Music roundup for Aug. 7, 2014

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By Bill Livick, Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Live on King Street: Ziggy Marley at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, in front of Majestic Theater, 115 King St., Madison. Call 608-255-0901.

A five-time Grammy Award-winning musician, actor, activist and humanitarian, Ziggy Marley has established his presence on the public stage for more than a quarter-century.

A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Marley was 10 years old when he and his siblings first sat in on recording sessions with his father's band, Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Later, Ziggy joined with his sisters Sharon and Cedella and brother Stephen to become Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers, allowing him to craft his own soulful sound, which blends blues, R&B, hip-hop and roots reggae. The Melody Makers earned their first Grammy for their third album, 1988's “Conscious Party,” which included the hit songs “Tomorrow People” and “Tumbling Down.”

Since then, they've produced two more Grammy winners, “One Bright Day” in 1989 and “Fallen is Babylon” in 1997. Their 2000 album, “Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers Live, Vol. 1,” features some of their biggest hits and a cover of Bob Marley's “Could You Be Loved.”

While selling millions of records and selling out numerous concerts, the band never lost sight of its foundations in faith, fellowship and family.

After two decades as the band's creative force, Ziggy did his first solo tour in summer 2002 on the 23-city World Outside Festival. The next year, he released his debut solo album, “Dragonfly,” and followed that up with “Love Is My Religion” in 2006, which won a Grammy for its exploration of personal, social and political themes.

In 2011, Marley won his fifth Grammy for “Family Time,” a collection of reggae-inflected, family songs. “Family Time” features family and friends including Rita Marley, Cedella Marley, Judah Marley, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Laurie Berkner, Elizabeth Mitchell and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Marley is involved with a host of charities, including his own URGE (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment), a nonprofit organization that helps developing nations. The charity builds new schools, operates health clinics and supports organizations such as Mary's Child, a center for abused and neglected girls.

Smokey Robinson at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $55-$75. Call 414-286-3663.

Smokey Robinson rose to fame as the leader of the Miracles in the early 1960s. He formed the group in 1955 when he was just 15. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Soon after his debut with the Miracles, Robinson became known as one of the premier songwriter/singers in pop music. His best songs—“My Girl,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do”—show a rare mastery of writing and performing the pop love song.

In 1972, Robinson left the Miracles to pursue a solo career and focus on his role as vice president of the Motown record label, a job he kept until 1990. Although Robinson's own recordings sold only moderately well after the 1970s, numerous bands and artists have recorded versions of his songs.

He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1987. Two years later, he was inducted to the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. In 1991, Robinson won the Heritage Award at the Soul Train Music Awards, and in 1993 he was awarded a medal at the National Medal of Arts.

His pure falsetto has remained true throughout the years.

Bill Staines at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, Cafe Carpe, 18 S. Water St., Fort Atkinson. Tickets: $15. Call 920-563-9391.

Traditional folk singer-songwriter Bill Staines returns to the Café Carpe on Saturday with a trove of timeless originals. He is well known as a writer with keen observation and a knack for delivering telling detail.

Staines began his professional career in the early 1960s in Cambridge, Mass., and started touring nationwide a few years later. In 1975, he won the National Yodeling Championship at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. He now performs about 200 times a year and has appeared on the syndicated radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.”

His music is a slice of Americana, filled with cowboys, Yukon adventures, fisherman and everyday working people. He writes beautiful melodies, and his story-filled lyrics recall with compassion and depth the landscapes and characters he's known.

Rodrigo y Gabriela at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $39.50-$45. Call 414-286-3663.

Although they've made a bigger impression in Europe, Rodrigo y Gabriela also have gotten major attention in the United States for their high-energy dual acoustic guitar approach to music.

The pair are originally from Mexico City, where they met in 1989 at age 15. Rodrigo (Sanchez) and Gabriela (Quintero) grew up in middle-class families. Their parents listened to flamenco, jazz, and rock music, but they were also exposed to heavy metal. They include Metallica and Led Zeppelin among their favorite bands.

In the early 1990s, Sanchez formed a heavy metal band called Tierra Acida (Acid Land) with his brother. Quintero joined them in 1993. When a record deal for the band fell through in 1997, Sanchez and Quintero left Mexico City for the resort town of Ixtapa on the Pacific coast of Mexico. They played in beachside bars and hotels for nine months before deciding to move to Europe in 1999.

They settled in Dublin, Ireland, where they recorded their first album in 2001.

Five years later, they recorded a self-titled album that peaked at No. 1 in Ireland and also made an impressive showing in France and the United Kingdom.

The couple released solo albums in 2009 and 2012 along with live albums in 2004, 2008 and 2011.

Their latest album, “9 Dead Alive,” came out in April. Each track on the album is a personal celebration of people who have died but are remembered through their deeds and words. The album is more rock-focused compared to their past Latin-based material.

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