Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison during the week of Dec. 1-8, 2016. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show, Thursday, Dec. 1., UW Memorial Union-Shannon Hall, 8 pm: ’ Tis (nearly) the season for holiday music, and what better way to celebrate than with gospel institution the Blind Boys of Alabama? Performing cuts from their cozy 2014 album Talkin’ Christmas! and traditional tunes, the group promises to please — be prepared to smile, stand and sway all night long. Joining the Blind Boys of Alabama as opener is fellow gospel artist Liz Vice, who released her debut album, There’s a Light, last fall. Here’s hoping she joins the Boys for a song or two.
Amanda Shires, Thursday, Dec. 1, Frequency, 8 pm: Even if you’ve never heard Amanda Shires’ voice, chances are you’ve heard her fiddle. The Texan has played with the likes of John Prine, Justin Townes Earle and her husband, Jason Isbell, in addition to releasing six albums of her own. The most recent, this year’s My Piece of Land, is another example of her masterful musicianship, which has won her comparisons to both Emmylou Harris (vocally) and Tom Waits (lyrically). With Andrew Leahey.
Thibaut Garcia, Thursday, Dec. 1, Gates of Heaven Synagogue, 7:30 pm: Toulouse-born guitarist Thibaut Garcia has been playing since he was 7, honing his skills at Spanish-influenced, classically inspired guitar. Now 22, he’s a darling of the international circuit. Recipient of numerous guitar prizes (including first at the 2015 Guitar Foundation of America International Artist Competition in Oklahoma City), Garcia brings a light, dancing touch to his work. For a taste, check out his new album Leyendas, released earlier this year.
Mr. Jackson, Thursday, Dec. 1, Mr. Roberts, 9 pm: Ethan Jackson doesn’t just bring the noise, he also brings the funk — and he brings it big-time. The Madison musician behind the Mr. Jackson project plays synth-heavy R&B that paints him as a funnier, smarter version of the Weeknd. With fellow Madison keyboard slingers Queenager and the Fatal Eggs.
WORT-FM 41st Birthday Bash, Friday, Dec. 2, High Noon Saloon, 5 pm: The year: 1975. White House staffers were found guilty in the Watergate cover-up, Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened on Broadway. In Madison, a tiny radio station with the call letters WORT signed on to the airwaves. The call letters stood for “World’s Oldest Radio Transmitter” because of the station’s rickety antenna. Forty-one years later WORT is a model of successful community radio for the nation. And they don’t just make good radio; they also throw one helluva party. Music starts at 5:15 pm with Tijuana Brass revivalists Hirt Alpert and goes all the way to bar time, closing out with garage-surf from Fury Things. At 8 pm the king of alt-country, Chicagoan Robbie Fulks, takes the stage. Fulks is the bastard son of George Jones and Louis C.K. His latest, a literate opus called Upland Stories, is partly based on journalist James Agee’s groundbreaking reporting on Southern poverty in the 1930s.
Whitney, Friday, Dec. 2, Majestic Theatre, 9 pm: The members of Chicago indie pop band Whitney have quickly earned a devoted fan base thanks to their romantic take on the folk and soul music of the ’60s and ’70s. With a built-in horn section and softly-sung melodies, it’s easy to see how Whitney’s debut album, Light Upon the Lake, became one of the most-loved Midwestern indie rock exports of 2016. Disq and Milwaukee’s Soul Low open.
Nils Bultmann and Friends, Friday, Dec. 2, Arts + Literature Laboratory (2021 Winnebago St.), 8 pm: Though he’s now based in California’s Bay Area, Nils Bultmann’s roots are right here in Madison. The violist not only grew up here, but received his degree in music performance at UW-Madison, where he studied with Sally Chisholm. Now he’s finished up a Ph.D. in music composition at UC Berkeley and returns home for an unforgettable night of multimedia exploration and orchestral innovation. Come out and show the hometown hero some love.
Far East Movement, Friday, Dec. 2, Liquid, 10 pm: When their 2010 summer jam “Like a G6” broke through, Far East Movement became the first Asian American artists to top the Billboard charts. But the L.A.-based rap group had been around long before then, releasing five albums of infectious hip-hop jams, most recently this year’s Identity, which features collaborations with Macy Gray and Big K.R.I.T. With Madison’s own DJay Mando, Barello.
Tiny Moving Parts, Friday, Dec. 2, Frequency, 8 pm: Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games exist because of bands like Tiny Moving Parts. The Minnesota trio specializes in intricate guitar wizardry and polyrhythmic drumming, all married to Dylan Mattheisen’s emotive, occasionally screamy vocals. Imagine a collaboration between American Football and the Fall of Troy, and that’s TMP in a nutshell. With Microwave, A Will Away.
Screamin Cyn Cyn & the Pons + Damsel Trash, Saturday, Dec. 3, Frequency, 10 pm: Two of Madison’s most fiercely beloved bands are back at full strength and set to headline a sure-to-be-unforgettable night of music. While both Screamin’ Cyn Cyn & the Pons and Damsel Trash (pictured) have seen members leave for New York within the past year, the two fem-punk dynamos are back together and ready to remind Madison what made us love them in the first place.
Stoughton Opera House Holiday Variety Show, Saturday, Dec.3, Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm: In addition to skits and an impossible-to-resist cookie party, guests will be treated to a variety show headlined by Madison’s rhythm and soul all-stars, the People Brothers Band, with support from WheelHouse, Gin Mill Hollow, Rev. Eddie Danger and Gabby Parsons. Don’t be a Scrooge and “bah humbug” this one.
Pachinko, Saturday, Dec. 3, Crystal Corner Bar, 9 pm: Pachinko was one of Madison’s prime exports to the rock world in the 1990s and early ’00s, but noise from their direction subsided about a decade back. A reunion show last year has led to new songs (soon to make up an album, if the stars align) by the original lineup. Saturday they are anchoring a stellar lineup of Madison rockers at the Crystal Corner, including Vanishing Kids, No Hoax and Clean Room.
Kevin Devine & the Goddamn Band, Saturday, Dec. 3, High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm: Though he’s a frequent tour mate of the beloved, groundbreaking indie band Brand New, Kevin Devine expresses the quieter tendencies of the group. He plays a heartfelt brand of acoustic indie rock that’s influenced countless young musicians armed only with a guitar and feelings. Think of him as a scrappier, less polished Dashboard Confessional. His ninth album, Instigator, was released this fall. With Pet Symmetry, Petal.
Reecy Pontiff, Saturday, Dec. 3, Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse, 8 pm: She got her start playing smutty songs in New Orleans burlesque shows. Now Reecy Pontiff has moved on, becoming a Colorado Jeep tour guide and a world-traveling troubadour known as “Rocky Mountain Flirt.” In this intimate show, she shares her quirky ukulele tunes, including “(I Liked You Better When) You Were on the Drugs” and gritty ballads, including “Queen of the Birds on a Wire.” She’s debuting songs from a new album, Mississippi Mountain Mud.
Afro-Peruvian Sextet, Sunday, Dec. 4, UW Old Music Hall, 3 pm: The Madison Music Collective concludes its fall Jazz on a Sunday season with the internationally acclaimed Afro-Peruvian Sextet, led by trumpeter and New York University jazz studies professor Gabriel Alegría. As Doug Ramsey of Rifftides writes, “The Afro-Peruvian Sextet is writing a new chapter in the history of Latin jazz.” The show is sure to be energetic and irresistible.
Tribute to Otis Redding, Thursday, Dec. 8, High Noon Saloon, 8 pm: Otis Redding may have been a Georgia native, but when he met his fate in the icy waters of Lake Monona in 1967, the legendary soul singer became inextricably tied to Madison. So it makes sense that Hive has chosen the Mad Man from Macon as the subject of its next dance party. A live band will play two sets, featuring both originals and covers Redding played during his career. Mod and Motown attire is encouraged, and dancing is mandatory.
Kyle Landstra, Thursday, Dec. 8, Gates of Heaven Synagogue, 7:30 pm: Chicago synthesizer wizard Kyle Landstra will headline December’s installment of Tone Madison’s fantastic GateSound concert series, which brings boundary-pushing musicians to perform in the beautiful 153-year old Gates of Heaven in James Madison Park. Expect this performance to lean into transcendence. Madison’s Page Campbell opens.
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