words by Cal Roach
We hope you took our advice last week and made it out to Field Report’s stellar homecoming show last night at Turner Hall, proof-positive that it’s a very exciting time for Milwaukee music. There’s amazing music of every conceivable genre going on here, but this whole folk-rock thing that we’ve been touting is really something else. We also hope you got there early and caught the opening full-band (!?) set by Old Earth, another local artist that you definitely ought to be watching out for (New album coming soon! You can bet we’ll remind you.). Yep, it’s only February, but as good as last year was for local artistry, we might be even more excited for 2013. Get ready for another jam-packed weekend of music, kids. Here are our recommendations.
You may have heard some tracks from the great 2012 album Ocean Parkway by the Gunn-Truscinski Duo over the WMSE airwaves in the past year or so (and if not, you really should listen to The Five And Dime Show and The Tom Wanderer Radio Experience more often). Steve Gunn is the extremely talented guitar half of that duo, and tonight (Friday) he will be appearing for a solo show at Sugar Maple. You can expect a droney, experimental combination of sonic layers that are equally soothing and eerie. Now, you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait! I know the perfect local artist to open a show like that!” Luckily, Black Eagle Child is already booked–they read your mind! Also playing is Mind Over Mirrors; should be a killer night of weird droney music.
You could also head up to Riverwest to catch one of Milwaukee’s brightest rising stars in the world of anything-goes indie rock, Worrier. The band bowled over the crowd at Stonefly in December during Riverwest Fest, and this will most likely be a triumphant return to the brew pub for a Friday night throwdown. Topping the bill is California Wives, a new-wavey, synth-poppy band out of Chicago, so we feel comfortable guaranteeing a sweaty dance party based on these two acts despite the chilly temps. Add to that Milwaukee’s own Boy Blue and, um, we still guarantee the dance party.
It’s hard to know what to say about Saturday. On one hand, The Celebrated Workingman, one of the best all-around rock bands Milwaukee has ever produced, is opening for Retribution Gospel Choir at Cactus Club–yay! On the other hand, CWM singer Mark Waldoch announced a few days ago that this will be the band’s last show–boo! hiss! We would say this band deserves a properly-promoted headlining sendoff, but sometimes in rock and roll the best bands come quietly to inglorious ends; such is apparently the case with CWM. If you were ever going to take our advice, now is the time: Don’t miss your last chance to see this band. Also playing: Wake Owl.
We can’t in good faith recommend being anywhere but Cactus Club Saturday night, but there are other good shows going on that we would urge you to consider under normal circumstances. For instance, Hugh Bob And The Hustle are playing at Club Garibaldi, and it’s gonna be awesome. Sticking stubbornly to the country side of Milwaukee’s burgeoning Americana scene, Hugh Bob’s debut album from last year is one of the many local releases you absolutely must hear. Plus, in case you’ve been wondering what Joseph Huber has been up to since the (lamentable) breakup of The .357 String Band in 2011, this is your chance to find out; he’s playing a solo set at this show too (in case you weren’t aware, here’s his debut solo album from last year). Hey, if you’re really dedicated, you could hop back and forth between here and Cactus all night; good luck! Also playing: Hot Dog! Classic Country Spin DJs.
This week you’ve definitely got to save some energy for Sunday night, one of the most action-packed we’ve seen in a coon’s age. Right off the bat, if you’ve never seen The Residents live, going to Turner Hall should be a top priority. For one thing, after 40-odd years playing music, they can’t keep this up forever! For another thing, they’re one of the most amazingly weird live acts you’ll ever witness; we won’t even attempt to pin a genre tag on ’em. Who knows–you might dig ’em so much that you’ll be prepared to shell out $100,000 for their new comprehensive box set. It comes in a refrigerator! We’re not joking!
If you’re like us (or possibly even if you’re not), you’re starting to get really excited for the forthcoming debut album by Milwaukee’s Hello Death. The advance track “Good Luck” is already making the rounds, but for a more substantial preview of what to expect, you should see the band live Sunday night at the Milwaukee Opry (located inside The Fortress, near 1st and Pleasant). Today we’re going to call it gothic folk; tomorrow we might come up with something entirely different, but whatever you call it, it is unique, captivating music. Plus, the amazing Jozef Van Wissem is sort of the main attraction; if you thought nobody besides Sting played the lute any more, think again! You need to check out this guy’s gorgeous minimalist music as soon as possible. Also playing: R. Keenan Lawler.
Another great option, especially if you’re still recovering from the greeting-card bonanza known as Valentine’s Day and need to blow off some anti-romantic steam in the most good-natured way possible, would be to sing along loudly with Jonathan Burks at Tonic Tavern Sunday night. Let the soothing sounds of “One Night Stand,” “No One Left To Date” and/or “I Hate Valentine’s Day” (too obvious??) bring you comfort–remember, laughter is the best medicine, and there’ll be plenty of it, even if it is in awkward recognition of the bitter truth. In all seriousness, Burks is one of our city’s most endearing songwriters and performers, so even if you’re a diehard romantic you should still check him out.