7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Orpheum Theatre, Madison. $30, $27 in advance. madisonorpheum.com; 8 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee. $33. pabsttheater.org.
Jason Aldean. Blake Shelton. Tim McGraw. Taylor Swift. Those aren’t just the names of four of country music’s greatest working artists, they’re also the names of the artists Kacey Musgraves stepped over on the way to picking up a Grammy for 2013’s Best Country Album — for her major-label debut, Same Trailer, Different Park. In a genre full of good ol’ boys who pander to red state values, Musgraves is a breath of fresh air, turning a critical eye on small-minded small-town values in songs like “Merry Go ‘Round” and “Follow Your Arrow.” The best part: They’re great songs too, making this progressive powerhouse the full package.
Zap Mama and Antibalas
8 p.m. Feb. 15 at Wisconsin Union Theatre’s Shannon Hall, Madison. $25–$40, $10 for UW-Madison students.
How often do you get the chance to see two rhythm-loving, African music-influenced acts for the price of one? Zap Mama, aka Belgian artist Marie Daulne, sings polyphonic Afropop and has integrated elements of jazz, soul and urban music over her 20-year career. Antibalas, part of the same music scene as TV on the Radio and The Dap-Kings, is pure Afrobeat, a bridge from Fela Kuti’s work to the present day. They’ve never collaborated before, and they might never again, so don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime show.
6:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Pabst Theater, Milwaukee. $25. pabsttheater.org.
It’s a brave new digital world we’re living in, and now it comes with its own tour. Digitour, founded in 2011, bills itself as the first social-media tour, enlisting top stars from YouTube, Vine, Twitter and Instagram like Pentatonix, Fifth Harmony and Tyler Oakley to perform in front of often-sold-out crowds. Names like Sam Pottorff, WeeklyChris and Twaimz may not mean anything to you yet, but if the Internet’s proven anything in its relatively short life, it’s that you never know where the next viral hit is coming from.
The Nile Project
8 p.m. Feb. 26 at Wisconsin Union Theatre’s Shannon Hall, Madison. Free. uniontheater.wisc.edu.
Eleven countries border Africa’s Nile River, and the multiculturally minded Nile Project unites them all. Founded by ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and singer Meklit Hadero, the Nile Project is a world music lover’s dream, a huge collective of musicians all coming together to share their abilities with each other. The artists just had their third “gathering” thus far, in Egypt, which means they’ll show up in Madison with a revitalized sound and brand-new work to show off.
7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee. $17–$127. bmoharrisbradleycenter.com.
Barry Manilow’s had a long, lucky career, working regularly as both a singer-songwriter and adaptor of others’ works since the ’70s. But he’s also entering his 70s, and has decided to scale things back accordingly. Cue the “One Last Time!” tour, one last run around the nation with all his greatest hits, including “Mandy,” “Copacabana” and more. Manilow will be joined on the tour by Dave Koz, a man as talented on the saxophone as Manilow is on the vocal chords.
7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee. Free. psoa.uwm.edu.
UWM’s MKE Unplugged music series is back, and kicking off 2015 with an Oshkosh band on its way up. Acoustic folk band Dead Horses specializes in coming-of-age narratives, and the four-piece has done a little coming-of-age of their own in recent months. Their sophomore album, Space and Time, made waves upon its release in October, and the band’s been touring to high acclaim ever since. Catch them now before Dead Horses really comes to life. Upstart Milwaukee indie band Ugly Brothers opens.