By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 12, 2009 at 5:23 AM

Who knows? Maybe they've all got too much other stuff to do. Maybe they don't get along that well. Maybe they just understand the laws of supply and demand.

Whatever the reason, Milwaukee's landmark proto-alt.country rockers E*I*E*I*O play only very infrequent gigs.

Once such gig takes place Friday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. at Shank Hall with The Carolinas, another on-again / off-again country rock band with deep roots in Brew City. Admission is $10.

In the mid-1980s E*I*E*I*O was a Milwaukee band to watch. The group had inked a deal with a national label and had some choice slots, like opening for The Clash at the Auditorium. That's because E*I*E*I*O's snappy rock and roll was catchy and laced with country twang.

It was a sound that put them in league with the likes of Rank & File -- featuring a young Alejandro Escovedo -- at the birth of what would come to be called alt. country.

"It still amazes me we all found each other and are still doing it today," guitarist Mike Hoffmann told me when the group released its self-titled third album in 2007.

"E*I*E*I*O wont go away, fans and the music industry have seen to that."

After two records in the '80s, E*I*E*I*O imploded, but its members stayed in touch. And in 2000 they started work on a long-awaited "reunion" disc.

"We started in 2000 and finished in 2006 (and) within that time period we figured we had 40 days of production," said Hoffmann.

"The CD is a mix of new and old. The old songs we loved and mined for this were ones that weren't selected for our landmark debut album 'Land of Opportunity,' as a result we toured based on the album material and left a great body of work behind, until now. Reconnecting with these songs was journey that gave me an epiphany ... we are what we were, only better."

Some other gigs coming soon include:

I won't call Rodrigo (Sanchez) y Gabriela (Quintero) flamenco, because they made it plain that they don't play flamenco. But from a latin-y version of "Stairway to Heaven" to dazzling acoustic guitar displays, it sure sounds kinda flamenco-y to these untrained ears.

Call it what you want, but go check out this amazing guitar duo when it returns to Milwaukee for a gig at The Pabst on Wednesday, Oct. 14. The show is part of the tour in support of the sophomore disc, "11:11," released last month.

That night Shank Hall has a sweet pop show on the books featuring The Postmarks and Brookville, at 8 p.m.

Fantastic whistler Andrew Bird alights at The Pabst for two nights on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16-17. The first night he performs with his band and Dosh opens.

On Saturday, Bird plays a solo show and St. Vincent opens. Later in the week, St. Vincent appears on "Austin City Limits," you know.

Former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty -- who now boasts a successful solo career -- comes to town with Porter Block for a show at Shank Hall on Saturday, Oct. 17.

Doughty's latest, "Sad Man Happy Man," is a stripped down affair that stands in contrast to Doughty's second solo disc, "Golden Delicious," which was a sugary pop affair.

Equally interesting will be seeing Porter Block, whose disc, "The Gowanus Yacht Club," is itself a satisfying helping of catchy, singer/songwriter rock and roll.

The same night, you could also choose to head over to The Rave to see Boys Like Girls and The Maine. The former is still hyping its latest disc, "Love Drunk," while The Maine will certainly feature tunes from its debut, "Can't Stop Won't Stop," a deluxe version of which was launched digitally in July.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.