This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, July 12
Florentine at the Lake @ Alterra, 7 p.m.
Minimalist sets and elegantly subtle costuming have allowed the vocal prowess of Milwaukee's Florentine Opera Company to dominate each of their performances for nearly 80 years. Currently led by general director Bill Florescu, the company has shifted from happy-go-lucky to frighteningly melodramatic and back again in productions like the Sinclair Lewis adaptation Elmer Gantry, a bold interpretation of Mozart's Magic Flute, and the company's first non-English show, Río de Sangre, composed by Emmy-winner Don Davis. Although its cast often thunders across bigger stages like the Marcus Center, the group reaches out to general audiences each summer with its free Florentine at the Lake concert series at the lakefront Alterra, with multiple performances through August.
Friday, July 13
Films on Tap @ MOCT, 8 p.m.
Several Milwaukee directors have chosen an unusual venue to premiere their latest works: MOCT, a Walker's Point bar with a decidedly un-theater-like atmosphere. Tomah Mackie will be screening his new drama Lovesuck, while Eric Strelitzer and the filmmaking team of Melissa Freson and Aaron Powers will be showing the first 15 minutes of their respective latest works, Will & Testament and Solitary Honor. All three projects shared an overlapping cast and crew.
South Shore Frolics @ South Shore Park
The all-American alternative to Bastille Days' celebration of French culture, South Shore Frolics is one of Bay View's oldest summer traditions. After 63 years, the feel is still old-timey and family friendly, with plenty of events for small children and their grandparents, including kids' games, oldies and jazz music, a Friday fish fry, and a Sunday car show and art show. For those who didn't get their fix last week, there are also nightly Bartolotta fireworks. (Through Sunday, July 15.)
Milwaukee Laptop Orchestra @ Sugar Maple, 8 p.m.
UWM's Milwaukee Laptop Orchestra, MiLO for short, is celebrating its fifth year of eccentric experimental music. The group creatively fuses the wilder and unexpected noises from horns, electric guitars, vocals, effects pedals, iPads and, of course, laptops. The orchestra's primarily improvised tracks have included such unlikely groupings as a hiccupping saxophone, alien-invasion-worthy beeps, female beat-boxing and opera, all doused in static. Currently consisting of nine music and technology lovers, MiLO is one of the only groups on campus to bring together students, professors and local improvisers. Its live performances are synchronized with intriguing background animations and graphics.
Saturday, July 14
Tour de Fat @ McKinley Park in the Coast Guard Event Area, 9 a.m.
The whimsical, New Belgium beer-sponsored traveling bike festival Tour de Fat returns for its third year to McKinley Park in the Coast Guard Event Area. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. and the day begins with a 10 a.m. ride that encourages participants to dress up in zany costumes, then continues with an afternoon of music and entertainment (and of course food and beer) in the park, where one volunteer will be selected to trade their car for a fully loaded commuter bike. The jazz-funk jam band Karl Denson's Tiny Universe will perform at 3 p.m., before the day's 3:50 p.m. finale.
Sunday, July 15
South Shore Frolics @ South Shore Park
The all-American alternative to Bastille Days' celebration of French culture, South Shore Frolics is one of Bay View's oldest summer celebrations. After 63 years, the feel is still old-timey and family friendly, with plenty of events for small children and their grandparents, including kids' games, oldies and jazz music, a Friday fish fry, and a Sunday car show and art show. For those who didn't get their fix last week, there are also nightly Bartolotta fireworks. (Through Sunday, July 15)
Monday, July 16
Gillian Welch @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
For a while, it seemed as if Gillian Welch might never release another album. One of the many deserving roots artists who rose to attention in part by appearing on the landmark O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, the Nashville songbird released several of the prettiest bluegrass albums of the turn-of-the-century, including 1998's Hell Among the Yearlings and 2001's stunning Time (The Revelator). But after her 2003 album Soul Journey, Welch put her solo career on the backburner in favor of collaboration, recording with everybody from Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes, Steve Earle and The Decemberists, and touring with her longtime partner and collaborator Dave Rawlings in the Dave Rawlings Machine. Eight years after Soul Journey, last year Welch finally released her follow-up, The Harrow & the Harvest, a lovely and typically understated folk album.
Diana Krall @ The Riverside Theater, 6:30 p.m.
From original instrumental tracks like "Jimmie" to numerous sultry renditions of popular songs like Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me To The Moon" and Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are," jazz artist Diana Krall has been serenading listeners with her smoky alto vocals and smooth, flourishing piano work over the last 20 years. The 47-year-old's voice has matured for the better on her latest album, 2009's Brazil-inspired, bossa nova-doused Quiet Nights, which features melt-worthy covers of Frank Sinatra's "Where or When" and Billie Holiday's "You're My Thrill." Krall performs tonight in advance of her next full-length Glad Rag Doll, which is due Sept. 25. The singer has teased it as one of her most lighthearted works.
Tuesday, July 17
Daredevil Christopher Wright @ Aloft, 7 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, as well as Bon Iver's brighter tracks, while their interest in Christian scripture and folklore evokes Sufjan Stevens' earlier, more faith-minded recordings. This summer the group released a new album, The Nature of Things, which pushes their twee-folk in weirder, poppier directions. Paste magazine sponsors this free show at the Aloft hotel.
The Cab w/ Parachute and Katelyn Tarver @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Vocalist Alex DeLeon and keyboardist Alex Marshall have kept alt-pop outfit The Cab alive through numerous lineup changes and record-label jumps. The band quickly found an audience with harmony-heavy tracks like "Take My Hand" and "I'll Run" from their 2008 debut full-length Whisper War, produced by Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump and released through the pop-punk clearinghouse Fueled By Ramen, but the band's time on the label didn't last long. After splitting from the label and losing drummer Alex Johnson, they added bassist Joey Thunder, and became the first band to release an album, 2011's Symphony Soldier, on Steve Zap's new label Z Entertainment. DeLeon shows off his Justin Timberlake-esque falsetto on tracks like "La La" and the funky "Intoxicated," which plays up the band's '70s power-pop influences.
Wednesday, July 18
Waukesha County Fair @ Waukesha County Expo, 3 p.m.
The oldest county fair in Wisconsin, the Waukesha County Fair keeps its events fresh and its entertainment big. This year's fair will feature the Second Annual Top Singer Competition, a small-scale version of "American Idol," and its winner will open for country artist Craig Morgan on the Miller Lite Main Stage July 22. Other performers include My Darkest Days; '70s rockers Foreigner, who charted over a dozen Top 20 hits; and '80s metal outfit Cinderella. Among other activities, the fair will also feature the Fairest of the Fair pageant, a 5K run/2-mile walk, a Bengal tiger exhibit, and a demolition derby. (Through Sunday, July 22.)