Music roundup for July 10, 2014

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By Bill Livick, Special to The Gazette
Thursday, July 10, 2014

The New Speedway Players at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, July 10, Crystal Corner Bar, 1302 Williamson St, Madison. Tickets: $15. Call 608-256-2953.

Inspired by the music of the Grateful Dead, the New Speedway Players are a conglomeration of longtime Madison musicians: Jonas Pritzl (guitar, vocals) and Rob Rob Bloch (percussion) from Electric Spanking and Baghdad Scuba Review; Tim Hall (guitar, vocals) and Sheryl Hall (vocals) from Chicken Bacon; Matt Krueger (drums) and Ben Johnson (bass, vocals) from the Gadjo Players, BEEFUS, Charlie Painter and Friends; and Joe Burbach (keyboards, vocals) from the Grasshoppers.

“We feel that it's incumbent on us to do our part to preserve the music of the Grateful Dead,” the band says on its website. “We do this not by collecting bootlegs of their shows or finding rare recordings (there are others out there doing that way more effectively), but by playing the music they created.”

With decades of experience, the New Speedway Players have spent a lot of time learning the “rules” to which Dead music adheres. Much like jazz or classical or bluegrass, the Dead's songs and jams follow riffs, motifs and scale patterns that helped make the band's sound unique.

Many groups have tried to replicate that sound, to the point of reproducing shows to the date.

New Speedway Players' approach is different in that they play in the spirit of the Dead. Their jams are free and expressive while following the Dead's “rules,” which basically require having fun creating great dance jams.

The Budos Band at 8 p.m. Friday, July 11, Majestic Theatre, 115 King St., Madison. Tickets: $15. Call 608-255-0901.

The sound of the Budos Band might be challenging for some to describe, but to the band, “Staten Island instrumental afro-soul” means internalizing such disparate influences as the Cairo Jazz Band, J.C. Davis, Mulatu Astatke and Black Sabbath.

The Budos bring those elements together to form a mind-bending combination of rhythm and melody.

Formed in 2005, the instrumental band has toured the United States, Canada and Europe playing rock clubs and large festival stages. At any given show, you might see the Budos boys break-dancing to the band's funk and hip-hop beats; record junkies nodding their heads to the soul-infused melodies; metalheads thrashing to the dark and ominous guitar and bass riffs; and general music lovers smiling approvingly at the melting pot of music that takes place.

Jackson Browne at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $49.50-$65. Call 414-286-3663. Also, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison.

Legendary singer-songwriter Jackson Browne uses music as an avenue to speak his mind on issues and events that are important to him.

His ability to write lyrics and music that are personal while selling millions of albums and connecting to fans around the world separates Browne from many artists of his generation.

Browne was born on a German Army base in 1948, but he grew up and spent most of his life in Southern California. In 1967, he found his way to New York to try making a mark on the folk music scene. For the next few years, he would write and record songs that many would see as well beyond his years. His early recordings led to a record deal with Asylum Records.

In 1972, at age 23, Browne released his self-titled debut album, “Jackson Browne (Saturate Before Using).” The album included the singles “Rock Me on the Water” and “Doctor My Eyes,” which reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Browne then released a slew of other albums, including “For Everyman” (1973), “Late for the Sky” (1974), “The Pretender” (1976) and “Running On Empty” (1977).

It wasn't until “Hold Out” in 1980 that a Jackson Browne album reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts. The album included two singles that charted on Billboard, with “Boulevard” making it to No. 19 and “That Girl Could Sing” peaking at No. 22.

The biggest mainstream hit from Browne was released in 1982. “Somebody's Baby” reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

Other albums that have been released over his career include “Lawyers in Love” (1983), “World in Motion” (1989), “I'm Alive” (1993) and “The Naked Ride Home” (2002).

Slaid Cleaves at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $20. Call 414-276-7288. Also at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 17, Cafe Carpe, 18 S. Water St., Fort Atkinson. Tickets: $20. Call 920-563-9391.

Singer-songwriter Slaid Cleaves spins stories with a novelist's eye and a poet's heart.

Twenty years into his career, the celebrated Texas songwriter's “Still Fighting the War,” an album released in 2013, spotlights an artist in peak form. Cleaves' seamless new collection delivers vivid snapshots as wildly cinematic as they are carefully chiseled. Imagine William Faulkner with faded jeans and a worn six-string.

Cleaves' earthy narratives stand oak strong. He wrote “Still Fighting the War” four years ago, and few writers frame bruised souls as clearly. Even fewer deliver a punch with such striking immediacy.

Cleaves delivers equal measures of hope and resignation throughout this 2013 release. He built an unlikely success story from scratch after moving to Austin, Texas, from Maine two decades ago.

“Still Fighting the War” follows Cleaves' previous albums: “Broke Down” in 2000, “Wishbones” in 2004 and “Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away” in 2009.

He won the coveted Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Award in 1992 and has made Texas his home since then.

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