Kristin Hersh

This prolific American singer-songwriter and post-punk pioneer is the founder, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of Throwing Muses. From that launching pad, Hersh performs and records as a solo artist and with her hardcore punk influenced power trio 50 Foot Wave, as well as with the Muses. Known for creative chord chemistry, hypnotic sonic treatments, and a vocal style ranging from softly melodic singing to impassioned screaming, her signature contributions to popular music include addressing the complexities of marriage and motherhood through impressionistic, sometimes hallucinatory lyrics about everyday feelings and varying mental states. Last year, Penguin Books released her memoir "Rat Girl" to critical acclaim. Hersh brought her companion performance piece "Paradoxical Undressing" to sold out houses at The Getty (LA), Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle) the Museum Of Fine Arts (Boston) and more.

Mark Waldoch (of The Celebrated Workingman)

Me, I don’t know people.

But I know people who know people.

And no one I’ve talked to who’s involved in the Milwaukee music scene has a bad word to say about Mark Waldoch. They all have the same words -- gracious, totally genuine, phenomenally talented, true to his own muse, all the right kinds of crazy. You hear those qualities in the music, too. Whether he’s playing a solo gig at the back of the Cactus Club or rocking a memorable Milwaukee Boat Line set with the Celebrated Workingman last summer, Waldoch radiates conviction, the honest joy of out-and-out performance which so many lesser artists can only try their hardest to fake. In the three years since the Celebrated Workingman’s “Herald the Dickens,” Milwaukee’s sound has evolved from a numbing alt-country uniformity into something bluesier, classic-rockier, punkier. These trends passed Waldoch right by. He remains a genre unto himself, the patron saint of Milwaukee indie rock at its most flamboyantly heartfelt and idiosyncratic.

In other words, no one ever will accuse Waldoch of subtlety, or restraint. On stage and on record, his dial is locked at 11, and the difference between “Herald the Dickens” and September’s “Content Content” is that the Celebrated Workingman, as a whole band, are cranked all the way up too. They sound fuller, warmer, like someone rolled back the garage door during practice so the music could breathe, expand, reverberate.

And if any singer can fill up a bigger musical canvass, it’s Waldoch. The way he belts “Impossible Interiors” makes the whole song sound like one epic power pop chorus, each sustained syllable acting as its own bridge to the next frenzied cry for a happy, beautiful, fulfilling life -- to be “content,” accent on the second syllable (at least that’s how I read the album title). We’re so inundated with hip detachment and above-it-all cool that listening to Celebrated Workingman can feel a bit embarrassing at first. This band has no filter. So much passion, so much enthusiasm, so little concern for moderating Waldoch’s operatic vocals or the clamoring guitars.

At first blush, I thought “Content Content” was some sort of a breakup album, and I still do, kind of. Loves comes together and falls apart over the course of the record, breaking Waldoch’s heart on “Hung to Dry” and inspiring lovely, longing sighs on piano ballad “A Lover’s Waltz.” But even when Waldoch senses an affair’s impending doom on “Falling Piano” or turns “If love is still the answer, honey can you please repeat the question” into a whirling Van Morrison trance on “Some Mistakes are Worth Repeating,” he sounds too elated to let bitterness or disappointment touch him, like putting himself totally on the line and roaring songs that others would meekly whisper grants him invincibility. Being that out there, that present in every moment, frees Waldoch to enjoy the messy bits that bog the rest of us down, like the way “Celebrate Alone” tumbles around a lover’s quarrel, jumbling up the tears and the apologies and the hollow vindication you get from being right, whatever that means.

Even the painful bits of “Content Content” are triumphs of courageous living and forgiveness, the thrill of feeling your heart keep time to all life’s ups and downs and lead you towards whatever comes next.

$16 adv - $18 dos

Tickets Available At The Door

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Kristin Hersh with Mark Waldoch (of The Celebrated Workingman)

Saturday, May 18 · 7:00 PM at High Noon Saloon