This Week in Milwaukee
Spoof Fest 2012, Noel Gallagher and Shabazz Palaces
Thursday, March 29
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks w/ Harmonious Wail @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Dan Hicks has been playing for half a century, and although his 1969 debut LP with His Hot Licks, Original Recordings, wasn't much of a success, it led to a line of more successful albums that established him as a cult favorite, including 1971's Where's the Money, 1972's Striking It Rich and 1973's Last Train to Hicksville. The latter became the pinnacle of the group's success, but the band dissolved shortly after. Hicks re-entered the solo music scene with a 1978 LP, and in 1994 he released Shootin' Straight with his new group, Acoustic Warriors. But over the last decade he's revived the Hot Licks and started touring and recording with increased regularity, playing the classic swing-tinged country folk that's always been his calling card.
Alex de Grassi: "A Story of Floating Weeds" @ UWM Union Theatre, 7 p.m.
Alex de Grassi has literally written the book on fingerstyle guitar, or at least one of them. This month he released The Alex de Grassi Fingerstyle Guitar Method, an instructional book that details his approach to steel-string guitar. At this concert, de Grassi will perform his original 2006 score for the 1934 silent film A Story of Floating Weeds during a screening of the movie. The Japanese drama follows Kihachi, a traveling actor whose theater troupe leads him to a small town where a former lover has raised his son. It's regarded as one of director Yasujiro Ozu's finest works.
Stacy Riedel @ Indulge, 7 p.m.
It was only in 2010 that Milwaukee novelist Stacy Riedel published her first book, The King Is Dead, about the effect that a father's death has on his three very different grown children, but she works quickly. Last year she released her follow-up, The Field, about a woman who's determined to leave her boyfriend after seven days. Thematically the books couldn't be more different—one is a rock novel, the other is a romance—but each displays Riedel's wry, feisty voice. At this event, titled "Wine, Words, and milWaukee," Riedel will be signing books and reading from an upcoming work.
Friday, March 30
Spoof Fest 2012 @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
Spoof Fest has been paying loving homage to rock and pop bands of all stripes through gentle parody for nearly two decades. Since its early years at the Globe East, Spoof Fest has grown into a two-day event at Club Garibaldi, with a lineup that seems to feature more props and costumes each year. This year's lineup is typically all over the place, with Friday night tributes to James Brown, Thin Lizzy, .38 Special, Steely Dan, Lita Ford and Sonny and Cher, and a Saturday night roast of Wham!, Goo Goo Dolls, Bee Gees, Sammy Hagar, Foo Fighters and Tom Jones.
Saturday, March 31
A Prairie Home Companion @ Milwaukee Theatre, 4:45 p.m.
For more than three decades, Garrison Keillor has played ringmaster to "A Prairie Home Companion," a live radio broadcast built around the eclectic characters of fictional Lake Wobegon, Minn. The show usually airs from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn., but each year the whole setup is taken on tour, and Milwaukee often makes the itinerary. This afternoon the show broadcasts from the Milwaukee Theatre. Regular listeners can still tune in and hear all the happenings of the tiny Minnesota town filled with splendid characters like Guy Noir: Private Eye, or they can show up and get a behind-the-scenes look at the radio institution commemorated in Robert Altman's final film.
Sunday, April 1
Art Kumbalek 25th Anniversary Party w/ Brewhaus Polka Kings @ The Uptowner, 2 p.m.
One of Milwaukee's finest corner taps celebrates the 25th anniversary of Art Kumbalek's esteemed column for the Shepherd Express. For a quarter-century, Kumbalek has been weighing in on the pressing social issues of our time. The Uptowner honors that journalistic legacy with this party, which will feature $5 pitchers and other drink specials, as well as sandwiches and cupcakes. Kumbalek will be sitting in with the Brewhaus Polka Kings and happily accepting pats on the back, handshakes and/or bourbon.
Mike Epps @ Milwaukee Theatre, 7 p.m.
If it weren't for Chris Tucker declining to return to his role as Smokey for the sequel to the 1995 cult classic Friday, the world might not know Mike Epps the way it does today. Although he has been featured for his stand-up on Def Comedy Jam several times throughout his career, Epps is best known for his on-screen work opposite Ice Cube, which began with Next Friday and continued with Friday After Next and All About the Benjamins. After Epps' remake of The Honeymooners with Cedric the Entertainer flopped, more movies with Ice Cube followed, including Lottery Ticket and Janky Promoters, which cast the two as promoters who fail to book Young Jeezy for their club. This summer he'll also appear in Sparkle, a Motown drama that marks Whitney Houston's final film role.
Tuesday, April 3
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds w/ Mona @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
After two turbulent decades marked by in-fighting between co-leaders Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis finally split in 2009. Most of the band continued on as Beady Eye, a Beatles- and Stones-minded band designed to let Liam live out his rock star fantasies. His brother Noel, meanwhile, founded Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, indulging his introspective side on the group's 2011 self-titled record, an often grandiose pop record in the spirit of Oasis' most sweeping works. It's a pretty album from start to finish, though it lacks the big guitars and ripping tempos that dominated Oasis' most popular albums.
Wednesday, April 4
Shabazz Palaces w/ Prophetic and The Dope Folks DJs @ Mad Planet, 9:30 p.m.
As a general rule, rappers don't get many chances to reinvent themselves. Once they're known quantities, the public rarely sees them in a new light, which is part of the reason MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice's various makeover attempts have flopped so hard. It was a considerable feat, then, when Ishmael Butler of the beloved but easily pigeonholed jazz-rap trio Digable Planets built an almost entirely new audience for himself with his latest project, Shabazz Palaces. Released through Sub Pop, of all labels, the group's dazzling 2011 full-length Black Up was a weirder, much harder-edged record than anybody could have expected from the soft-voiced rapper. Its bass rumbles hard, and Butler raps in a cryptic, surrealist flow that's far removed from the straight-laced affirmations of his Digable Planets days.