This Week in Milwaukee: Oct. 17-23
‘The American Craft Beer Cookbook’ signing @ Lakefront Brewery, 1-4 p.m.
Among the many remarkable things about beer: You can cook with it. For his new book The America Craft Beer Cookbook, journalist and beer aficionado John Holl compiled 155 recipes that prominently feature beer as a key ingredient, including several shared by Wisconsin breweries. The book includes Sprecher Brewing Co.’s recipe for slow-cooked doppelbock BBQ meatballs, Lakefront Brewery’s gluten-free fruit and nut crisps, and Hinterland’s seared diver scallops with roasted maitake mushrooms, cauliflower and sweet potatoes (they’re served with a coconut green curry sauce). Holl will present the book and sign copies of it this afternoon at Lakefront Brewery.
Dylan Moran @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
Credit the pervasive cynicism in his observational comedy for making Irish stand-up comedian Dylan Moran so irresistibly funny. Moran left school at the age of 16 without looking back and soon after found his affection for comedy. His way with sarcasm landed him his own UK sitcom, “Black Books,” in which he plays a hostile bookshop keeper who loathes the outside world and its people. Moran is also known for his works with comedian Shaun Pegg in the films Shaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy Run.
Stephen Kellogg w/ Fort Atlantic and Caroline Brooks @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Massachusetts songwriter Stephen Kellogg and his band The Sixers cut their teeth in jam circles, where they spiced their rootsy folk-pop with digressions into bluegrass before trekking into poppier, more accessible territory on their later albums. Since that band went on hiatus in 2012, Kellogg has returned to his solo roots. His new album Blunderstone Rookery is an understated heartland rock album that reflects on the recent struggles he’s faced, including the death of two close family members.
Friday, Oct. 18
Neko Case w/ Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down @ The Riverside Theater, 7
Neko Case first made a name for herself with her early albums of shadowy alt-country, seemingly recorded during the darkest hours of night, but the singer has brightened her sound considerably on her recent albums. Her 2009 effort Middle Cyclone was her feistiest and poppiest record yet, greatly informed by her side gig playing with power-pop allstars The New Pornographers, and her new The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You is similarly plucky, pairing Case’s magnificently powerful voice with a set of drolly funny, often deeply personal tunes that touch on women’s rights.
Eugene Mirman w/ John Hodgman and Kristen Schaal @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Once best known locally for a series of obnoxious, inescapable “I have a radio inside my finger” commercials for 94.5 FM The Lake, Eugene Mirman has since established himself as one of stand-up comedy’s funniest (and most absurd) voices, while making hilarious contributions to TV programs including “Flight of the Conchords” and “Bob’s Burgers.” He shares this bill with two comedians from his inner circle: Kristen Schaal, his co-star from both of those shows, and occasional “Daily Show” contributor John Hodgman, who was once best known for his own inescapable commercial campaign (he played the PC in a series of long-running Apple advertisements).
Leo Kottke w/ Loudon Wainwright III @ South Milwaukee PAC, 8 p.m.
As one of the most celebrated acoustic guitar players of his time, Leo Kottke has long been revered in both folk and jazz circles, but last decade, thanks to a pair of collaborative albums with Phish’s Mike Gordon, he became an icon in the jam scene as well. Kottke shares this show with songwriting great Loudon Wainwright III, who for decades has written funny, poignant folk songs without ever taking himself too seriously.
Saturday, Oct. 19
Steepwater Band w/ Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Chicago’s Steepwater Band stumbled upon the jam scene a bit later than some of their peers. The trio began in the late ’90s as a fairly traditional blues-rock act, opening for Buddy Guy and Taj Mahal and playing regional blues festivals. Mid-2000s performances with Umphrey’s McGee and Yonder Mountain String Band, as well as a 2010 tour with Gov’t Mule, increased their following in the jam scene, though, and the group’s sound has shifted a bit to reflect the tastes of their new fanbase. They now draw as much from the leisurely, rootsy rock of the Allman Brothers Band as they do the searing blues of their hometown.
Pumpkin Spirit Release and Fall Celebration @ Great Lakes Distillery, 6 p.m.
While Starbucks patrons around the city celebrate the return of the pumpkin spice latte, Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Distillery is offering a far more unique, limited-edition drink to commemorate the season. The distillery is debuting its new pumpkin spirit, a fall drink with a kick, at this event, which will include a pumpkin pie contest, a pumpkin carving competition, tastings and light food. There will also be tours of the distillery during the event.
Sunday, Oct. 20
Margaret Cho @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
After the traumatizing experience of starring in the 1994 sitcom “All American Girl,” where producers alternatingly instructed her to act more and less Asian, and pushed her to lose so much weight that she suffered kidney failure, Margaret Cho rededicated herself to stand-up comedy, and her material became edgier, more political and more sexually explicit. Her recent tours in particular have pushed boundaries, but her open discussion about her bisexuality has made her a hero in the LGBT community. Her comedy gives voice to people who feel marginalized by society.
The 1975 @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
The latest Manchester four piece buoyed by the British music press’s all-consuming hype machine, The 1975 caught a big wave of buzz earlier this year for their EP Music for Cars, with much of the excitement centered around its single, “Sex,” a shimmery slab of British post-punk by numbers with accents of Fall Out Boy’s high-drama emo. Last month they delivered their self-titled debut full-length. Recorded with Arctic Monkeys and Foals producer Mike Crossey, it’s a remarkably slick affair that splits the difference between synth-heavy dance songs and direct guitar pop.
Tuesday, Oct. 22
Ben Sollee w/ The DuPont Brothers @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Cellist, singer-songwriter, composer and activist are just some of the titles Ben Sollee can carry. Sollee is one of those artists who wears his value system on his sleeve. He can often be spotted riding his own bike to his shows, which he prides for their intimacy. That’s not to say he’s not open to collaboration. Mixing bluegrass, folk and jazz, his latest album Half-Made Man is his first to make use of a full band.
Wednesday, Oct. 23
Yonder Mountain String Band w/ Founding Fathers @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
The seed was planted for Yonder Mountain String Band when banjoist Dave Johnston told college buddy Jeff Austin to bring his mandolin to his band’s performance and “play anything fast and loud.” That band, The Bluegrassholes, soon collapsed, but Johnston and Austin’s penchant for playing loose, carefree jams lived on in Yonder Mountain String Band, a progressive bluegrass quartet that has produced three consecutive No. 1 albums on the U.S. Bluegrass charts (yes, there really is such a thing), including 2009’s The Show.