words by Cal Roach
The flurry of local album release parties continues unabated this weekend. If there’s one plus side to the sudden availability of affordable means of recording music (and there are many), it’s the ease with which local artists can put out quality records that they mightn’t have been able to ten years ago. Tonight (Friday) you can catch Vic And Gab at Cactus Club releasing their new album Bridges And Guns, or WAMI winner Tweed Funk at Shank Hall with fresh copies of Love Is. Read on for some other great options for stuff to do this weekend.
Also tonight, a rock and roll legend makes his way to the Riverside Theater for a career-spanning night of music. It’s Steve Winwood–the voice of Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, and those sophisticated 80s keyboard-pop tunes with “high” in the titles (“Back In The High Life” and “Higher Love”). His distinctive tenor has graced the FM airwaves for over four decades, as well as his tickling of the ivories (and plastics, natch). Joining Winwood for this tour is fellow British singer/songwriter Bobby Long.
Linneman’s will play host to a pretty eclectic night of bands. Topping the bill is Panalure, a jazzy, folky hybrid of mellow but quirky music. Plus, a few members of Altos have formed another awesome band called Hello Death, who will join Panalure for this show. The music is subtly dark but not without its lighthearted moments, and watch out for the occasional subversive melodic hook that could be stuck in your head for weeks. Also playing: Chris Demay, who keeps busy in between Juniper Tar gigs with his own cache of original tunes (his most recent album, Bigger Than Small, came out last year).
In case you weren’t already aware, Saturday is World Fair Trade Day! We always encourage you to think locally, but since things like coffee beans and coconuts don’t grow very well in Milwaukee, it’s always important to pay attention to where your foreign goods are coming from. So, why not take part in the fifth annual Greater Milwaukee Fair Trade Crawl? From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., you can hike around to 31 area businesses and learn about the fair trade movement, find great gifts (for Mother’s Day, perhaps?), sample chocolates and free refreshments, even join in on a drum circle! Check out the full list of participating businesses here, as well as info on how to win prizes by visiting six or more locations.
Hey, remember emo? Back in the late 90s, there was a local punk rock band called 5 Foot 7 that was transitioning into a sort of math-y take on the genre that sort of put Milwaukee on the map for a while (thanks, Promise Ring!), but they broke up shortly after the new millennium got underway. But recently, two of the members of that band (guess how tall they are!) have been playing gigs as Samson, maybe a little mellower than their former incarnation but we’re pretty sure you can still count on the high energy Saturday night at Circle A Café. Also playing: venerable neighborhood maestros The Riverewest Aces.
Just in case you get all family’d out at Sunday brunch and need to blow off some steam that night, you’ve got some terrific options. Over at Cactus Club, Quintron And Miss Pussycat will bring their wacky musical variety show to life. Expect a weird mélange of lo-fi electronic sounds and rock, homemade instruments and lots of puppets. The duo will be joined by Catacombz, a Milwaukee band that, if this hasn’t already happened, someone will tell you soon you’ve got to see live. Also playing: Cave.
For another loud show in the cramped confines of Circle A Café, check out Fahri, and get a sneak preview of the band’s highly anticipated album, Final Disconnect Notice, before it’s finally released June 9th. Few Milwaukee bands do the combination of noise and melody as well as Fahri, so get excited. Also playing: Nightinghales, a band out of Minneapolis that combines vintage and modern sounds into punchy Brit-poppy rock and roll.
Or, you could go to a show that Mom might actually like: how about Willy Porter & Patty Larkin at the Pabst Theater? This double bill features two of Milwaukee’s most celebrated singer/songwriters (Yeah, Patty is based in Boston now, but she grew up here–that counts!) for a night of folk-y, heartfelt pop tunes. In case you’ve never seen Porter before, be advised: this guy can really play the acoustic guitar; his jazzy take on finger-style is often reminiscent of Leo Kottke, and he’s also written quite a few enduring songs that you’ll probably recognize even if the name doesn’t ring a bell.