The Sklar Brothers, Orton Park Fest, Clyde Stubblefield, Mystic Bill and more of the best stuff in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, and Joel Shanahan
THURSDAY AUGUST 27
It took them a while, but the twin-brother stand-up pair of Randy and Jason Sklar are making Madison something of a regular pit stop on their cross-country jaunts. Heck, after one stop at The Comedy Club on State in 2012, they decided that Madison was the ideal city in which capture their most recent album and special, 2014’s What Are We Talking About?, which was recorded at the Majestic. If all you know the Sklars from is their mega-popular Earwolf podcast Sklarbro Country, you absolutely owe it to yourself to see them do legit stand-up, especially as captured on the 2007 album Sklar Maps and 2011’s Hendersons And Daughters. While the special taped at the the Majestic offered a solid, newcomer-friendly window into the Sklars’ comedy, the intimacy of a comedy club is really the better setting for getting into the thick of Jason (glasses) and Randy’s (no glasses) rapid-fire repartee, with story topics ranging from sports to family to sports to pop culture (and then probably back to sports again).
The Orton Park Festival marks its 50th anniversary this year, and in keeping with recent custom opens with a Thursday-night performance from Madison’s Cycropia Aerial Dance group, then on to a diverse weekend of Music. On Friday, Madison funk outfit Booty Froot (featuring members of ’80s punk outfit Tar Babies) share the bill with eight-piece Chicago R&B band The Congregation. Saturday’s highlights include Madison reggae stalwarts Natty Nation and Shakey, a thoughtful and deep-digging Neil Young cover band led by former Madisonian and current Eau Claire resident Pete Kaesberg. Sunday boasts two big headliners in Jon Langford’s (the Mekons, Skull Orchard) new band Bad Luck Jonathan and super-sturdy Canadian rock-n-roll outfit The Sadies, in addition to sets from solid locals including Latin-jazz band Son Contrabando and fiery garage-soul outfit Cowboy Winter.
Cincinnati band Mad Anthony frames its twisty narratives and strange tempests of emotion with pared-down burly hard rock. It’s hard not to reach for a Queens Of The Stone Age reference (though that’s a compliment in our book) when listening to the band’s 2014 EP Sank For Days, in that the band often uses sparse riffs and dryly delivered vocals that often reveal something more thorny, nuanced and vulnerable beneath the surface—”Turn It On,” for instance, plays like the disillusioned flipside of a celebratory punk anthem, and “Stubborn” has a big chunky chorus that’s no less gratifying for its introspective dark streak.
Oh man, remember way back when you couldn’t even get New Belgium in Madison? When Fat Tire started popping up everyone kinda freaked out about it. Anyway… For the 6th year in a row, the New Belgium Clips Beer and Film Tour is touring the country with crazy little short films (documentary, nature, animation, etc), a selection of the Colorado brewery’s beers (their “most esoteric” they promise, including the exclusive Film Noir), and philanthropy (all the money from beer sales at this event goes to a local nonprofit, Wisconsin Bike Fed, appropriately enough in Madison’s case). Don’t go expecting anything as conceptually dynamic as the recently wrapped Rooftop Cinema, but it should be a solid way to spend an evening, so long as it stays warm enough, but that’s what the beer’s for anyway, right? It wouldn’t be something outdoors in Madison if the food carts weren’t involved, and Curd Girl, Banzo, and Slide will be on hand.
FRIDAY AUGUST 28
The Cardinal Bar-based weekly residency House Of Love has been on a batshit-crazy hot streak this summer—bringing in the likes of Paul Johnson, Superjane member DJ Heather, and recently UK deck-destroyer Luke Solomon. The big gets continue this week with Mystic Bill, a gritty veteran producer, DJ, and member of the House Preservation Society (a storied DJ crew that dates back 1992 and also boasts members like Traxx, Danny Daze, Glenn Underground, and Boo WIlliams). Between Mystic Bill’s solo production (like the dirty, minimal, and varied dance jammers on timeless Trax Records collection Mystic Files 1989-1995), the spacey, tribal house found in his collaboration work with Karr Krash under the name Sundowners, and his storied reputation as a floor-destroying underground DJ, this one is a must—not only for the house heads, but for even for dance-curious punks and experimentalists searching for the raw antidote to the sterility and excessive polish of certain legs of EDM and tech-house.
At this installment of the Madison Children’s Museum’s wildly popular Friday night series for grown-ups, you can drop $30 for a VIP package that comes with a tasting flight of craft beers paired with edible insects. If you’re not joining the bug-chomping elite, the base ticket price still gets you a night that includes DJ SpinCycle (aka Madison electronic show booker and Amarrass Records co-founder Ankur Malhotra) playing a set that combines Kraftwerk with bug and whale sounds. We’re trying to talk Ankur into recording this DJ set and letting us stream it at some point, so we’ll see how that goes.
SATURDAY AUGUST 29
Madison musician/filmmaker/activist Wendy Schneider’s “Evening At Maria’s” event series, which brings together artists from several disciplines and local non-profits, has perhaps its most ambitious installment planned this time around. Newer Madison band trio Treemo, featuring singer/guitarist Adam Schabow of the Shabelles, will play here along with fellow local project Asumaya. The night will also feature work from four visual artists, including Madison painter Derrick Buisch and designer/printmaker Lacey Smith (who also plays synth in Zebras). Madison writer and performer Lilada Gee will give a poetry reading, and representatives from the Willy Street-based Social Justice Center will be sharing information about their work.
Willy Street coffee shop and venue Mother Fool’s has been welcoming street art on the east-facing wall of its building since 2001. For this daytime event centered around the graffiti wall, Mother Fool’s will welcome graffiti artist AC!D, who comes from Chengdu, China and is currently a UW-Madison student. She and several other local artists will be creating new works on the wall throughout the day. In addition, there will be an open mic for rappers and poets, and guest performances sets from producer *hitmayng and First Wave-affiliated artists Hiwot Adilow and Lord Of The Fly. Those three alone would make the event worth it, so it’s exciting to have a wall-spanning artwork taking shape in real time on top of that.
SUNDAY AUGUST 30
We’ve seen sadly little of Madison’s most distinguished musical resident, Clyde Stubblefield, in recent years. In 2011 he gave up his long-running Funky Mondays residency, which was always a blast—it’s crazy to think that for years, you could walk into The Frequency (and before that the King Club) on a Monday night, for free, and see the man whose extraordinary drumming with James Brown established the foundation for breakbeat sampling and by extension hip-hop itself. (Speaking of how lucky we’ve been to have him in Madison, anyone remember back in 2007, when Stubblefield and DJ Kool Herc performed together on the Terrace?) Over the years he’s also battled health problems and fought to get paid his fair share for his work (not easy, thanks to a combination of Brown taking all the songwriting credits for his composition and a lack of compensation from later sampling). So it’s great to see him emerge for a series of three shows, all benefitting a new music scholarship fund being established in his honor. At this High Noon show, he’ll be playing with the Clyde Stubblefield All-Star Band, stacked with Madison-area performers including pianist Dave Stoler, singer Charlie Brooks and guitarist Paul Filipowicz. Next up will be a September 11 benefit concert at the Barrymore. Finally, on October 8 in the Overture Center lobby, Stubblefield will be joined by some of the other brilliant musicians who played with Brown in his prime (and also never quite got the credit): fellow drummer Jabo Starks, bassist Fred Thomas, and trombonist Fred Wesley. The guy just rules. Go see one or all of these shows, seriously. You can also donate to the scholarship fund online.