Music roundup: Janesville's Back Bar to host nu-music star Otep on March 7

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By Bill Livick/Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Otep, 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, The Back Bar, Janesville, 1901 Beloit Ave., Janesville. Also performing: The Convalescence, The World Over, Breech, In The Hour and Disappearance. Tickets: $23. Visit TheBackBar.com.

Leading her quartet on what is being billed as “The Resistance World Tour 2017,” Otep Shamaya brings her “nu-metal” sound to Janesville’s Back Bar on Tuesday.

“Nu-metal” is a combination of heavy metal with elements of grunge, hip-hop and alternative rock.

Otep, a spoken word artist and activist for LGBT rights, animal welfare and a host of other progressive causes, leads the group. The Los Angeles-based performer has released seven albums since her debut in 2002, and she is touring in support of her 2016 release, “Generation Doom.”

“We’re touring to support the record, but that’s secondary,” she said in a phone interview. “We’re really touring in opposition to Donald Trump.”

Otep was signed to Capitol Records in 2003 after one of the company’s artist development reps saw her perform.  The band released its second album, “House of Secrets,” in 2004.

“Since then, we went on to work with some really great producers and build a career,” she said, “We’ve played OzzFest three or four times. Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife,  has been and continues to be a main supporter of mine. She helped us get on OzzFest, and I was the first female-fronted band ever to play OzzFest.”

Otep said she was an avid reader growing up and dreamed of becoming an author. She fell in love with words and music, and eventually decided to become a poet, songwriter and spoken word artist. She has appeared on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” twice. She counts the show’s founder, Russell Simmons, among her strongest fans and supporters.

Otep called her latest album a continuation of what her music has always been.

“We talk about police brutality and war, racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, and now, Trump’s plan to take total control of the country and government,” she said. “All this stuff goes into my music. There’s no separation between art and activism for me.”

Jerry Seinfeld, 7 p.m. Friday, March 10, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $65-$150. Call 414-286-3663.

From 1989 to ’98, the iconic comedian starred as himself on the enormously popular TV sitcom “Seinfeld.”

Seinfeld developed an interest in stand-up comedy after brief stints in college productions. In 1981, he appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and later that year on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

He created “The Seinfeld Chronicles” with Larry David for NBC in 1988. It later was renamed “Seinfeld” and became the most popular, successful sitcom on American television. The final episode aired in 1998, and the show has remained popular in syndication.

After the sitcom, Seinfeld left Hollywood and returned to New York City, where he relaunched his career as a stand-up comic.

In 2014, Seinfeld created a web series titled “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” in which he collects fellow comedians in different vintage cars, then drives to a diner or café to drink coffee and talk. The show’s concept is incredibly simple, but it works.

Seinfeld is known for keeping his act clean, which he considers an athletic challenge because it denies him the easiest laughs.

“A person who can defend themselves with a gun is just not very interesting,” he told The Guardian in 2014. “But a person who defends themselves through aikido or tai chi? Very interesting.”
Leo Kottke and Keller Williams, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 11, Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., Janesville. Tickets: $40. Call 608-241-8633.

Two of the country’s top acoustic guitarists are coming to Madison on March 11.

Finger-style master Leo Kottke has been performing since the late 1960s and has garnered a solid following for his propulsive instrumentals. His fingerpicking style draws on blues, jazz and folk music for his syncopated, polyphonic melodies.

Kottke, 71, has released 21 studio albums and four live albums. He recorded his debut album, “Twelve String Blues,” in

1969 in a Minneapolis coffeehouse using both 6- and 12-string guitars. He sent tapes to guitarist John Fahey, who signed him to a record contract.

In concert, Kottke is as well known for his humorous stage banter and storytelling as for his guitar playing. He also sings in a deep baritone that has been an ongoing source of self-deprecation.

Williams has released about 20 solo albums since his debut in 1994.

He has been described as “a one-man jam band” because of his virtuosity and frequent use of live phrase looping with multiple instruments. He usually performs with a variety of instruments connected to a looper pedal, which allows him to play a riff once on an instrument, record it and repeat it. He then records and loops an accompanying instrument, allowing him to play unaccompanied.
JoJo, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 11, The Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $20. Call 414-286-3663.

JoJo Blagden Levesque (going by the stage name JoJo) is a pop/rhythm & blues artist who has released three albums that have sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and more than 2 million in the U.S. alone, according to her website.

JoJo released her self-titled debut album in 2004. Her second, “The High Road,” came out in 2006.

In 2003, at age 12, JoJo signed with Blackground Records and Da Family and began working with producers for her first album. She released her first single, “Leave (Get Out),” in 2004 before releasing her album. When the single reached No. 1 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart, she became the youngest solo artist to have a No. 1 hit in America. That first album also reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Top 200.

In December 2004, she was nominated for Female New Artist of the Year and Mainstream Top 40 Single of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards, making her the youngest artist to be nominated at the awards.

JoJo’s recording career stalled as she and her record label disagreed over legal disputes. In 2014, she signed with Atlantic Records, which released her third album, “Mad Love,” in 2016.

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