Music roundup for May 8-14, 2014

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Kareesa Wilson, Special to The Gazette
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nickel Creek at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $35-$45. Call 414-286-3663.

Nickel Creek, the bluegrass band for hipsters, is back. A breakout sensation in the early 2000s, Nickel Creek’s young musicians brought ’grass and folk to a new generation before abruptly disbanding.

The trio started in California 25 years ago and quietly released its 1993 debut album, “Little Cowpoke,” and 1997’s “Here to There.”

A chance meeting with bluegrass artist Alison Krauss was a game changer. Krauss produced Nickel Creek’s third self-titled album, which won a Grammy Award nomination and went platinum and beyond. The group never looked back. Three more albums and a Grammy followed before the band took an extended hiatus seven years ago.

After years of pursuing solo careers, Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins announced a new album and tour starting this year. Though each stood strong as a solo artist, there’s no question that united they form a powerhouse of bluegrass enticing enough to convert even the hardest rock n’ roll heart.

The Milk Carton Kids at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Stoughton Opera House, 381 E. Main St., Stoughton. Tickets: $25. Call 608-877-4400.

If the Milk Carton Kids are missing on your radar, it’s time to tune in. This indie folk outfit’s sound is infectious and mesmerizing.

The California duo of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan started working together just three years ago and released their debut album, “Prologue,” to critical acclaim. Their popularity grew rapidly thanks to social media and extensive touring.

The Kids won a Grammy nod for their sophomore album, last year’s “The Ash and Clay.”

Their raw, tight vocals channel early Simon and Garfunkel, backed by acoustic guitar. It’s old-school folk for purists and fresh, uncluttered music for a hectic, rushed world.

Big Top Chautauqua: Tent Show Radio Live at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Capitol Theater, Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison. Tickets: $25-$35. Call 608-258-4141.

Wisconsin’s answer to “A Prairie Home Companion” is Big Top Chautauqua.

Living up to its moniker, Big Top Chautauqua is a show of shows. Year after year, the Bayfield-based production brings together eclectic combinations of musicians, poets and talent on an ever-revolving schedule. It could be called an extravaganza, but that would sully this show’s class.

Chautauqua was founded in the late 1800s as an American adult education movement—a way of bringing lectures, music, politics and art to rural communities. Touring companies traveled the country pitching tents in town after town. Big Top Chautauqua adopted its name in an attempt to revive the nearly extinct concept.

The show’s host this year is best-selling author and Wisconsin native Michael Perry. He’s joined by the Blue Canvas Orchestra, with featured artists Blessed Feather and Madison violinist Ida Jo.

The Dan Band Live at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 10, Majestic Theatre, 115 King St., Madison. Tickets: $20. Call 608-255-0901.

If you take big-hair rock anthems seriously, you won’t like the Dan Band.

Led by actor and funnyman Dan Finnerty, this irreverent band of comedians holds nothing sacred—especially ’80s power ballads and pop songs by leading female artists. The band’s covers of such standards as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Milkshake” are laced with swear words and ad-lib jibes that leave audiences laughing, crying and begging for more.

Finnerty has appeared in many movies. His roles in films such as “Old School,” where he sang “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” led him to form the Dan Band Live.

The band has released two albums and has filmed a live show for Bravo network. Entertainment Weekly called the Dan Band Live “the hottest ticket in town.”

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