Music roundup for July 31-Aug. 6, 2014

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By Kareesa Wilson, Special to the Gazette
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at 8 p.m. today, The Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $49.50-$75. Call 414-286-3663.

Lyle Lovett is great fun. The hair, the grin and the music, all combine to create a charismatic country music presence. The 56-year-old crooner has been a permanent fixture on the music scene for more than 30 years. He's released a baker's dozen albums and taken home four Grammys. Lovett has always operated on the fringes of mainstream country, shunning pop influences and embracing a rock meets country sound. He achieved popular success with the single "Cowboy Man." Lovett writes almost all his own music and his albums are critically acclaimed. His most recent album is 2012's "Release Me." In addition to singing, playing and writing, Lovett's also dabbled in acting. He has guest starred on television shows including "Castle" and "Dharma and Greg." His songs have been featured in numerous television shows including "True Blood," "Deadwood," and "Toy Story."

Jill Sobule at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $15. Call 414-276-7288.

Jill Sobule is a funky folk artist famous for her 1995 hit song "I Kissed a Girl." No, Katy Perry wasn't the first person to 'kiss a girl' so to speak. Sobule's single made the singer-songwriter a mainstream success, fueled by her hit song "Supermodel" off the soundtrack for the 1995 blockbuster movie "Clueless." Sobule is known for her political and social commentary and lyrics inspired by current events. The 49-year-old's fame burned brightest during the 1990s but Sobule continues to write and record fantastic folk/rock music. Her 2009 album "California Years" was funded entirely by fan donations. She has released 11 albums since 1990, including this year's "Dottie's Charms." Mainstream success has mostly eluded Sobule, but critics love the humor, commentary, and originality she brings to an industry prone to cookie cutter artists.

Phox at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $10. Call 414-286-3663.

If you haven't heard, it's time to find out what this Phox says. The trending pop folk band from Baraboo recently dropped its debut album and is being pegged by industry insiders as a band to watch. The six-member band's self-titled album released last month made critics take a closer look and listen. Nationwide attention came last year when the band released the EP "Confetti" along with a quirky video. A successful series of concerts at the indie lover's South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, followed. Phox snagged a booking agent for a fall tour and garnered praise along the way. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently described Phox as a "whimsical pop ensemble" with "luxurious harmonies, fanciful flute and clarient melodies, even a sudden snarling guitar lick." The paper singled out lead singer Monica Martin, calling her singing "breathlessly pretty."

Boney James at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $40-$50. Call 800-729-7244.

Saxophonist Boney James is a working man's smooth jazz musician. The 42-year-old musician and songwriter, born James Oppenheim, is a critically-acclaimed recording artist and award-winning performer. He has been nominated four times for a Grammy Award, won a Soul Train Award and received two NAACP Image Award nominations. The Boston Globe called James' music "muscular and gritty, whereas most smooth jazz has all the texture and complexity of a cue ball." James has sold more than three million records and released 14 albums including last year's "The Beat," which earned a Grammy nomination for best pop instrumental album. James crosses the boundaries of smooth jazz, taking it out of elevators and bringing it to the streets. His gutsy performances are mesmerizing and will make even the hardest rock n' roll soul sit up and listen.

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