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Dr. John plans Sept. 10 house call to Potawatomi Casino and Bingo

By Bill Livick/Special to The Gazette
September 2, 2015

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9,
Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $35.
Call 414-286-3663. Also Thursday, Sept. 10, UW-Madison Union Theater, Shannon Hall, 800 Langdon St., Madison. Tickets: $37.50-$50.
Call 608-265-2787.

The husband-wife duo Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn are extraordinary banjo players whose styles are very different.

Best known as the leader of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Fleck is widely recognized as one of the world's most innovative musicians. In 1998 he formed the band, which performs an experimental fusion of jazz, bluegrass and folk music.

Since establishing the Flecktones, Fleck has performed on banjo with jazz icons such as Chic Corea, and with world-class symphony orchestras and classical music performers such as the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, bassist Edgar Meyer, and with world music masters such as Zakir Hussain.

In 2005, Fleck met Abigail Washburn at a square dance in Washington, D.C. Later that year he produced her first album, and the couple married in 2010. When their first child was born in 2013, the couple began performing and touring as a duo.

Washburn is a former member of the all-woman folk group Uncle Earl and also of Sparrow Quartet. She plays a traditional clawhammer banjo in a style common with traditional old-time American music.

Fleck has released 12 solo studio albums, 14 albums with the Flecktones and nine with his first band, New Grass Revival. He has been nominated for 30 Grammy Awards dating back to 1998, and he has won 15. He has been nominated in more musical categories than anyone in the history of the Grammy Awards, according to his website.

New Pioneers, 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, Café Carpe, 18 S. Water St.,
Fort Atkinson. Tickets: $10. Call 920-563-9391.

It's hard to say how many collective years of experience playing bluegrass music members of the New Pioneers have, but there's no question the five-piece band is one of best in Wisconsin.

Lead singer and guitarist Jerry Wicentowski has performed and recorded with such legendary bluegrass stars as Tim O'Brien, Andy Statman, Byron Berline and Tony Trischka, among others. Country music historian Bill Malone considers him one of the greatest singers in bluegrass music.

Banjo player Mike Schmidt has worked as a studio session player in Nashville, as well as with the popular Wisconsin-based bands Alive 'n' Pickin' and the Piper Road Spring Band.

Mandolin player Bruce King also is a former member of Alive 'n' Pickin' and Art Stevenson's band, High Water.

Fiddler Paul Kienitz has played in the Nob Hill Boys, while bassist John Jirak is a former member of Green Bay's Fox River Flyer. Jirak also has performed with the Krause Family, the Miltown Ramblers and the Spare Time Bluesgrass Band.

Dr. John and the Nite Trippers, 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, Potawatomi Bingo and Casino, Northern Lights Theater, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $54-$247. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

Pianist, singer and songwriter Dr. John (whose real name is Mac Rebennack) has been a performer and recording artist since the mid-1960s, and he is considered an icon of the New Orleans music scene.

He started out in the mid-'50s as a studio session musician working with musicians such as Professor Longhair, Frankie Ford and Joe Tex. By the early '60s, he had graduated to producing and arranging sessions for others and recording some of his own music.

Rebennack assumed the stage name Dr. John in 1968 and recorded an album for Atlantic Records that included elements of traditional Creole chants, mystical imagery and traces of psychedelia. He slowly acquired a loyal cult following, including Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, both of whom peformed on “The Sun, Moon & Herbs,” Rebennack's fourth album.

Dr. John's greatest commercial success came with the release of “In the Right Place,” which peaked at No. 24 in 1973. The album included the single “Right Place, Wrong Time,” which reached No. 9 on the music charts. A few months later, another single, “Such a Night,” hit No. 42 on the Billboard charts.

In the late '80s, Dr. John returned to his New Orleans roots and released “In a Sentimental Mood,” a collection of old blues and saloon standards that earned him his first Grammy. He has won six Grammy Awards overall and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

Ky-Mani Marley, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, Majestic Theatre, 115 King St., Madison. Tickets: $20. Call 608-255-0901.

Jamaican reggae and hip-hop artist Ky-Mani Marley has become a star in his own right since releasing his first album in 1996. His sound is a mix of roots reggae overlaid with hip-hop, R&B and contemporary jazz.

Ky-Mani was born to reggae legend Bob Marley and Jamaican table tennis champion Anita Belnavis in 1976 in Falmouth, Jamaica.

His musical voyage began in 1999 with his first major label album, “The Journey.” In 2001, he released the Grammy-nominated “Many More Roads,” a traditional reggae album that exposed a more mature artist. “The Journey” and “Many More Roads” both were well received worldwide, solidifying Marley's standing as an artist independent from his famous father.

In addition to his musical achievements, Marley is an accomplished actor. In 2001, he starred with reggae artist Spragga Benz in “Shottas,” a film depicting the story of two young men from Jamaica struggling to reach their dreams through living life in the fast lane. The film was never released in theaters, but the video/DVD circulation created a tremendous buzz.

Marley has released seven albums since his debut, including “Maestro,” which came out in June. The 12-song album balances a roots-reggae feel with latter-day touches, mixing deep dub rhythms and elements drawn from hip-hop and R&B.

—Bill Livick