words by Cal Roach
Ladies and gentlemen, Irish Fest is upon us! We defy you to have a better time on the Summerfest grounds than this celebration of all things green and Celtic and potato-y. While we admittedly pine for the days of Tommy Makem and Kíla and Flook, Irish Fest still brings many traditional favorites as well as up-and-coming artists to play, and there’s never any reason to miss out on the Trinity Irish Dancers whatever else you might do! For old-school Irish folk, be sure to catch the Makem & Spain Brothers; for reliable modern Celtic rock, you can count on Gaelic Storm to bring the energy, and this year’s special non-Irish focus region is Nova Scotia, so we’re bettimg there will be lots to discover in the way of lesser-known Canadian music. Plus, don’t miss local rabble-rousers Whiskey Of The Damned on Saturday afternoon! The fest runs all weekend so make the most of this scarce quasi-summery weather! If you hate tin whistles and fiddles and kilts, relax! There’s plenty of other stuff to do this weekend; read on.
We don’t want to overstate the importance of Sat. Nite Duets or anything, but there’s no denying that the local music scene got a major shot in the arm when these guys suddenly appeared on the scene back in 2009, and they’re still one of the best live bands in town without a doubt. Catch them tonight (Friday) on their home turf in Riverwest–more specifically, Riverwest Public House. If you like rock and roll at all, you really ought to check this band out; that’s why we doggedly persist in recommending it! That’s the only way local bands get the attention they deserve, people: You get out there and support ’em. Also playing: Rupert Angeleyes, Teenage Moods and Heavy Melters.
In a lull year for Milwaukee’s folk-rock scene (anything would be a lull compared to 2012!), Twin Brother is keeping the flame alive. The duo formerly known as Jackraasch just put out a highly-regarded, self-titled debut album a few months ago, and tonight at Cactus Club will be the unveiling of a brand new video for a tune off said album (directed by the always in-demand Sean Williamson). Video premier parties are the talk of the town these days, so we suggest you check this out if you have any inclination to be in Bay View for the night, not to mention the fact that singer/songwriter (and WMSE volunteer coordinator) Chris Demay will also be playing a set at this show. Plus, Paper Holland, whose 2013 debut Happy Belated is up on Bandcamp as we speak; get there early, folks!
Local songstress Lisa Ridgely has had quite a few solo gigs this year supporting some high-profile acts, but it’s been a while since she did a full-band show with The Fainting Room; Saturday, the wait is over! She and the band will return to the stage at Frank’s Power Plant, and in case you’ve never seen them live…well, first of all, check out their music on Bandcamp, naturally, but just expect some stellar, twangy Americana with sweet, sweet vocal harmonies and killer hooks; that about sums ’em up. Also playing: The Calamity Janes, Caley Conway.
Also Saturday night in Bay View: Ken Vandermark is one of the Midwest’s most well-known (and prolific) free jazz players, and keeping track of his various projects is nearly impossible, but he’ll be performing at Sugar Maple with a brand new group known as The Margots, and this is one even people who can’t stomach free jazz should definitely take note of. It’s certainly one of the most accessible projects he’s been a part of, almost pop actually, but with lots of sax and an unavoidably jazzy feel. The exotic vocals of Adrienne Pierluissi are the key to the very unique, laid-back sound of the group’s debut record, Pescado, and we’re wondering if this music is gonna get even more interesting with live improvisation, but either way it’s sure to be a lovely night of music (and of course one of the best craft beer selections in the city).
Once upon a time in Green Bay there was this pop-punk band called Boris The Sprinkler–perhaps you’ve heard of it? Pretty much the best thing to ever come out of Green Bay unless you count sports teams, we’d say. Well, that band’s iconic singer, Rev. Norb, has spent some time in quasi-retirement from music (although he has managed to write a book during this hiatus), but he recently contributed some vocals on a record by a Manitowoc band called The Onions, and evidently it went so well that he joined the band. The Onions will return to Milwaukee on Saturday, when they’ll play at 8 p.m. sharp at Circle A Cafe, and all we can say is that Norb is one of the most entertaining performers you will ever see live, so if you’re into the pop-punk thing at all, go see this show.
Next Wednesday there’s a wear-earplugs-or-risk-permanent-damage show going on at Quarters: Holy Shit! No, we’re not exclaiming that in reaction to the lineup; that’s the name of the band. If you’re not familiar, this is one of those rare bands where when your old jaded friends go “Punk rock is dead, man,” you can play them some Holy Shit! and say “Um, no it’s not, dudes.” These guys don’t exactly play out a ton these days, so you might not wanna miss this. Plus, there’s Outside (again, that’s the name of the band!), relative newcomers to the local scene, who will play as well, bringing their heavy, mathy take on instrumental psych-rock…come to think of it, we can’t even think of another band that sounds quite like Outside, although the members’ other bands (Absolutely, Centipedes) might give you some indication. Also playing: Slut River.
Next Thursday, head to Potawatomi for a thrilling performance by Jay Leno–oh crap, sorry, we couldn’t keep it up. Instead, how about the exact opposite of a Jay Leno routine: Milwaukee Noise Fest! Well, you COULD argue that Leno’s humor is painfully unfunny and grating to the senses, but if so, Noise Fest is more likely to be right up your alley. The three-day barrage of experimental sounds takes place at the Miramar Theatre includes legends of sonic anarchy Negativland (Saturday) and loose conceptual-art collective The Haters (Thursday), as well as plenty of local and regional talent; don’t miss whatever Hal Rammel and Jim Schoenecker have cooked up for Thursday night (obviously), plus local stalwarts Blessed Sacrifist (Thursday), Peter J. Woods (Saturday) and the appetizingly-named Anal Hearse (Friday). Click here for the full lineup and details.