Music roundup for Oct. 3, 2013

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Bill Livick, Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Moody Blues at 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Oct. 3-4, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $45-$55. Call 414-286-3663.

It is nearing 50 years since the core members of the Moody Blues came together to ultimately become one of the iconic bands in rock music history. Three of those members—Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge—are still working and touring regularly as the Moody Blues.

The band's second album (but the first with Hayward and Lodge), “Days of Future Passed,” was released in November 1967 and became one of the most successful pop/rock releases of the period, earning a gold record award and reaching No. 27 on the British album chart and No. 3 in the U.S. Billboard charts.

Included on the album were two of the band's biggest singles, “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin,” both written by Hayward. Although originally released in '67, the latter did not appear on singles charts in the U.S. until 1972, when it reached No. 3.

Many critics dismissed the album—and later the rest of the band's music—as pretentious and bombastic, yet the Moody Blues' unusual mix of psychedelic rock, art rock and symphonic rock has had remarkable staying power with the public.

The Moody Blues focused on writing musically ambitious and lyrically profound songs, yet they managed to release a number of crowd-pleasing singles: “Question,” “The Story in Your Eyes,” “Isn't Life Strange” and “I'm Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band.”

They were extremely popular on the emerging phenomenon of FM radio and produced six gold albums from the late '60s through the early '70s: “In Search of the Lost Chord” (1968), “On The Threshold of a Dream” (1969), “To Our Children's Children's Children” (1970), “A Question of Balance” (1970), “Every Good Boy Deserves a Favour” (1971) and “Seventh Sojourn” (1972).

After “Seventh Sojourn” reached No. 1 in the U.S., the band took a lengthy break before regrouping in the late '70s to release “Octave,” which reached No. 13. The Moody Blues released several more albums that sold well but never achieved the kind of success they previously enjoyed.

KT Tunstall at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, The Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $24.50. Call 414-286-3663.

Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall has released five albums of mostly upbeat, rhythmic songs since her debut, “Eye to the Telescope,” came out in late 2004. The album was first released in the United Kingdom and didn't show up on American music radar until 2007.

A single from the album, “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” was one of the most successful singles and most radio-played songs of 2005 in the U.K. It reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Tunstall's performance of the song on a popular British televised music show gave the singer almost overnight fame. She was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in the U.K., and Q magazine declared the song “best track.”

In January 2006, she received three BRIT nominations—for British live act, British breakthrough act and British female solo artist—eventually winning the latter.

She gained more nominations in 2007 and 2008: a 2007 Grammy Award nomination for best female pop vocal performance for “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and another BRIT nomination for British female solo artist—the same accolade she had won in 2006.

Tunstall's latest release, “Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon,” is considered her best by most critics. Released earlier this year, it is her most melancholy album to date.

Tunstall is known for her energetic live performances, which include an element of rhythm and blues mixed with soul, pop and folk music.

Grandmothers of Invention at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, Stoughton Opera House, 381 E. Main St., Stoughton. Tickets: $15-$30. Call 608-877-4400.

Grandmothers of Invention, the only band with Mothers of Invention/Frank Zappa alumni that continues to perform Zappa's music, are bringing the late maestro's music to the Stoughton Opera House on Friday, in what's sure to be a memorable performance.

The band consists of Napoleon Murphy Brock (Mothers of Invention/Frank Zappa alumni from 1974-1984) on vocals, sax and flute; Don Preston (alumni from 1967-1971) on keyboard, synths and electronics; Christopher Garcia on drums and percussion; Dave Johnsen on bass and vocals, and Max Kutner on electric guitar and vocals.

The band formed in August 2002 when four members of the Mothers of Invention, including Brock and Preston, were invited to perform Zappa's music in Leipzig, Germany. The event was recorded, filmed and released by Warner Classics in Europe, and it has been re-broadcast repeatedly in European television. Since then, the Grandmothers of Invention have performed more than 140 shows throughout Europe and the United States.

At the Stoughton Opera House, the band will perform the “One Size Fits All” album in its entirety.

Cantus at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, Coronado Performing Arts Center, 314 N. Main St., Rockford, Ill. Tickets: $10-$45. Call 815-968-0595.

You might recognize the Minneapolis-based male vocal chorus Cantus from its performances with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Pops or from appearances on National Public Radio's “A Prairie Home Companion,” hosted by Garrison Keillor.

Cantus, a full-time, professional vocal chamber ensemble, comprises nine men singing in a TTBB (tenor, tenor, baritone, bass) voice arrangement. The performers are self-led, with programming and musical direction coming from within the group itself.

The ensemble is known for innovative concert programming, often tying together works of numerous genres to explore a selected theme. Its repertoire can come from classical music, orchestral-vocal repertoire, folk music, art song, popular songs, spirituals or newly commissioned works.

Cantus is also supports music education, encouraging people of all ages—especially men—to sing. The ensemble has worked with tens of thousands of singers throughout the country in educational activities ranging from master classes to festivals and collaborations. New members are acquired through annual national auditions.

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