Our fat-free, dolphin-safe Milwaukee events calendar is chock-full of things to do, but only a handful of events are worthy of the lofty honor of “Record Recommended” (patent pending). Here are our recommendations for December 13-19, 2021.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 13
Poets Monday: Ed Makowski @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
Death. Taxes. Linneman’s Monday night poetry open mic. All three are dependable, inevitable. Happily, the third is much better than the first two. Another dependable institution, Ed Makowski, serves as the featured poet for tonight’s installment.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14
Watkins Family Hour + Cortney Hartman @ Shank Hall
When they’re not winning Grammys, selling millions of records, and cracking the Billboard charts as two-thirds of Nickel Creek, siblings Sara and Sean Watkins are writing, recording, and performing in their aptly named Watkins Family Hour project. The duo is finally able to hit the road in belated support of their excellent 2020 album Brother Sister.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15
Milwaukee Record Presents: ‘Clue’ @ Avalon Atmospheric Theater
The screen adaptation of the classic murder mystery game is more fun than the board game closet in your parents’ basement, and with far fewer silverfish! Clue‘s stacked cast of 1980s funny people beautifully portrays the standard lineup as they gather together for an invite-only party at a mysterious mansion. Mayhem, dastardly blackmail, and a singing telegram ensue as the ensemble tries to sleuth out the murderer among them. [SOLD OUT]
Midweek Music: Jordan + Ernie (of Chicken Wire Empire) @ Crafty Cow Tosa
Since all parties involved seem pretty happy with the series, we decided to add one more Midweek Music installment in 2021. Join us at Crafty Cow Tosa for an extra special performance by Jordan and Ernie of Chicken Wire Empire. The show, which runs from 7:30-9 p.m., is free to attend. Like all other Midweek Music shows, Crafty Cow Tosa will offer $2 Indeed Brewing Company pints during the show. They’ll also have a “Cheap Date” special, which includes two entrees, an appetizer, and two drinks for just $29.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16
Mere Of Light + Cal Fish, Frenia, Itchy Kisses @ Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts
Mere Of Light is fronted by Elise McArdle, whom Milwaukee music fans know from dream-pop group Cream Vellum. With Mere Of Light, however, McArdle goes for a more serene, pastoral sound, drawing on “material from sound archives, field recordings, fairytales, and folk ballads”—and, of course, a trusty harp (and guitar work from Eddie Chapman of Gauss). The wistful “Moon From A Well,” filled with images of soft nettle beds and “catnip and clover,” is from the new Fell Tales EP.
Ladybird + Fellow Kinsman, Anhero @ Company Brewing
Ladybird is the latest project from Milwaukee musician Pete Freeman. Freeman’s previous work includes the excellent 2020 album Meat & Potatoes, the delightful 2019 album Wisconsin Stories, and a song about Milwaukee Brewers superfan Front Row Amy. Joining Freeman in Ladybird are Scott Parker (bass), Sam Szymborski (guitar), and Aidan Gouran (drums). The group’s debut album, Introducing…, is a delightful collection of beer-buzzed country pop.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17
Peeper & Le Play (record release/final show) + Jaff Graffner, DJ Andy Positive @ Cactus Club
Peeper (Zack Pieper) and Le Play (Didier Leplae) have been collaborating since 2014, and released two albums of kaleidoscopic and occasionally nightmarish pop: 2015’s Mandatory Fantasies and 2019’s Find The Earth (Club Frills Vol. 1). This show coincides with the release of their latest full length, We Buy Gold. A cavalcade of perverse tales bracketed by jagged funk and audio chicanery, the album demonstrates the best possibilities of musical omnivorousness; ideas rain in from a ridiculous diversity of genres and rub against each other in new thrilling ways. This show also serves as a goodbye to the recently expatriated-to-Portugal musical wizard Leplae.
Donnell Rawlings @ Milwaukee Improv (7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. shows)
While there’s a good chance you know him from his work on The Wire, Soul, or as the guy who said “I’m rich, bee-yaaatch!” (among other memorable roles) as a series regular on Chappelle Show, Donnell Rawlings is also a veteran stand-up comedian. This weekend, he takes the stage in nearby Brookfield for a total of five headlining shows at Milwaukee Improv.
Jackie Kashian @ The Laughing Tap (8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. shows)
Since leaving her hometown of South Milwaukee, Jackie Kashian has sustained a long and successful career in comedy that includes a Comedy Central special, a few Conan appearances, and her long-running Dork Forest podcast. She returns to the region for two nights of performances at The Laughing Tap.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18
REZN • Immortal Bird • To The Dogs @ Cactus Club
Chicago’s REZN describes itself with only three words: “Heavy Psychedelic Music.” There’s no denying that descriptor, but it leaves out the swirling, haunting beauty that makes REZN so much more than just a “heavy” band. Last year’s Chaotic Divine evokes a ’70s sci-fi vibe, with cover art that “presents an endless desert world inoculated by spores from extra/intra-terrestrial beings.”
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19
Milwaukee Record Halftime Show: Holy Mary Motor Club (reunion) @ Cactus Club
After a season away, the Milwaukee Record Halftime Show series has returned! This season, we’ve assembled a stacked roster of 17 performers that will provide FREE all-ages entertainment during halftime of Green Bay football games. Like previous seasons, our friends at Miller High Life will sponsor our football-focused festivities, meaning fans can enjoy “The Champagne Of Beers” and Miller Lite for $2.50 a bottle or $10 for a bucket of five beers all game long. This week, vaguely remembered goof-rock band Holy Mary Motor Club (featuring Milwaukee Record‘s own Matt Wild) reunites for a set that will probably go a little longer than halftime. Buckle up for songs about animals, slime, and other things the band was really into when they were 13 years old. Kickoff is at 3:25 p.m.
Found Footage Festival @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
For more than 15 years, Wisconsin natives Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher have been bravely scouring America’s cut-out bins, Goodwills, and dumpsters in order to find some of the most bizarre and delightful VHS oddities this side of that “Hairdresser” lady. Their Found Footage Festival collects their finds in a riotous live show that is a must-see for fans of stilted industrial tapes, retro workplace training tapes, and ill-conceived workout tapes. Highlights of tonight’s show will include “celebrity outtakes from a foul-mouthed Richard Simmons,” “a contentious Siskel and Ebert,” and “a very drunk Orson Welles.”