Harley-Davidson Celebration Attracts Some Top Names

Monday, Aug. 26: John Hiatt And The Combo and Josh Krajcik @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m. John Hiatt is an old hand: A former Nashville songwriter for Tree International Records, he snagged a record contract of his own after Three Dog Night popularized his song “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here” in 1974. Although he doesn’t get the same recognition as icons like Randy Newman and Warren Zevon, a long list of cover versions by everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Iggy Pop is a testament to his songwriting. His 25th album, My Kind Of Town – a live performance from…

You Should Know Pete Donnelly

Check Him Out: Friday, Aug. 23 at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn with Sleepwalkers and Freedy Johnston What’s The Big Deal? Donnelly was a founding member of prolific indie rock band The Figgs, which was peddling crunchy ’90s-sounding power pop as recently as last year, with the release of The Day Gravity Stopped. Back in 1994, when The Figgs released Low-Fi At Society High, Donnelly was sneering through songs about riding the bus and his favorite shirt. He’s come a long way since then – marriage and kids will do that to you, I guess – and this year released Face The…

Album Review- The Violet Hour’s Not Haunted

Photo by Ignacio Catral. I have heard enough covers of “Crossroads” to know what passes for “the blues” these days – and it tends to be cringe-inducing. So I was a bit apprehensive upon listening to The Violet Hour, a self-described “blues-infused” rock band from Milwaukee. Fortunately, the band’s debut album, Not Haunted, quickly disproved my (admittedly, pretty fuzzy) anxieties about the concept of blues rock, and that’s because it’s not really blues rock at all. With a digest of influences that includes power pop, punk, classic rock and, yes, blues, Not Haunted is an all-encompassing half-hour of rock that…

Rockotlan Gives Heavy Metal a Home

A little less than two years ago, friends Pedro Jimenez and Pablo Razo opened a bar and Mexican restaurant on the South Side. They called it Rockotlan, and hoped it would be a new stronghold for heavy metal music in Milwaukee. Approximately six-hundred-and-sixty-six days later, it seems safe to say that Rockotlan has done its job. With a menu featuring margaritas like the Iron Maiden ($6.66), music videos blaring behind the bar, and, most importantly, live local metal every Saturday. Rockotlan has quietly become Milwaukee’s premiere metal venue.   But this Saturday will be a special one, as it marks…

Top 10 Picks for July 2013

TOP 10 PICKS FOR JULY 10. Summerfest Ends. Summerfest is kind of like spending two weeks with an annoying younger cousin. You can’t stand it when it’s around, but when it’s gone, everything seems so… quiet.  We won’t miss expensive parking and post-apocalyptic crowds, but we’ll miss the tunes. But there are nine other things on this list, so I think we’ll survive. 9. Northless releases new track, “Kuru.” The seven-minute track from Milwaukee’s doom kings opens with perhaps the evilest-sounding guitar I have ever heard, like a cross between a tornado siren and an army of weed-whackers. It is…

Weird Al Yankovic at the State Fair

Monday, July 29: Josh Clutter @ Bremen Café, 9 p.m. A few years ago, Josh Clutter’s squeaky-clean pop rock songs would have fit comfortably on most Top 40 stations/soundtracks of movies adapted from Nicholas Sparks novels. Now, they seem significant for sounding so… normal. With song titles like “You And I” and “Always Love You,” Clutter isn’t breaking any new ground, but the love-obsessed Minneapolis native nails the acrobatics of young romance, from ambitious dreams of elopement (“we don’t need a plan/come on take my hand”) on “You And I,” to the eventual decision to move on, on, well, “Moving…

Take Note- Buffalo Gospel

Photo by Rick Ebbers When his band Buffalo Gospel finished recording its new album, We Can Be Horses, Ryan Necci commemorated the occasion by tattooing a buffalo – what else? – on his right bicep. After a difficult few years that included the end of his marriage, the mark of the buffalo seems to symbolize a fresh start for Necci and his band. Needless to say, the divorce was rough, but in its aftermath, Necci began to recognize what was truly important in his life. Family, friends and Buffalo Gospel became his priorities. Accustomed to writing from the perspective of…

Paul McCartney at Miller Park

Monday, July 15: M.O.T.O. with Crappy Dracula and Rat Lips @ Quarters, 9 p.m. Legendary garage punks M.O.T.O. (Masters Of The Obvious) are a miracle of longevity. Formed in New Orleans in 1981 by Paul Caporino, the band has been unstoppable for more than 30 years, lineup changes and relocations be damned. Caporino is the band’s mainstay and primary songwriter, continually adding to a catalog of offbeat garage pop songs that number in the hundreds. (900 E. Center St.) Photo of Paul McCartney from Shutterstock Tuesday, July 16: Paul McCartney @ Miller Park, 8 p.m. No offense to the last-place…

Neon Trees Returns to Summerfest

After Neon Trees played Summerfest for the first time in 2010, lead singer Tyler Glenn went backstage and called his mom in tears. “The feeling was just so high,” he recalled excitedly, in front of the crowd gathered at the US Cellular Stage Saturday night. Clearly happy to be back, the band from Provo, Utah, tore through a loud, high-energy set of punchy pop rock, propelled by a pulsing rhythm section and the charismatic Glenn. Glenn personally put on an electrifying, emotional performance, pausing often to share stories and lead the audience in full-throated shout-alongs. His ragged but powerful vocals…

Rick Springfield Plays the Hits

At first glance, Rick Springfield would appear to be your average Summerfest free stage headliner: an aged rocker with a handful of hit songs and a career gone lukewarm, attempting to resuscitate the glory days for his nostalgic fans. But the 64-year-old manchild had energy and gimmicks to burn Friday night at the Uline Warehouse stage, where he eagerly played brand new material along with hits like “Jessie’s Girl” and “You Better Love Somebody” to a faithful audience. Springfield’s catalog is deep with huge, cheesy choruses, and he wasted no time getting to them with openers “Wide Awake” (from new…