By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 23, 2012 at 2:11 PM

What a night for music it was Saturday night at Shank Hall.

Back in the day they were called the Milwaukee Mafia. Victor DeLorenzo, Sam Llanas and John Sieger.

Today they are all older, smarter, better than they ever were and able to bring a crowd to its collective feet in admiration.

And what a thrill it was to see Llanas back onstage and, I think, better than he ever was.

The evening started with 1913, the two percussionists one cello group that can raise goosebumps. Their final song, a mysterious version of Ravel's "Bolero" was one of the best versions of the song I have ever heard. Unusual and excellent.

Then John Sieger and Semi-Twang took over, playing stuff from their current album, "Wages of Sin," and other Sieger songs that grab you by the neck, shake you from head to toe and leave you with a smile on your face and trouble breathing.

Finally it was Llanas' turn, with his sparse new band. I was never a huge BoDeans fan, mainly because I wasn't a huge fan of the songs. I thought they were immature and sometimes reached too hard for popular hooks.

But this new Llanas is wonderful. His hair is grey and even disappearing a little on top. But he can command a stage like few singers I've ever seen in Milwaukee. His voice has lost none of his trademark rasp. If anything he's even more in control of the stuff he sings.

He's out on the road promoting his solo album, 4 a.m. (The Way Home). The record features Llanas songs plus an incredible cover of the Cyndi Lauper hit, "Nobody Loves Me."

If anybody ever asks you if there is great music in Milwaukee, send them to see the Milwaukee Mafia in action.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.