Read our daily events guide, Today in Milwaukee, on expressmilwaukee.com
THURSDAY, MARCH 8
Colin Hay w/ Grace Weber @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
A familiar face from the early days of MTV, Colin Hay affably fronted the Australian pop band Men at Work, scoring a handful of lighthearted Police-inspired hits like “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now.” Since that band’s hiatus—which seems permanent, given how guitarist Ronald Strykert allegedly threatened to kill Hay—Hay has worked with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band and nurtured a solo career. Last year he released his 11th solo album, Gathering Mercury, a laid-back affair that spotlights his trademark gentle humor. His road-tested shows spotlight a mix of solo material and stripped-down Men at Work hits, which have held up much better than much of the music from that era.
Lyle Lovett w/ John Hiatt @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Lyle Lovett knows that great songwriting can be a means to an end, one that reaches out and touches audiences. The long, tall Texan, who’s won several Grammy Awards, has written plenty of great country tracks, becoming a crossover star at a time when the genre wasn’t producing many. Tonight he shares the stage with another seasoned songwriter, John Hiatt, whose songs have been covered by the likes of Willie Nelson, Iggy Pop, Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan. The two old friends are touring together behind a show that’s loose and collaborative, with the two sharing stories and tagteaming the set list.
FRIDAY, MARCH 9
Eddie Griffin @ Jokerz Comedy Club, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Known for his cutting social observations and over-the-top impressions, including an infamous bit that imagines a crack-addicted Michael Jackson, Eddie Griffin hinges much of his raunchy comedy on biting racial satire. After getting his start in the sitcom “Malcolm & Eddie,” Griffin moved on to movies, appearing in little-loved fare like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and Norbit and starring in Undercover Brother as the title character. His movie appearances have yet to capture the confrontational energy of his stand-up performances. (Multiple performances through Sunday, March 11.)
Astronautalis w/ Busdriver and Jel @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Seattle rapper Astronautalis rhymes in a mellow, rhythmic flow that owes much to spoken-word poetry over laid-back beats that take cues from rootsy indie-rock. His John Congleton-produced 2008 album, Pomegranate, featured a guest spot from Minneapolis rapper P.O.S.; his latest album, 2011’s This Is Our Science, features a much wider array of guests that reflects his cross-genre interests. P.O.S. returns, along with fellow Doomtree collective members Cecil Otter and Lazerbeak, and members of the rock bands Tegan and Sara, Riverboat Gamblers and Midlake.
John Prine @ Marcus Center, 8 p.m.
John Prine started his career unassumingly, delivering mail in Maywood, Ill., before Kris Kristofferson noticed him at open mics in Chicago. The folk singer gained national attention with his 1971 self-titled debut, which would eventually rank 458th on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time. The acclaimed singer-songwriter survived a battle with throat cancer in the late ’90s. It left him with a much hoarser growl, but he’s put that gravelly voice to good use on his recent run of poignant, largely acoustic studio albums. His latest release, 2011’s The Singing Mailman Delivers, nods to his early roots, compiling some of his very first recordings.
SATURDAY, MARCH 10
The Grand Slam Charity Jam ft. Smash Mouth @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 5 p.m.
A slew of celebrities and performers will appear at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino for a grandscale event raising money for multiple area charities, including Hometown Heroes and the LeRoy Butler Foundation. The headlining event is a concert from ska-minded alternative rockers Smash Mouth and singers Naima Adedapo, Adekola Adedapo and Grace Weber, as well as performance art from Shelby Keefe and appearances by former Miss America Kate Shindle and unnamed Packers players. The event begins with a buffet and drinks, and appearances from Trista and Ryan of the ABC reality show “The Bachelorette.”
Alabama Shakes w/ Herman Astro @ The Pabst Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Athens, Ala., rockers Alabama Shakes made a fast impression with their gleefully howled homage to Southern soul and gospel-blues, as evidenced by the interest in this sold-out concert. A short, self-titled EP last fall has generated excitement for the group’s upcoming debut LP, Boys & Girls, which will be released on Dave Matthews’ ATO Records in April. Last month, the group performed its lead single “Hold On” on “Conan.”
SUNDAY, MARCH 11
Yellow Ostrich w/ 1,2,3 and Adam Helwin @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Since he recorded his catchy, experimental indie-pop album The Mistress primarily in his Lawrence University apartment early last year, Yellow Ostrich singer-songwriter Alex Schaaf has expanded his band into a three-piece group, recruiting two indie-rock vets, drummer Michael Tapper (of Bishop Allen) and bassist/woodwind player Jon Natchez (of Beirut). Schaaf still makes ample use of self-looped sounds during the band’s performances, but his recordings have grown more expansive. On Yellow Ostrich’s sonically dense new album, Strange Land, he incorporates nearly a dozen different horns.
SUNDAY , MARCH 11
Buckwheat Zydeco w/ Leroy Airmaster @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
Perhaps the most popular modern accordionist outside of “Weird Al” Yankovic, Stanley Dural Jr., better known as Buckwheat Zydeco, is one of the primary ambassadors of zydeco music. The Louisianan Creole blues master first cut his teeth with a conventional Southern funk band, Buckwheat and The Hitchhikers, before he left to back up legendary zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier. Dural eventually eclipsed his mentor in popularity, becoming the first zydeco performer to be signed to a major label and, in the summer of 1996, also the first to perform for a worldwide audience at the Olympics. His latest album is 2010’s dance-minded Bayou Boogie.
Hot Tuna @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Formed as a side project of Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna is the 1970s musical love child of Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen, the two founding and current members. The band opened for Jefferson Airplane, playing their covers along with traditional blues and rock material, until Jefferson Airplane faded out and Hot Tuna made an independent name for itself. Following a series of test runs in electric rock and a profound drift from its beloved blues and acoustic mix, Hot Tuna released several albums but eventually fizzled out by 1979. Hot Tuna has since reunited several times under varying genres and styles, and to this day continues to tour with an incoming and outgoing flux of members.
MONDAY, MARCH 12
Eisley w/ Christie DuPree @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Eisley’s 2005 debut album, Room Noises, was as perky and optimistic of an indie-pop record as you’d expect from a band comprised of four young siblings and their cousin, but Eisley’s songwriting has taken darker turns as the band has matured. The group’s latest record, The Valley, was recorded in the wake of singer Sherri DuPree’s divorce from New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert and guitarist Chauntelle DuPree’s broken engagement to Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara. Where Sherri DuPree once wrote her songs in fairy-tale couplets, she now dwells on betrayal and heartache, though the newfound hurt in her lyrics hasn’t completely overrun the band’s trademark sweetness.
TUESDAY, MARCH 13
Levon Helm Band @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Singer-drummer Levon Helm has always been a collaboration-minded musician. With his legendary rock group The Band he famously backed Bob Dylan and played with a who’s-who of great artists. He would later join an early incarnation of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. In the late ’90s, Helm began his most free-spirited venture yet: The Midnight Ramble, a regular jam session at his Woodstock studio that has welcomed dozens of name musicians over the years, including Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Gillian Welch, Donald Fagen, Phil Lesh and Norah Jones. His 2008 tour modeled after those sessions was captured on last year’s live album Ramble at the Ryman. (Also Wednesday, March 14.)