Music roundup for April 3-9, 2014

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By Bill Livick, Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

St. Vincent at 7 p.m. Friday, April 4, Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $25. Call 414-286-3663.

St. Vincent is singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark’s stage name—and it’s also the title of her latest album, released in February.

The 31-year-old performer is one of the most critically acclaimed indie artists in the U.S. She and her backing band are on tour in support of the new album—Clark’s fourth—which Pitchfork magazine called “bold and almost jarringly confident.”

The magazine said the album “does not sound like it was recorded here on Earth. Its songs sprout with their own strange, squiggly life forms and are governed by unfamiliar laws of gravity.”

The musical Clark grew up one of eight siblings in a Dallas suburb. As an adolescent, she traveled and worked as a roadie with her uncle, Tuck Andress, of the duo Tuck and Patti. Clark later was an opening act for the duo.

She began playing guitar at age 12 and performed in her high school jazz band. She later attended the Berklee College of Music for three years before dropping out and launching her solo career.

Clark began recording her first album, “Marry Me,” under the stage name St. Vincent in 2006. The album was released in 2007 and praised by critics for its originality. In 2008, Clark was nominated for three PLUG Independent Music Awards: new artist of the year, female artist of the year, and music video of the year. In March 2008, she won the PLUG Female Artist of the Year Award.

Her second and third albums came in 2009 and 2011, and in 2012, she released a collaborative album with David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame, called “Love This Giant.”

“I’m always pushing myself,” she said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. “I’m not just trying to imitate the old rock lexicon, which I love dearly and know intimately, but trying to chase down what I imagine.”€

Davina and the Vagabonds at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, Stoughton Opera House, 381 E. Main St., Stoughton. Tickets: $20. Call 608-877-4400.

Davina Sowers is the driving force behind Davina and the Vagabonds, whose music has been called a melting pot of blues, American roots and New Orleans groove. Sowers is from Key West, Fla., but found a home in the Minneapolis blues scene more than seven years ago.

Her band features two horn players—trumpeter Daniel Eikmeier and trombonist Ben Link—along with bassist/tuba player Andrew Burns and drummer Connor Mcrae, who support Davina’s powerful vocals and impressive chops on piano.

She is a classically trained pianist who has been performing since age 5. She and her band made a big splash at Duluth’s Bayfront Blues Festival from 2006 to 2008, recording the highest CD sales all three years. She has been called the “hardest-working blues woman in frigid Minnesota.”

“Two things remain consistent in all her shows: her throaty, but cushiony voice—which has a sort of hard-mattress comfort to it that’s part Bonnie Raitt, part Etta James and a little Amy Winehouse—and her band’s rollicking New Orleans flavor, driven home by dueling horn players and a bayou-thick standup bass,” wrote music journalist Chris Riemenschneider of the Star Tribune.

The Head and the Heart at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 5, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $26.50. Call 414-286-3663.

The Head and The Heart is a six-piece indie folk-rock band from Seattle, Wash., formed in 2009 by Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion). The band also includes Charity Rose Thielen (violin, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (piano) and Tyler Williams (drums). The band has released two albums and has toured in North America and Europe.

Band members met in Seattle through a series of open-mic events. They self-recorded their first album and sold it at shows and in local record stores.

They signed with Sub Pop Records in November 2010. The company remastered the album, expanded it with a studio version of the band’s traditional concert closer, “Rivers and Roads,” and re-recorded one song, “Sounds Like Hallelujah.”

The Head and the Heart toured extensively through 2010 and 2011 in both the U.S. and Europe, opening for Dave Matthews Band, The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket and Death Cab For Cutie, among others, as well as headlining their own shows.

The band released its second album, “Let’s Be Still,” in October 2013. Frontman Josiah Johnson told the website BuzzFeed Music that the group has multiple songwriters and arrangers, and everyone contributed equally to the album.

“Because the music is written collectively, there are pieces of what we do well in all of the songs,” he said. “The band has a say in how the songs are arranged. We haven’t decided, ‘This is what we sound like,’ but what we sound like is what the six of us come up with. There’s not an idea that we have to sound a particular way. I think we were eager to have people know that we didn’t just listen to throwback folk albums from the ’70s.”€

Loretta Lynn at 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, April 10-11, Potawatomi Bingo and Casino, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $55-$65. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

At 81, country music star Loretta Lynn is still touring and will appear for two shows at the Northern Lights Theater. Lynn’s career has spanned more than 50 years, and she has been a groundbreaking artist on many levels.

Lynn was the first female country music artist to stand up for the rights of women in the male-dominated country music world. She was the first woman to win the entertainer of the year award from the Country Music Association, in 1972. Her 1975 self-written controversial hit, “The Pill,” was seen as a down-home feminist classic, while her song “One’s on the Way” celebrated motherhood.

In 1976, Lynn wrote her autobiography, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which became one of the 10 biggest-selling books of that year.

She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988 and received the Pioneer Award at the 1995 Academy of Country Music Awards.

In September 2000, her 40th anniversary as a performer, Lynn released the album “Still Country.” She released her latest album, “Van Lear Rose,” in 2004. It was produced by Jack White of the White Stripes when Lynn was 72 years old and White was 28.

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