This Week in Milwaukee: Feb 6-13
Jeff Dunham @ BMO Harris Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.
Jeff Dunham emerged as one of America’s top comedians not just for his novel choice of medium (he’s a ventriloquist) but also for his Christian, conservative values. He’s the Fox News Channel of the comedy world, channeling the anger of red-blooded Americans who feel under attack by cashiers who now say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas.” Unable to ignore the remarkable ratings of Dunham’s regular comedy specials for the channel, Comedy Central gave the ventriloquist his own program in 2009, “The Jeff Dunham Show,” which brought the station some of its highest ratings and most scathing reviews. Perhaps understanding the damage to their brand—and how irreconcilable Dunham’s image is with the more youth- (and left-) skewing satire of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert—Comedy Central opted not to renew Dunham’s show for a second season, but Dunham’s recent specials for the station have continued to be massive ratings draws.
Friday Feb. 7
A Musical Tribute to J Dilla @ Stonefly Brewing Company, 10 p.m.
In 2006, Detroit hip-hop producer J Dilla succumbed to a long, painful battle with lupus, but not before amassing one of the most respected catalogue of beats in rap history, including many that he recorded from his hospital bed. In the years since his death, Dilla has been well honored by a slew of tribute projects, including several at Riverwest’s Stonefly Brewing Company. Hosted by DJ Bizzon, this latest tribute bill features more than a dozen artists from the Milwaukee music scene, including AUTOMatic, DJ One L, MC Mikal, Mike Love, El, Haz Solo, Elle Razberry, Sose, DJ Contact, Ecko, Blax Intellect, Brit Nicole, Higher Education, Fresh Cut Collective and Evan Christian.
Body Worlds and The Cycle of Life @ Milwaukee Public Museum
Nearly 20 years after the first Body Worlds exhibit debuted in Tokyo, presenting real human anatomy preserved through a process of plastination developed by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, Body Worlds remains one of the world’s most popular and controversial museum attractions. Countries around the world have outlawed the exhibits, and one Republican representative attempted to have the United States follow suit in 2008 (unsuccessfully). Milwaukee Public Museum’s new Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life exhibition uses more than 200 plastinated specimens to illustrate how the body ages, with figures culled from all stages of life, including youth and old age, providing an in-depth look at how time and illness leave their marks.
The Lovin’ Spoonful @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Sixties flowerchild staples The Lovin’ Spoonful haven’t released an album since 1969’s Revelation: Revolution ’69, but that hasn’t stopped the group from performing on and off during the ensuing decades. Guitarist Zal Yanovsky passed away in 2002, two years after the group was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and original frontman John Sebastian quit the group for good at the end of the ’60s, leaving bassist Steve Boone and drummer-singer Joe Butler (who became their de facto frontman in Sebastian’s absence) to keep the band going on the road, where they continue to play oldies staples like “Do You Believe in Magic” and “Summer in the City.”
Saturday, Feb. 8
Mitten Fest @ Burnhearts, noon-8 p.m.
Milwaukee may pride itself as the City of Festivals, but the city’s street parties dry up quickly as soon as the weather dips in the fall, leaving a long, chilly stretch without much to do. Last year Burnhearts did its part to help fill that void with its inaugural Mitten Fest, a winter spin on its summer block party with an outdoor stage and plenty of hot drinks. The second annual Mitten Fest offers more of the same, with music from four Milwaukee bands—The Fatty Acids, Whips, Midwest Death Rattle and Heavy Hand—as well and a specialty drink menu that includes bourbon barrel-aged brandy Old Fashioneds and ginger brandy. There will also be a selection of rare beers from Central Waters Brewing Company and Founders Brewing Co., a craft fair curated by local artist Cortney Heimerl, and hot food from Honeypie and Goodkind, a restaurant Burnhearts owners William and Jessica Seidel plan to open in Bay View this spring. The event is free, but attendees are strongly encouraged to bring non-perishable food and warm clothes to donate to the Hunger Task Force.
2 Chainz w/ Pusha T and August Alsina @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Rap is a genre that favors the young, which makes 2 Chainz’s commercial breakthrough all that more impressive, given that he was well into his 30s by the time he hit the radio in 2011. Turns out all he needed was a name change: He’d been rapping for well over a decade under the unfortunate moniker Tity Boi with only modest returns, but within months of his rebranding he was one of radio’s hottest presences. Between his oafish delivery and joke-heavy rhymes he has all the markings of a novelty rapper, but so far he’s shown real longevity, and judging by his lively 2013 album B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time, it’ll be at least a while longer before his persona grows old. He shares this bill with former Clipse rapper turned Kanye West consort Pusha T, who last year released his most sonically adventurous album, My Name Is My Name.
Woman Up! @ Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Woman Up!, Shepherd Express’ first annual women’s festival, will offer Milwaukeeans a day of inspiration, empowerment and enjoyment along with abundant samples of delicious food and beverages from some of the area’s best restaurants, chocolatiers and wineries. Bravo TV personality Vicki Gunvalson and Miranda Levy from season 12 of “Project Runway” will share their journeys to becoming successful entrepreneurs and hold a “meet and greet” with VIP guests. In addition, Dr. Arthur Rapkin from Vitality Health & Wellness will discuss weight and health issues and “Wisconsin Foodie” host Kyle Cherek will facilitate an exciting discussion with an experienced local chef panel. Some of the 200 vendors will include internationally known psychic and spiritual mediator Lynette Corsten, Milwaukee Pedal Tavern, DEFENSEWORKS and Sana Acupuncture and Apothecary, to name just a few. General and VIP admission is available for purchase online at expressmilwaukee.com/womanup. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Meta House, a local nonprofit that helps women struggling with addiction. See insert in this week’s paper for event program.
Sunday, Feb. 9
Mavis Staples w/ Robert Cray @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Soul great Mavis Staples will always be best known for her work with The Staple Singers, a group that recorded a string of great records throughout the ’60s and ’70s and scored the hit “I’ll Take You There,” but her underappreciated late-period records are plenty remarkable in their own right. She reflected on the civil-rights movement, a topic near to her heart, for 2007’s gospel-minded We’ll Never Turn Back, before teaming with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy for 2010’s wonderfully stripped-down You Are Not Alone and last year’s sequel, One True Vine. That album featured background vocals from Kelly Hogan and drums from Tweedy’s son, Spencer.
Houndmouth w/ Willie Watson @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
The term “Southern rock” comes with certain connotations, suggesting burly, dirty and possibly meandering rock ’n’ roll, among other things. But there’s no reason all Southern rock has to fit in that box. Though there’s a little bit of Allman Brothers-y twang in the guitar of the Indiana/Kentucky quartet Houndmouth, the group is everything Allman Brothers aren’t: delicate, composed and even a little posh. Those qualities made them a clean fit for the indie-rock label Rough Trade, which released the band’s very pretty debut album From The Hills Below The City last year. They’ve been on the road ever since, making new fans at festivals including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival.