This Week in Milwaukee
Jesus Christ Superstar, Cory Chisel, The Neville Brothers and St. Vincent
Thursday, Feb. 11Nickel and Dimed @ Marquette University’s Helfaer Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 book Nickel and Dimed examined the aftermath of 1996 welfare reform, using investigative journalism to demonstrate that having a job in no way guarantees escaping poverty. Ehrenreich posed as a blue-collar worker, experiencing firsthand the difficulties people face in finding and maintaining low-wage jobs, and disputing the notion that these jobs are “unskilled” labor. The book spawned a well-regarded stage adaptation in 2002 by Joan Holden, which Marquette University’s Department of Performing Arts presents tonight. The production, which runs through Feb. 21, is directed by James Bailey, a 1985 Marquette alum.
Friday, Feb. 12Broadminded: Confessions @ Alchemist Theatre, 8 p.m.
Paving the way as Milwaukee’s only all-female sketch comedy ensemble, Broadminded divulges the clandestine tales that women keep tucked away and tells stories of common lies and half-truths in its latest program, Confessions. Broadminded’s ladies have a rich background in the field: Stacy Babl and Megan McGee are graduates of Milwaukee’s Second City Conservatory, while Anne Graff LaDisa and Melissa Kingston are ComedySportz gurus. The group has been writing and performing sketches together since 2006. This production runs weekends through the end of the month.
Martin Jack Rosenblum and Dave Luhrssen @ Boswell Book Co., 7 p.m.
UW-Milwaukee music historian Martin Jack Rosenblum and Shepherd Express Arts & Entertainment Editor Dave Luhrssen give a free reading tonight from their book Searching for Rock & Roll. Now in its third edition, the book studies some of the genre’s less explored origins, with particular emphasis on country, folk and blues, and details how rock—a genre once stigmatized as an outlet for the poor and unrefined—evolved into one of the world’s most popular styles of music.
Saturday, Feb. 13Sindoolaa @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 3 p.m.
Senegal native Oumar Sagna offers a more ambitious, large-scale variation of the classic, heartwarming “immigrant works hard in America to send money back home to his family” narrative: He regularly organizes fund-raisers to send money back to his old elementary school in his home village of Diatock. His latest is a benefit concert to help build the school a library, headlined by Sagna’s own band, Sindoolaa, an African music collective. Sindoolaa’s live shows are spectacles, with the group’s sonorous, percussive rhythms giving way to a flurry of African dancing.Jesus Christ Superstar @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
Though it would sound almost blasphemously arrogant if he were to say it himself, Jesus Christ is the role Ted Neeley was born to play. Neeley starred in the 1973 film adaptation of the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, and has starred in touring productions and revivals of the musical ever since. At age 66, he’s been playing the role for more than 35 years—longer, biblical scholars will note, than Jesus himself walked this Earth. The latest Neeley-anchored touring production of the musical stops at the Milwaukee Theatre for one performance tonight.
Sunday, Feb. 14Love, Liebe, L’Amour! @ Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 3 p.m.
Love takes a tour around the world during the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music’s voice faculty concert. Featured songs will relay the day’s theme of love via a variety of languages. The program includes singers and voice faculty members Kathleen Sonnentag, Marlee Sabo, Kathleen Matts, Jenny Gettel, J. Mark Baker and Robin Pluer.
Cory Chisel w/ Dawes and Jason Boesel @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Appleton singer-songwriter Cory Chisel teamed up with Brendan Benson and other members of The Raconteurs to record his latest album, Death Won’t Send a Letter, with Benson co-writing the album’s first single, “Born Again.” The added star power helped make Death Won’t Send a Letter Chisel’s highest profile album yet, with Chisel’s understated marriage of traditional roots-rock and classic, rural gospel music earning the approval of major critics around the country. Chisel shares tonight’s bill with California folk-rockers Dawes, part of a greater wave of would-be indie-rock acts captivated by the singer-songwriter records of the 1970s, and Jason Boesel, the Rilo Kiley drummer who just released his own Townes Van Zandt-styled solo effort, Hustler’s Son.
Monday, Feb. 15Buckwheat Zydeco @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Perhaps the most popular modern accordionist outside of “Weird Al” Yankovic, Stanley Dural Jr., better known as Buckwheat Zydeco, returns to Milwaukee to give the city an early taste of Mardi Gras. The Louisiana Creole blues master first cut his teeth with a conventional Southern funk band, Buckwheat and The Hitchhikers, before he left to back the legendary zydeco pioneer, Clifton Chenier. Dural eventually eclipsed his mentor in popularity, becoming the first zydeco performer to be signed to a major label and, in the summer of 1996, also the first to perform for a worldwide audience at the Olympics.
Tuesday, Feb. 16The Neville Brothers w/ Dr. John and the Lower 911 @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
More than most of their R&B contemporaries, The Neville Brothers drew from the sounds of their native Louisiana, incorporating New Orleans-styled jazz, funk and Cajun influences into records like 1981’s Fiyo on the Bayou. Tonight, fittingly, they play a Mardi Gras-themed show with another Louisiana icon and sometimes collaborator, boogie-woogie/R&B pianist Dr. John. Even after Dr. John hypnotized his own cult following, he never gave up his side career as a session player for the stars. He continued recording with the likes of B.B. King, Ringo Starr, Van Morrison, Spiritualized, G. Love and Special Sauce, Odetta, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Buddy Guy, Canned Heat, Christina Aguilera and Beth Orton.
Wednesday, Feb. 17St. Vincent w/ Wildbirds & Peacedrums @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
After beefing up her credentials through time on the road with The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, two acts whose expansive arrangements she doubtlessly studied, Annie Clark went solo as St. Vincent in 2007, releasing Marry Me, a chilly album coated with layers of baroque pop, classical flourishes and mannered quirk. Clark’s 2009 follow-up, Actor, is even more striking, resurrecting the frilly woodwinds and whimsical sounds of old Disney records, but using them in the St. Vincent service of a cycle of songs nearly as bleak as Lou Reed’s Berlin. Clark has emerged in the last year or two as one of indie-rock’s most prolific players, recording with The National, Bon Iver and The New Pornographers. She also tours like crazy, last playing Milwaukee just this past summer.
Cracker w/ Brandi Shearer @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
With its moody alt-rock riff and “leave me alone and let me do drugs” angst, Cracker’s biggest hit, “Low,” screams the 1990s as loudly as a grande mocha latte dipped in flannel, but the rest of the band’s catalog doesn’t date so easily. Like frontman David Lowery’s other band, Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker continues to record spry rock albums spiked with rootsy digressions and tangential fits of punk-rock silliness—music that sounded great before the ’90s alt-rock boom and music that still sounds great today, even if there’s no longer an obvious place for it on the radio. Tonight Lowery and Cracker guitarist Johnny Hickman make a case for their songbook with an acoustic show.