Groundbreaking Canadian chanteuse K.D. Lang has always been ahead of her time. During the late '80s, while country music was busy trying on rock 'n' roll britches, K.D. moseyed in with a voice as pure as a Mountie's heart, giving honky-tonk purity back to the airwaves while curing the cowgirl blues. Her striking stage presence and ability to lasso Patsy Cline’s poltergeist with her herculean larynx led to multiple Grammy awards, and her sound branched out into lush pop territories in hits such as “Constant Craving” and “Miss Chatelaine.” With the support of her first backing band in 23 years, Siss Boom Bang, K.D. yowls and purrs with grace and intensity through a live set of twangy barnburners and heart-tugging torch songs in support of her latest album, Sing it Loud. From comfy and wide lumbar-supported seats, fans savor the majesty and opulence of Overture Hall, where the exemplary acoustics allow K.D.’s unmistakable voice to reverberate like whale calls through the Grand Canyon.
In addition to helping support the Union, a completely self-supporting, non-profit organization, a community membership to the Wisconsin Union grants card-carriers access to grand opening events, hotel discounts, specialty classes, and more. During summer, the Terrace on the shores of Lake Mendota hosts live music five nights a week, and the Lakeside Cinema screens films on Monday nights. Throughout the year, members can take advantage of renting rooms for events, purchasing food from the Union’s 21 eateries, campus-wide WiFi access, and a connection to the heart, soul, and sweaty date-night palms of the University of Wisconsin student body.
Lizz Wright is a gospel-trained contralto, born in Georgia and now based in New York. As Stephen Holden of the New York Times articulates, "Her voice, luminous and smoky and perfectly pitched, is one of the most wondrous rhythm-and-blues instruments of our time." Lizz wrote the majority of her latest album, Orchard and, like her other releases, it's as smooth and mysterious as butter melting over butter. Equally as impressive are her interpretations of classics including Patsy Cline's "Strange," Ike and Tina Turner's "I Idolize You," and Led Zeppelin's Korean Conflict protest ballad, "Thank You." Mitchell Park, which allows Lizz Wright's sultry vocalizations to float to lawn-lounging ears unimpeded, also features sustenance options from Haute Taco, North Star American Bistro, Loaf & Jug, and Bella Caffe.
Since 1960, the nonprofit Sunset Playhouse has grown and flourished alongside the community who helped build it, paying them dividends in lively musicals and family-friendly classics. In Craig Lucas’s Prelude to a Kiss, Rita and Peter’s seemingly perfect wedding takes a turn as unexpected as the end of Titanic, when a mysterious old man interrupts the celebration to request a kiss from the bride. The gesture causes their souls to trade places, leaving Peter to unknowingly take a total stranger on a honeymoon. As the groom realizes his error, he seeks out his beloved, who is now trapped in an aged body, forcing the couple to navigate through unexpected challenges involving commitment, physical appearance, and arguments over how much to tip at Denny's.
The Equinox Jazz Orchestra delivers soul to the stage, paying tribute to influential songwriter Johnny Mercer. At the Mostly Mercer Show, the band aurally embraces the audience with classic American songs, including “Fools Rush In,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” and “Blues in the Night.” Ears perk up at the sound of fondly remembered tunes such as “Moon River,” a greater success than either “Star Stream” or “Orbiting Celestial Body Waterfall.” Enjoy the high-octane trumpet wails and southern groove of band leader Jeremy Davis’s professional ensemble as it performs an original arrangement of Mercer’s music, specially commissioned by the Friends of Johnny Mercer to mark the songsmith’s centennial.
During the day, the concrete heights of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts tower over the waters of the Milwaukee River like an imposing, postmodern fortress. As night falls, however, and patrons meander toward their evening's entertainment, the building’s façade glows with colorful, scintillating lights that hint at the eclectic performances inside. The elegant Uihlein Hall regularly hosts such august organizations as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Florentine Opera Company, whereas smaller, more intimate venues such as the Todd Wehr Theater situate audiences close to the stage so they can immerse themselves in dramas or hear the wail of a set builder who smashed his thumb with a hammer.