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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

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In Music

The Joker's Henchmen (here, Tom Young and Matt Krajewski), then ...

In Music

... and The Joker's Henchmen now.

Gig roundup: Joker's Henchmen join reunions craze


Get ready to party like it's 1986 on Friday, Dec. 18 when A Deerlick Christmas lands at Club Garibaldi on the corner of Russell and Superior in Bay View.

The venue -- which hosted the initial shows by the New Community collective of bands -- is the perfect venue because along with headliner The Mighty Deerlick, the now-reunited funky rock outfit The Joker's Henchmen were active members of New Community back in the late 1980s and very early '90s.

Also on the bill is Money Shot. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Led by singer and guitarist Tom Young and bassist Matt Krawjewski -- most recently known as the man behind New Harmony Indiana -- The Joker's Henchmen were -- along with the Squares -- an act formed in Kokomo, Ind., and transplanted to Milwaukee around 1985.

Here in Milwaukee they enlisted a series of drummers, including Tom Bartz, fellow Hoosier -- and Matt's cousin -- Jeff Krajewski, the Mickey Radd (aka Miguel Urbiztondo Rodriguez, now a session drummer living in Virginia) and Mike Koch, a veteran of many Milwaukee bands and currently playing with a reunited Plasticland, among others.

"It's going to be Tom, his brother Tim, Kraj (Jeff Krajewski) and me," says Matt Krajewski. "I'm kind of hoping some of the other former members show up and play, like Mike (Koch), but we'll see who does.

"I'd love it if (now New York-based keyboardist Bill) Dempsey and Miguel -- the artist formerly known as Mickey Radd -- showed up, but who knows. We're just as dysfunctional as ever so you can expect highs and lows in the show. We're opening, which I think is funny."

The Joker's Henchmen had to be experienced live to be fully appreciated. Young was a frenetic young Strummer-lookalike and bassist Krajewski a string popping Flea disciple that combined to create a sort of punky funk that was unlike any other band's sound.

Add in the duo's knack for showmanship -- or at least knack for lots of falling down and shirt removal -- and seeing the Henchmen was good fun. (Full disclosure: after his tenure with the Henchmen, Krajewski was, for a while, a bandmate of mine.)

The Mighty Deerlick was another band from the same scene, same era, and with a similar reputation for sometimes-ramshackle brilliance. Money shot is the latest band from veteran local musicians Brian Rooney and Jay French.

So, like the recent Blue in the Face and Blow Pops reunion gigs, you can expect the crowd to look something like a class reunion for local rockers. -- Bobby Tanzilo

Please make sure your safety goggles are secured properly to your head; The Lab Partners have arrived. A collaboration between Brandon Birchbauer (aka The LMNtlyst) and emcee Adam James (also known as Phantom Channel in Milwaukee's Rusty Ps), The Lab Partners are a fresh take on what they saw as a tired trend in hip hop. To escape the same-ol' sample-heavy rap format, James and Birchbauer branched out and experimented with live instrumentation.

After more than five months recording over 180 songs, The Lab Partners have crafted a genre-bending fusion of funk-based experimental hip-hop and are ready to share it with the rest of us. Join them for their record release party Saturday, Dec. 19 at The Mad Planet. The show features the Rusty Ps, Pezzettino, Chalice in the Palace and DJ Mad Hatter as opening acts; cover is $10 and includes a copy of The Lab Partners' self-titled CD. -- Julie Lawrence

And let's not forget...

Sister Hazel recently released its new disc, called, ahem, "Release" -- which made its Billboard debut at No. 37, the band's highest chart entry ever -- and its first single, "Take A Bow," emerged in July. You can hear all of it when the Florida band plays the Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Bingo Casino on Thursday, Dec. 17.


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