Recently in concert Category

This Friday, April 20, the University of Wisconsin Choral Union and Symphony orchestra will preform Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem in Overture Hall.

The ensemble includes a 175-voice chorus, and 85-piece orchestra and 4 soloists, and has a sound that fills the hall. The "Dies Irae," in particular, features an explosion of sound, with a particularly wrathful chorus and an extra large bass drum ushering in the judgment day.

Tickets are still available and priced at a number of levels ($10, $15, $20, and $25). You can purchase tickets online, by phone (608-258-4141), or at the Overture Center box office.


Three Things Make a Post

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First off, if you ever have the opportunity to try the cheesy pub fries at Laz Bistro and Bar in Stoughton, WI, do not let the moment pass you by. Those are some amazing, tasty chips. However, unless you plan on making a meal of nothing but them, plan to split them with at least one friend. While it may be found in the "tapas" section of the menu, there was nothing "small" about this plate.

Secondly, the Stoughon Opera House is remarkable beautiful venue, both in terms of looks and in sound quality. Even though it was a bit of a drive to get there, I will gladly go again. (And now I am extra sad that the Carolina Chocolate Drops show there last fall sold out before I got tickets. It must have been an astonishing show in that space.)

Finally, even with a hint of laryngitis roughening up her voice, Dar Williams remains as luminous and buoyant as ever. It was an intimate show, just Dar with her guitar and a piano accompanist on some songs. The last few times I'd seen her she had a band along. As nice as the bands were, I definitely prefer her solo (or almost solo) sound. I have always been fond of the way she interacts with the audience and introduces the songs with little stories. It's that kind of thing that gets me to live shows.

She also looked fantastic, and gave me a great idea for what to do with my hair when it gets a bit longer. I think I've always had a tiny girl-crush on her unassuming hippy-goddess rockstar style. She never goes over to top in any direction, but nails it with confidence. Considering her severe stage fright in her early career, it really inspires me.

It was a great night.



Crashing Dylan

Tonight (well, technically yesterday now) Bob Dylan and Willy Nelson played a show at the Warner Park Duck Pond--that's the ball park, for the uninitiated. Tickets were $45, which is a wee bit rich for my blood, but I decided to go and sit outside the venue to listen.

Unfortunately, I fell asleep at 6PM, hoping to be up and out by 7, but my nap ended up stretching until 8, so I pretty much missed Willy. That was a damn shame, since he has the better voice by far.

I parked myself at a section of the fence that was being used as an exit, right behind a beer concession table. It was just to the right of the stage, and though I couldn't see anything on the stage, I could hear it all perfectly. I also got to watch the security people nabbing those who tried to actually sneak into the show, and believe me, there were quite a few.

The show itself was ok, although unless the visuals were amazing, I'm glad I didn't buy a ticket. I love Dylan's songs, but no one will argue that his abilities as a songwriter far and away outpace ability. It pretty much sounded like everyone I've ever heard do a parody of him. It even tok me three choruses to recognize that he was performing "Mr. Tamborine Man" at one point.

Still, it was an enjoyable little adventure to freeload an outdoor concert. On the way home, it started to rain just after I crossed Sherman Ave. Great big, splachy drops of rain. Fortunately, my neighborhood is rather tree lined, so as soon as I turned off of Sherman I was able to gain temporary shelter as I moved from tree to tree. There was only one or two spots that were pretty much just open to the downpour. I was glad to make use of a towel when I reached home.



The Neilds at Luther's

Hurray! Time for another Neild's show. Though I do wish they would play at another venue. Luther's is just not the place for them. Every show I have been to at Luther's has had a constant background rumble of people talking non-stop through the show. You know it's bad when the concert promoter gets on stage before the show to tell the bar patrons to shut the hell up or leave. Plus the cocktail waitresses are kind of distracting. Anywho...

The name of the opening band was oddly familiar, but I just couldn't place it. When they took the stage to start their short set, I fell in love--with the band and with the lead singer. After a bit, it dawned on me that the singer was also oddly familiar. It wasn't until halfway through that first song when it hit me that Common Rotation is Adam Busch's band, and has been mentioned occasionally on Whedonesque. I must say, they were fantastic, and I truly hope they comeback to Madison again (soonish). Go to their site and check out their mp3s if you don't believe me. (Loving the cover of Don't Lets' Start.)

The ladies were also in fine form as they sang old familiar songs as well as new stuff from This Town is Wrong, their most recent release. I am looking forward to getting ahold of Nerissa's young adult novel Plastic Angels. They actually had some of the glow-in-the-dark plastic angels that inspired the title for sale. They are "Computer Goddesses" and are supposed to keep away bugs and crashes, etc. They have little wind-up wings that are supposed to flap. I thought they were cute enough to get one for myself, though alas, the wind-up mechanism seems to have been smashed before I got it, so my angel will not flap. :( Still, she is small and cute and glows in the dark, and with my computer she will stay.



Last night was Pat McCurdy's annual show at the Terrace. Unlike other years, where I'd take the day off, get there around noon and enjoy a day out in the sun, saving a table up in the front, I took it even easier. I meandered down to the Terrace after work, getting there a little after 6 with a falafel sandwich from Mediterranean Cafe. I ate down by the shore and read the Isthmus.No matter what is going on, it is fun to be at the Terrace on a nice day. West Side Andy and Glen Davis where playing for Jazz at Five. Love those guys.

I also wandered around the Union for a bit, and checked out the new exhibitions in the Gallery. Lucky me, I got there during the opening reception, so I scored some brownies, cranberry bars, and punch. Of the two exhibitions, one caught my interest and the other was kinda meh.

The Porter Butts Gallery was divided into two sections. In the front the gallery, dozens of small silver bells were suspended from wired pulled taut across the ceiling. Each wire was attached to a small stand which also held a small speaker. The speakers were projecting recorded thunderstorm sounds, and from time to time, the vibrations of the sounds would set all of the bells jinggling. Cool, if a little noisy at times.

The back of the gallery was seperated by a wall. In this back section, pieces of old wooden furniture--mostly chest of drawers--were hovering at odd angles, usually with only two legs touching the ground. Strong tensionwires were used to suspend and secure the furniture from the walls and ceiling. In each piece, one drawer had been removed and replaced with a facing of milk plexiglass, behind which glowed a flourescent light. I greatly admired the surreal quality of the grouping.

The Class of 1925 Gallery contained the work of a different artist. There was only one piece, standing on a low table at the center of the room. It was a intricately twisting tower of grey Legos, which stood about two feet high. It was certainly a splendid structure, yet as the one and only object in a show, it was underwhelming.

Back out on the Terrace, the sky was approaching dusk, and boats where moving towards the shore. Some where calling it a night, and others where just settling in to listen to the show. I grabbed a seat on a low wall behind the stage. I had a good view of things, albeit from the back. I was surrounded by families with goofily happy small children, who ran around and got themselves dizzy with joyful abandon.

Shortly before the show, an college-aged couple and an older couple (the young man's parents, it was revealed) sat down next to me on the wall. As luck would have it, they were a great bunch to be sitting near, as the parents had never seen Pat McCurdy before, and they totally loved it. I've discovered that most people either love him or hate him the first time they see him, and it is great fun to watch someone discover the joy of Pat for the first time. Listening to them laugh and being surprised at all the right places helped to make the show new again for me. Granted, I hadn't been to a show in about a year, but I've been to so many that I still know a lot of it by heart. At one point, while the son was off on a beer run with his girlfriend, the dad started asking me about the show...if I'd seen it before. When I told him that I had, he asked me if I knew where to get CDs (I pointed him to the merchandise table) and which one's I'd recommend (I said Pat in Person Vol 1 or 2 would be good choices). He hopped right over to the table and bought a couple of CDs.

After a while, my friends found me, and we all enjoyed the show together. We sang, we danced, we made funny gestures, we laughed and we chatted. We all agreed that we do need to make and effort to get back to the shows more. Maybe not every week, like in college, but at least one a month or so. I'd like that.

Followed up the night with a stroll up and down the length of State St., pretty sure that I might well have been the soberest person on the street (besides those who were working, like the police and the cab drivers).

Have I mentioned that I love summer?




We started the evening in Luther's French Quarter Cafe. I tried the not-so jammin "Jammin Jambalaya", while my companion had a lack-luster helping of New Orleans Red Beans and Rice. Both were accompanied by rather cakey pieces of corn bread. Neither dish was horrible, but certainly nothing to write home about either. I found myself gazing at the po' boy sandwich of another diner, and wishing that I had gone that route as well.

As usual, the club area was cold. I planned ahead this time, and wore a sweater. I must confess that while Luther's is a fairly decent nightclub, it is by no means my favorite venue in town. Audience noise, plus the noise of people buying tickets at the door, were frequent distractions. Add to that the cocktail waitress checking on our drinks, and you can miss quite a bit. I recommend *not* sitting on the side closest to the entrance, as this seems to be the worst area for extraneous chatter. Fortunately, we ended up sharing our table with a very cool couple, who provided a nice counterbalance to the loud, bouncy drunks standing in front of us.

The show started with Joy Dragland, of Smokin' With Superman and Joy and the Boy. I missed the name of the ensemble she was with last night, due to crowd noise. I liked her voice better than I liked their songs, but I enjoyed the set.

After their set came the unannouced second opener, Bob Hillman. He had an husky, unconventional voice and a witty style, but he didn't win over the audience. In fact, he seemed fairly defensive and a bit confronational during his set. According to his posted reviews, he tours with Vega quite a bit and was well-received in Madison at previous shows. It was hard to tell last night whether he was confrontational because the audience wouldn't settle down, or if they wouldn't settle down because he was confrontational. We were amused, and actually tried to get the drunks in front of us to shut up while he played, but overall, it was a very noisy bar throughout his set.

There is no question, though, that Suzanne Vega's portion of the night was the best. I had no idea that I knew so many of her songs. She has a Retrospective: The Best of Suzanne Vega album out now, so most of the songs were off of that. She had great stage presence and her band was solid, particularly the bassist. She wasn't as talkative with the audience as say, Dar Williams, but she gave us enough to build a connection. She really communicated most through her songs, which were sung clearly and with feeling. She joked about the amount of minor key songs she writes, but even with that, we left the show on a very up vibe.

I'd say more, but the sounds of thunder from outside are convincing me of turn off my computer.



Well the Willy Porter/Sonia Dada show at the Barrymore was excellent.

Willy Porter started the night out. I'd never seen him as an opener before, so his set was much shorter than I am used to. Still, he gave a good show, bantered a bit, and (de rigeur for his shows) made a song up on the spot, based on an audience suggestion.

Sonia Dada, whom I had never seen live before, blew the roof off the place. Their set started a little before 9PM and went on till 11:30. They were a very energetic bunch, and seemed to be having fun. Paris, in particular, kept flirting with the audience. He certainly knew how to make the crowd love him.

Twas fun, and I shall definately have to do it again.

(Ok, as far as review posts go, that was pretty lame....blame it on the turkey. I can't think straight.)



Went to the They Might Be Giants show at the Orpheum last night. Much fun was had, and many old friends were run into.

I was rather ambivalent about Eyes Adrift, the opening act. Not my kind of music, and I certainly wouldn't seek them out, but neither would I go out of my way to avoid hearing them. (Of course, no opening act has ever surpassed the first TMBG opener I ever saw: Soul Coughing.)

The two Johns and three Dans played a lot of music from their new childrens album (No!), as well as some trusted classics. Nothing from John Henry, so I didn't get to conga to "No One Knows My Plan". Also no "She's An Angel", but they did play "Dead" and "Birdhouse" and tons of others that are garanteed to have me dancing.

The audience demographic was quite varied. Ages ranges from 8 or so to 40's (about the same age as the Johns are now). Hard to believe the band has been around for 20 years now. I first came across them in 1993, while working on the stage crew for my high school production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Flood and Apollo 18 were the albums of choice for the crew, and I still firmly associate those albums with that time.

Y'all can have your Weezer, TMBG are the godfathers of geek-rock.



The Dar Williams concert

The Dar Williams concert was fantastic. They always are. Peter Mulvey opened the show, and he has a new fan in me. I've seen his name, as playing the area a lot, but though I'd heard good things about him, I'd never gotten to a show. I will now.

We started off the night with dinner at Weary Traveler Free House, which besides having the most delightful name of any restaurant of which I have ever heard, had good food at a great price.



Went to the Josh

Went to the Josh Joplin show tonight. The show itself was great. Josh reminds me very much of a young Arlo Guthrie in his presentation, which I'm sure is deliberate. He has great stage presence, and funny between song banter, so I will probably go see him again, when given the opportunity.

The two downsides to the night were being stood up at the last possible moment by the friend who was supposed to go with me, and the extreme air conditioning of the club. (Why do people want it colder in the summer, when people wear less clothing, than in the winter? Bloody freezing!)

A note to any who would care. A sure fire way to piss me off to the extreme is to stand me up or ditch me. Calling to cancel minutes before the show, long after we were supposed to meet, is not cool.



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