Music roundup for March 13, 2014

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By Kareesa Wilson, Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jennifer Nettles at 7 p.m. Friday, March 14, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $35.75-$45.75. Call 414-286-3663.

Multitalented Jennifer Nettles is best known as half of the country superstar duo Sugarland.

What many people might not know is that the 39-year-old has been kicking around the music scene for years and just released her debut solo album.

Before Sugarland formed 10 years ago, Nettles was in a band called Soul Miner's Daughter and released albums in 1996 and 1998. She went on to start the Jennifer Nettles Band, which released five albums and won the grand prize in the Mars Music “The Big Deal $100,000 Music Search.”

Nettles hit the big time when she teamed up with Kristian Bush and Kristin Hall in Sugarland in 2002. (Hall later left the group.) Sugarland has won multiple Grammy Awards and continues to be one of country music's most popular acts.

Nettles also won a Grammy with Jon Bon Jovi in 2007 for their collaboration, “Who Says You Can't Go Home.”

Nettles' solo album, “That Girl,” came out earlier this year and hit No. 1 on Billboard's country charts.

Alone, collaborating or in a band, Nettles knows how to keep the hits coming.

John Prine at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 15, Overture Hall, Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison. Iris DeMent also performs. Tickets: $49-$71. Call 608-258-4141.

John Prine is a songwriter's songwriter. Such legendary artists as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Roger Waters cite Prine, 67, as one of the best songwriters of their generation.

Quiet and unassuming, Prine began his music career in the early 1970s when he summoned the courage to play in country folk clubs around Chicago. Kris Kristofferson discovered the postman and part-time musician and produced Prine's critically acclaimed 1971 debut album for Atlantic Records. Prine later jumped ship to Asylum Records and eventually started his own label, Oh Boy Records, in 1984.

Prine is, first and foremost, a lyricist who spins tales of love, woe, heartache and protest. His songs include “Sam Stone,” “Angel from Montgomery” and “Illegal Smile.”

He has received numerous songwriting awards, including a lifetime achievement award from BBC Radio 2, and has been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His 1991 album, “The Missing Years,” and 2005's “Fair & Square” both won Grammy Awards.

“Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism,” Dylan has said. “Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs.”

Experience Hendrix 2014 Tour at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 16, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $45-$65. Call 414-286-3663.

A tradition for almost 20 years, Experience Hendrix is a trip down memory lane. Using the music by guitar genius Jimi Hendrix, this show's all-star cast breathes new life into the old classics and gives audiences and fans a chance to continue experiencing Hendrix anew.

The show is owned and managed by Hendrix's father and is done with respect for the late guitarist's legacy. However, the tour only happens every few years, so it's a rare opportunity.

Former Hendrix band members Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox offer a real connection to Hendrix, who died in 1970. They're joined by younger musicians Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, and Frank Zappa's son Dweezil Zappa.

Hendrix music remains popular today. It has been used in multiple movie soundtracks, including “Cars” and “Black Hawk Down,” and in the popular Guitar Hero videogames. Musicians such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sting include Hendrix standards in their live performances.

Birds of Chicago at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, Stoughton Opera House, 381 E. Main St., Stoughton. With the Ragbirds. Tickets: $25. Call 608-877-4400.

Birds of a feather tend to flock together. That's just how Birds of Chicago formed.

Musicians JT Nero and Allison Russell played in their own bands for years and sometimes collaborated. Their 2011 joint album, “Mountains/Forests,” proved they were better together than separate. Thus, Birds of Chicago was born.

The Chicago Sun Times called the band's 2012 self-titled debut “as refreshing and rewarding as morning in the reeds with the Audubon Society.” The duo's folksy rock with blues undertones is both soothing and reviving—a fine tonic for troubled times.

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