Best Bets: July Events

Tallest Man on Earth, Racine Art Museum, and more.

Avian Blues

Rustic, pastoral arrangements imbue the lyrical storytelling of Kristian Matsson, the Swedish singer-songwriter who performs as the Tallest Man on Earth. He produces plucked back-porch music that incorporates occasional outside accompaniments, such as a harmonica, trumpet or synthesizer. His fourth full-length, May’s Dark Bird Is Home, sounds like Bob Dylan taking a stab at writing a classic Bruce Springsteen album (think more Darkness on the Edge of Town than Nebraska). Throughout the record, Matsson embodies an intrepid night owl, afraid and unglued by the daytime. “Sunlight just drives me away,” Matsson sings over a swiftly strummed acoustic guitar in “Darkness on the Dream.” And then later, “I guess my rhythm grew through my darker time,” he croons in the restless “Slow Dance.” While the vampiric tendencies could have led the music down grimmer paths, Matsson keeps the material sunny while letting some images lurk in the shadows. (Kevin Mueller)
Tallest Man On Earth (July 31). Pabst Theater. 144 E. Wells St., 414-286-3663, pabsttheater.org.

Frau Hole Goddess of the Open Fields, by Ann Wolff, courtesy of Racine Art Museum.
Frau Hole Goddess of the Open Fields, by Ann Wolff, courtesy of Racine Art Museum.

Good-looking Glass

Some might consider Daniel Greenberg and his wife, Susan Steinhauser, the fairy godparents of the contemporary glass world. As major art and glass collectors from 1975-1995, they amassed one of the largest such troves in the country. And since then, they’ve been gifting portions of it to grateful modern art museums. Racine Art Museum is one of the lucky few. It will display more than 60 glass pieces, including showstoppers by Sylvia Levenson, Joel Philip Myers, Michael Glancy, Dale Chihuly and many more. (Claire Hanan)
Contemporary Glass at RAM (July 12-Jan. 24). Racine Art Museum. 441 Main St., Racine, 262-638-8300, ramart.org.

A Rousing Retelling

He calls his dance style “post-African/neo-HooDoo,” but all you need to know is that Reggie Wilson is willing to explore deep, contemporary questions about history, identity and race. A Milwaukee native and Rufus King graduate, Wilson brings his Fist and Heel Performance Group to perform a new version of his acclaimed Moses(es), adapted specifically for the space at Lynden Sculpture Garden. To create Moses(es), Wilson draws on African fractal geometry and Zora Neale Hurston’s retelling of the Exodus story. The results ripple with the emotion and energy of spirituals sung by the likes of Louis Armstrong and the Blind Boys of Alabama. (Paul Kosidowski)
Moses(es) (July 18). Lynden Sculpture Garden. 2145 W. Brown Deer Rd., 414-382-6044, alvernopresents.alverno.edu.

Photo by Caroline Tan.
Photo by Caroline Tan.

Cask’ed It

Beer tastes a little different when it’s served from a firkin. Cask-conditioned brews (that’s what comes out of a firkin) have moderate carbonation, and the unfiltered beer is fresh and flavorful. It isn’t for everybody, but there’s a fair amount of the beer-drinking populace that swears by this method of consumption. Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest boasts more than 40 firkins from nearly 50 brewers on hand, offering ample opportunity to taste cask-conditioned beer. If it isn’t to your liking, there’s plenty of the regular kind of beer available, too. (Dan Murphy)
Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest (July 18). Cathedral Square Park. 520 E. Wells St., milwaukeefirkin.com.

Fiddlin’ Fresh

It’s a little early for cabbage and potatoes, and, as far as we know, they don’t sell blocks of peat at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market. But this month, the market will remind you of the Ould Sod. The local trio Áthas has built a loyal Midwest following with high-energy takes on traditional tunes, and they don’t mind throwing in a modern innovation now and then. Amy Richter, for example, spends most of her time playing the traditional Irish bodhrán, but every so often, she’ll pick up an African djembe for variety’s sake. Richter is joined by vocalist-fiddler Heather Lewin and guitarist Jeff Ksiazek. (Paul Kosidowski)
Áthas (July 16). South Milwaukee Downtown Market. Milwaukee and 11th avenues, South Milwaukee, smmarket.org.

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Claire Hanan worked at the magazine as an editor from 2012-2017. She edited the Culture section and wrote stories about all sorts of topics, including the arts, fashion, politics and more. In 2016, she was a finalist for best profile writing at the City and Regional Magazine Awards for her story "In A Flash." In 2014, she won the the Milwaukee Press gold award for best public service story for editing "Handle With Care," a service package about aging in Milwaukee. Before all this, she attended the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and New York University's Summer Publishing Institute.