180215LANG

Jonny Lang

Ani DiFranco, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, Capitol Theater, Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison. Tickets: $39.50-$65. Call 608-258-4141.

Singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco released her 19th studio album last year, “Binary,” which features 11 original songs and performances from a host of guest musicians.

DiFranco is credited with pioneering the do-it-yourself ethic of the 1990s music scene. She formed her own record label, Righteous Babe Records, in 1990, and even when her albums started charting in the Top 100, she turned down offers to sign to a major label. DiFranco produced her first album, which she sold from the trunk of her car while touring college campuses.

DiFranco started playing acoustic guitar and singing before she was 10 years old. By 15, she was living on her own and writing songs. She has released more than 20 albums and is recognized as a leading voice for feminism and independent thought in American music, and she was proudly feminist and openly bisexual at a time when most artists kept their sexual orientations private.

DiFranco is also known for her politically charged lyrics and social activism. Her folk-rock music has elements of punk, funk and hip-hop, and she is known for her high-energy percussive guitar style.

Through the Righteous Babe Foundation, DiFranco has backed grassroots cultural and political organizations, supporting causes ranging from abortion rights to gay visibility.

The Irish Rovers, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, The Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. For tickets, call 414-286-3663.

The Irish Rovers were formed in 1963 in Canada and Ireland. The group consists of four members from each country, and it continues to perform despite numerous personnel changes over the decades.

The group gained acclaim for its popularization of Irish music in North America and its hit single and album, “The Unicorn,” released in 1968. The Rovers have released 45 albums over the course of their career, including eight albums since 2010. The group’s most recent album is “The Unicorn, The Continuing Story,” released last year.

The group was particularly popular in the 1970s. In ’71, the Rovers were offered their own CBC-produced television series, “The Irish Rovers Show,” which ran for seven years and included such guests as The Clancy Brothers, Johnny Cash, Glenn Campbell and Anne Murray.

Jonny Lang, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 4, Capitol Theater, Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St., Madison. For tickets, call 608-258-4141.

A singer, songwriter and electric guitar master, Jonny Lang made a name for himself at age 16 with his first major-label album, “Lie to Me,” released in 1997.

The next year, Lang recorded the album “Wander This World” and earned a Grammy nomination. He has released four albums since that impressive beginning and received a Grammy Award for his 2006 album, “Turn Around,” which included songs about Lang’s conversion to Christianity.

Lang’s albums “Live at the Ryman” and “Fight for My Soul” each peaked near the top of the Billboard Blues chart—the former at No. 2 in 2009 and the latter at No. 1 in 2013.

Lang released his latest album, “Signs,” last September. It made the Billboard 200 chart and was chosen by AllMusic.com as one of the best blues albums of 2017.

Lang has toured with some of rock and blues music’s biggest icons, including the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Aerosmith and Sting, and he performed at the White House for President Bill Clinton. Lang also has been part of the Experience Hendrix Tour, which features some of rock’s greatest guitarists for an annual concert series.

Lang began playing saxophone at age 11 and picked up the guitar at 13, shortly after his father, a former drummer, took him to see a local band. Lang began taking lessons from the band’s guitarist and within months was fronting the group as Kid Jonny Lang. He has gone on to become one of rock’s most acclaimed soloists on electric guitar, and his live performances are notable for his high energy and ability to connect with his audiences.

Lang said he’s always been a dynamic performer.

“I’ve always been basically like that on stage, but there definitely have been elements that it’s taken years to get better at,” he said. “There’s a lot of years behind those performances, but I don’t really think about it. It’s just fun, you know. You learn as you go, and all of your learning experiences come out the next time you play.”

Anthony Jeselnik, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., Madison. Tickets: $37. Call 608-241-8633, and 8 p.m. Thursday, March 1, The Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $29.50. Call 414-286-3663.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik has enjoyed major success after establishing his penchant for dark humor and an arrogant stage persona.

The writer and actor premiered on “Comedy Central Presents” in 2009, the same year he was hired as a writer for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” At the same time, Jeselnik was performing regularly at the Comedy Cellar in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

After a frustrating year writing for the Fallon show, Jeselnik began writing jokes for Comedy Central roasts and eventually went on to perform at them. He performed in “The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen” in 2011 and “The Comedy Central Roast of Roseann Barr” in 2012.

In 2013, Jeselnik hosted his own Comedy Central series, “The Jeselnik Offensive,” in which he specialized at offensive humor such as biting insults, arrogance and taking amoral positions on controversial subjects. The show ran for two seasons.

—Bill Livick

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