Review: No monkey business in 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'

Written by The Associated Press Friday, 11 July 2014 10:58

Digital characters have by now long populated our movies like unwanted house guests. Some of these CGI inventions, like Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings," have been pleasant, even precious company. But most have disrupted our movie worlds - and not just as monsters tearing our cities apart, but as awkward distractions to our cinematic realities. The name Jar Jar Binks will forever be followed by solemn head shaking. Never forget.

But in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," the tables have turned, and not just because apes now rule a world where all but 1 in 500 humans have been wiped out by a so-called simian flu virus. No, the biggest uprising in the sequel to 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is by those digitally created, nonhuman characters which have finally and resoundingly come of age.

Hep girls who can hit still face discrimination

Written by Bill Lamb,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 14 June 2014 14:59

Kim Thompson, the drummer for Fred Armisen’s band, which plays on TV’s Late Night With Seth Meyers. - Photo:

More than 70 years ago, woman drummer Viola Smith rattled the music establishment when she wrote an editorial for the jazz magazine Down Beat declaring that “hep girls” could hold their own in any jam session. The piece, title “Give Girl Musicians a Break!,” expressed the frustration that she faced as a woman playing instruments that society believed women were not capable of playing as well as men.

Ivy Spokes to headline Summerfest’s KNE New Music Stage on opening night

Written by Bill Lamb,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 14 June 2014 13:58

-Photo: Yvonne Lopez

Milwaukee band Ivy Spokes first came together in 2011 and released a debut EP titled Chaos to Cosmos. The band describes its sound as dance rock, but that doesn’t fully honor the wide range of sounds that are woven into an Ivy Spokes show.

Tony Bennett: Truth and beauty are his game

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 30 May 2014 14:30

In 1979, with no recording contract, few concerts, a failed second marriage and the IRS on his heels, Tony Bennett nearly died from a cocaine overdose.  The former top crooner, whose iconic 1962 hit “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” made him a household name, had lost touch with contemporary audiences and lost his way in the changing music scene.

Bennett reached out to sons Danny and Dae, who helped turn his faltering career around and found a way for him to appeal to younger audiences without changing his charismatic musical style. Many new fans had never heard his music before, but they appreciated his enormous talent. Bennett’s star began once again to ascend, and it now shines as brightly once more.

Natalie Merchant coming to Pabst to support her first album in 13 years

Written by Bill Lamb,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 10 July 2014 13:11

Natalie Merchant. — PHOTO: Courtesy

Nearly 13 years ago, Natalie Merchant released Motherland, her last album of all-new material until this May. Motherland was released in the wake of 9/11, and, although recorded before the attacks, it was dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks that day. Merchant’s latest album, simply titled Natalie Merchant, is a sequel of sorts.

Hudson plans to ‘Jenniferize’ Chicago Pride Festival audience

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 14 June 2014 14:42

Jennifer Hudson’s story is the stuff of legends. The Chicago native’s meteoric rise from American Idol competitor to Oscar-winning actress is a once-in-a-generation story. We knew she could sing, but when she stole the movieDreamgirls from Beyoncé, she entered the stratosphere. Personal tragedies (the murder of family members) and triumphs (remarkable weight loss) followed. Hudson has persevered through whatever life has thrown her way and continued to turn out memorable work and performances. Her third album Driven, soon to be released, is expected to show yet another side of the star.

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society is creative explosion

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 14 June 2014 13:51

-Photo: Dick Ainsworth

Anyone who thinks chamber music is stately, stodgy and, in some cases, somnolent has never seen the seasonal performances offered by Madison’s Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society. 

Vampire Weekend is at BMO Harris Pavillion on June 4

Written by Bill Lamb,
Contributing writer
Friday, 30 May 2014 14:25

Which band is the only one in history to debut at  No. 11 on the Billboard album chart with two consecutive independently released projects?

If you guessed Vampire Weekend, you’re right.  Arguably the most critically celebrated and commercially successful of today’s alternative rock groups, Vampire Weekend heads to Milwaukee for the first major outdoor concert tour of the season at the Summerfest grounds’ BMO Harris Pavilion on June 4. The show is a great way to whet your musical appetite for the coming attractions at PrideFest. 

The other side of Summerfest: Interesting acts that might get lost beneath the headliners

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 26 June 2014 16:49

Naima Adedapo. — Photo: Courtesy

As a Summerfest-goer since 1968, I have seen my share of legendary acts and a sizable slice of contemporary music history on Milwaukee’s lakefront. 

The Manhattan Transfer looks back at 45 years of four-part magic

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 14 June 2014 14:28

The Manhattan Transfer

By all accounts, Tim Hauser is a lucky man, and luck has helped propel The Manhattan Transfer, the group he founded in 1969, on an impressive career trajectory as the country’s best-known jazz vocal group.

The Guilty Wanted graduates to headliner status at this year’s Summerfest

Written by Bill Lamb,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 14 June 2014 13:46

Five years ago, singer and guitar player Rebecca Hoffman was helping run her family’s pig farm in Friesland, Wisconsin. She hailed from a musical family and played music for most of her life, but she had never explored performing as part of a band. 

Carlos Santana wants to save the world with music

Written by By MESFIN FEKADU,
From the AP
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 09:15

Try to speak with Carlos Santana about his new album and he’ll want to talk about another topic: changing the world.

The veteran musician says he is planning a concert aimed at encouraging and motivating the development of young black and Latino men in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death and Donald Sterling’s racist comments. He wants to hold the event next year in Florida and is working with Harry Belafonte.