This Week in Milwaukee: Oct. 31-Nov. 6
Poliça w/ Marijuana Deathsquads @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
Twin Cities producer Ryan Olson was one of the driving creative forces behind Gayngs, the sprawling 25-member soft-rock collective that included members of The Rosebuds, Megafaun and Bon Iver. His follow-up project features a much smaller cast. The R&B-inspired electronic dream-pop group Poliça reunites him with Gayngs singer Channy Leaneagh. With bassist Chris Bierdan and drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson, they recorded last year’s debut, Give You the Ghost, a smooth and seductive record with more than a few hints of Sade. This month’s follow-up Shulamith doesn’t veer too far from that sound, but it’s a livelier listen with a slightly edgier, more experimental lean.
Umphrey’s McGee @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
Among the heaviest and most prog-rock influenced of the major bands on the jam scene, Umphrey’s McGee draws particularly from Pink Floyd, Genesis and Dream Theater, but they are, of course, prone to the same genre-hopping of their Bonnaroo-circuit pals. During their annual Halloween blowout shows, however, they broaden their scope even wider, creating lengthy, elaborate sets of cover-song mashups. They’ll park at the Riverside Theater for three nights of costumes and musical fusion this weekend. (Through Saturday, Nov 2.)
Night of the Living Dead: The Puppet Show @ The Oriental Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
The ability to work in multiple mediums is the sign of a truly great story, so it’s not surprising that George Romero’s 1968 zombie masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead, has been so frequently reimagined by both cartoons and comic books. Since 2007, the story has been told in an even less conventional format: through puppets. Milwaukee’s Angry Young Men, Ltd. performance troupe has condensed the film into a 30-minute live romp that doesn’t skimp on the gore.
Friday, Nov. 1
David Sedaris @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
It took David Sedaris a few years (and more than a few odd jobs) to discover his niche. When the whirlwind success of his “SantaLand Diaries” radio essay afforded him the chance to write a book, he released 1994’s Barrel Fever, a collection divided between satirical short stories and autobiographical essays. The essays, of course, generated more response than the fiction, so Sedaris refined his approach, focusing mostly on memoirs for a string of best-selling follow-up collections, establishing the wispy humorist as one of the literary world’s marquee names: Where most authors appear at bookstores, Sedaris sells out theaters and auditoriums. His ninth and latest book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, is another collection of the non-fiction essays he’s best known for.
Katt Williams: Katt is Back Tour @ U.S. Cellular Arena, 8 p.m.
Comedian Katt Williams is, to understate it a bit, a little on the erratic side, with a long history of bizarre behavior and legal problems that would give even the most reckless rap stars pause. Given that background, it wasn’t too surprising when Williams quickly flip-flopped after announcing his retirement last year. Nonetheless, the comedian and Scary Movie 5 star has billed his latest round of dates as the “Katt is Back Tour,” which might be overselling his comeback story a bit, considering that he was only out of the game for three days.
Saturday, Nov. 2
3OH!3 w/ The Summer Set, Wallpaper and New Beat Fund @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
A sort of Bloodhound Gang for the skinny-jeans-and-bottle-service generation, 3OH!3 warned “never trust a ho” on their 2009 smash single “Don’t Trust Me,” a club banger that elevated the group from frat-friendly novelty band to Top 40 staples and earned them tour dates alongside the Black Eyed Peas. Subsequent years saw the duo collaborating with kindred spirit Ke$ha and finalizing their latest album, Omens, a typically cheeky, decidedly un-P.C. blast of goofball party rap.
Dr. Ralph Stanley @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
An honorary doctorate degree from Lincoln Memorial University made it official, but Ralph Stanley has been a doctor of bluegrass since the 1940s, when he began to hone his clawhammer banjo style. Stanley’s soaring Southern gospel vocals grew from his exposure to Baptist church choirs and the rural music customs of his hometown in southwestern Virginia. In 2002, his a cappella rendition of the Appalachian hymn “O Death” on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack earned him a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. After decades on the road, though, the 86-year-old Stanley is finally thinking about retirement. His current tour is being billed as his last.
Tuesday, Nov. 5
Amos Lee @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
After working as an elementary school teacher for two years, Philly musician Amos Lee quit to devote himself to his soulful blues songwriting. His 2003 EP drew interest from fellow jazz composer Norah Jones, and earned him an opening spot on her 2004 tour. Their rapport fostered future professional relations, particularly on his self-titled debut album, which was produced by Jones’ bassist and included her vocals and instrumentation. His latest studio album, Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song, widens his musical territory, introducing more pep into his songs. This album includes guest vocals from Alison Krauss and Patty Griffin.
Wednesday, Nov. 6
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Like many young New Orleans musicians, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews marries his city’s heritage jazz with the youthful music of his own generation, creating a swampy, hip-hop-influenced jazz-funk fusion. Named for his city’s Sixth Ward and produced by Galactic’s Ben Ellman, his 2010 debut for Verve records, Backatown, was a major critical and commercial success, cementing his status as one of New Orleans’ brightest young talents. His 2011 follow-up, For True, was a flashier, more diverse expansion of that album, with guest appearances from Jeff Beck, Warren Haynes, Ledisi and, most surprisingly, Kid Rock, but his newest album, the Raphael Saadiq-produced Say That to Say This, stays rooted in R&B and jazz.