words by Cal Roach
If you’re not careful, this winter will slip right by before you even know it’s gone. They’re already announcing Summerfest headliners for Pete’s sake! Don’t let this busy weekend catch you holed up in your apartment; just look at all this great entertainment…
Have you heard that classic soul cover of Nirvana’s “Stay Away” that’s been all over the WMSE airwaves lately? Those pipes belong to Charles Bradley, who brings his Extraordinaires to Turner Hall Ballroom this evening (Friday) at 8 p.m. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the Apollo in the early 60s as Bradley’s James Brown-esque wail and his band’s punchy funk take you for a ride on the soul train. Get there early for London’s premier garage/funk/blues export, Little Barrie.
If you saw Juniper Tar last year at all–say, opening for Sharon Van Etten, or at Summerfest–you know that the band kept getting better and better with each show. We’re all pretty darn excited about the band’s forthcoming album, Since Before, which should be out some time this year; in the meantime, you can listen to this superb Daytrotter session for some of the powerful new tunes. And then you can go see them tonight at Cactus Club, for the full effect. Also playing: jangly, communal power-popster band Chaperone.
Also Friday night at nearby Frank’s Power Plant, you can catch local upstart experimental act Scrimshaw, which draws talent from a couple of Milwaukee’s most deviant bands, Crappy Dracula and The Trusty Knife. If that screams catchy and puzzling at the same time, then these guys are doing their job. Also playing: Sprout and Boy With Bosoms, two other bands with almost no online presence whatsoever.
On Saturday, direct your attention to Turner Hall Ballroom, where Cedar Block, local multimedia organism directed by Brent Gohde, will put on…well, the more we say about it, the more confusing it would sound. Even the full title is willfully perplexing, so for maximum enticement, we’ll leave it at “Sexy Results”. Tons of amazing local talent will be contributing, like IfIHadAHifi and a collaboration between guitar maestros Jim Warchol and Chris Rosenau (from Collections Of Colonies Of Bees) and WMSE’s own DJ Dori Zori. If you seriously need more information than that to be convinced, we’ll point you to the event’s Facebook page or this in-depth preview at the AV Club for further enlightenment. One thing is certain: there’s nothing like this going on anywhere else in the city. Like, ever. Okay, one more teaser: there’s an act on the bill called Bacon Interactive.
Surely you’ve heard of the Rockabilly Chili Contest by now? You know how every year, you leave feeling like a bomb went off in your intestines, but within a week you’re wishing you could have just one more chili contest??? Be preemptive this year with the Riverwest Co-Op Pre-WMSE Chili Cookoff! Enter your secret recipe, and if you win, the Co-Op will serve it all “winter”! The catch: it’s gotta be vegan, folks!
Mardi Gras is just around the corner, so why not start the celebration a full week early? Rebirth Brass Band is playing Tuesday at Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Bingo Casino, possibly the most carnivalesque setting in the entire city. Shake a tail feather to one of N’Awlins’ proudest musical exports, pure bayou jazz with blues and funk and R&B thrown in to spice things up. You’re guaranteed an uplifting performance with this band, and some of the best horn players in the country.
Otherwise, perhaps you’d consider an event that directly supports little ol’ WMSE? Our good friends at Great Lakes Distillery are putting on what they’re calling a Mardi Gras Party Gras, also on Tuesday. The most obvious attraction is the authentic Brazilian street food, but Kasana Concierge Gourmet along with Do414 are bringing you a multitude of entertainment options to keep things rolling from 5-10 p.m. Come on, when was the last time you had a tarot card reading? Music is key, of course; in addition to the Extra Crispy Brass Band, look out for WMSE DJs spinning their favorite records in between featured acts.