Music roundup for Oct. 17, 2013

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Bill Livick, Special to the Gazette
Thursday, October 17, 2013

Neko Case at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $35. Call 414-286-3663.

Singer-songwriter Neko Case is one of the most celebrated artists on today's indie music scene. She possesses a voice "so powerful, nuanced and pure that if she turned her mind to it, she could probably become a megastar like Taylor Swift or Norah Jones and ride the mainstream to sell kajillions of records and fill stadiums across North America," music critic Douglas Heselgrave wrote in a recent edition of Paste magazine.

"Anyone who has heard her sing in Jakob Dylan's latest touring band can attest to the chills that her voice can send up and down her listeners' spines."

Case has been recording music since releasing her debut album, "The Virginian," in 1997.

Since then she has made five full-length studio albums, two live albums and an EP. She has also performed and recorded as a member of the Canadian band The New Pornographers and has worked with a wide array of American musicians.

Case released her latest album, "The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You," earlier this year. The process of making the album was chronicled by National Public Radio on its show, Morning Edition.

Case's musical tastes range from hardcore grunge and punk to classic country to electronic. All of those influences are evident on her new record, which makes her incredibly interesting to some music fans and incredibly frustrating to others. Her music is difficult to define and impossible to pigeonhole.

Above all else, she is highly creative and answers only to her own personal muse. Her musical style is the epitome of what's called art music.

Aoife O'Donovan at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, The Sett, Union South, 1308 W. Dayton St., Madison. Tickets: $10-$22. Call 608-890-3000.

Inspired by the folk music icons Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, as well as her own Irish roots, singer-songwriter Aoife O'Donovan is the lead singer of the progressive bluegrass band Crooked Still.

O'Donovan is also a member of folk trio Sometymes Why, formed in 2005 by O'Donovan, Kristin Andreassen and Ruth Ungar Merenda. They came together from other bands and released their debut CD in 2005.

O'Donovan grew up in Newton, Mass., and spent her school-year summers in Ireland singing with her extended family. She studied contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she graduated in 2003.

She met bassist Corey DiMario at the Conservatory in the spring of 2001. Around the same time, the pair began playing music with cellist Rushad Eggleston and banjo player Gregory Liszt. Calleing themselves Crooked Still, the group started out performing in the Boston area.

While working as a member of the two bands, O'Donovan is also a solo artist and leader of her own band, which includes Robin MacMillan on drums, Jacob Silver on bass, Ryan Scott on guitar and Charlie Rose on pedal steel guitar.

She released her first solo recording, "Blue Light," in June 2010. Around the same time, singer Alison Krause recorded O'Donovan's song "Lay My Burden Down."

In 2011, she worked with cellist Yo Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, mandolinist Chris Thile and fiddler Stuart Duncan in recording "The Goat Rodeo Sessions." The album includes two vocal tracks featuring O'Donovan and Thile. O'Donovan co-wrote one of those tracks, "Here and Heaven," with Meyer, Thile and Duncan.

Fans can expect to hear songs from her debut solo album, "Fossils," released in June, when she appears with her band in Madison on Friday.

American English at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Edgerton Performing Arts Center, 200 Elm High Drive, Edgerton. Tickets: $20-$25. Call 608-561-6093.

The tribute band American English will take music lovers for a two-hour tour of favorites from The Beatles' collection of hits.

Songs include material from the Fab Four's early years, including "She Loves You," "Twist and Shout," and "I Want to Hold Your Hand," to the group's mid-career hits-from such albums as "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"-to the Beatles' late years with songs like "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road."

American English is considered one of the world's best Beatles tribute bands. It has won the Illinois Entertainer of the Year award and has been voted the "Best Tribute Band" for three of the last four years by fans in the Chicago area. The group has shared the stage with The Grassroots, Three Dog Night, The Ides of March, Eric Burdon, The Buckinghams, The Doobie Brothers, and Badfinger.

Harry Connick Jr. at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, Overture Hall, Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison. Tickets: $59.50-$120. Call 608-258-4141, TTY 608-258-4967.

(Also at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $55-$95. Call 414-286-3663.)

Jazz musician and actor Harry Connick Jr. was raised in New Orleans and has been a musical performer since childhood. He has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide and is ranked among the top 60 best-selling male artists in the United States, with 16 million albums sold. He has seven albums in the Top 20 in the U.S. and 10 No. 1 jazz albums, more than any other American artist in jazz chart history.

Connick is also a well established film and TV star, having appeared in the sitcom "Will & Grace" from 2002-06, as well as at least a dozen films.

He began playing music publicly at age 5 and recording with a local jazz band at 10. When Connick was 9 years old, he performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 Opus 37 with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and later played a duet with Eubie Blake at the Royal Orleans Esplanade Lounge in New Orleans.

Connick signed with Columbia Records in 1986 and recorded his first record for the label, "Harry Connick Junior," a mainly instrumental album of standards. He acquired a reputation in jazz because of extended stays at high-profile New York venues. His 1988 album, "20," featured his vocals and added to this reputation.

He continued to record straight-ahead jazz until the mid 1990s, when Connick expanded his repertoire to include New Orleans-style funk with the release of the album "She." In '96 he released a second album of funk music, "Star Turtle."

The following year, he recorded "To See You," a collection of original love songs. He toured the U.S. and Europe with a full symphony orchestra backing him and his piano in each city. As part of his tour, he played at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, with his final concert of that tour in Paris being recorded for a Valentine's Day special on PBS in 1998.

Connick. has recorded 30 albums and has been active in helping New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

He and fellow jazz star Branford Marsalis devised an initiative to help restore New Orleans' musical heritage in 2005. The two worked with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity on plans for a Musicians' Village in New Orleans. The village includes Habitat-constructed homes, with a center for music as the development's centerpiece. The homes provide musicians, and anyone else who qualifies, the opportunity to buy decent, affordable housing. In 2012, Connick and Marsalis received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, in New Orleans.

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