While some people know Ryan Matteson as the publicity pointman for the The Pabst/Riverside/Turner Hall triumvirate of venues, Matteson is more widely famous for his respected Muzzle of Bees music blog.
Writing about the latest music of all stripes, Muzzle of Bees -- named after a Wilco song -- is a one-stop shop for great interviews, videos, podcasts, mp3s and commentary. And, it celebrates its fifth anniversary with a gig at Madison's High Noon Saloon and one here at the Cactus Club on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m.
"I started the blog in January 2005 as a way for my parents to keep track of my best friend and I as we backpacked across Europe," recalls Matteson. "I knew absolutely nothing about Web sites or blogging, but thought it would be a nice journal to look back on.
"When I got back from Europe I started using the site as a place to post the concerts I was attending and bands that I was listening to, replacing the e-mails that I was already sending out to about a dozen of my friends. After a couple months I noticed that people other than my friends were reading and commenting.
"From there it became a fun daily ritual to write about the music and concerts that I love. It really hasn't changed much outside of that basic principle. I write about and review the music that moves me. I'm always amazed and thankful that I have even my friends and family reading it let alone strangers."
The six-band bill is packed, unsurprisingly, by bands that Matteson is enthusiastic about.
Topping the bill is The Daredevil Christopher Wright, last seen in Milwaukee opening for Bon Iver at the Riverside in October. Champaign, Ill.-based Common Loon will likely play songs from its Parasol Records debut, "The Long Dream of Birds," due out soon.
"They played the Cactus Club during Radio Summer Camp and were a huge hit playing before the Rural Alberta Advantage," says Matteson, before seguing into the next act.
"Conrad Plymouth is probably my favorite band in Milwaukee right now. It's the band of Christopher Porterfield. I know (and) expect his draw to only go up in the coming months. His song 'Fergus Falls' is one of my most-played songs last year.
Matteson is also especially fond of Strand of Oaks and White Pines, who -- with The Small Cities -- round out the night.
"Strand of Oaks was a guy/band I discovered at the beginning of 2009. He released a gorgeous album called 'Leave Ruin.' His backstory is a moving one that is laid out of the course of his magnificent album. White Pines is a new favorite of mine that I discovered through Strand of Oaks. This is the creative alter-ego of the same guy that plays in Cotton Jones.
"I'm very excited about this and tickets are selling well," says Matteson. "Should be a great night." We agree.
Advance Tickets can be purchased here. -- Bobby Tanzilo
What better way to warm up for Mardi Gras than partying with Buckwheat Zydeco, Dr. John and the Neville Brothers on back-to-back nights at the Northern Lights Theater inside Potowatomi Casino? Buckwheat Zydeco, a Summerfest staple, takes the stage tonight. Dr. John and the Neville Brothers take over on Tuesday. Check out paysbig.com and laissez les bon temps rouler! --Drew Olson
Milwaukeeans love their St. Vincent. The first time she came around (as a relatively unknown artist) she opened for indie rock darlings The National and made true believers out of her audience. Her time spent playing with the Polyphonic Spree and her associations with Sufjan Stevens probably didn't hurt. The one-woman prog rock wonder is back Wednesday, Feb. 17 with a new-ish album, "Actor," and this time she's headlining. Wildbirds and Peacedrums open the Turner Hall Ballroom show. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15, $13 in advance. -- Julie Lawrence
Cracker has not been on tour since the day David Lowery and Johnny Hickman formed the group in 1991.
It just seems that way.
Lowery and Hickman, whose 2009 album "Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey" earned critical raves and steady sales, will play an acoustic show Wednesday night at Shank Hall. Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $20. --D.O.
Phish originally intended to call it quits back in 2003, but that by no means meant lead man Trey Anastasio was going to take it easy. Recording solo albums, touring with several new bands and reviving Phish for a few tours in the last seven years, Anastasio is far from finished. Releasing "Time Turns Elastic," his last the studio album in 2009, Anastasio preps for the release of "Original Boardwalk Style," a live album to benefit the Seven Below Arts Initiative this June. Currently on tour, he comes to Milwaukee with Classic Tab, last fall's familiar ensemble featuring sax, horns, piano and drums. Thursday’s stop at the Pabst Theater is part of a short, 16 city February "Classic Tab Tour." Tickets are $39.50, show starts at 8 p.m.—Maureen Post