Music roundup: King Crimson plans stop at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater

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By Bill Livick/Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bruce Cockburn, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., Madison. Tickets: $35. Call 608-241-8633.

Considered by many as one of Canada's greatest musical gifts to the world, singer-songwriter and guitarist Bruce Cockburn is making his return to Madison's Barrymore Theatre.

Cockburn has been a professional musician and recording artist since the 1960s, and he has 33 studio albums to his credit. His latest, “Bone on Bone,” came out in September.

Cockburn is well known for expressing his political and spiritual interests in song, as well as his lightning-fast guitar work. According to his website, the 72-year-old has recorded more than 300 original songs in his career.  He was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September.

Growing up near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Cockburn enrolled at Boston's Berklee School of Music after high school. He attended for three semesters before leaving. Cockburn became well known in Canada but didn't get much recognition in the US until 1979, with the release of the hit single “Wondering Where the Lions Are.” The song hit No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980, and Cockburn later performed the song on “Saturday Night Live.”

Cockburn was a mainstay on the national college and progressive-music scene in the 1980s and '90s, and his songwriting grew increasingly urban, global and political.

His politics became more blatant in 1984 with his second radio hit, “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” from the album “Stealing Fire.” Cockburn wrote the song after visiting Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico that had been attacked by Guatemalan military helicopters.

Cockburn's political activism continues to the present, and his songs still come from a world-citizen perspective.

Quiet Riot, 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. For tickets, call 414-286-3663.

It has been 40 years since American heavy-metal band Quiet Riot's debut self-titled album was released and the group was one of the most popular on the Los Angeles hard-rock scene.The band has gone through numerous lineup changes over the years, yet it continues to tour and record new music.

Quiet Riot suffered a blow in 2007 when lead singer Kevin DuBrow—then the only original band member remaining—died from a cocaine overdose. Former drummer Frankie Banali revived the band in 2010, and the current lineup consists of him on drums, lead vocalist James Durbin, bassist Chuck Wright and guitarist Alex Grossi.

Quiet Riot was one of the more successful hard-rock acts in Los Angeles in the mid- to late 1970s—comparable in popularity to Van Halen, with whom it shared the bill at several L.A. clubs.

The original lineup recorded two albums released only in Japan in the late '70s, before breaking up when guitarist Randy Rhodes left to join Ozzy Osbourne's Black Sabbath. After regrouping, Quiet Riot's first U.S. release in 1983, “Metal Health,” reached No. 1 and became the highest-charting debut ever by an American metal band.

The group followed up the next year with “Condition Critical,” which was a commercial disappointment. It sold only 3 million units and reached No. 15 on the Billboard album chart.

The band has never been able to replicate that success, but it continues to enjoy a loyal following.

King Crimson, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. For tickets, call 414-286-3663.

Led by British guitarist, composer and producer Robert Fripp, King Crimson has been an on-again/off-again group since forming in 1969. It is recognized as being highly influential in the world of progressive rock in the vein of Yes, Genesis and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

The band's early sound, eerie and portentous, set the tone for British art rock. King Crimson released its debut, “In the Court of the King Crimson,” in 1969, and Who guitarist Pete Townsend called the effort “an uncanny masterpiece.”

The group soon began an endless series of lineup changes, with only Fripp remaining through it all. He disbands and regroups the band every few years in order to record an album.

King Crimson has recorded 13 albums since its 1969 debut with its most recent, “The Power to Believe,” being released in 2003. The group has influenced a wide variety of modern progressive, experimental, psychedelic and indie-rock acts, including The Mars Volta and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain.

Nick Offerman, 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $39.50-$59.50. Call 414-286-3663.

Comedian and voice actor Nick Offerman—who plays Karl Weathers in the FX series “Fargo—comes to the Riverside with a string of awards to his credit.

Best known for his breakout role as Ron Swanson in the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” a part that earned him the Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy, Offerman also received a Critics' Choice Television Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries for his role in “Fargo.”

Offerman grew up in Minooka, Illinois, and lived in Chicago in the mid-1990s, where he acted in theater companies such as Steppenwolf, Goodman and Wisdom Bridge. Before long, he was immersed in the Chicago improv comedy scene.

In 2003, he married Megan Mullally, an actress on “Will & Grace” who also hosted a television talk show. Around the same time, Offerman began appearing on the show as a plumber.

He landed a regular slot on the show in 2009 and was recognized for his gift for understated physical comedy. Offerman has gone on to appear in dozens of films and TV shows.

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