Tag Archives: concert

‘Greatest living poet’ Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that made him the only singer-songwriter to win the award.

The 75-year-old Dylan — who won the prize for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” — now finds himself in the company of Winston Churchill, Thomas Mann and Rudyard Kipling as Nobel laureates.

Bob Dylan Born: 1941, Duluth, MN, USA Prize motivation: "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition"
Bob Dylan
Born: 1941, Duluth, MN, USA
Prize motivation: “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”

Dylan’s songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Like a Rolling Stone” captured a spirit of rebellion, dissent and independence.

More than 50 years on, Dylan is still writing songs and is often on tour, performing his dense poetic lyrics.

“Blowin’ in the Wind,” written in 1962, was considered one of the most eloquent folk songs of all time. “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, in which Dylan told Americans “your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,” was an anthem of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests.

Awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($930,000) prize, the Swedish Academy said: “Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound.”

Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg said: “He is probably the greatest living poet.”

Asked if he thought Dylan’s Nobel lecture — traditionally given by the laureate in Stockholm later in the year — would be a concert, replied: “Let’s hope so.”

Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Nobel Academy, told a news conference there was “great unity” in the panel’s decision to give Dylan the prize.

Dylan’s spokesman, Elliott Mintz, declined immediate comment when reached by phone, citing the early hour in Los Angeles, where it was 3 a.m. at the time of the announcement.

Dylan was due to give a concert in Las Vegas on Thursday evening.

Literature was the last of this year’s Nobel prizes to be awarded.

The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will.


Some Dylan details …

• Bob Dylan began his career as an acoustic singer-songwriter specializing in protest songs such as “Blowin’ In The Wind.” His first album was the eponymous Bob Dylan released in 1962.

• Dylan created a controversy at the Newport, Rhode Island, folk festival in 1965 when he set aside his acoustic guitar and played an electric guitar. He played three songs and some in the crowd booed but it remains unclear if the booing was because of the electric guitar, the short set or bad audio quality.

• Dylan dropped out of the public eye after a July 1966 motorcycle accident. Few details about the crash were revealed but it allowed him to escape the mounting pressures of fame and he did not tour again for almost eight years. During that period, he recorded some remarkable music with The Band.

• Dylan has generally eschewed praise, including from critics and fans labeling him an artist, a poet or the voice of his generation. He has variously described himself as a trapeze artist, an “ashtray bender,” a “rabbit catcher” and a “dog smoother”.

• He once told Rolling Stone magazine: “I live in my dreams. I don’t really live in the actual world.”

* Dylan is of Jewish heritage — his real name is Robert Zimmerman. He became a Christian in 1979 after a divorce. He released three albums of religious-based music, then mostly left off making overt references to Christianity in his songs until he surprised fans with a 2009 Christmas album.

• Famous lyrics include:

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

“‘Come in,’ she said, ‘I’ll give you shelter from the storm’.”

“The ladder of the law has no top and no bottom.”

“I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken/I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children … And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”

Bob Dylan performs "Maggie's Farm" at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California Feb. 13, 2011. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
Bob Dylan performs “Maggie’s Farm” at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California Feb. 13, 2011. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Marching in Milwaukee for marijuana reform, 420ing in Madison

Plant the date: The sixth annual Milwaukee Marijuana March assembles at 2 p.m. May 7 at Kilbourn Park, 2300 N. Bremen St.

A Facebook event page indicated nearly 700 marchers plan to attend the event hosted by Legalize Wisconsin and the Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Participants plan to gather in the park at 2 p.m. and march at 4 p.m. Before the march, state Rep. Melissa Sargent, a legislative leader in the effort to decriminalize and legalize marijuana, will address the crowd. Medical marijuana patient Trevor James Sand and daughter Erica also are set to make comments.

The event commemorates Global Marijuana March Day.

Action comes earlier in Madison, where the fourth annual Madison 420 Festival takes place at 4:20 p.m. on April 22 at the Brinklounge, 701 E. Washington Ave.

Madison NORML and Madison Hempfest present the celebration, featuring The Grasshoppers jamrock band, The Northern Pines Band, Nuggernaut, The Material Boys, Mudroom, Bathtub Spring, The Lower 5th, Gin Mill Hollow, The Woods, Gary David and the Enthusiasts, Deteourious, Flowpoetry and Mission, a Jerry Garcia tribute band.

The event is a benefit for the Madison chapter of NORML.

Both events have at least a bit to celebrate. For instance, Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin pitched multiple reform bills in the 2015–16 session, including a legalization measure authored by Sargent and decriminalization legislation introduced by state Rep. Mandela Barnes and Sen. Chris Larson — all Democrats.

To date, marijuana reform in Wisconsin has taken place mostly at the local level, with cities such as Madison and Milwaukee relaxing penalties for people found in possession of small amounts of pot.

Twenty states have enacted laws to stop jailing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Also, voters in the District of Columbia and four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — have approved taking marijuana production and sales off the criminal market and instead regulating and taxing the production and retailing of pot. However, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

A national Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released March 25 found about 61 percent of those surveyed support legalizing marijuana. Most said they wanted to limit legalization to medical use or place restrictions on the amounts that can be purchased for recreational use.

Bob Dylan returning to Tanglewood

Bob Dylan is returning to Tanglewood for the first time in nearly two decades.

The singer-songwriter with a longer than 50-year career is scheduled to play at the concert venue in the Berkshires with special guest Mavis Staples on July 7.

Dylan has performed twice before at Tanglewood, first in 1991 and again during the 1997 season. Tickets for this summer’s show go on sale March 18.

Form his start in the 1960s, Dylan has delved into a variety of musical styles from folk to rock, to blues, country and more.

Tanglewood’s popular artists lineup this summer also includes Wind & Fire, Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Train and The B-52s.

Tanglewood is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

On the web …

On Tour

Run-DMC, Red Hot Chili Peppers to perform pre-Super Bowl show

Run-DMC will open up for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at a pre-Super Bowl concert in San Francisco.

The famed rap group is expected to hit the stage at the sixth annual DirecTV Super Saturday Night concert party at Pier 70. The show is an invitation-only event co-hosted by Mark Cuban’s AXS TV.

“We get to be in the energy of the Super Bowl, which is amazing,” Joseph Simmons, known as the Rev. Run, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “This should be high energy, fun and cool.”

Super Bowl 50 will be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Sunday night. Simmons said he’s also going to attend the game between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.

Past performers at the DirecTV concert include Beyonce, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Kanye West. The satellite television company also teamed up with Pepsi to put on other shows at Pier 70, including the Dave Matthews Band and Pharrell starting Thursday.

Run-DMC, which includes Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, retired the group after their DJ, Jam Master Jay, was killed in 2002. But Simmons and McDaniels continue to perform together, appearing on the LL Cool J-hosted “Lip Sync Battle” last year and the Christmas in Brooklyn concert in 2014.

McDaniels said he’s going to enjoy performing with Simmons at the DirecTV show and hopes everyone will enjoy their performance.

“We are from that era of eternally great, amazing, fun and enjoyable music with a presentation theme,” said McDaniels, who’s flying back to New York to watch the game from home. “That’s what the people are going to get. We’ve still got some longevity with this rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop thing.”

Run-DMC helped take rap to the mainstream with multiplatinum records and hits including “It’s Tricky,” ”Adidas” and “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith in the 1980s. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Recording Academy will honor Run-DMC with a lifetime achievement award at the 58th annual Grammy Awards later this month.

“This makes me look back on my career and the group, and makes me feel really appreciated,” Simmons said. “With all the accolades, it lets me see that we created something special and stood the test of time.” 

Milwaukee Symphony plays Bartók and Tchaikovsky’s final works

At the end of January, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will present a meeting of titans. The final major works by Béla Bartók and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, both expressions of the composers’ maturation and realizations of their mortality, will define this early 2016 program.

Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 will be featured in the first half of the concert (after Witold Lutosławski’s Musique funèbre), performed by renowned American pianist Orli Shaham. This isn’t Shaham’s first time with the work, but it is her first time with the MSO — a debut she’s excited about. “I’ve been here before as part of a recital but never to perform with the symphony, so this will be a very special visit,” she says.

This concerto was composed in 1945, in the last months of Bartók’s life, and was a gift for his wife. Much like the rest of his work, it is inspired by folk music in its structure and harmonies. Bartók spent most of his early career exploring central European regions like Hungary and Romania for folk tunes, and while those journeys were halted by World War I, the influence remained for the rest of his life.

What separates his Third Concerto and other contemporaneous works is a move toward simplification. In the last decade or so of his life, Bartók began to reduce the amount of notation in his pieces, his final exploration of tonality. “It’s ironic that this piece actually has the fewest notes (but) it speaks the most,” Shaham says. “At this stage in his career, Bartok’s style had become so refined that he didn’t need the extra harmonies anymore.”

Bartók didn’t finish the piece before his death of leukemia in 1945, and the last 17 measures were completely by a colleague, Tibor Serly, before the premiere in 1946. It’s remained popular ever since, which is no surprise to Shaham.

“Bartok’s work stands the test of time because he went to the elements. He went to the human source for music making, which was folk music,” explained Shaham. “The melodies are something that everyone relates to because they tell a story of people regardless of where they live.”

The second half of the concert will feature Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, which premiered only nine days before the composer’s death in October 1893. Its title, “Pathétique,” means “passionate,” an appropriate title for the work.

How much the work serves as a meditation on Tchaikovsky’s pending mortality depends on whom you speak to in the musicological world. There are possible allusions to the Orthodox requiem liturgy in the first movement, and a “cross” motif early in the first movement in which four consecutive notes make a sign of the cross when connected.

One suggestion made by Tchaikovsky specialists is that the work deals specifically with the power of Fate, referenced in other Tchaikovsky symphonies, and how it controls one’s life and death.

The finale adds additional evidence to these themes of mortality. It’s the only Tchaikovsky work to end in a minor key and its tempo is marked at an extremely slow “adagio lamentoso,” adding to the mournful underlay of the entire work. In addition, the end of the piece is marked “morendo,” meaning “dying away.”


The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will present a program including works by Bartók and Tchaikovsky at 8 p.m. Jan. 30 and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Marcus Center, 929 N. Water St. Tickets range from $17 to $107 and can be purchased at 414-291-7605 or mso.org.

Midnight Reruns takes a victory lap opening for Tommy Stinson

Midnight Reruns had a very good 2015. By the time December drew to a close, the Milwaukee punk/power pop band was able to rightly trumpet on Facebook their status as one of the city’s most celebrated bands of the year. With just two full-length albums under their belts — including this year’s release, Force of Nurture, which numerous local publications counted among the best of the year — Midnight Reruns have risen to the top of the vibrant Milwaukee music scene.

They’ll take a victory lap Jan. 21 at Turner Hall Ballroom, when they open for bass legend Tommy Stinson of The Replacements and Guns N’ Roses.

The band’s connection with Stinson and The Replacements goes deeper than a choice opening slot this month, according to Reruns guitarist and frontman Graham Hunt. It was in fact a chance mention of the legendary punk act that originally started Hunt on the path to Midnight Reruns.

“My dad mentioned The Replacements because I think he saw them in college one time and he said, ‘You would probably like that band,’” Hunt says. He took his father’s advice to heart and picked up a copy of the band’s 1981 debut, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. 

He loved it. Hunt became obsessed with the group’s music and dove deeper into an appreciation of punk music in general.

Midnight Reruns was formed at the end of 2010, but the group didn’t take off right away, due in part to Hunt joining Trapper Schoepp and the Shades in 2011. That band was successful locally when Hunt came on board, and with the release of the album Run, Engine, Run in 2012, Trapper Schoepp and his cohorts looked like the next big thing out of Wisconsin. 

But Hunt says his somewhat uneasy alliance with the group disintegrated and he put his focus back into Midnight Reruns. “I was always more concerned with my own songwriting and wanting to do my own thing,” he says. The band ultimately released their self-titled album in 2013, to promising critical reviews.

But Hunt’s stint playing with Trapper Schoepp would benefit the band long after his departure. Trapper Schoepp’s manager, Milwaukeean Ben Perlstein, also manages Stinson, and passed along Midnight Reruns to the bassist. By coincidence, Stinson was wanting to get into the production business and looking for bands to bring into his studio. “He said, ‘Come to my house; I have a studio there. Drive out to New York and we can make a record.”

In 2014, that’s just what the Reruns did, heading up to Hudson, New York, to record Force of Nurture. The four-day schedule was so tight, Hunt says, they didn’t have time for idol worship. “We kind of worked off the starstruck-ness,” he says. The new album was noted for its fearless venturing into new territory while staying rooted in the spirit of both classic punk and power pop. 

But for all their success in the studio, the band is just as celebrated for its energetic, interactive live shows, in venues big and small. Hunt says his favorite songs to perform are “any song that we don’t have to be really strict with how we play it,” and the band is known for making lots of alterations to music or lyrics as they perform live. They’ve also got an extensive catalog of covers they perform, and have an alter ego as a wedding band called “Hamdog Millionaire$” for good friends only.

One of the shows Hunt remembers best was from the band’s first trip to Stevens Point, a basement show all the way up in “tiny small-town Wisconsin.” “I’ve just never seen people go so crazy,” he says. “There was crowd surfing and moshing.” The band even made some good friends during the gig and visited another four times before graduation day came. 

Midnight Reruns is a band that’s full of surprises, and you should expect to see lots of them at the Turner Hall show. There’s the aforementioned possibility of good covers — one in consideration being a previously well-received take on Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams.” But, he adds, the band is at work on new songs for a third studio album, and they’re likely to try out a few before their friend and benefactor Stinson takes the stage.


Midnight Reruns and Platinum Boys will open for Tommy Stinson on Jan. 21 at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. Doors open at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10, $12 day-of-show. Visit pabsttheater.org or call 414-286-3205 to order.

Dianne Reeves swings holiday favorites in concert

As a child, jazz singer Dianne Reeves always loved the music of Christmas. If she had a favorite, it might have been Nat “King” Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song,” the seasonal ode to “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” penned by Mel Torme.

“They were both jazz artists,” remembers Reeves. “I love all the Christmas songs, but I especially loved hearing that one.”

Fans of both jazz and Christmas can get an earful of Reeves’ holiday favorites twice this month when the Grammy Award-winning artist celebrates the season in Wisconsin. Reeves and her quartet will perform a stockingfull of holiday and jazz favorites Dec. 11 at UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Union Theater and again on Dec. 12 at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield.

Reeves will perform both engagements with her quartet of “co-creators,” as she calls them, featuring pianist Peter Martin, guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Terreon Gully.

Both shows will draw heavily on her 2004 CD Christmas Time is Here, whose titular tune, familiar to fans of the 1965 animated program A Charlie Brown Christmas, was written by pianist Vince Guaraldi, another jazz artist. The frequent intersection of jazz and holiday music does not at all surprise the 59-year-old singer.

“Jazz musicians have always taken Christmas standards and given them a jazz sensibility,” Reeves says. “I love that you can swing a Christmas carol.”

Reeves will no doubt swing her own version of “The Christmas Song,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “Carol of the Bells” and other holiday favorites. It’s a playlist she always looks forward to performing.

“This is the only time of year I get to do Christmas songs,” she says. “It’s a real treat for me.”

Reeves, born in Detroit and raised in Denver, grew up in a musical household in which holiday songs and other tunes were bandied about almost as a part of the conversation. Her father, who died when she was 2 years old, was a singer, and her mother, Vada Swanson, played the trumpet. George Duke, Reeves’ cousin, was a jazz pianist and record producer, and her uncle Charles Burrell played the bass in the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

Burrell also introduced a young Reeves to jazz singers Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. All three inspired the future five-time Grammy-winner to pursue a career in jazz.

Jazz as a discipline is distinctly American in its roots, but with many alternating branches. From ragtime to big band, bebop to post-bop to fusion and even acid jazz, the genre has many voices that, at their extremes, don’t even come close to sounding alike. But there is a common thread, Reeves says.

“It’s improvisation,” she explains. “The music is living, it’s a conversation just like the one we’re having now, and what we’re saying will never be said in the same way again.”

Reeves has had many such conversations in the course of her career, having toured with Harry Belafonte, Sergio Mendes, Eduardo del Barrio and Billy Childs before striking out on her own.

Over time, Reeves also has become a composer and producer and is the only singer to win three consecutive Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Performance — most recently for Beautiful Life in 2015.

“Music is an intellectual and emotional balance,” Reeves says. “The intellectual part is what I learned in school, but what draws people is the artist’s own interpretation of the music. At the end of the day, people relate not only to what you’re saying musically, but how you’re saying it.”

Jazz is once again enjoying an upswing in popularity, particularly among young artists who find the music’s improvisational element appealing, Reeves says. It also has a great capacity to bring people and artists from different countries and cultures together to communicate with a single musical voice.

“Jazz is far-reaching,” Reeves says. “It attracts you because there is fellowship to it. It’s interesting to young people because it gives them the chance to have their own voice.”

Jazz is still a niche market compared to other more broadly popular genres of music, but its star is once again on the rise. Blend it with holiday favorites, Reeves says, it just may open up a few more minds to the music’s outstanding possibilities.

“Jazz may not make you rich, but it really feeds your soul,” she adds.


Singer Dianne Reeves and her quartet will perform two evenings of Christmas and jazz favorites this month. On Dec. 11, she is appearing at the Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon St., Madison, and, on Dec. 12, she will perform at the Wilson Center, 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield. Tickets are $10-$45 in Madison and $42-$73 in Brookfield. Visit uniontheater.wisc.edu or wilson-center.com for more details. 

Pop artist JoJo is more than ready for a reintroduction

The last time pop artist JoJo was a household name — thanks to hits like “Baby It’s You” and “Leave (Get Out) — the music industry was a lot different. But the now-24-year-old star is more than ready to embrace the changes in distribution and marketing brought on in the digital age. 

It’s been almost a decade since JoJo’s last album, The High Road, due to a contract battle with her former label Blackground that kept her from making new music. But she made up for lost time in August, releasing a surprise “tringle” — not one, not two, but three new singles.

“When Love Hurts,” “Save My Soul,” and “Say Love” prove she has grown and evolved as an artist since she got her start as a young teenager. Now that the legal nightmare is over, Atlantic Records has since come to her rescue and she plans to release her third album next year. 

In the meantime, she’s hitting the road for her self-described intimate “I Am JoJo” tour, which includes a stop at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom on Nov. 16. Before the show, WiG caught up with the singer to talk about the tour, her tringle and healing from years of struggle to sing again.

How’s rehearsal going so far? It’s going great. It’s really fun to flesh out ideas and see them come alive and try different things. I’m having fun with it. 

Your “I Am JoJo” tour kicked off on Nov. 2. What about being back out on the road and performing again in front of a live audience are you most excited about? I love traveling and getting to do it with some of my favorite people is just icing on the cake. I love my team and I don’t mind being in closed confines with them. It’s fun in each city and it’s hard for me to choose a favorite city because people are awesome everywhere. I love every night to get the opportunity to connect with audience and to have a shared experience. It’s special. 

By now, most people who’ve read about you know that you were in a battle with your old record label Blackground. What did you take away from that experience? I think I learned how to separate personal and professional a bit more. The label that I was signed with, I got involved with them when I was 12 years old, so they were pretty much father figures and very good to me. It was particularly painful to sever those ties because it felt like family. I think the next chapter of my career, it’s kind of important to separate those two and to realize that business is business and to really keep them a distinct thing. 

I know it’s been a little while since you’ve been out of the media spotlight with new music and everything, but were you nervous at all about returning? Absolutely. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous. It’s always anxious when you’re putting something out when it’s been such a long time. The Internet really kept me going and kept me afloat in terms of connecting with fans, but other people thought that I fell off the face of the earth. So, to get the chance to come back and have all this experience while still being so young is pretty awesome. 

That’s great that you used the Internet to let your fans know that you haven’t really gone anywhere, you just haven’t made music in awhile. (Fans) orchestrated a “Free JoJo” campaign to raise awareness to what was going on so people didn’t think that I left music or whatever the case was. They were just everything to me and continue to be, so “yay” for the Internet and “yay” for Team JoJo! 

Since “Leave (Get Out)” came out, a lot has changed within the music industry in terms of the emergence of new artists, to how music is made and released, all the way to how music is discussed, especially in social media. How has this change affected you as an artist and how will you embrace this change? Content is so much more freely given today than when I first came out. It’s important to stay active. Taking time off was a very calming thing. I think there’s a fear of becoming irrelevant now that most artists probably feel more than they did 10 or 15 years ago just because our attention spans are getting shorter all the time. 

There are so many ways to get music and there are so many options. It doesn’t freak me out because this is my generation, you know what I mean? I’m surrounded by forward-thinking young people who grew up with the Internet, so it just makes me feel like I want to look less to the label to tell me what to do or what’s cool and really just do it. 

You’re making up lost time with what you call the tringle: “When Love Hurts,” “Save My Soul,” and “Say Love.” It seems that love is a continuous theme. How do you think love has influenced you and your music? Love is one of the biggest influences, if not the biggest. You know … having it, losing it, taking it for granted and shitting on it (laughs). Self-love, lack of love, familial love … it’s all fair game and definitely represented on the album that’s coming out next year and on full display on the tringle. It sounds like I’ve been in all of these terrible relationships. But really, I’m a lover who loves love and I’m always in it. 

The name of your upcoming tour, “I Am JoJo,” suggests that this’ll be more of a re-introduction to your established fan base and an introduction to people just discovering who you are. What can your fans, both old and new, expect? It’s starting from the beginning and there are chapters in the show. From my old hits starting 10 years ago through the mix tapes to where we are now and even a couple of new songs that no one’s ever heard from the upcoming album. It’s fun, it’s energetic; it’s going to be intimate. I want to be vulnerable and strong at the same time. It’s kind of just a nostalgic intro all the way to a really fun present. 

You’re working on a new album that’s coming out next year. What can you tell me about it? It’s been a long time coming. I started from scratch when I signed a new deal because I wasn’t able to take any of the old material that I worked on. I just stepped into it with fresh energy and an open mind and open heart and wanted to try different things that I’ve been loving and listening to and infuse them into my own stuff. You can definitely hear the influences of stuff that I love to listen to like hip-hop, dance music and R&B. I wanted to sing about love and other things that can make you feel high. It’s coming together and I’m really excited. We’re not fully done, but we’re almost there. 

You said in a recent interview that music has healing qualities. Do you feel that, after recording music for the new album, you’re healed from your unfortunate experience with Blackground? I think the experience absolutely helped me grow as an artist. Am I fully healed? No. That’s not just from my experience with the label. I have healing to do. Period. You know what I mean? 

At 24, I’m starting to unearth some issues from my childhood, including the label situation, that are affecting me today. Does it help me get through? Absolutely, because I feel more connected when I’m singing even when I do when I’m talking. To explore my range and get those feelings out through song is definitely therapeutic. 

You’ve been in movies such as Aquamarine and RV. Would you ever consider taking on more movie roles? Maybe a sequel to Aquamarine? Probably not a sequel to Aquamarine, but I definitely want to get back into acting. I love it and I’ve been doing that since I was a little girl. When time allows, I’d love to. 


JoJo will perform at 8 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Fourth St. Tickets are $23 in advance, $25 day-of-show. Call 414-286-3663 or visit pabsttheater.org to order.

MisterWives return for their third Milwaukee show in a whirlwind year

The origin story of Brooklyn-based alternative pop band MisterWives reads almost like a fairy tale. The band came together near the end of 2012 when solo singer Mandy Lee went looking for a group to provide backing onstage. She met drummer Etienne Bowler and bass player Will Hehir.

Eventually expanded to a group of five, MisterWives (a gender-reversed play on the Mormon polygamist term “sister wives”) played their first live show on Feb. 1, 2013, in New York City. The following day they were signed to the independent label Photo Finish Records. Less than two years after the signing, MisterWives released Our Own House, a Top 40 U.S. album.

On Oct. 28, MisterWives take the stage at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall. It will be their third Milwaukee show in just over a year.

WiG had the opportunity to talk with bass player Will Hehir and drummer Etienne Bowler about their Milwaukee memories, their upcoming show and the band’s ever-evolving performances.

The band first performed in Milwaukee at the Rave last October, opening for Twenty One Pilots in what Hehir calls “one of the coolest shows of the tour.” Only a few months later, the band was back, opening Summerfest’s U.S. Cellular Stage for Walk the Moon. 

To say that the year has been a whirlwind for MisterWives is an understatement. Bowler particularly remembers the week of Feb. 24. “When our album was released, it came out the first day of the tour,” he says. “I remember we did Good Morning America, Late Night with Seth Meyers and Live with Kelly & Michael. We did three TV shows, our album came out and we played Union Transfer in Philly on Feb. 26, and it was sold out, and we were just like ‘Oh my God, this is incredible.’” 

Since then, MisterWives traveled to Europe and Japan, as well as returning now to North America for the band’s second headlining tour of the year. Bowler says the band has played 115 shows this year and, “We’re still just kind of pinching ourselves.”

Hehir says MisterWives’ music is “a mix of many genres. I would say if we had to pick three it would be pop, dance and soul.” He continues, “We’re a six-piece band live. …We all have influences and bring it to the table and it really has a genre-crossing sound.”

Bowler says he’s particularly influenced by the drumming of Stewart Copeland of The Police, and says the band tends to be inspired by other groups who blend pop with other genres, including No Doubt, The Killers and Walk the Moon.

Both Bowler and Hehir give credit to Lee as a driving force in creation of the band’s music. Bowler says, “Each song (Lee) writes is different and unique. We follow her lead and take whatever she brings to us and try to do what is most appropriate for that song.” 

One element that sets a live MisterWives show apart is that everything is live — no backing tracks included. “It’s all organic, people playing their instruments,” Bowler says. He and Hehir add that performing everything live means the band can reinvent the songs on the spot. So fans who caught the band at the Rave or Summerfest shouldn’t expect the same show at Turner Hall.

If Bowler had to pick a single song as his favorite, it’d be “Our Own House,” the title track from the debut. “Live we incorporate a drum breakdown in the middle of the bridge,” he says. “We spent a lot of time orchestrating a four-part drum pattern with Will, me, Mandy and Mark. At that moment we finish, people cheer — and that for me is one of the best moments of the set.”

MisterWives tour into November, and the band members are already looking toward what comes next. “Mandy has started writing a couple of songs,” Bowler says. “It’s tough for her on the road, but after the tour is done, we’re going to buckle down, take some time off, and let her write.”


MisterWives will perform at 8 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at 414-286-3663 or pabsttheater.org.

‘America’s Test Kitchen’ cooks up quite the stage show

Christopher Kimball, host of the PBS series America’s Test Kitchen, would like you to know that he ties his own bowties. He also admits he has no personal experience as a celebrity chef or in any kind of commercial cooking whatsoever.

That would make him a strange choice for his hosting role, were it not for his 25 years’ experience in food journalism, which ultimately led him to his other gig: editor-in-chief of Cook’s Illustrated. The culinary magazine promotes recipes and techniques useful to home cooks who want to realistically develop their kitchen capabilities.

That same goal also drives America’s Test Kitchen, which operates as a television show, radio program and, increasingly, an online outlet. Next month, it finds another medium to educate — live shows. On Nov. 3, Kimball will be hosting America’s Test Kitchen LIVE at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater, an evening in which he’ll reveal the show’s inner workings.

The evening-long look inside the test kitchen was originally scheduled for the Pabst Theater, but was moved to the much larger Riverside due to a groundswell in ticket demand. Such interest supports Kimball’s notion that more people are cooking than ever before, driving up the demand for affordable, accessible recipes.

“The concept is simple,” Kimball says. “Most recipes don’t work and therefore home cooks have a fear of failure. By doing extensive testing, trying almost everything, and by showing and discussing our mistakes, we can bring home cooks into our kitchen and make them comfortable with the process and the recipe.”

America’s Test Kitchen’s approach is one of simple show-and-tell, Kimball explains. The show employs some 40 cooks in its own test kitchen, several of whom appear regularly on the air. Recipes are discussed, dissected and tested in ways that are accessible to cooks without professional culinary training. He says that’s the show’s secret to success.

“For the most part, we stay away from professional dishes and chefs’ recipes because that is a totally different type of cooking,” Kimball says. “The challenge with all recipes is to figure out how the home cook plans on messing up a dish. They make substitutions, skip steps, change techniques and rarely follow a recipe as written.”

Correcting those mistakes before they happen — and in the process promoting successes while easing the frustrations of home cooks — is the main course offered by Kimball and his colleagues.

“At the heart of what we do is an authentic process,” Kimball says. “What we do on radio, TV and even onstage is not about showmanship. It’s about bringing our audience into our very real test kitchen.”

The stage show coming to the Riverside offers audience members a variety of ways to enter the test kitchen. Videos and photography highlight the presentation by Kimball and co-presenter Dan Souza. However, there is little cooking that goes on during the presentation.

“We have tried it and watching someone cook onstage is like watching paint dry,” Kimball says. ”We do have contests, taste tests, weird science experiments and even Dan Souza jumping at a Velcro wall wearing Velcro suit. However, we have not road tested this idea yet.”

The videos also show things that do not work, including a now infamous episode of NBC’s The Today Show featuring a recipe gone awry. Unlike episodes in the PBS series, the stage show does not seek to replicate the work of area chefs and adapt it for home cooks, nor does it offer a kitchen gadgets segment like one seen in the series. 

The purpose of the stage show is to expose audience members as much as possible to the test kitchen process and make them more successful in their own kitchens, Kimball says. Part of that success for any cook is taking the proper approach with the proper tools, he adds.

“Preheat your pan properly so you are cooking with heat,” Kimball says. “Use a sharp knife and buy a good knife sharpener. Use enough salt and check all of your seasonings before serving for those recipes which can be modified before serving.”

The show also does not predict food trends, something to which Kimball has a personal aversion.

“I pretty much hate trends,” he adds. “The only trend I really like is that more people are cooking. And you can keep that quinoa on the shelf.”


America’s Test Kitchen LIVE featuring Christopher Kimball is coming on Nov. 3 to the Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. For tickets call 414-286-3663 or visit pabsttheater.org.