5ThuJanuary 5, 2017
After the band's 2014 debut album, I'm Still Here, which came to fruition much sooner than anyone expected, Sonny Knight and The Laker's released a live double album the following year. Now, the band's sophomore studio set, Sooner Or Later, explores themes of overcoming adversity, love found, love lost, and societal observation. Where their debut might be likened to steering a bike before turning the pedals, considering how they wrote and recorded it before road testing their songs and individual strengths, their latest effort sees the wheels fully in motion.
With performances across the US and Europe in theaters, performing arts centers, festivals and night clubs, Sonny and the band have tightened their unity and discovered what each member brings to the table that can further the collective's playing. By doing so, the group was able to gain a greater understanding of what their best material was through performing it on the road night after night. What results on Sooner Or Later is a rarity by today's recording standards. Of the 10 songs that were taken into Secret Stash's brand new studio, all made the final cut. Rather than track a bunch of material and pick out the best parts later, Sonny and the band hit the studio knowing exactly what the record would be, perfectly encapsulating a snapshot in time for the artist.
By focusing less on so-called groove makers and more on the songwriting process, Knight and company harnessed the power of the different genres that came together to shape what we have come to know as soul music over the last 50+ years. Gospel, country, and blues were all melded into a record that takes you on a journey through life's questions and emotions via nine originals and a cover of Lonnie Mack's "Why."
From the opening wail of Cole Pulice's sax to Eric Foss' syncopated drums, the title track is a pure party jam. Sonny Knight soon owns the stage, however, with his trademark guttural punches that land somewhere just this side of a Wilson Pickett shouter. Knight's vocal abilities to command a track extend to more plaintive numbers like "Stronger In The End" as well. Singing with a much more tender tone early in the song before exploding midway, the recording also possesses the backing of a band that effortlessly combines elements of the Muscle Shoals Horns with the sound of 1960s gospel music to further advance its message. The Muscle Shoals influence is even more prevalent on keyboardist Sam Harvey-Carlson's penned "The Cry" with its triplet-laden guitar and understated but beautifully arranged horns.
Expanding their palette, the Lakers enter a blues-oriented R&B with "Why" that showcases a brooding, stirring sentiment thanks to Knight's loose jazz-like phrasing on the verses and forlorn howl on the choruses. It also serves as a platform for the best individual instrumental performance in the band's catalog thus far with Blair Krivanek's passionate guitar solo drenched in a mournful, heartbroken tone.
Album closer "Oh, Mary" recalls the spiritual "Mary Don't You Weep" that has morphed into a gospel standard throughout the years. What starts as a simmer increasingly builds as a reverb- soaked horn section masterfully release a reflective cry that soon leads to an emotional boil of expelled tension, creating the perfect backdrop for Knight's poignant vocal which is undoubtedly the linchpin of the song. While not intended to be an overt political statement, he instead wrote "Oh, Mary" to focus on the human emotions connected to unnecessary violence. When asked about the murder ballad written from the perspective of the victim, Knight responds, "It's in your face right now. All you gotta do is turn on the TV, and there it is. All this killing needs to stop." In the wake of recent events, the song has forged a powerful connection with many of those who have seen its performance live. During one performance in a New England bar, the band watched two young women in the front row with tears streaming down their faces as they worked their way through the heart-wrenching song.
Knight's vast array of life experiences inform a worldview that give him a unique perspective on the song writing, expressive, and storytelling process. While he was enamored with gospel music during his youth, which eventually led him to recording his first single in 1965, he soon found himself exploring other opportunities. From a deployment in Vietnam to a job as a long haul trucker, that it hasn't been a linear path has made him a more attuned performer. Combining this hard-earned experience with a vivacious band whose members are half his age, the songs and performances are a perfect blending of observation, promise, and energy, thanks in some part to their collective globetrotting adventures playing for audiences of many different backgrounds.
6FriFirst We Take Milwaukee - A Tribute to Leonard Cohen
show detailsJanuary 6, 2017First We Take Milwaukee - A Tribute to Leonard Cohen8:00pm $10.00Bill Camplin, Liars Trial, Chris Hanson with Robin Pluer, Liv Mueller, Panalure, Mood Vertigo, Mrs. Fun and more. Emceed by Bob Reitman. All proceeds to American Red Cross.
7SatJanuary 7, 2017
After a blistering tour date in Milwaukee on the band's Gamehendge tour in 2016, the band will appear at Shank Hall on January 7th, 2017.
The online arena has changed the way the band can communicate about the music with phans. There have been online votes on what songs make a setlist, and the floor is often opened to suggestions on Facebook and Twitter. Free Tickets are often given away as prizes. The Internet also allows PHUN to promote their shows in new ways, leading to exceptional events. Be on the lookout for information through the band's Facebook and Twitter pages.
Come for the Phish, stay for the PHUN!
Rory Robert Harding -- Drums, Vocals
Mark "Stormin" Norman -- Bass, Vocals
Mike Scieszinski -- Guitar Vocals
Joe Burbach -- Keys, Vocals
13FriJanuary 13, 2017
Lil' Ed Williams comes to the blues naturally. His uncle, Chicago slide guitar king and master songwriter J.B. Hutto, taught him how to feel, not just play the blues. Nine albums and thousands of performances later, Lil' Ed is now universally hailed as a giant of the genre. Lil' Ed and The Blues Imperials--bassist (and Ed's half-brother) James "Pookie" Young, guitarist Mike Garrett and drummer Kelly Littleton--have remained together for nearly 30 years (an extraordinary feat for any group), the band fueling Ed's songs with their rock-solid, road-tested, telepathic musicianship.
The Big Sound Of Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials is the musically electrifying, emotionally intense and downright fun new album from the band Guitar Player calls "a snarling boogie-blues machine...they blow down the walls." The CD features Lil' Ed's incendiary playing and playful, passionate singing, with the ragged-but-right Blues Imperials cooking like mad alongside him. Produced by Williams and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, it is a tour-de-force of authentic, deeply rooted Chicago blues. Williams wrote or co-wrote all but two of album's 14 songs, the other gems written by Uncle J.B. The Chicago Reader says the band's music "is a soundtrack for dancing and celebration infused with a sense of hard-won survival. Williams attacks his lyrics like he attacks his guitar: with bare-bones intensity that makes each word sound like a matter of life or death."
Born in Chicago on April 8, 1955, in the heart of Chicago's tough West Side, Ed grew up surrounded by music. He was playing guitar, then drums and bass, by the time he was 12. Ed and Pookie received lessons and support from their famous uncle. "J.B. taught me everything I know," says Ed. "I wouldn't be where I am today without him." Ed and Pookie spent their teen years making music together, and in 1975 formed the first incarnation of The Blues Imperials. They played their first gig at a West Side club called Big Duke's Blue Flame, splitting the $6 take four ways. Over the next few years, the group played every club in the neighborhood. Even so, they still needed day jobs to pay the bills. Ed worked ten hours a day as a buffer at the Red Carpet Car Wash. Pookie drove a school bus. Night after night they played their roaring brand of blues in tiny clubs, and eventually the word reached Alligator president Bruce Iglauer.
At the time, Iglauer was looking for local talent for The New Bluebloods, an anthology of some of Chicago's younger blues musicians. "Ed and his band had a good reputation," recalls Iglauer. "I had only seen them live once or twice. I knew Ed was a hot slide player, but I had no idea what he and the band were really capable of. I just knew that their music reminded me of Hound Dog Taylor and J.B. Hutto, two of my favorite musicians. It seemed like having a band this rough and ready would be a nice change of pace for the anthology, so I asked them to come down to the studio and cut a couple of songs. I never expected what happened."
The band--never having been in a recording studio before--treated the studio like a club, playing live to Iglauer, the engineer, and all the people on the other side of the control room glass. After Ed recorded his two rehearsed songs quickly, there was still plenty of studio time left, so they just kept playing. After 10 songs were in the can, Iglauer offered the band a full album contract. The end result of the session was 30 songs cut in three hours with no overdubs and only one second take. Twelve of those songs became the band's debut album, Roughhousin', released in September of 1986.
The national press reacted with amazement to the blues world's new discovery. Feature stories ran in Spin, Musician, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and dozens of other publications. The Village Voice declared, "Roughhousin' just may be the blues album of the year." The New York Times raved, "Raw-boned, old-fashioned Chicago blues has a new young master--Lil' Ed Williams."
But it wasn't until 1987, when guitarist Mike Garrett joined the band, and a year later, when Garrett recruited his Detroit hometown friend Kelly Littleton to play drums, that things really began to take off. Garrett's risk-taking rhythm guitar work and Littleton's unpredictable, old school drumming were the perfect complement to Lil' Ed's and Pookie's rambunctious playing. With their 1989 album Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits, doors opened and audiences poured in. Through relentless touring, the group crystallized, becoming tighter with each performance, more adept in their abilities to read each other's musical moves. Their spontaneous and unpredictable live show became legendary among blues fans worldwide.
They have played the Chicago Blues Festival multiple times, and have appeared at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival, The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, The San Diego Blues Festival, The Pennsylvania Blues Festival and dozens of other festivals around the country. Satisfying worldwide demand, they have performed at festivals in Canada, Great Britain, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Japan, Australia, India, Turkey and Panama.
Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials released eight Alligator albums between 1986 and 2012. With each one, the band's national and international stature grew as their fan base--known internationally as "Ed Heads"--continued to expand. With 2006's Rattleshake, Ed and company reached a whole new audience. Die-hard "Ed Head" Conan O'Brien brought the band before millions of television viewers on two separate occasions. Success and accolades never stop pouring in. Living Blues called 2012's Jump Start "scorching and soulful" with "crafty, clever lyrics...joyous and stomping."
The group took home the Living Blues Award for Best Live Performer in 2011, 2012 and 2013. They won the prestigious Blues Music Award for Band Of The Year in both 2007 and 2009. The Associated Press says, "Williams fills Chicago's biggest shoes with more life and heat than anyone on stage today."
With The Big Sound Of Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, the band continues to bring their blistering Chicago blues to "Ed Heads" new and old. Their infectious energy, joyful showmanship and masterful playing have been honed to a razor's edge by their many years together. Lil' Ed, Pookie, Mike and Kelly have seen sports stars and presidents, musical fads and fashion trends come and go. Meanwhile, their fiery music has more than stood the test of time. "We're not band members," says Williams, "we're family, and families stay together." Night after night, gig after riotous gig, the musical family called Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials bring their big, dynamic Chicago blues sound to fans across the country and around the world
14SatJanuary 14, 2017
The band's infectious energy is equally evident in their live performances, as critics and fans hail their shows as forceful and intoxicating. It is their humble devotion to music, and a commitment to achieving their musical goals without compromising the integrity of their musical vision that make The Steepwater Band such a refreshing find. In 2010, the band released the highly lauded live record entitled "Live at the Double Door" which contained tracks from their previous two LPs, "Revelation Sunday (2006)" and "Grace and Melody (2008)."
The Steepwater Band has maintained a grueling schedule throughout the last 10 years, averaging about 125 shows per year. They have toured and shared the stage with acts such as Gov't Mule, Buddy Guy, Wilco, Taj Mahal, Marc Ford, ZZ Top, T-Model Ford, North Mississippi All Stars, Leon Russell, Drive-By Truckers, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Cheap Trick, Bad Company and Heart. In 2005, the band made its European debut, performing at the Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. In the following years, the band has returned to the United Kingdom and Europe for multiple club and festival tours, increasing their loyal overseas fan-base.
20FriJanuary 20, 20178:00pm $10 advance / $12 doorBased out of the Milwaukee area, Remedy plays acoustic pop/rock tunes - mainly originals with a few covers thrown in the mix. After surviving the late 90s and early 2000's, the band went on hiatus for a few years. Some thought that rhythm guitarist Matt Karst had either died or been kidnapped for quite some time. *Gregg Rohde is said to be somewhere in Europe, most likely running from the Italian mafia. Now back for a reunion, the boys are ready to rock Shank Hall. It is very possible that you will be included in a behind the music production if you attend this show. Remedy is: Aaron Manske, Andrew Kohn, Chris Kohn, Matt Karst and Gregg Rohde*.
21SatJanuary 21, 2017The Gleasons
Table 58:00pm $10.00The next generation of Celtic music is thriving, thanks in part to one of its new standard-bearers: The Gleasons. From the rolling fields of Connemara to barnstorming sessions in Dublin pubs, songs by The Gleasons bring to life the magic of Celtic legend. It all begins with the songs; thoughtful combinations of lyrics and melodies that transport the listener to the Emerald Isle and beyond. As a live act, The Gleasons couples its influences (Van Morrison, U2, The Chieftains, and Johnny Cash) with an engaging and energetic stage show that often literally includes flag waving. If you enjoy Celtic, country, pop or rock music, you’re one of us. We hope you join us on our musical journey. Slainte!
27FriJanuary 27, 2017
Taking cues from the dance bands of western Louisiana (and his native Midwest,), the streets (and 45's) of New Orleans, touring African and Caribbean combos and the soul, funk & blues of his youth, Paul Cebar is a masterful synthesist of rhythmic culture. His time spent in his second home of New Orleans, as a musicologist in Florida, and as a journeyman wanderer in Cuba, is reflected in his musical worldview.
At the core is gifted songwriting, and the company Paul keeps bears it out: Bonnie Raitt, Nick Lowe, Chris Smither, John Hiatt and Cesar Rosas are among his friends and admirers.
Tomorrow Sound are an elite crew. Drummer Reggie Bordeaux, New Orleans native percussionist Mac Perkins, and bassist Mike Fredrickson, throw down some of the best dance grooves in the business. Multi-instrumentalist Bob Jennings adds the luxury of implying a much larger ensemble with his multi-hued contributions on keys and reeds.
Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound's latest album is "Fine Rude Thing" . The songs "Baby Shake" and "You Owe it to Me" feature Cebar's unique mixture of R&B, Caribbean and New Orleans style.
28SatJanuary 28, 2017
The missteps and failures that followed, the collapse of an industry that once embraced him as its next sensation, are troubles and travails that either ruin a person completely, or they force a change of attitude and staunch determination to gather one's resolve to not only survive, but overcome. McDermott vowed to do both. Ten albums in, it's resulted in Willow Springs (Pauper Sky, June 17, 2016), one of the most honest, daring and defiant recordings of McDermott's career. Named for the small town where he now resides with his wife and young daughter, it reflects a certain circumspect about his life, the situations he's encountered, while realizing that ultimately, his fate resided in his own hands.
"This is an album of reckoning I suppose," McDermott reflects. "There was a real cacophony of change going on in my life at the time... being a new father, losing my own father, leaving the city for the country, dealing with sobriety, grief, death, mortality, shame and forgiveness. It was a veritable emotional tsunami and yet somehow I had to navigate through it all. That journey is reflected in these songs. Willow Springs is the name of the place where I took refuge and had to confront a lot of things".
Recorded at his home in the country and fan-funded, Willow Springs finds McDermott behind the boards as producer for the first time with longtime producer and collaborator, Lex Price doing the mix. Having enlisted a stellar support group of musicians -- including multi-instrumentalist, Price; guitarist, Will Kimbrough; keyboard player, John Deaderick ; sax player Rich Parenteau; and McDermott's wife, Heather Horton on backing vocals - McDermott found himself able to craft the unassuming yet cutting sound he envisioned.
Indeed, the results bear out the fact that Willow Springs is the most honest and expressive album of McDermott's extraordinary 25 year career. Songs such as, 'These Last Few Days', 'Getaway Car', 'Half Empty Kinda Guy', 'One Minus One' and the title track, convey all at once, a sound that's both reflective and confessional - borne by stark emotion and a tattered, battered delivery that's both sobering and sublime. McDermott remains more determined than ever, and Willow Springs is the result. "My enthusiasm is only matched by my desire to continue to evolve as an artist" he insists.
Accolades and kudos can be accumulated one minute and quickly dissipate the next. After all, the music biz is a fickle beast and it doesn't matter how much you pleased the masses last year, last month or even last week, but rather, about what you offer today.
Today, McDermott has offered his best.
Kudos to Michael McDermott - overnight success.
Sam Llanas (formerly of the BoDeans) is an iconic American singer, acoustic guitarist, and songwriter. Best known for his unique and distinctively soulful voice, Sam's fiery vocals fueled many of his former band's finest songs including their biggest hit "Closer To Free." It was Llanas' voice that supplied the trademark vocal on Robbie Robertson's "Somewhere Down the Crazy River."
In 1997 Llanas founded the band Absinthe. As Absinthe Sam released one album, 1998's critically acclaimed A Good Day To Die. In 2011 Sam Llanas left the BoDeans and released 4 A.M. (The Way Home) on Inner Knot Records. In 2013 he released the live retrospective 4/5 Live - Vol I.
In 2012 the music from 1998's A Good Day To Die was incorporated into a collaboration with playwright Doug Vincent and producer Gary Tanin in the production "A Day for Grace." By 2013 the play had evolved to include multi-city tours and multi-week runs in New York City.
On November 18th, 2014 Llanas is set to release The Whole Night Thru an all new studio record produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin. It features 9 new Llanas originals. The Whole Night Thru is Llanas' first studio outing after parting ways with the band he co- fronted for over a quarter century. Shedding new light on a multi-decade career Sam returns to his roots adding a refined rock sound complimented by a full band, all veterans of both studio and live performance. Behind his lone-wolf image and tuffness, Llanas continues to hone his skills. A master craftsman that feels most at home in the city he's always called home, Llanas has set the stage for fans to embrace his new identity.