Aug. 14 - Aug. 20
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, Aug. 14
Bars for the Arts @ Art Bar, 8 p.m. To raise money for the national tour behind their latest production, Paint the Town, the Bay View troupe Insurgent Theatre will throw a fundraiser at Art Bar, supported by near ly two dozen bars and restaurants from around the city. They’ll be raffling off donated liquor and goodies, including the grand prize: a shopping cart filled with enough booze and accessories to turn your home into a well-stocked bar. Meanwhile, Italian restaurants from all over the city are providing pizza, pasta and appetizers.
Friday, Aug. 15
This week Milwaukee loses its soft-funk/jazz quintet Chinese Fingertrap, which formed in 2005 and bids farewell with a final show at the Miramar Theatre. Nathan Kamsler’s smooth-noir sax and vocalist Alyssa Voelker’s Stevie Nicks-style swagger attracted significant local attention in their relatively short run, as well as gigs opening for Les Claypool and Medeski Martin & Wood. Maintaining an improvisational foundation while avoiding some of the repetitive and long-winded pitfalls of other jam bands, Chinese Fingertrap established themselves as a contemporary jazz rarity and will likely prove a hard act to replace.
Into Arcadia w/ The Etiquette and The Record Low @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
On their upcoming debut full-length album, Maps for Children, Milwaukee’s Into Arcadia find themselves a bit bummed out by the modern age. A deep existential dread that borders on outright despair runs through the album, from lead singer Otto Ohlsson’s occasional channeling of Robert Smith’s tragic shrillness to the night-highway ambiance of their synths. Fortunately, their plight lends itself to provocative, spiritual, melancholic space pop.
Johnny Winter @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
After more than 40 years on the road and a career colored by both hard knocks and critical accolades, Johnny Winter is considered a vintage blues artist—one short step away from the status of personal idols such as Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.
Winter, along with his brother, fellow musician Edgar Winter, knocked around east Texas during the mid-1960s in a variety of different bands before two writers from Rolling Stone introduced the gui tarist to readers as part of a 1968 article on the Texas music scene. Fame, a six figure Columbia Records deal and crit ical acclaim followed. Winter soon found himself jamming with contem poraries such as Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison and performing with idols Freddie King and Muddy Waters, who themselves benefited from the blues revival Winter helped spearhead. Drug abuse, ill health and fiscal mismanage ment dogged his career, but these days Winter is performing regularly. Visit ExpressMilwaukee.com for a rare interview with Winter, who shares his views on the state of blues music and its fan base.
Saturday, Aug. 16
In its early years, Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution Tour maintained a nearly 50-50 bal ance between rock and rap acts. It’s symbolic, then, that the lone rapper on the 2008 Projekt Revolution tour, Busta Rhymes, was dropped early on, leaving behind a lineup of alternative and hard-rock acts such as Chris Cornell, Ashes Divide, Hawthorne Heights and The Bravery. In a bid for longevity, Linkin Park has recently downplayed their ties to the rap-rock movement, perhaps fearing the history books won’t make much of a distinction between them and Limp Bizkit.
Wisely or not, the group sidelined rapper-guy Mike Shinoda, always the most passable of all the rap-rock emcees, for their mopey 2007 album, Minutes to Midnight, replacing his hip-hop throwbacks with atmospheric, U2-style arena rock. Thanks to hits such as the prom-slow-dance-ready “Shadow of the Day,” the album has sold impressively, but fans still pine for their tried-and-true old sound. Sure, rap-rock may not be in vogue these days, but Linkin Park always did it better than their peers. Here’s betting that their next album will be a Shinoda-heavy, back-to-basics affair.
Lights Out Asia w/ Strangest Places and bts.wrkng @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Milwaukee’s resident ambient artists Lights Out Asia have carved out a niche for themselves in the pleasantly addicting, music-to-get-lost-in genre. They’ve honed their grand, multi-layered dreamscapes on their third album, Eyes Like Brontide, the release of which they’ll celebrate tonight. The record crosses ambi ent melodies with sparse, calculated rhythms. Also releasing a CD tonight is the local indie-rock outfit Strangest Places, which conjures chilly British post-punk on a new album, Exit Strategy.
Handsome Furs @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Plague Park, the 2007 debut album of Montreal’s husband-and-wife duo Handsome Furs, whipped up a heady mix of heavy-handed Western Gothic tinged with subtle traces of electronica. Singer Dan Boeckner’s voice waivers somewhere between the flatness of Beck to the frantic nervousness of 16 Horsepower’s David Eugene Edwards, which lends an epic quality to their already grand, bell-tolling melodies. After a U.S. excursion was aborted earlier this year due to a Visa snafu, the duo is looking to do good by their burgeoning American fan base with a limited tour of the Midwest in preparation for their forthcoming sophomore entry, Face Control.
Tuesday, Aug. 19
Love it or hate it, the high-profile Bronz Fonz statue is nearly complete and gearing up for its placement on the Riverwalk. While the art elite cringe, the city is celebrating today with a slew of events, some of which feature the real Fonz himself, Henry Winkler. Culver’s will dish out free frozen custard from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Marcus Center, and the cast of “Happy Days” will ride vintage cars in a parade from Wisconsin Avenue to Miller Park at 5:45 p.m. After that, the actors will be honored before the Brewers game against the Houston Astros. Fans at the game will receive a Fonzie baseball card, while Anson “Potsie” Williams will sing the national anthem—seriously.
Eddie Vedder w/ Liam Finn @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Eddie Vedder’s deep-throated yowl has been parroted by some of the very worst modern music has to offer, from odious “American Idol” contestants to chest-beating Christian rockers. Don’t hold it against them. Vedder himself has denounced the stage-diving, jock-rock posturing of Pearl Jam’s early days and, especially during his solo shows, he falls back on subdued, American folk-rock. He’s spread his infrequent solo material across the soundtracks to several Sean Penn films, most notably 2007’s Into The Wild, which is the closest Vedder has come to a true solo album.
ha HA Potato w/ Bee vs. Moth @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Plenty of listeners argue that the essence of jazz is chaos, or rather a channeled, directed chaos. While this may not be true for all jazz, it’s certainly the case for the Milwaukee trio ha HA Potato, who opt for dual drums and a saxophone instead of a traditional setup. The resulting sound is unruly as you’d expect, yet it rarely seems stagnant or uninspired. For instance, the politically charged “Dear Mom, We Are Dead” seamlessly overlays jazz improvisation with the sporadic sounds of war gunfire and explosions. Bee vs. Moth—experimental compatriots from Austin, Texas—open.