Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison during the week of Jan. 5-12, 2017. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
Jackie Kashian, Thursday, Jan. 5, Comedy Club on State, 8:30 pm: Milwaukee-born Kashian allegedly got into standup after drunkenly heckling the late Sam Kinison in the mid-1980s, prompting a recommendation that she try performing at an open mic. Since then, Kashian has released three albums, appeared on Comedy Central and A&E, started her own Welcome to the Dork Forest podcast, and became good friends with fellow Midwestern comedian Maria Bamford. Wielding smart, densely packed comedy, she’ll provide plenty of local references in a relatable show that may transform your thoughts on who to marry and what kind of pet to get. With Adam Degi, Marty Clarke. ALSO: Friday-Saturday, Jan. 6-7, 8 & 10:30 pm.
Melissa Etheridge, Friday, Jan. 6, Orpheum Theater, 8 pm: With her instantly recognizable, raspy vocals, Melissa Etheridge brings to mind some of the gravelly soul stars of the 1960s. With her new album, Memphis Rock and Soul, Etheridge takes it one step further, recording Stax Records classics by Otis Redding, Mavis Staples and many others. She’ll be performing songs from it live, so if you’ve ever wanted to hear the “Come to My Window” star’s take on rock history, now’s your chance.
Nick Brown + Dan Walkner, Friday, Jan. 6, Bos Meadery, 6:30 pm: Brown & Walkner are most often seen playing in full-band formats (and have played together for several years as part of the Backroom Harmony Band). This acoustic show is a rare chance to hear Brown’s incisive Americana storytelling and Walkner’s roots rock adventuring unplugged.
Wisconsin Metal Fest, Friday, Jan. 6, Majestic Theatre, 8 pm: Stretch out those necks, Madison, because the Badger State’s finest are coming to the Majestic to make you bang your heads. Sets from Madison’s own Bongzilla, Droids Attack, Zebras, Bereft, Whisky Pig and Cave Curse are lined up for a night that’s sure to rock so hard, neighboring states may have to call the cops and complain about all that racket.
Wisconsin Funk Fest, Saturday, Jan. 7, Majestic Theatre, 8 pm: January’s not going to get funkier than it will at this all-star festival, featuring the R&B stylings of the Big Payback, the brassy and energetic Mama Digdown’s Brass Band, Afrobeat from Immigre and DJ Phil Money. Hot stuff!
Harmonious Wail, Saturday, Jan. 7, Brink Lounge, 7 pm: Thirty years is a helluva long time to play together, but the married-in-real-life duo of Sims and Maggie Delaney-Potthoff is celebrating three decades of making music together. With Sims’ virtuoso mandolin playing and Maggie’s smoky vocals, the two always bring freshness and energy to their Gypsy jazz-inspired performances. The addition of award-winning bassist Jeff Weiss makes for an unforgettable night of local, handcrafted jazz.
A Giant Dog, Saturday, Jan. 7, High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm: Austin live wires A Giant Dog made a splash in 2016 with Pile, their first album for Merge Records, but DIY garage rock aficionados have known for years that they’re one of the best, wildest bands in the country. Lead singer Sabrina Ellis and her freak-flag-waving band play hooky, dirty glam punk that revels in both the darkness and joys of being a weirdo. With an ensemble lineup featuring Midwestern garage rock mainstays the Hussy, Absolutely Not and His & Her Vanities, this show is a sure bet for those looking to shake the dirt off from their 2016.
Mead & Metal Fest, Saturday, Jan. 7, High Noon Saloon, 2-7 pm: Warm up on a cold winter afternoon with face-melting guitar riffs from some of Madison’s best metal bands — Subatomic (groove metal), Carbellion (heavy metal), Tubal Cain (occult black metal) and Ember’s Night (symphonic metal). It’s also a Viking-themed party, complete with mead from Bos Meadery and “brutal” scaldic poetry readings between sets.
F.Stokes, Sunday, Jan. 8, Frequency, 9 pm: If you haven’t caught Madison-raised F.Stokes’ annual holiday season rap show before, you’ll want to hit this one. Expect eclectic, high-energy storytelling raps about topics ranging from Stokes’ childhood to tales from the ’hood. R@dish will serve as the night’s DJ. This year’s event is a fundraiser for Ain’t No Babies in the City, a documentary exploring the topics of being black and queer, and juvenile incarceration.
David Dondero + Trapper Schoepp, Monday, Jan. 9, Kiki’s House of Righteous Music, 8 pm: This twin bill of ace Midwestern songwriters is headlined by Duluth native David Dondero, touring behind the brand-new album Inside the Cat’s Eye, a stripped-down affair featuring — you guessed it — a whole bunch of great new songs. Wisconsin-raised Trapper Schoepp has been gaining plenty of notice himself for a growing catalog of top-notch roots rock storytelling. RVSP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh My Love + Modern Mod, Thursday, Jan. 12, Overture-Capitol Theater, 7:30 pm: Pop takes on many forms as Mad City Sessions returns for another season. Kicking off the series is a co-headlining set from two excellent Madison bands. Atmospheric synth-poppers Oh My Love (who released an album last year called Ghosts and Bubblegum that you should definitely check out) will be joined by Modern Mod, a recently disbanded but much loved and super-talented power-pop crew reuniting for one night only.
FRZN Fest, Thursday, Jan. 12, High Noon Saloon, 8 pm: With vets that include indie punks Cloud Nothings and recently crowned rap superstar Chance the Rapper, it’s a pretty safe bet that at least one of the bands in this year’s FRZN Fest lineup is the next big thing. Spanning three nights, the schedule includes Big Thief, Sam Evian, Hoops, and Ian Sweet (Thursday), Ceremony, Tenement, the Blind Shake and Yoko & the Oh No’s (Friday, Jan. 13), and Noname, the Mind, Mic Kellogg and Rich Robbins (Saturday, Jan. 14).
Patti LaBelle, Thursday, Jan. 12, Overture Hall, 7:30 pm: In a career spanning five-plus decades, Patti LaBelle has been a singing star with groups (the Bluebelles and eponymous LaBelle) and solo, 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 pm: With the state’s recent political history being, shall we say, less than stellar, it’s encouraging to witness Wisconsin’s growing punk scene. Some of our best 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 pm: DiGiovanni was one of the inaugural students in Canada’s Humber College’s “Comedy Writing and Performance” course in 2000, and in 2002 she 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 fast 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 pm.
Find all of his week's Isthmus Picks here.