Music roundup for Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 2013

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By Bill Livick, Special to The Gazette
Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Kissers with DJ Audiomaxx at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, Great Dane-Hilldale, 357 Price Place, Madison. Tickets: $5. Call 608-661-9400.

The Kissers, led by Edgerton native Ken Fitzsimmons on bass and vocals, have been a force on the local music scene for more than a decade and are known for the frenzied energy of their live shows.

Featuring eclectic instrumentation—violin, banjo, accordion and an array of sonic effects—the band has a sound that straddles the gap between indie-rock and Irish music. The band's influences include groups as varied as the Shins, the Pogues, and the Decemberists. The Kissers maintain that they're rock musicians who learned to play Irish music, not the other way around, and so their music sometimes feels more at home in a rock club than in an Irish pub.

The band has toured the U.S. and beyond in the roughly 13 years they've been together.

If hard rock with an Irish accent is your idea of a fun way to ring in the new year, this show at the Great Dane in Hilldale Mall on Madison's near west side is the place to be.

Aaron Williams & the Hoodoo with the Beth Kille Band at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, Brink Lounge,
701 E. Washington Ave., Madison. Tickets: $10. Call 608-661-8599.

Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, a “power trio” based in Madison, released a live album this year, “Live Loud Harmony,” that was named No. 2 on Blue Rock Review magazine's list of best live albums of the year.

The award-winning band's music fuses blues, roots and rock music into an original sound.

Williams began his musical career at 17 years old as the lead guitarist for the Cadillac Joe Band. The band opened for such renowned artists as Coco Montoya, Taj Mahal, Leon Russell, Canned Heat, Carey Bell and Jimmy Thackery.

Williams is recognized as a master of blues guitar with had an affinity for Fender guitars. He formed the Hoodoo band in 2009 and released a debut album. The band made a second album in 2011.

Williams and his band perform intense live shows, demonstrating that the group takes its music seriously, but not itself.

Most of the music on the latest album is original, although the band does a powerful cover of The Doors' “Roadhouse Blues,” with Williams using a cigar box guitar.

“We really have a lot of fun on stage,” he said. “There's no in between: You either like our kind of music or you don't.”

Singer-songwriter Beth Kille's music is a hybrid of rock, country, folk and blues that resonates with diverse musical influences, including the Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, Norah Jones and Ani DiFranco.

Kille, a 15-time Madison Area Music Association award-winning artist from Madison, has been cranking out her original blend of music since 2000. She fronted the award-winning band Clear Blue Betty from 2002-'08 before launching her solo career.

Kille has penned hundreds of tunes and was recognized on a national level when she won the Nashville Songwriters Association International Song Showdown in 2009.

Cash Box Kings at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, Crystal Corner Bar, 1302 Williamson St., Madison. Tickets: $15. Call 608-256-2953.

In the spirit of classic Chicago blues, the Cash Box Kings carry on the spirit of the 1940s and '50s post-war blues but also include the sound of Delta blues from the 1920s and '30s.

The band's music is raw and stripped-down, a hallmark of the music that was captured by Chess Records and Sun Records.

The Cash Box Kings won the 2010 Blues Blast Music Magazine “Sean Costello Rising Star” Award and are regular headliners at Chicago venues such as Buddy Guy's, Rosa's Lounge, Nick's and the Smoke Daddy. They've played several successful European tours and have headlined such Euro festivals as the Lucerne Blues Festival and the Hondarribia Blues Festival. They have also performed several times at the Chicago Blues Festival.

The band has performed and collaborated with such Chicago blues giants as Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Billy Boy Arnold and Lurrie Bell.

Although the lineup has changed over the last 10 years, the Cash Box Kings are still anchored by founder and Whitewater native Joe Nosek, Oscar Wilson and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith (son of the legendary Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, who was Muddy Waters' drummer from 1968-81). The band is now joined by a rotating cast of other players: Billy Flynn (guitar, mandolin, vocals, harmonica), Joel Paterson (guitar and vocals), Jimmy Sutton (upright bass and vocals), Beau Sample (upright bass and vocals), Chris Boeger (bass) and Mark Haines (drums).

The People Brothers Band at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, Harmony Bar, 2201 Atwood Ave., Madison. Tickets: $25 Call 608-249-4333.

The People Brothers Band will light up your New Year's Eve with its original take on rhythm and blues, funk, rock and soul music. The eight-piece band formed five years ago in Madison and has become a local favorite for its eclectic blend of high-energy, soulful music.

The band's two lead singers—Teresa Marie and Bobby G—rank among the top vocalists in the Midwest. When backed by this powerhouse band that includes first-rate lead guitarist Nick Avery-Bucher, saxophonist Matt Simmersauce and Bobby G on keyboards, they're sure to have audiences up and dancing from beginning to end.

The band has performed more than 250 shows. While it bills itself as a rhythm and soul group, “at least half of us are rooted in the jam band scene and are influenced by the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers and Phish,” said co-founder Tim Lochner, who sings and plays rhythm guitar.

The band also turns out the occasional slow dance song written by one of its lead singers.

“We do mostly original music,” Lochner said. “We strive to write a lot of our own material. Our keyboard player, Bobby Gronna, and singer Teresa Marie write almost all of our songs, but everybody else has a part in the arrangements. It's really a true democracy in this band.”

Lochner said band members perform because they love making music.

“The common denominator to making it in this band is you can't let money be the driving force. If you're playing music, it doesn't matter how much money you make. Music is its own reward.”

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