Music roundup for April 17-23, 2014

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By Bill Livick, Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Johnny Clegg Band at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 19, Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., Madison. Tickets: $30 advance, $35 day of show. Call 608-241-8633.

Johnny Clegg is a British-born musician and anthropologist from South Africa who has recorded and performed with his bands Juluka and Savuka, and more recently has been a solo act.

Sometimes called Le Zoulou Blanc—“the White Zulu”—he is an important figure in South African popular music history, with songs that mix Zulu with English lyrics and African with various Western music styles.

In 1969, Clegg formed the first prominent racially mixed South African band, Juluka, with Zulu musician Sipho Mchunu. Juluka comes from the Zulu word for “sweat.”

It was illegal for racially mixed bands to perform in South Africa during apartheid, so the band’s first album, “Universal Men,” received no airplay on the state-owned radio system. Despite that, it became a word-of-mouth hit.

The band’s increasingly Westernized sound eventually led to Mchunu’s departure, and the band dissolved. It was replaced by a new lineup called Savuka.

Clegg has enjoyed major success in France but more limited fame in the U.S. Much of his music sounds predominantly Western, and his group is recognized for its exciting, energetic Zulu dance routines.

Willy Porter Band at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 19, The Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. With Simon Townshend. Tickets: $20. Call 414-286-3663.

Wisconsin native Willy Porter is a creative force in American music. He began his career performing in the now-defunct Club de Wash in Madison, where bits from a series of his performances were combined to make Porter’s first album, “The Trees Have Soul,” in 1990.

His reputation as a master finger-style guitarist spread throughout the country with the release of his 1994 album, “Dog-Eared Dream.”

After its release, Porter worked as an opening act for such stars as Jeff Beck, Ricki Lee Jones, Tori Amos, Paul Simon and the Cranberries.

He has recorded nine albums, and his style has evolved from acoustic folk music and folk rock to freeform jamming. Some of his more recent work included a series of performances with the Carpe Diem String Quartet. In 2010, they released “Willy Porter Live at BoMA w/ Carpe Diem String Quartet.”

Porter released his latest album, “Cheeseburgers & Gasoline,” in 2012.

His songwriting is lyrically deep and adventurous. His music moves easily from guitar-driven rock to open-tuned acoustic gems. His live shows combine his guitar playing, songwriting and singing with improvisational skills as a storyteller, performance artist and comedian.

Lacuna Coil at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 19, Majestic Theatre, 115 King St., Madison. Tickets: $20-$22. Call 608-255-0901.

Lacuna Coil is a metal band from Milan, Italy, that has performed heavy Goth music since 1994. The band previously was known as Sleep of Right and, later, Ethereal.

Lacuna Coil’s music is mid-tempo and consists of prominent guitar lines and contrasting dual female/male vocal harmonies that create a melodic, detached sound. Much of the band’s recent material is heavier, with a higher mix of guitars and strong bass lines.

The band released the album “Dark Adrenaline” in 2012, which peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Lacuna Coil has released seven studio albums since 1999 and has sold more than 2 million records. Its most recent release, “Broken Crown Halo,” came out last year in North America. The album has been described as cinematic with a dark vision of a near future. The album was influenced by classic Italian horror movies and bands such as Goblin.

“Broken Crown Halo” is the last album to feature drummer Cristiano “Criz” Mozzati and guitarist Cristiano “Pizza” Migliore, who retired from the band in February. Current members are Cristina Scabbia, Andrea Ferro, Marco “Maus” Biazzi and Marco “Maki” Coti Zelati.

G. Love & Special Sauce at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 19, Potawatomi Bingo and Casino, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee. With Ethan Tucker. Tickets: $20-$25. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

G. Love & Special Sauce is an alternative hip-hop band from Philadelphia known for a “sloppy” and laid-back blues sound that encompasses classic R&B. The band features Garrett Dutton as G. Love, Jeffrey Clemens on drums and Jim Prescott on bass.

They formed in early 1993 when Dutton was performing at a Boston bar, where he met Clemens. Dutton and Clemens began working as a duo and were joined a few months later by Prescott. They became the house band at The Plough and Stars in Cambridge, Mass.

In 1994, G. Love & Special Sauce released their self-titled debut album on Okeh Records. On the strength of the single “Cold Beverage,” which was played heavily on MTV, the album nearly went gold.

The band released its second album, “Coast to Coast Motel,” in 1995. After touring, members considered breaking up in a dispute about money and took a yearlong hiatus.

By October 1997, Dutton and company had reconciled and released their third album, “Yeah, It’s That Easy,” which showcased their collaborations with several other musicians, including Dr. John.

Prescott left the group in 2009 but returned this year to help record the band’s eighth album, “Sugar,” set for release this month.

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