Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison during the week of March 16-23, 2017. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
Gaelic Storm, Thursday, March 16, Barrymore Theatre, 7:30 pm: You may not realize it, but chances are good you’ve already seen this rollicking band. The Santa Monica-based Celt revivalists appeared in the film Titanic as the Irish steerage band, a stellar turn that helped gain them gain an ardent following. And with St. Paddy’s Day a mere day away, there’s never been a better time to check them out.
Chuck Prophet + Bottle Rockets, Thursday, March 16, High Noon Saloon, 8 pm: This double bill combines muse with muscle. Californian Prophet is concerned with life’s edgy nuances. St. Louis’ Bottle Rockets are gloriously blue collar. Either band is worth the admission charge; together, it’s the deal of the week. Prophet’s new record is a brilliant curiosity named Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins. (Fuller sang the hit “I Fought the Law” in 1964; he was found dead in his car at 23, under mysterious circumstances.) Prophet calls the project “California noir,” but underneath it all it’s a manic celebration of the way a rock song can take a listener’s dreary life and, if only for three minutes, turn it into a fireworks show.
Jazz 100, Thursday, March 16, Overture Hall, 7:30 pm: 2017 marks the centennial of the birth of four jazz heavyweights: Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Mongo Santamaria. To celebrate the milestone, former Gillespie pianist Danilo Pérez has put together a band of experts who usually lead their own outfits, including sax/woodwinds player Chris Potter, vocalist Lizz Wright and trumpeter Avishai Cohen. Together, they will help show the musical connections between these seemingly disparate musical icons.
Dinosaur Jr., Friday, March 17, Majestic Theatre, 9 pm: J Mascis is a man of few words, so he lets his guitar speak for him. Since the 1980s, he and his band Dinosaur Jr. have been at the forefront of alternative rock, churning out 11 albums of fuzzy, shredding six-string jams. Their most recent release, last year’s Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, is their fourth since the band’s original lineup (rounded out by Lou Barlow on bass and Murph on drums) got back together in 2005. With Easy Action.
All Them Witches, Saturday, March 18, High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm: All Them Witches stand out among their compatriots on New West Records. While that label is known mostly for its work in the Americana genre, the Nashville quartet takes its cues from heavy psychedelia, like a cross between Black Sabbath and the Grateful Dead. They released Sleeping Through the War earlier this year, which was produced by Grammy-winner Dave Cobb, known for his work with the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. With Irata.
Marty Stuart, Saturday, March 18, Stoughton Opera House, 3 & 7 pm: Marty Stuart got his start playing in the bands of legends Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash, and has since gone on to become a pillar of American music himself. Whether keeping it trad or adventuring into roots rock territory (as on his new album Way Out West), Stuart is a reliable source of great music, no matter what you call it.
Kitsch as Kitsch Can V, Saturday, March 18, Art In Gallery, 6 pm: Local label Kitschy Manitou organized this regional showcase (and fifth anniversary celebration), which packs in eight high-energy bands for an early show — and also raises money for the Dane County Rape Crisis Center. Madison is ably represented by the sturm und twang of Wood Chickens (pictured), the Trin-Tran associated Solid Freex and the straight-up punk of No Hoax; the visitors include Green Bay garage pop trio Holly & the Nice Lions and Milwaukee’s raging Static Eyes.
Double Ewes, Saturday, March 18, Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 pm: Some of Madison’s finest weirdos will be taking the stage at Mickey’s for a spectacle that’s not to be missed. Double Ewes, the Janesville-bred, electronically inclined trio will headline, with support from genre-hopping psych rockers Squarewave and gritty dream pop act Disq.
Jay Som, Tuesday, March 21, The Frequency, 8 pm: With her excellent new dream pop album Everybody Works garnering a lot of media attention, 22-year-old songwriter Jay Som has been attracting fans of emotional, lush acts such as Mitski and Porches. Vancouver fuzz punks the Courtneys and the youthful Madison power-pop outfit Disq open.
English Beat, Wednesday, March 22, High Noon Saloon, 7:30 pm: Legends of England’s two-tone ska movement, the English Beat (or just “The Beat” in their homeland) return to the High Noon Saloon to make you skank the night away to hits like “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Save It for Later.” Now in their fourth decade, the group will release their new, crowdfunded album Here We Go Love; a portion of its proceeds goes to Doctors Without Borders. With Milwaukee ska-lifers Something to Do.
Sharkmuffin, Wednesday, March 22, Mickey’s Tavern, 10 pm: Fresh off their latest SXSW run, Brooklyn’s Sharkmuffin hits the road ahead of the May release of their second long-player, Tsuki. Their template of grungy, aggressive pop hasn’t changed substantially over the last few years (a good thing), except for a creeping edge of glam rock (ditto). Sharkmuffin’s Tarra Thiessen also fronts tourmates Ex-Girlfriends, a more directly punk attack and a provident pairing with locals Once a Month and Miyha.
Airpark, Wednesday, March 22, Frequency, 8 pm: The Apache Relay quietly disbanded a couple years back, but the baton has been picked up by brothers Ben Ford and Michael Ford Jr., who have resurfaced as the duo Airpark. Their initial release, the EP Early Works, Volume 1, contains four tracks of catchy, melodic minimalism; fans of Apache Relay’s wall-of-sound approach may be confused, but Spoon lovers will be right at home.
Mason Jennings, Thursday, March 23, Majestic Theatre, 8 pm: Beloved Minnesota pop-folk musician Mason Jennings released his latest (and quite possibly his best) album, Wild Dark Metal, in March 2016 and then promptly dropped off the face of the earth, later telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he “wasn’t in the right head space” to promote the album or play it live. Luckily for his fans, he’s easing back into the public eye with three Midwestern tour dates this month. His new album is darker, heavier and edgier than previous works, but it still has that classic Mason Jennings sound. With Seasaw, a Madison indie-folk duo.
Find the full rundown of this week's Isthmus Picks here.