Music roundup: Ageless Tony Bennett plans stop in Milwaukee on May 28

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By Bill Livick/Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lindsey Stirling, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 25, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $115-$384. Call 414-286-3663.

By the time Lindsey Stirling appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2010, she already had a large national following. Thanks to YouTube, countless viewers had seen videos of her performing on violin while dancing—a style some have called hip-hop dance performance art.

Stirling finished as a quarterfinalist on season five of the show, but she has since gone on to release three albums and establish herself as one of the most popular artists ever on YouTube.

Stirling not only composes her own songs but also performs musical styles ranging from classical to pop and rock to electronic dance music.

Stirling was included in Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30 In Music: The Class Of 2015.” In naming her to the list, the publication noted Stirling’s success on “America’s Got Talent,” a No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200 music chart for her second album in 2014, and her 8 million subscribers on YouTube.

Stirling released a self-titled album in 2012, “Shatter Me” in 2014 and “Brave Enough” in August 2016. She was named Artist of the Year at the 2015 YouTube awards.

Growing up in a low-income family in Utah, Stirling was offered a choice as a child: She could take violin lessons or dance lessons, but her parents couldn’t afford both. She chose violin and later taught herself to dance.

When she competed on “America’s Got Talent,” the judges told Stirling she was attempting to do too much, that she should pick either violin or dance, and that she would do better as a member of a band. She later said the comments were devastating at the time, but that they also taught her to trust her instincts and persevere.

Stirling, who also has seen great success in Europe, won a 2015 Billboard Music Award for “Shatter Me” in the Dance/Electronic Album category.

Boston, 6 p.m. Friday, May 26, Breese Stevens Field, 917 E. Mifflin St., Madison. Tickets: $43-$73. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

With power guitars, harmony vocals and double guitar leads, Boston returns to rock Madison during an outdoor show at Breese Stevens Field.

The band burst onto the rock scene in 1976 with the fastest-selling debut album in rock history, according to Rolling Stone magazine. It then went on to enjoy a string of hits in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

The band’s self-titled debut album sold more than 11 million copies, according to the band’s website, and it spawned three Top 40 singles: “More than a Feeling,” “Long Time” and “Peace of Mind.”

Boston is centered on guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter and producer Tom Scholz. He began writing songs in the late 1960s and formed the band in ’76.

Boston released its second album, “Don’t Look Back,” in 1978 and, despite selling some 6 million copies, the group began to witness a slow but steady decline in popularity. By the time “Third Stage” appeared in 1986, only Scholz and lead singer Brad Delp remained of the original lineup.

That didn’t seem to matter to Boston’s fans because Scholz’s lead guitar and Delp’s soaring vocals had come to define the band’s sound. Delp committed suicide in 2007 and was replaced by Tommy DeCarlo the next year.

Boston has released six studio albums and sold more than 75 million records worldwide, according to its website.

Tony Bennett, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 28, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $55-$125. Call 414-286-3663.

Bob Hope discovered Tony Bennett in 1950 and enlisted him to open shows at New York’s Paramount Theater. After an audition with bandleader Mitch Miller the same year, Bennett signed with Columbia Records and released his first No. 1 hit, “Because of You,” in 1951.

Sixty-six years later, Bennett, 90, is regarded as one of the greatest interpreters of classic jazz-inflected American song. His singing is characterized by careful articulation, a sure sense of swing and a pure baritone.

Bennett became popular in the late 1950s and continued to perform throughout the decades, despite his style of singing taking a backseat to more popular forms of music. He was primarily an album artist, and in the early 1990s, Bennett enjoyed a remarkable resurgence in popularity.

In 1962, Bennett sold out New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall and recorded his first Grammy Award winner and subsequent trademark, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

Bennett worked with pianist Bill Evans in the 1960s on some of his most praised early recordings. But after a period of great celebrity covering the songs of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart, Bennett’s career hit a fallow stretch in the 1970s to mid-’80s when he didn’t record and focused instead on painting.

In 1986, Bennett returned to the studio and recorded an album, “The Art of Excellence,” which included a duet on “Everybody Has the Blues” with Ray Charles. But it was his 1992 album, “Perfectly Frank”—an homage to his favorite singer, Frank Sinatra—that Bennett’s revival really began. The album won a Grammy Award, as did Bennett’s next album, “Steppin’ Out.”

Bennett began making regular appearances on late-night television, furthering his exposure to younger audiences. He appeared as a presenter with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the 1993 MTV Music Video Awards. The next year, his album “Tony Bennett—MTV Unplugged,” which included duets with k.d. lang and Elvis Costello, earned two more Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.

Bennett has won 18 Grammy Awards over the course of his career and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2001 ceremony. In 2014-15, he toured with Lady Gaga on their “Cheek to Cheek” tour, and in September 2015, he released an album of songs composed by Jerome Kern, “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern.”
Mr. Big, 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $25-$35. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

The California rock band bills itself as a “hard-rock supergroup” that formed in 1988.

The quartet is led by vocalist Eric Martin and guitarist Paul Gilbert, with Billy Sheehan on bass guitar and Pat Torpey on drums.

Mr. Big is known for its musicianship and has scored a number of hits including “To Be With You” and “Just Take My Heart.” Its songs are often marked by strong vocals and vocal harmonies.

Mr. Big broke up in 2002 but reunited in 2009 after requests from fans.

The band’s first tour was in Japan in June 2009. To date, Mr. Big has released eight studio albums and is set to release its latest, “Defying Gravity,” in July. The album will feature the band’s original lineup.

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