In the past year, Milwaukee neo-soul band Kings Go Forth has really been living up to its name, nabbing awards at home and gaining notice beyond Wisconsin's borders, earning label interest and garnering spots on compilations in Italy and Japan.
Now, as the band prepares to release of its self-titled full-length LP, it celebrates with an 8 p.m. show at Turner Hall Ballroom on Friday, July 24. DJs Tom Noble and Opiated Black will spin and Frankie Latina will project films. Chicago's JL Brooks & the Uptown Sound opens the show. Cover is $10.
Anyone who hears the Kings' gritty classic soul and pre-funk funk -- layered with singer Dan Fernandez's Curtis Mayfield-like voice -- can't resist it. It's pure dance music and the group has some fellow travelers in the likes of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.
"It's heartening to be talked about in the same circles as accomplished performers like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings -- we were amped when our first show was an opening slot for that very group," Fernandez told me earlier this year.
"There are a lot of great soul and funk groups out there. But we think we bring something unique to the table, not only because of our three lead singers, but also because we're not confined to any specific type of music. We just want to keep writing good songs, whatever genre works for us. Notwithstanding our recordings thus far, we've also played reggae, rock steady, ska and rock in addition to the soul stuff."
Just don't call the Kings dabblers or bandwagon jumpers. Anyone who knows these guys know that this is the music they've been passionate about for years.
"Mainstream tastes will change at some point and so we try not to worry too much about trends," said Fernandez. "Our thinking is that good music, especially music with harmonies, will always find some sort of audience. It may not always be the biggest or most popular thing out there, but there will be people who enjoy it."
Some other gigs on tap this week include:
Lyle Lovett & His Large Band plays at the Riverside on Tuesday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. It'll run you $45 to hear one of the best voices in American music.
The same night you can see The Walkmen at Turner Hall. Of special interest is opener Cass McCombs, because not only is he touring in support of his new Domino Records disc, "Catacombs," but McCombs rarely tours, so it might be one of your only chances to see him in person.
Twenty-three-year-old blues guitar veteran -- she is that by now certainly -- Shannon Curfman returns to Shank Hall on Thursday, July 23 for an 8 p.m. show that costs $15.
The following night you can catch one of America's best bar bands and unsung heroes of the alt.country movement, The Bottle Rockets, at Shank at the same time and for the same price. The Rockets -- fronted by Uncle Tupelo collaborator Brian Henneman -- have a new disc, "Lean Forward," due out Aug. 11 on Bloodshot.
Austin's Dirty Old One-Man Band, aka Scott H. Biram, recently released his third disc on Bloodshot - "Something's Wrong / Lost Forever" - and he hits the road in support of it. Catch him on Friday at Linneman's Riverwest Inn.
On Friday, Sick Puppies, Hurt, The Veer Union and Tunnels to Holland play a 7 p.m., all-ages show at The Rave. The Puppies' latest -- "Tri-Polar" -- came out last week.
The Rave has two shows on Saturday, July 25. The first, a metal gig headlined by Assault by Audio -- whose latest disc is "The Art of Self Destruction" -- starts at 7 and also includes performances by Lost In A Name, Chester, Prolapse, No Luck For Mona and Hole World Wide.
The second show, which starts at 6, has Tadashi, Hail Archer, Two Star and Berea warming things up for Dr. Manhattan.
Finally, over at Turner again, Tortured Soul -- a soul and funk outfit in the style of Brand New Heavies and Jamiroquai - joins Milwaukee's own Codebreaker for an 8 p.m. gig. Cover is $14.
Still on Saturday, but this time at Club Timbuktu in Riverwest, Haitian musicians Jan Sebon performs with his group Kazak International at 8:30 p.m. Before Sebon brings his political mix of traditional Haitian music, bossa nova and jazz to the stage, his daughter Inez Barlatier will perform her modern soul and pop a la India.Arie and Tracy Chapman.
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.