Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison during the week of Jan. 12-19, 2017. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
Oh My Love + Modern Mod, Thursday, Jan. 12, Overture-Capitol Theater, 7:30 p.m.: The Capitol Theater hosts a co-headlining set from two standout Madison bands. Atmospheric synth-poppers Oh My Love (who released an excellent album last year called Ghosts and Bubblegum) will be joined by Modern Mod, a recently disbanded but much loved and super-talented power-pop crew reuniting for one night only.
Patti LaBelle, Thursday, Jan. 12, Overture Hall, 7:30 p.m.: In a career spanning five-plus decades, Patti LaBelle has sung solo and with a number of groups, crossing genre boundaries for hits on the pop, R&B and gospel charts. Whether on records or starring on Broadway — or becoming a viral sensation for her line of sweet potato pies — she remains one of the most iconic voices to emerge from the 1960s.
Wisconsin Punk Fest, Thursday, Jan. 12, Majestic Theatre, 8 p.m.: Some of the area’s fiercest bands will channel their defiance by rocking this festival, headlined by Madison’s own Masked Intruder. With support from Arms Aloft (Eau Claire), Tim Schweiger & the Middle Men (Milwaukee), Jaill (Milwaukee), No Hoax (Madison) and Static Eyes (Milwaukee). Come on out, and up the punx!
Debra DiGiovanni, Thursday, Jan. 12, Comedy Club on State, 8:30 p.m.: In 2002, DiGiovanni was named “Best Stand-Up Newcomer” by the Canadian Comedy Awards. After making it to the top 10 in the fifth season of Last Comic Standing, she started touring extensively. With her high pace and infectious energy, DiGiovanni takes audiences on a whirlwind tour of her mind, sharing thoughts on men, dieting, and getting drunk at baby showers. With Jim Flannigan, Adam McShane. ALSO: Friday-Saturday, Jan. 13-14, 8 & 10:30 p.m.
Wisconsin Hip-Hop Fest, Friday, Jan. 13, Majestic Theatre, 8 p.m.: With seven dope acts from Milwaukee and Madison, this is a helluva lot of hip-hop for just 10 bucks. Count on MKE’s WebsterX to spit his soul-searching lyrics over slow, spaced-out beats. Gerald Walker, also from Brew City, brings a smoother storytelling to more up-tempo tracks. And Zed Kenzo’s sporadic, ever-changing flow over EDM-esque production rounds out the Milwaukee contingent. For Madison artists, CRASHprez’s high energy and anger about the social status quo and race relations will move the crowd, while Sincere Life’s dark, aggressive tales tantalize, and Broadway Muse keeps you guessing with her varied verbal calisthenics. Live hip-hop band dumate will also take the stage for their first show in a while. Whether you’re a die-hard local rap fan or just curious about what our homegrown emcees have to offer, this show will feed your fix. Hosted by DJ mojamid. Bonus: $1 from every ticket goes to Planned Parenthood.
Murdering 2016: A Horror Dress Up Party, Friday, Jan. 13, The Frequency, 9 p.m.: Burn off the leftover angst generated last year by dressing up as your favorite scary character and celebrating the first Friday the 13th of 2017. Dance to the punk/ska of 4 Aspirin Morning, hard rock/metal by the Faith Hills Have Eyes, sludgy noiserock by Coordinated Suicides, and 2015 Max Ink Radio audience favorite Doctor Noise.
FRZN Fest: Noname, Saturday, Jan. 14, High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.: Despite her choice of a stage name, Noname definitely deserves your attention. At first listen, you’ll notice Noname’s smooth, sharp tone and quick, varied cadence. But after a closer listen, her content hits like a Mack truck as she tackles everything from relationships and quitting drugs to dreams of fame. The spoken word artist and emcee hails from Chicago, where she crafted her mic skills alongside song-mates Chance the Rapper and Mick Jenkins. Even better, Noname was the handpicked opener for none other than Lauryn Hill. Joining her on stage for the last night of FRZN Fest will be theMIND, Mic Kellogg and Rich Robbins. Other FRZN Fest shows (both 8 p.m.) include Big Thief, Sam Evian, Hoops and Ian Sweet on Thursday, Jan. 12, and Ceremony, Tenement, the Blind Shake and Yoko & the Oh No’s on Friday, Jan. 13.
Claudia Schmidt + Sally Rogers, Saturday, January 14, Brink Lounge, 7 p.m.: Fans of folk music won’t want to miss the dream team of dulcimer-playing vocalists lined up for this Madison Folk Music Society concert. Rogers, a professional music educator and international touring musician from Connecticut, has a voice the Washington Post calls “achingly sweet.” Schmidt is a talented singer-songwriter and wordsmith from Michigan who the Lansing State Journal called a “firecracker of a singer, irrepressibly emotional and a radiant, almost overwhelming performer.” Together, the two women inspire rapturous praise. You’ll want to sing along.
Wisconsin Bluegrass Fest, Saturday, Jan. 14, Majestic Theatre, 8 p.m.: The Majestic’s winter fests wrap up with more banjos than you can shake a bag of thumb picks at. Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades hosts an evening of bluegrass bands from around the state, including Them Coulee Boys (Hixton), Dig Deep and Armchair Boogie (both Stevens Point), and Chicken Wire Empire (Milwaukee). Headliner the Last Revel sneaks across the state line from Minnesota to join the fun.
Sunspot EP release, Saturday, Jan. 14, The Frequency, 8:30 p.m.: Madison power-pop trio Sunspot unveils The Wilderness of Almost Was and Never Were, their first release via recently established local label Dartboard Records. The evening doubles as a label showcase, and also features sets by aggressive acoustic duo the Apollo Affair, Americana-leaning Gin Mill Hollow and singer-songwriter Danny Fox.
Jazz Fest, Sunday, Jan. 15, Cardinal Bar, 6 p.m.: The Madison Jazz Consortium’s third annual MLK Weekend fundraiser presents a fascinating lineup: Experimental sax master Hanah Jon Taylor teams up with pianist Dave Stoler and improvising spoken word artist Rob Dz. They’re joined by bassist Darius Savage and percussionist Dushun Mosely, both out of Chicago. UW’s Jazz Studies director and pianist Johannes Wallmann performs with Darren Sterud’s New Orleans Tribute band, and longtime jazz queen Gerri DiMaggio appears with a newly expanded quartet. A great way to celebrate the Green Bay Packers’ playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys, which should be happening right as this event kicks off.
Yates Family Cancer Benefit, Sunday, Jan. 15, High Noon Saloon, 1 p.m.: Local artists willingly forgo a Packers playoff game to help a friend in need. Featuring disco ambassadors VO5, powerhouse rocker Beth Kille, folk rockers SheShe (“righteous chicks with righteous licks”) and the Americana wonders the Getaway Drivers, proceeds from this show benefit cancer patient Kelly Yates. Maybe some things are more important than football?
BoomBox, Wednesday, Jan. 18, Majestic Theatre, 9 p.m.: What’s in the BoomBox? The secret weapon of this funky duo from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is their trademark hybrid of soulful rock ’n’ roll and groovy electronic tunes. The band’s live shows are laid back and largely improvised, giving their concerts the off-the-cuff flair of a great DJ set. Orchard Lounge’s Ben Silver opens.
Sara Watkins, Thursday, Jan. 19, High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.: One of the best fiddlers in contemporary music, Sara Watkins is one of folk’s true luminaries. From her famed work with Nickel Creek and the Decemberists to her accomplishments as a solo artist (she’s three albums deep — the most recent being last year’s Young in All the Wrong Ways), the California native has established herself as one of the finest in a genre filled with master musicians. With Liz Longley.
The Devil Makes Three, Thursday, Jan. 19, Orpheum Theater, 9 p.m.: The Devil Makes Three sounds like a band from a different era. Playing a seamless blend of bluegrass, country, folk and other old-school genres, the band sounds more like they should be onstage at a smoky saloon somewhere out West than at the Orpheum. Their most recent record, Redemption and Ruin, was released in 2016. With Lost Dog Street Band.
Find all of his week's Isthmus Picks here.