Music roundup for Jan. 23, 2014

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By Bill Livick, Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Duhks at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, Stoughton Opera House, 381 E. Main St., Stoughton. Tickets: $25. Call 608-877-4400.

Although still in their 30s, the members of the Duhks are veterans of the North American folk and acoustic music scene.

The five-piece band is making its debut appearance at the Stoughton Opera House on Friday, an event that will showcase its reverence for traditional music along with its passion for various ethnic styles.

Built around banjo, guitar, fiddle and the lead vocals of Jessee Havey, the band formed in 2002 intending to mix Irish, old-timey and French-Canadian music with modern percussion, said founder Leonard Podolak.

Podolak hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba, where his father, Mitch, launched the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1974 and taught Leonard to play banjo.

Leonard Podolak was well acquainted with young acoustic musicians when he decided to establish the band. He'd just left a group that included Ruth Moody, one of the founding members of the Wailin Jennys, when he began to assemble the Duhks.

In 2004, an intern at Sugar Hill Records caught one of the band's performances, which led to a recording contract for the Duhks.

The Duhks' first album, “Your Daughters and Your Sons,” was recorded in 2002 and nominated for a 2003 Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy). With backing from Sugar Hill, the band's second self-titled album was produced by Bela Fleck. It won a Juno for best roots/traditional album by a group.

A single from the band's 2006 album, “Migrations,” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2007.

The band released another Juno-nominated album in 2008, “Fast Paced World.” After a six-year break, the band began recording a new album last year, Podolak said.

“It's the breakout tour for this music,” Podolak said. “We have a bunch of originals, some traditionals and some interpretations of hit songs. ... We always try to make them our own.”

The Wailers at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, The Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $21.50-$94. Call 414-342-7283.

When reggae giant Bob Marley died in 1981, he left behind his band, the Wailers.

The group has undergone personnel changes over the years but continues to tour and impress audiences with its authenticity.

The core of the Wailers band consisted of bassist Aston Barrett and his brother, drummer Carlton Barrett, who had been members of Lee “Scratch” Perry's studio band, the Upsetters, with whom the Wailers had recorded some of their most notable songs. After Marley's death, the Wailers were led by Aston Barrett and Junior Marvin.

The band continues to tour and play live, although Marvin left the group in 2008 to pursue a solo career. The current lineup includes Koolant Brown on lead vocals, Aston Barrett on bass, Keith Sterling on keyboards, Drummie Zeb on drums, Audley Chisholm on rhythm guitar and Cegee Victory on background vocals.

The Wailers also have played or performed with such international acts as Sting, the Fugees, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana and Alpha Blondy. The band continues to be one of reggae music's most active acts and important ambassadors.

Patty Griffin at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave., Madison. With Anais Mitchell. Tickets: $15-$20. Call 608-268-1122. (Also at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $20. Call 414-276-7288.)

Singer-songwriter Patty Griffin has a gift for approaching serious topics delicately, with a voice that ranges from angelic to that of a rafter-rocking soul singer.

She also likes writing songs on weighty matters.

Griffin was “discovered” in 1995 by Emmy Lou Harris at producer Daniel Lanois' recording studio in New Orleans, where Griffin went to record her first album. She was brought to the studio by A&M Records, which signed Griffin to a contract on the strength of her demo songs.

Harris was finishing an album when she first heard Griffin sing. She later described Griffin's voice as “the most extraordinarily beautiful and moving” voice she had ever heard.

Griffin has gone on to release eight studio albums and two live collections. In 2011, Griffin's album “Downtown Church” won a Grammy for best traditional gospel album.

Dark Star Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., Madison. Tickets: $23-$25. Call 608-241-8633.

In 30 years of recording and touring, the Grateful Dead made rock music history as one of the seminal bands of its era. The Dead disbanded in 1995 after the death of Jerry Garcia, the group's unofficial leader.

But Grateful Dead fans were not ready for the magic to end. Two such fans were John Kadlecik (guitar, vocals) and Scott Larned (keyboards).

In 1997, they formed the Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band, in Chicago. To distinguish the group from similar ones, Kadlecik and Larned decided to re-create the Dead's shows song-for-song—and never play the same show twice.

While it's true that Dark Star Orchestra performs the same songs in the same order as historic Dead shows, the music dictates that DSO shows will never be exact replicas. Some 90 percent of its music is improvised.

Larned died of a heart attack during a DSO tour in 2005 and was replaced by Rob Barraco. Kadlecik quit the band in 2009 and was replaced by Jeff Mattson as Dark Star's lead guitarist.

The seven-piece band is widely regarded as the top Grateful Dead tribute act.

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