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Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 9 - April 15

This Week in Milwaukee

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Thursday, April 9

Brandi Carlile @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Like so many of her adult-contemporary peers who owe much of their name recognition to appearances on the “Grey’s Anatomy” soundtrack, Brandi Carlile plays melancholic but melodious folk-pop. She distinguishes herself, though, with an unusually deep love of authentic country, which infuses her songs in both sound and spirit. She followed-up her 2005 self-titled debut, which announced her as a bold disciple of Jeff Buckly, with 2007’s The Story, an unusually stark, somber affair produced by T-Bone Burnett.


David Sedaris @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.

It took David Sedaris a few years to find 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 latest collection, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, focuses largely on Sedaris’ adult life and his relationship with his longtime partner, Hugh.

Alejandro Escovedo and Carrie Rodriguez @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
“I died a little today/ I put up a fight,” Alejandro Escovedo sang on 2006’s The Boxing Mirror, bluntly detailing his bout with hepatitis C. The disease almost killed the veteran Texan songwriter, but it also provided the muse for his best album yet. Backed by moaning cellos and violent violin stabs (the stamp of producer John Cale), Escovedo delivered a muscular set of scorching roots rockers, sincere pop confessions and haunting, noir ballads with the vigor of a man half his age and with twice the immune system. Escovedo’s latest, 2008’s Real Animal, is marked by a similar moxie. Fiddlin’ opener Carrie Rodriguez received a emphatic endorsement in the New York Times from roots hero Lucinda Williams, though her twang-laden, chicken-fried songs are more overtly country than Williams’ work.

Friday, April 10

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs @ Miller Park, 3:05 p.m.
There will be peanuts and Cracker Jack at the Milwaukee Brewers’ home opener. Unfortunately, there will also be Cubs fans. Lots and lots of Cubs fans. With the Brew riding high off their first playoffs appearance in a quarter century, though, hopefully even our profane, entitled neighbors to the south won’t be able to rain on this parade.

High Lonesome @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 9:30 p.m.
Like the Old Crow Medicine Show and Hank Williams III before them, Milwaukee’s High Lonesome brings an “the older the better” mentality to country and bluegrass, reviving the strident sounds of early Americana without playing them up for kitsch. The trio’s reverence for outlaw culture would allow them to fit in with the modern cow-punk movement, but the music itself is mostly untainted by punk. Save perhaps for the hint of Paul Westerberg and Dave Pirner’s Minnesotan growl that slips into singer Noah Tyson’s voice, this trio plays their country as straight as the old pioneers did.

Saturday, April 11

Coco Montoya @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
When John Mayall reformed his long-defunct Bluesbreakers in the 1980s without Eric Clapton, Peter Green or Mick Taylor, but made up for its lack of star power with the sheer force of new guitarist Coco Montoya, a one-time drummer for Albert Collins who was hungry to prove himself on the ax. Montoya went solo in the ’90s, releasing a string of albums, which have found the guitarist moving away from traditional blues in favor of heavier rock sounds and, on his most recent disc, 2007’s Dirty Deal, a slick R&B sound indebted to Robert Cray.

The All-American Rejects w/ Shiny Toy Guns @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
The All-American Rejects seem to build momentum with each single. The quartet’s first, “Swing, Swing,” propelled the group to emo-pop stardom in 2003 and “Dirty Little Secret” further cemented them power-pop group with a knack for the charts in 2006. Their latest and most popular to date, “Gives You Hell,” from 2008’s When the World Comes Down, breaks from the previous single’s uptempo melodies for slower progressions and vocal harmonies, while playing up the fistpumping, arena-rock theatrics. Openers Shiny Toy Guns, a stylish synth-pop band signed on the strength of their Myspace following, similarly upped their catchy 2006 hit “Le Disko” with last year’s “Ricochet!”

Fashion Revolution 2009 @ Milwaukee Art Museum, 8 p.m.
The Milwaukee Art Museum rolls out the catwalk in its Baumgartner Gallerias for this annual event, now in its third year. More than 10 Midwestern fashion designers have infused Egyptian, Indian, Russian and British forms with American styles, so the designs promise to be particularly diverse. Hip-hop artist Firey Phoenix and the local dance troupe REMIX kick off the show, proceeds from which go to The Fashion Revolution Scholarship fund of Milwaukee, which grants collegiate scholarships to art and fashion students.

In Vanda’s Room @ The UWM Union Theatre, 8 p.m.
With an urban-slum setting similar to Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning phenomenon Slumdog Millionaire, only without any feelgood carrot at the end of the string, Pedro Costa’s three-hour drama In Vanda’s Room paints a realist picture of the Lisbon ghetto, Fontainhas, and some of its heroine shooting inhabitants. Equipped with only a small video camera, which remains static during each shot, Costa filmed more than 100 hours of footage, editing them down into a final product that often feels more like a documentary than fiction. (Also April 12, 5 p.m.)


In Vanda’s Room

Sunday, April 12

English Beat @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
It’s an unwritten rule that if a band exists on- and off-again long enough without making any new music, eventually that band will splinter off into two bands touring under the same name. At least the Beat, the popular-’80s ska band, were well positioned for the split, since the group had two vocalists: Dave Wakeling, the Brit-pop frontman, and Ranking Roger, the rastafied crooner. Wakeling now fronts the American version of the Beat, called the English Beat, which continues to tour the nostalgia circuit, much to the delight of young ska fans, while Roger has carried the Beat torch in the U.K. Relations between the two factions remain icy, though Wakeling insists the door is always open for a full reunion.

Tuesday, April 14

John Scofield and The Piety Street Band @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
[Please note: The print version of this feature incorrectly listed the date of this concert as Wednesday, April 15.] Jazz guitarist John Scofield has built up a remarkable resume over the years, collaborating with musicians like Phil Lesh, Herbie Hancock, Medeski Martin & Wood and Miles Davis. Playing on three albums with Davis in the ’80s opened doors for the oft-experimental guitarist, while his periodic collaborations with Medeski Martin & Wood (and the members’ many side projects) over the past decade has endeared Scofield to the loyal (and lucrative) ears of jam-music fans. Scofield’s latest studio record, Piety Street, his 36th John Scofield , blends southern gospel rhythms and New Orleans blues. His latest band includes Jon Cleary, George Porter, Jr. and former Beach Boys drummer Ricky Fataar.