Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison during the week of Jan. 19-25, 2017. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
Sara Watkins, Thursday, Jan. 19, High Noon Saloon, 9 pm: 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 pm: 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.
Luke Combs, Thursday, Jan. 19, Majestic Theatre, 8 pm: Country radio could use a shot of life, and Luke Combs might be the guy to give it. The 26-year-old North Carolinian has a sound that carries enough pop sensibility to dominate the airwaves, while at the same time boasting an outlaw’s mentality. With Muscadine Bloodline, a pair of Mobile, Alabama, natives who marry Southern rock licks to ’90s country lyrics.
FolkUP Tour Launch Party, Thursday, Jan. 19, Bos Meadery, 6 pm: The FolkUP Tour is a project of German Joseph Schrock, who has created a mobile production studio and is set to hit the road to provide free audio/video recording for musicians around the country (and spread the word about Madison’s music scene). Visit the studio at the tour launch party, plus enjoy visual art, music by Dr. Beatz, Sam Ness, Imaginary Watermelon and Tin Can Diamonds — and, of course, some mead.
Ryan Hamilton, Thursday, Jan. 19, Comedy Club on State, 8:30 pm: Ryan Hamilton just has one of those happy faces that would have served as a 1950s-era advertisement, but this polished and endearing comic gives audiences an inside look at his internet dating life. Named by Rolling Stone one of the five comics to watch for this upcoming year, Hamilton’s always clean set means that even those uninitiated in the standup realm are welcomed into the world of live comedy. With Mike Lebovitz, Ali Sultan. ALSO: Friday-Saturday, Jan. 20-21, 8 & 10:30.
Funk Winter!, Friday, Jan. 20, High Noon Saloon, 9 pm : Clyde Stubblefield, James Brown’s “funky drummer” and one of Madison’s musical treasures, is releasing a new CD at this star-studded extravaganza. Get down to sets from Clyde Stubblefield All-Stars, Steez and Dr. Funkenstein. Part of the proceeds go to support the Madison Area Music Association’s Clyde Stubblefield Scholarship Fund, a college music scholarship. Hit the dance floor for the next generation.
What a Joke, Friday, Jan. 20, Majestic Theatre, 7 pm: This inauguration weekend, skip the presidential fanfare and laugh for a good cause instead. What a Joke, a national comedy festival happening simultaneously across 28 cities and two continents, will bring feel-good comedy to an otherwise murky, tumultuous time. Local comedians Cynthia Marie, Anthony Siraguse and Esteban Touma will be joined by national headliner/Madison original Nate Craig, alongside Chicago-based rising star Reena Calm. Proceeds go directly to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is going to be real busy for the next half-decade.
Exile Project: Beach Boys tribute, Saturday, Jan. 21, High Noon Saloon, 9 pm: With members of beloved Wisconsin bands like Seasaw, Lost Lakes, Yid Vicious and Something To Do, the Exile Project has a knack for taking classic albums and making them their own. This year, they’ll be taking on a pair of Beach Boys classics — Endless Summer and Pet Sounds — playing them front to back. So if you need a little sunshine in your otherwise gray winter, make your way to the High Noon for some good vibrations. With the Low Czars.
Isaiah Rashad, Saturday, Jan. 21, UW Union South - The Sett, 9 pm: UW-Madison’s first hot ticket show of the semester is coming courtesy of esteemed Tennessee-via-Los Angeles rapper Isaiah Rashad, who released his debut album, The Sun’s Tirade, last fall on Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment label. Since XXL magazine named him one of their esteemed “freshmen” in 2014, Isaiah has released a slew of underground hits; in 2017, he’s poised to fully break into the mainstream. Fellow TDE signee Lance Skiiiwalker & Maryland’s Jay IDK open.
Squarewave album release show, Saturday, Jan. 21, 9:45 pm, Harmony Bar and Grill: This venerable Madison psych-pop outfit took their sweet time following up on their 2009 album, Throwing Stones, but the wait was worth it. Their newest release, A Tighter Knot, is a must-listen for fans of deep synth grooves, driving rhythms and lush, folk-inspired melodies. Squarewave’s original songwriting team of Jeff Jagielo and Patrick Connaughty (who used to be Ivory Library) is joined by Alivia Kleinfeldt and Brendan Manley, whose main band Dash Hounds is also on the bill. With Phil Davis and Stone Prairie.
Yonder Mountain String Band, Saturday, Jan. 21, 8 pm, Orpheum: Known by its legions of devoted fans simply as “Yonder,” this beloved bluegrass jam band has been pushing the boundaries of classic Americana for nearly 20 years. Their latest album, Black Sheep, is the band’s first release since major lineup changes (most notably, the departure of frontman Jeff Austin), but the sound is classic Yonder. With the Railsplitters.
Planes Mistaken for Stars, Sunday, Jan. 22, High Noon Saloon, 8 pm: As one of the leading lights of the post-hardcore genre, Planes Mistaken for Stars have become the elder statesmen of their scene. But the Denver-via-Peoria, Illinois, band hardly lets their age show; even in their third decade, they can still tear it up with the best of the younger generation. Prey, their first album since 2006, was released last year on Deathwish Records. With Twelves, Control.
Homage to Schubert, Sunday, Jan. 22, 4 pm, Farley’s House of Pianos: Though he died at the tender age of 31, Franz Schubert is considered one of the most prolific and important composers of all time. Catherine Kautsky, chair of the keyboard department at Lawrence University in Appleton, will perform a tribute to the late-Classical early-Romantic master in an intimate salon-style setting. Repertoire includes works inspired by Schubert, as well as two pieces by the master himself.
Black Marble, Wednesday, Jan. 25, The Frequency, 8 pm: Post-punk synthpop songwriter Chris Stewart recorded Black Marble’s 2016 album It’s Immaterial during a cross-country move to the West Coast. With its themes of uncertainty and lack of control, the album’s vibe is sonically indebted to the dark synth-driven pop of the late 1970s while feeling as contemporary as the winter landscape of late January 2017. YOU. and Touch open.
Wonky Tonk, Wednesday, Jan. 25, Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 pm: If you like a bit of rock ’n’ roll attitude with your honky-tonk, Wonky Tonk — aka Kentucky singer-songwriter Jasmine Poole — may become your new musical crush after this Mickey’s show. Opening are a pair of Madison’s best songwriters, the hard-touring Josh Harty (playing in a trio format with bassist Chris Boeger and percussionist Pauli Ryan) and Aaron Scholz (also accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Boeger).
Find all of his week's Isthmus Picks here.