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Aimee Mann will make long-awaited return to Milwaukee at Turner Hall

Pabst Theater Group

Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann was all set to play the Pabst Theater last May — the location that inspired the song “Milwaukee” she wrote with Ted Leo as part of their side project, The Both. Then COVID descended on a couple members of her tour group, and that was that.

The decorated musician will give it another try March 4, when she plays Turner Hall Ballroom with “opener” Jonathan Coulton. I put that in quotes because the two are frequent collaborators — he’s helping with the graphic novel autobiography Mann is working on — and often shared the stage on their recent summer tour.

The pair wound their way up and down the eastern seaboard during the warm-weather months, wrapping things up Aug. 10 at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. While that’s certainly an iconic West Coast venue, it hasn’t been immortalized in song by Mann (at least as far as my research revealed) like Turner Hall’s sister concert hall to the southeast.

As Leo told Rolling Stone, "Walking along Milwaukee's riverfront between sound check and show time last year, Aimee and I were startled by a very disconcerting bronze statue of Arthur Fonzarelli, a.k.a. 'The Fonz,' a.k.a. 'The Bronze Fonz.' "In that very moment, we knew we had to start a band to immortalize it (more than a bronze statue already immortalizes something), and The Both was born.”

The tune is rife with city references, from the Bronze Fonz to “Gertie the Duck,” as well as lyrics about “a table with cards to be dealt, and a show where the whole front row was taking pictures of itself” (a seeming nod to her and Leo’s 2012 concert at The Pabst Theater).

Of course, singing about Brew City is merely one of many accomplishments Mann has racked up during her three decades in music. In 2021, she released Queens of the Summer Hotel, an album that started as a musical version of the 1993 memoir and 1999 movie adaptation Girl, Interrupted. While the songs have yet to appear on the Broadway stage, they did find their way into Mann’s performances — the latest batch in a storied career.

From her days playing bass and providing vocals for the band ‘Til Tuesday straight through to now, Mann has gathered respect and acclaim. Arguably her biggest moment in the national spotlight was 2001, when “Save Me” from the 2001 film Magnolia earned Grammy and Academy Award nominations. She followed it up with Grammy wins for best recording package (2005’s The Forgotten Arm) and best folk album (2017’s Mental Illness).

Your first chance to pick up tickets for the March 4 show is an artist presale at 10 a.m. this Wednesday, Oct. 18 (register here). Pabst Theater Group will also have an eMember presale starting at noon the following day and a general sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20, online and at the Pabst/Riverside box offices.