Hookers & Blow, 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, The Back Bar, 1901 Beloit Ave., Janesville. Show also features Don Jamieson, The Rumours, Mixed Company and The Red Flags. Tickets: $20-$35. Visit https://the-back-bar.myshopify.com.
Hookers & Blow has been an ongoing side band since 2004, and its members are a veritable “who’s who” of rock: keyboardist and frontman Dizzy Reed from Guns N’ Roses, guitarist Alex Grossi of Quiet Riot, bassist Chip Z’nuff of Enuff Z’Nuff, bassist Todd Kerns from Slash and drummer Johnny Kelly from the gothic metal band Type O Negative.
Aside from lead singer Axl Rose, Reed is the longest-standing member of Guns N’ Roses, which he joined in 1990. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 as a member of Guns N’ Roses, and he also was a member of the Australian-American supergroup The Dead Daisies.
Grossi, guitarist of the heavy metal band Quiet Riot, joined that band in 2004 (the same year he joined Hookers & Blow) and remained a member until it disbanded four years later. Z’nuff was a founding member of Enuff Z’Nuff in 1984 and remains in that band today. The group has recorded 13 studio albums and has appeared on MTV, Howard Stern and David Letterman.
Along with holding down the bass in Hookers & Blow, Kerns is currently bass guitarist and back up vocalist in the band Slash, featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.
Rock ’n’ roll comedian Don Jamieson will open for the band. He appears on VH1 and is a co-host on “That Metal Show” with Eddie Trunk and Jim Florentine.
ZZ Ward, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, Majestic Theatre, 115 King St., Madison. Tickets: $22.50-$25. Call 608-255-0901.
ZZ Ward’s music is rooted in the blues with a strong influence from hip-hop and rap. With a powerful voice and dynamic stage presence, the 31-year-old seems intent on redefining the blues for a new generation by blending traditional sounds with modern-day beats and rhythms.
Ward has an inspiring story of her own. Growing up in Roseburg, Oregon, she was influenced by her dad’s blues records and the hip-hop music her older brother listened to. She taught herself to play a few songs on a Hammond B3 organ as a child and, at age 12, began singing in her father’s blues band in bars near her home.
By the time she was 16, Ward was regularly driving more than an hour to Eugene, Oregon—the closest hip-hop scene to her home. She made her way into the culture and performed regularly for about five years.
Ward gradually became aware that, in order to move ahead as a performer, she needed to be surrounded by a bigger scene, so she moved to Los Angeles. She played on the street, sold demos from the back of her Dodge Ram pickup and developed a performing style marked by powerful vocals and driving guitar work.
She released her first album, “Till the Casket Drops,” in 2012 and her second, “The Storm,” last June. The second album reached No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart and No. 12 on Billboard’s Rock Albums chart.
Yonder Mountain String Band, 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave., Madison. The Southern Belles also perform. Tickets: $27.50-$30. Call 608-241-8633.
Yonder Mountain String Band combines progressive bluegrass music with a jam band approach that caught fire a few years after the band formed in 1998. The band has recorded six studio albums and released a total of 12.
Founding members Dave Johnston and Jeff Austin met in the mid-1990s when both were living in Urbana, Illinois. Johnston had asked Austin to join his band despite the latter having no performing experience.
After that band broke up, Johnston and Austin separately moved to Colorado. They reunited in Nederland, where they formed Yonder Mountain String Band with bassist Ben Kaufman and guitarist Adam Aijala in December 1998. They released their debut album in fall of ’99 and began performing nationally on the summer festival circuit. By 2002, Yonder Mountain had become so popular it was being booked in large venues such as The Fillmore in San Francisco.
The band allowed fans to tape and distribute shows, and its popularity grew quickly.
In 2013, fiddler Allie Kral began touring with the band and formally joined in 2015. Jake Joliff joined the band in 2015 when he replaced Austin on mandolin. With Austin’s departure, Kauffman has emerged as the band’s chief singer and songwriter, while Johnston is its lead instrumentalist on banjo.
The band released its latest album, “Love. Ain’t Love,” last June. The collection of tracks blends strongly-themed lyrics with high-quality picking. Yonder Mountain continues to impress listeners and show the bluegrass world why it is one of the top acts in the genre today.
Cristela Alonzo, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Feb. 2-3, The Comedy Club on State Street, 202 State St., Madison. Tickets: $18-$20. Call 608-356-0099.
Comedian Cristela Alonzo first performed stand-up in 2003, and today she’s recognized as the first Latina woman to create, produce, write and star in her own U.S. network show, the ABC sitcom “Cristela.”
Alonzo was born in San Juan, Texas, the youngest of four children whose mother worked double shifts at a Mexican restaurant for about 20 years. Alonzo never met her Mexican father, and for the first eight years of her life, the family squatted in an abandoned diner.
In 2003, a year after her mother died, Alonzo got a job as an office manager at the Addison Improv in Dallas and started doing stand-up as a way to process her grief and talk about her mom and her family. She was part of the small comedy scene in Dallas, so she eventually moved to Los Angeles to become a professional.
Alonzo spent two years traveling on a bus with other comics and later spent a lot of time on the road doing college comedy shows, where she found success. She did a 30-minute segment on Comedy Central in 2013, and she has appeared on “Conan,” “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Last Comic Standing,” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Alonzo is known for a trademark, raucous laugh and is an observational comic who reflects on stories in her own life. She says her biggest influences came from her childhood, when she watched “The Cosby Show” and Roseanne Barr.