Robert Cray

Robert Cray, 8 p.m. Thursday, March 8, Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., Madison. Tickets: $35-$60. Call 608-241-8633.

Blues-rock guitarist and vocalist Robert Cray will put his soulful side on display when he releases his new album, “Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm,” in April.

The album—Cray’s 22nd—features a backing band of drummer and Grammy-winning producer Steve Jordan and the legendary Hi Rhythm section: Charles Hodges (organ, piano), Leroy Hodges (bass) and Archie “Hubbie” Turner (keyboards). The section backed soul singer Al Green and a host of other blues and soul artists recording for Hi Records in the 1970s.

Cray traveled to Memphis last year with Jordan to make a classic soul album with the band that helped create that sound.

He formed the Robert Cray Band in the late 1970s while living in Eugene, Oregon. He was influenced by the pop, rock, blues, jazz and soul that he heard during his youth, all of which contribute to his contemporary sound.

After several years of regional success, Cray landed a recording contract in 1982. Before long, he had released two moderately successful albums, “Bad Influence” and “False Accusations.” His fourth album, “Strong Persuader,” released in 1986 and was a huge success, attracting blues and rock audiences and earning Cray the first of four Grammy Awards.

By the late ‘80s, he was touring and recording with the biggest names in rock and blues, including Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and the Rolling Stones. He performed with Clapton, Guy, Jimmie Vaughn and Stevie Ray Vaughn at Alpine Valley Music Theater near East Troy in August 1990 during Stevie Ray’s last performance. (Vaughn was killed after the show when the helicopter he was riding in crashed outside Elkhorn.)

Cray was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011 and received the Americana Music Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance last year. He won Grammy Awards in 1986, ’87, ’88 and ’99.

Theory of a Deadman, 8 p.m. Thursday, March 8, The Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $25-$30. Call 414-342-7283.

The Canadian rock band Theory of a Deadman is known for an eclectic sound that mixes post-grunge and alternative rock with country and acoustic music. The band formed in 2001 and has released six albums. Its latest, “Wake Up Call,” came out last year and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart and at No. 24 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

Fronted by Tyler Connolly on lead guitar and vocals, Theory of a Deadman also features Dave Brenner on rhythm/lead guitars and backing vocals and Dean Black on bass and backing vocals. The three have been with the band since its founding. Drummer Joey Dandeneau joined the band in 2009.

With the release of “Wake Up Call,” the band decided to undergo a name change, shortening it to Theory. Group members explained that discussions involving the band name with people who are unfamiliar with their music was challenging, leading to the decision to shorten the name.

Gaelic Storm, 6 p.m. Sunday, March 11, Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., Madison. Tickets: $23. Call 608-241-8633.

The Celtic rock band Gaelic Storm offers fans a rollicking good time with elements of traditional Irish and Scottish music mixed with high-energy rock.

The band was founded in 1996 in Santa Monica, California, and it has released 13 albums. Its latest, “Go Climb a Tree,” came out last summer.

Gaelic Storm’s rise to fame reads a bit like a Hollywood film. Founding members Patrick Murphy, Steve Twigger and Steve Wehmeyer all had day jobs back in 1996, but they also had landed a regular Sunday night gig at an Irish pub in Santa Monica. Their reputation grew locally along with their tenure at the bar.

One night, the music director for the 1997 Hollywood blockbuster “Titanic” strolled in. He had been searching for a band to perform the music for the film but couldn’t find the right sound. He heard Gaelic Storm’s driving rhythm and spirited Celtic music and knew he’d found what he was looking for.

Initially, the band was expected to record the music and actors would play the part in the film. But band soon found itself in the film as the steerage band below deck.

The band has released 13 albums of traditional Irish and Scottish music—all fueled by a strong dose of Celtic rock—and performs an average of 125 shows per year throughout the world.

Colin Quinn, 8 p.m. Friday, March 2, Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $35. Call 414-286-3663.

Comedian Colin Quinn is probably best known for his appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” where he anchored the “Weekend Update” segment of the show. Quinn was hired as a writer and featured player in 1996 and became a full cast member during the 1997-98 season.

Quinn established himself on SNL with recurring characters and segments such as “Lenny the Lion,” “Joe Blow,” “Colin Quinn Explains The New York Times,” and “Weekend Update.”

Comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Dave Attell cite him as the quintessential NYC comedian, and Quinn has become known for his comedic one-man shows that offer his takes on history and growing up in New York City.

As of 2015, Quinn has written and starred in five shows: “Irish Wake,” “My Two Cents,” “Long Story Short,” “Unconstitutional” and “The New York Story,” two of which he collaborated with Seinfeld as director.

Quinn has appeared in more than a dozen films and is listed at No. 56 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time.

—Bill Livick

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