Madison calendar, December 13 through 19
A screening and panel discussion of “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World,” ascendant power-pop from Disq, a benefit for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon and Reid Kurkerewicz
Sponsor message: The weekly Tone Madison calendar is made possible with support from Union Cab of Madison, a worker-owned cooperative providing safe and professional taxi services.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 13
Drawing its title from Link Wray's iconic, swaggering instrumental hit, Catherine Bainbridge's 2017 documentary Rumble charts the contributions indigenous North Americans have made to the modern pop-music landscape. Bainbridge highlights the native heritage and musical influence of Wray and other artists—from protest singer Buffy Sainte-Marie to Delta blues pioneer Charley Patton to rapper Taboo to jazz singer Mildred Bailey. But just as importantly, Rumble also delves into the historical and political context of genocide and discrimination in the United States and Canada, right up to the conflicts that rage on at places like Standing Rock. Perhaps more than anything, the film's extensive archival footage and wide-ranging interviews (with figures including Taj Mahal, Martin Scorsese, Rhiannon Giddens, and Iggy Pop) confront us with the question of why so few of us already understood the indigenous role in shaping American rock, folk, and blues music, and exposes pop culture's complicity in the horrific erasure of whole peoples. Screening here as part of the PBS Independent Lens Pop-Up series, the film will be followed by a panel discussion. —Scott Gordon
Dulcé Sloan has spent a little over a year as a correspondent on The Daily Show, and her visits to Trevor Noah's desk have employed brutal zingers to direct viewers' attention to the bigger picture. In a segment about facial-recognition technology that doesn't pick up black people's faces, for instance, Sloan worked in a few good one-liners about racist robots, but then deftly steered toward the problem's roots in Silicon Valley's lack of diversity: "The first time robots see a black person, they malfunction like an Amish dude in Times Square." Sloan's stand-up gets into a bit of the same territory, sometimes alongside and sometimes in tandem with unvarnished bits about her personal life. In a bit about white people putting their hands in black women's hair, Sloan gets into the specific mechanics of how white women touch her hair: "She takes her whole hand, goes straight to the scalp, shake it back and forth, and then exits your afro with this jellyfish action..."—you know, a bunch of very small choices wrapped up in one big, stupid choice. It's layered, sharp-witted comedy that's been sculpted into something very relatable and very direct. —Scott Gordon
FRIDAY DECEMBER 14
DAIS Benefit: Ramona, The Flavor That Kills, Howler, Novagolde. The Workshop (2562 E. Johnson St.), 7 p.m.
Four local bands join up here to raise money for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, a nonprofit that runs Dane County's one shelter for domestic violence victims, and provides all manner of other crucial resources and advocacy in the fight against abuse. Eccentric psych-rock outfit Novagolde starts off this show at The Workshop, an east-side building that has served as a studio and rehearsal space for various local bands over the years. Next up is Howler, the latest project from longtime Madison musician, activist, and filmmaker Wendy Schneider, which released its self-titled debut EP this summer. Souped-up R&B band The Flavor That Kills, which released an album called Nevermind The Acorns earlier this year, follows, and Ramones cover outfit Ramona closes out the show. Those who can't attend, or can but want to help out even more, can purchase a limited-edition event poster created by artist Samuel Johnson. —Scott Gordon
Chicago band Trio Mokili blend musical traditions from Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and other points abroad with American jazz styles. Their expertly crafted instrumentals feature drums, guitars, and stand-up bass weaving in and out of each other in introspective jams usually centered on a catchy theme, as captured on a set of demos recorded at Chicago's Electrical Audio a few years back. The band is a collaboration of three musicians with extensive backgrounds in jazz and various styles of music from around the world, and the three experts trade-off center stage throughout the songs. Nathaniel Braddock plays guitar, and has been a music lecturer for years, teaching classes on topics from Sufjan Stevens to popular African guitar styles. His performance work in jazz and contemporary African music has taken him across the world. Drummer Makaya McCraven describes himself as a "beat scientist," and is known for imbuing live jazz performances with hip-hop production techniques on his solo albums In The Moment (2015) and Highly Rare (2017), which also feature Trio Mokili bassist Junius Paul, another expert improviser. McCraven and Braddock also play together in Occidental Brothers Dance Band Int'l, which offers a more festive take on African music, namely soukous and highlife. —Reid Kurkerewicz
SATURDAY DECEMBER 15
During November and December, Tone Madison's contributors start really sweating about what we're going to put on our local year-end lists, thinking back on all the Madison music and cultural happenings we've taken in over the past 12 months and wondering how to do justice to it all. As we roll out our best-of-2018 coverage, we'll be hosting a free listening party on Saturday, December 15 from 5 to 9 p.m. at BarleyPop on Atwood Avenue.
We'll be preparing a big playlist of our favorite Madison music from 2018 and sharing some Tone Madison swag. Come by to enjoy drinks and snacks, talk with Tone Madison contributors, and learn more about becoming a Tone Madison Sustainer.
Oh, and in the meantime, tell us what you'd like to hear at the party. —Scott Gordon
Madison band Disq crafted eight tracks of charming psych-pop on its 2016 debut album Disq I, and co-founders Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock make this an easy band to root for. Still just shy of 20, they've got an enviable knack for making sugary melodies cut through a variety of textures, from the fuzzy blast of "The CIA" to the organ-enhanced boogie of "Overloaded." All that promise really snaps into focus on "Communication," a new track that dropped with a video in November and will get a physical release in November as part of Saddle Creek single series. The song begins with a warbly guitar hook that would have been at home on Disq I, but Bock's warm, driving bass and the widescreen clarity of the production signal that Disq is pushing to write and arrange power-pop songs with real depth. On the chorus, the band engineers a dynamic burst, as deBroux-Slone sings, "And again communication / Takes me farther away / And the blame falls in between perception," words that mesh well with the song's bittersweet euphoria. They share the bill here with two other very good Madison rock bands, Dash Hounds and Hex House. —Scott Gordon
Montreal-based DJ and producer Patrick Holland, who performs as Project Pablo, has a knack for riding restrained grooves into a deep headspace, creating DJ sets that marry an insistent house-music pulse with traces of the music's atmospheric possibilities. Holland's original productions, like "Closer,” from 2016's Beaubien Dream EP, and "Tunstall," from this year's full-length Come To Canada You Will Like It, explore the same realm, one that's equally inviting for people who want to dance and people who just want to drift away in relaxed bliss. Holland is also donating proceeds from Bandcamp sales of Come To Canada to Coast Protectors, a movement of indigenous peoples fighting back against oil pipeline projects in Canada. Joining Project Pablo at this installment of Robinia Courtyard's Jams series is Rouse, a San Francisco DJ whose sets weave together everything from far-flung ambient passages to driving techno and ambient elements. Madisonians Nathan Port, Evan Woodward, and Erik Kramer round out this DJ night with their own eclectic selections. —Scott Gordon
SUNDAY DECEMBER 16
Drummer Dave King, of Minneapolis outfit The Bad Plus, embodies a lot of the innovation and mischievous, but still implacably curious, spirit that has enabled jazz to keep on developing as an essential art form in the 21st century. Amid his many collaborations, the group officially known as the Dave King Trio comprises King, bassist Billy Peterson, and pianist Matt Mitchell. Together they explore a repertoire built around jazz standards, and at this concert—taking place at a beautiful east-side church and organized by the jazz booking team at Arts + Literature Laboratory—one can expect an expansive performance that mines the material for both conversational melody and abstract searching. Opening up here is Madison instrumental outfit Major Vistas, whose debut album, 2016's Minor Anthems, threaded the improvisational possibilities of jazz through pieces that also explored the influence of electronic music and post-rock. It's elegant but unpretentious and moving music that should make for a good pairing with the headlining act. —Scott Gordon