Jun. 5 - Jun. 11
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, June 5
Clamnation @ Jazz in the
Park, 6 p.m.
If last weekend’s RiverSplash! didn’t make it official enough, there can be no doubt that Milwaukee’s summer festival season has finally arrived now that Jazz in the Park has returned. Every Thursday through September in Cathedral Square Park, a different jazz artist will headline this free gig while patrons—some of them jazz buffs, others seemingly indifferent to the music—picnic and sip wine. Clamnation, one of Milwaukee’s finest jazz acts, makes a fitting opener for this year’s season. The group throws down thick jazz-funk, lightened by liberal swaths of nimble Latin jazz.
Friday, June 6
Wanda Sykes @ PrideFest, Summerfest Grounds, 9 p.m.
Rising steadily since her breakthrough work with Chris Rock in the mid-’90s, Wanda Sykes has become a familiar character actor, lending her likeness (and often just her unmistakably pitchy voice) to a series of movies, sitcoms, cartoons and commercials. Save perhaps for her scene-stealing appearances on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” however, she’s at her best when left with her own stand-up material, which leans heavily on animated rants about social and political topics. Here’s betting that her extended bit supporting gay marriage finds a receptive audience at PrideFest tonight.
ZooMusic: Wild Music for
Savage Beasts @ The Milwaukee County Zoo, 6 p.m.
Present Music invites patrons to explore the Milwaukee County Zoo grounds after hours at 6 p.m. in advance of an 8 p.m. performance at the Peck Welcome Center. Musicians from the ensemble, as well as dancers from the Danceworks company, will prowl the grounds, playing off the natural sounds and movements of the animals. After the concert, which features compositions and collaborations inspired by wildlife, Present Music will further take advantage of the after-hours grounds with a season-ending party.
Port Pirate Festival @ 139 W. Grand Ave., Port Washington
Perhaps your only chance to cruise a 150-foot, four-masted schooner whilst it’s under siege by pirates (or whilst it’s not, depending on which cruise you sign up for), the Port Pirate Festival runs this weekend from Friday to Sunday. Admission is free (though there are fees for some activities), and in addition to cruises there will be a buccaneer bash, historical displays—including a pirate encampment—and a pirate-themed parade. Don’t own an eye-patch? You can find one, along with other items, at the thieves’ marketplace. Is it a coincidence that Johnny Depp’s new film is scheduled to be shooting in the area this weekend?
Saturday, June 7
Natasha Bedingfield @ PrideFest, Summerfest Grounds, 8:30 p.m.
The organizers of PrideFest have long strived to book entertainment with appeal beyond the typical LGBT circles, but they’ve never before booked one as broadly popular as Natasha Bedingfield, a British star with no prominent LGBT ties. She’s best known for her single “Unwritten,” a song that charted around the world and laid the template for her subsequent work: empowered and relentlessly optimistic pop. Her newest album, Pocketful of Sunshine, is even breezier than its title suggests.
Mark Kozelek w/ Davey Von Bohlen @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Blessed—or perhaps cursed—with an unnatural ability to turn every song he touches into concentrated depression, Mark Kozelek writes emotionally devastating songs made all the more harrowing by his cold, disaffected vocals. His ’90s slowcore band, Red House Painters, always felt like a showcase for Kozelek, and his subsequent band, Sun Kil Moon, feels even more like a solo project. Recent years have seen Kozelek enamored by the songs of others—in 2001 he released a solo album of AC/DC covers, and, in 2005, with Sun Kil Moon, a collection of lonely Modest Mouse covers—but this spring Sun Kil Moon returned with an acclaimed set of Kozelek originals, April, which further padded Kozelek’s already beefy critical reputation.
Jeff Dunham @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
The straight man to his entourage of crass puppets, ventriloquist Jeff Dunham will film his upcoming Comedy Central special tonight over the course of two performances. Practice your “I’m shocked but I find this very, very funny” face now if you’re gunning for some screen time, but don’t expect the material to be overly timely: It’s a Christmas special.
Sunday, June 8
The Silos @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
A forward-thinking group that in the late ’80s infused assured college-rock with accents of Americana, The Silos are one of the modern alt-country movement’s unspoken pioneers. Since the beginning, the band’s records have consistently been strong—hooky and spiteful in all the right places—but the group has suffered from chronic bad luck. A stint on a major label in the early ’90s did little to advance their stardom, and by the end of the decade, their roots-spiked alternative rock no longer seemed so revelatory. With any luck, the band’s recent partnership with the elite label Bloodshot Records will prompt a long-overdue critical reappraisal.
Locust Street Festival
of Music & Art @ 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
From its modest beginnings as a neighborhood festival with an understated bohemian streak, the annual Locust Street Festival, now in its 32nd year, has blossomed into one of the city’s most crowded outdoor gatherings as revelers from around the county flock to Milwaukee’s ever-trendy neighborhood. Drum circles, arts and crafts and novel snacks abound, but the biggest draw is still the music. Among the many acts playing are Stealin’ Strings, John the Savage, The Trusty Knife, Colin O’Brien and The Championship.
Monday, June 9
B.B. King @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
It’s easy to take B.B. King for granted. For 60 years the elder statesman of blues has been touring rigorously, and even as he entered his 80s he barely slowed down. It was a sobering moment, then, when he announced his “farewell tour” in 2006. Fans who had gotten used to seeing him annually were forced to imagine a world where he would no longer be headlining their favorite blues festivals. But two years later the hard-touring legend is still booked for plenty of shows and he has thankfully toned down talk of a final farewell.
Wednesday, June 11
Gogol Bordello @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The brainchild of Ukrainian expat Eugene Htz, the New Yorkbased ensemble Gogol Bordello doesn’t mind being labeled as gypsy punks—they even named their 2005 album Gypsy Punks. Think of theirs as international drinking music: a hodgepodge of Bulgarian and Slovakian sounds with crashing percussion and a Pogues-like love for livewire, call-andresponse.