first since his 1998 record as Absinthe, A Good Day to Die, a poignant record inspired by his brother's suicide. Like its predecessor, the new album is a frequently solemn late-night record that spotlights Llanas' stirring voice. At each of his shows this weekend at Linneman's Riverwest Inn, Llanas will perform two sets that promise to draw from his entire career, one solo and one with his new backing band. (Also Saturday, Feb. 18.)
Anime Milwaukee @ Hyatt Regency and Frontier Airlines Center
Founded by UW-Milwaukee student organization the Japanese Animation Association, Anime Milwaukee has grown into the state's largest anime convention, attracting hundreds of gamers and anime enthusiasts. This weekend's lineup includes meet-and-greets with voice actors and Internet celebrities, a large exhibition hall, video-game tournaments, a fashion show and a host of film screenings (among the dozens of films this year are High School of the Dead, Soul Eater, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Goemon and Squid Girl). Though many of the titles contain adult content, there also will be extensive children's programming. (Through Sunday, Feb. 19.)
SATURDAY, FEB. 18
Taste of Greece @ Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, noon
The annual Greek Fest has been a Milwaukee summer favorite for many years. The same foods and similar cultural displays will be offered in a more intimate indoor setting for the inaugural Taste of Greece, noon-8 p.m. Feb. 18-19 in the cultural hall adjacent to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 9400 W. Congress St. Grilled lamb and chicken will be served along with lasagna-like pastichio, honeyed baklava and the flaming cheese dish called saganaki. Also on tap will be music, performances by the Hellenic Dancers and tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed church.
Drivin' N' Cryin' w/ Cream City Gypsys @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Milwaukee native Kevn Kinney left the city behind in the mid-'80s to move to Atlanta and found the country-rock band Drivin' N' Cryin', and though that band has slowed down considerably in the '00s as Kinney focused on side and solo projects and battled a vocal node that made singing rock music painful, the group has been touring again in recent years. In 2009 it released its first studio album in more than a decade, The Great American Bubble Factory, a charged set of punk-accented Southern rock. Like most Drivin' N' Cryin' albums, it was heavily inspired by the beleaguered American economy.
TUESDAY, FEB. 21
Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
New Orleans brass bands were falling fast out of favor when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band formed in the late '70s, but the group not only helped to keep the tradition alive, it also became one of the city's more popular touring acts in the '80s. That's not to say they were complete traditionalists: Unlike their forefathers, they drew deeply from funk (and later hip-hop) music, and over the years they've collaborated with artists as diverse as Elvis Costello, Widespread Panic and Modest Mouse. Their last album was 2006's What's Going On, a song-for-song reinterpretation of Marvin Gaye's masterpiece that they recorded in response to Hurricane Katrina. Like many of their neighbors, they've since appeared on HBO's post-Katrina drama “Treme.”
Young the Giant w/ Walk the Moon @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
A band of shaggy-haired Californians that looks as if it's made up entirely of H&M models, Young the Giant is one of several popular groups bringing spit-shined indie-rock to alternative-rock airwaves (their hit “My Body” sounds a lot like the crossover moment that The Walkmen never had). Sales of the group's 2010 self-titled debut were spiked by appearances on the MTV Video Music Awards and an episode of “MTV Unplugged” that debuted last fall. Young the Giant shares this show with another one of the “____ the ____” bands that increasingly seems to be the future of modern rock, Walk the Moon.