Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies at 80

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AP Charlie Watts performs with the Rolling Stones in 2015 | Keith Srakocic/AP

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has died at age 80. The news was confirmed in a statement from his management company, which divulged no further details. Watts was famous for his potent beat and unflappable style, featured on all 26 Rolling Stones studio albums and numerous live albums. Earlier this month Watts pulled out of the upcoming Rolling Stones U.S. tour, after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure.

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The Pixies have canceled their Summerfest appearance because of Covid-19

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The Pixies have become the latest band to scrap their tour plans due to the ongoing pandemic. Today the pioneering alternative band announced that they’re canceling their 11-date U.S. tour, including a performance that had been set for Summerfest on Saturday, Sept. 18.

“Pixies have determined that with the current surge in Covid cases made worse by the Delta variant, this is the right decision for their fans, crew members and themselves, and ask that their fans stay safe and healthy,” the band shared in a statement.

The Pixies | Courtesy photo

Summerfest has not announced if there will be a replacement headliner.

Last week Nine Inch Nails also canceled their tour. “When originally planned, these shows were intended to be a cathartic and celebratory return to live music,” that band wrote in its statement. “However, with each passing day it’s becoming more apparent we’re not at that place yet.”

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New music festival coming to Milwaukee’s Brewery District this September

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On Sept. 25, Milwaukee’s Brewery District will host a new music festival called Equinox. The festival will take place at three venues – No Studios, Best Place at The Historic Pabst Brewery, and Bottle House 42 and will feature music from local artists, vendors, beer specials, tours and more.

The Brewery District | photo via Facebook

The Brewery District will sell tickets for the Equinox festival for $25. There will be a limited number of VIP tickets available at $125, which will include drink tickets, light hors d’oeuvres, swag and access to a private VIP rooftop space and spectacular view of Milwaukee’s skyline and performances at Nō Studios.

Here is the music lineup for the festival:

Paper Holland
Elder Mac
Vincent Van Great
Abby Jeanne

Funk Summit Bass Team
Caley Conway
Valerie Lightheart
Immortal Girlfriend

Shuga Blu
Frugal Stu
Maxwell James
Zed Kenzo

The Oshi
The Brummies
Johanna Rose

Equinox will be held in accordance with local and state health and safety guidelines. For this reason, event details are subject to change. Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours will be required for entry. Face masks and physical distancing will be encouraged at indoor events.

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Courtney Barnett will headline the Pabst Theater in January

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Courtney Barnett will headline the Pabst Theater on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, the venue announced today. The colorful songwriter, who earned instant acclaim for her debut album “Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Think,” will be touring behind a new album she intends to release later this year.

“Armed with a back-catalogue of gems as well as some of her best and most musically adventurous new work to date, Barnett will bring her thunderous rhythm section back to North America for the first time in almost three years,” a press release promises.

Courtney Barnett | Courtesy photo

Tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. The Pabst Theater writes that “any safety protocols recommended by city and state health officials at the time of the show will be observed.”

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Dolly invested royalties from Whitney’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ in a Black community

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Country music icon Dolly Parton has revealed that she used some of the royalties she earned from Whitney Houston’s cover of her song “I Will Always Love You” to invest in an office complex in a Black neighborhood in Nashville, Tenn.

During an appearance on the show Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, Parton said she thought it was an apt way to honor the Black singer, who boosted the song’s popularity with her cover.

“It was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there,” Parton said. “It was a whole strip mall. And I thought, ‘This is the perfect place for me to be, considering it was Whitney.'”

She went on: “I just thought, ‘This was great. I’m going to be down here with her people, who are my people as well.’ And so I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex. And I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.'”

Dolly Parton
Getty Images for NARAS Dolly Parton attends MusiCares Person of the Year honoring her in 2019. | Rich Fury/Getty Images for NARAS

Houston recorded perhaps the best-known cover of “I Will Always Love You” for the 1992 film The Bodyguard, which she also starred in alongside Kevin Costner. That recording reportedly earned Parton $10 million in royalties in the 1990s, according to Forbes.

Houston died in an accidental drowning in a hotel room in 2012.

Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” in 1972 on the same day she wrote “Jolene,” another one of her major hits.

During the interview, Parton said she was never asked to perform a duet of the song with Houston but wished that she had.

“I would’ve loved that,” Parton said. “But I don’t think I could’ve come up to snuff with her though. She’d have outsung me on that one for sure.”

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Tyler, The Creator will headline Fiserv Forum with Kali Uchis and Vince Staples

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Earlier this summer Tyler, The Creator released his latest album, “Call Me If You Get Lost,” a hugely entertaining rap album and love letter to the DJ Drama Gangsta Grillz mixtapes of the ’00s. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. And today he announced the biggest tour of his career, which will include a stop at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.

Tyler will headline Fiserv Forum on Feb. 24, 2022, with openers Kali Uchis, Vince Staples and Teezo Touchdown. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via

Tyler, The Creator | Courtesy photo

You can stream “Call Me If You Get Lost” below.

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The War On Drugs announce new album and two nights at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater

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The War On Drugs will play two shows at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater in February. The rock band will play Saturday, Feb. 12 and Sunday, Feb. 13, as part of a tour behind their just-announced upcoming album.

The band’s new album “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” will be out Out. 29, and today they shared its first single, “Living Proof,” which you can stream below.

The War On Drugs | Courtesy photo

Tickets for the Riverside Theater shows go on sale July 23 at 10 a.m., following a pre-sale starting July 22 at noon.

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Biz Markie, pioneering beatboxer and ‘Just A Friend’ rapper, dies at 57

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Biz Markie, an American original-born Marcel Theo Hall and a larger-than-life hip-hop figure, has died at the age of 57. Known widely for a career spanning back to 1986, Hall went on to become a beloved cultural figure later in life, celebrated for his spirited personality as much as his massive 1989 hit, “Just A Friend.” His death was confirmed by his manager, Jenni D. Izumi.

“We are grateful for the many calls and prayers of support that we have received during this difficult time,” Izumi told NPR via email. “Biz created a legacy of artistry that will forever be celebrated by his industry peers and his beloved fans whose lives he was able to touch through music, spanning over 35 years.”

Hall had reportedly been ill for months, but Izumi did not provide an official cause of death.

Michael Ochs Archives UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Biz Markie Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Biz came of age when rap was still young; a free-for-all in terms of approach and style, an era that seemed innocent yet was wildly progressive. He was born in Harlem before moving to Long Island in his early teens. An early introduction for those outside of New York, at least on film, was best captured in the 1986 Dutch hip-hop documentary, Big Fun in the Big Town. In it, we see a tall, lanky beatboxer in a hat emblazoned with big letters spelling out “Biz Markie.” He’s effusive onstage with fellow crewmate, Roxanne Shanté. They’re doing exuberant back-and-forth routines as the camera zooms in on Biz, showcasing the innate ease at which he can pack a party and move a crowd through his voice and natural presence.

He was an early standout in the Juice Crew, a dazzling collective led by producer Marley Marl, a visionary who assembled a team so adept and rich in character it would only be rivaled in the modern age by the otherworldliness of Wu-Tang Clan. The crew, whose affiliates were mostly out of Queensbridge, was founded by radio DJ Mr. Magic and subsequently placed on Tyrone Williams’ record label, Cold Chillin’ Records. Their first release, 1984’s “Roxanne’s Revenge,” was produced by Marley and featured a 15-year-old Roxanne Shante. The charismatic release became a hit and is largely responsible for Juice Crew’s early strides.

The young proto-supergroup consisted of several eventual greats — Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, MC Shan and others. They were the vanguard of their day, a formidable team who emboldened the new school amid rap’s explosive mid-’80s popularity. Each member possessed distinct traits. If Kane was the dancing playboy and G Rap the hustler, Biz was the jester, the comic relief in a crew of serious rhyme experts. His delivery was never as dexterous as the others, but he’d use props and costumes to exploit his size, pushed the mic into his neck while beatboxing and made himself the butt of jokes. In a world of braggadocio, his self-deprecation was a refreshing contrast, decidedly humble, a theme he never strayed too far from for the rest of his career. He’s warmly dubbed by many as hip-hop’s “clown prince.”

Biz’s first official solo album was 1988’s Goin’ Off, a debut produced by Marley Marl, anchored by singles that remain among his best; “Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz,” “Nobody Beats the Biz,” as well as “Vapors,” a hilarious four-verse tale of success and envy that proved to be a hit. In the song’s final stanza, he endearingly laments: “I say, ‘Can I be down, champ?’ They said ‘No!’ and treated me like a wet food stamp.”

“The Biz Never Sleeps,” his sophomore effort, generated not only Markie’s most-known song, but also one of rap’s most enduring, “Just A Friend.” It brilliantly sampled Freddie Scott’s “You Got What I Need” and became his biggest single, eventually charting at No. 9 on Billboard. In the music video, Biz dons a powdered wig, gloriously impersonating Mozart on the piano. It was a story-rap about constant rejection, bolstered by an earworm of a chorus. Biz is pictured weeping on the cover of the 12-inch single; big frown, handkerchief and all.

I Need A Haircut,” the followup to Biz Never Sleeps, is largely remembered for a court decision on copyright law: Singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan sued Biz and his record label, Warner Bros., for unauthorized usage of his 1972 hit, “Alone Again (Naturally).” The result was a landmark decision that tightened sampling laws thereafter, making all future rap (and all music) releases adhere to stringent licensing rules. Copies of “I Need A Haircut” were pulled from store shelves, making it a disappointment, despite bright moments— chief among them “Alone Again,” the song that got them in trouble and left the entire industry shook. His next release was impishly titled, All Samples Cleared!

As the ’90s came to an end, it was clear that Biz had been ingrained within hip-hop, but also beyond. He had admirers, including the Beastie Boys, who featured him on three of their projects; Check Your Head (1992), Ill Communication (1994) and Hello Nasty (1998). He was sampled by the Rolling Stones on “Anybody Seen My Baby,” where his vocals were added to the song’s middle sequence. He also appeared on reality TV (Celebrity Fit Club) and on pop radio in songs like Len’s “Beautiful Day” from 1999.

Biz’s final studio album, “Weekend Warrior,” arrived in 2003 and saw him working with producers 45 King and J-Zone, but he made the lion’s share of beats. A prominent appearance by P. Diddy affirmed his ennobled status. The album includes a charming late-era track (“Chinese Food”), in which he eulogizes Aaliyah and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez in the intro, before listing all his favorite Chinese dishes in the chorus.

He appeared in the movies too, playing an intercosmic version of himself in Men In Black II. On television, he had a recurring role on the music-centric kid’s program, Yo Gabba Gabba! In a charming segment called “Biz’s Beat of the Day” he does short instructionals on how to beatbox, often in costume. He also opened for Chris Rock on his No Apologies tour. There were popular t-shirts that widely sold with his face and now famous reactionary quip, “Oh Snap!” When his fandom was at an all-time high, dolls with his likeness, cereal boxes and action figures all became collectable items.

Until word of his recent hospitalization in late July of 2020, you could find Biz on social media, posting toys from his collection or playing 45s while dressed in a onesie. He still toured and did legacy shows and guest appearances seemingly often. He’d post show flyers, vintage ones that felt historical or current ones from tech conventions. There’s also pictures of him and fellow legends like Slick Rick and Rakim. His behemoth grin and comedic energy intact, vital as it was in that aforementioned 1986 Dutch documentary.

In 2005, an independent rapper named Edan predicted the coming of this awful day through a track called “Funky Voltron,” saying: “‘Cause when the beats sound iffy and the kids bark live / It’ll be a sad day like when the Bizmark dies.” For over 30 years Biz projected joie di vivre easily through humor that was always wholesome and good spirited. His artistry felt inclusive, he wanted us to laugh, to be entertained by his toys and record collection and beats and songs and jokes and the faces he’d make. And we were.

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Harry Styles and Jenny Lewis will play Fiserv Forum in November

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One of pop’s biggest stars has announced a Milwaukee tour date. Harry Styles will bring his “Love On” tour to Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum on Nov. 3, 2021. Indie-rock veteran Jenny Lewis will open.

Tickets go on sale Friday, July 23 at 10 a.m.

Harry Styles | Courtesy photo

Radio Milwaukee will be giving away tickets on the air next week, July 19-22.

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Milwaukee’s Klassik shares a new song in honor of Juneteenth

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Tomorrow will be the 50th anniversary of Milwaukee celebrating Juneteenth. In honor of this special occasion, Milwaukee’s Klassik has shared a new song called “Black Holiday.”

Klassik writes this about the song:

“I’m releasing a new single and video tomorrow entitled “Black Holiday” on the eve of Juneteenth Day, an important historical milestone and celebration in acknowledgement of the continued quest for Black Liberation (read: a true, black holiday). This is a piece of art inspired by and in response to the physical, psychological, and state-sanctioned violence incurred upon Black bodies around the world, with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the attempted murder of Jacob Blake being key local catalysts for me. The summer of 2020 ignited many fires, both literally and figuratively, and the fire of frustration, and an urgent sense of responsibility to articulate that rage and passion, created this song. 

The hook is a declaration not of mistaken identity, but of defiance and resilience.  “You’ve got the wrong one” is a declaration of self-awareness and pride, and of setting boundaries to protect the most impactful and effective form of protest, which in the case of Black Liberation, is Black Joy.” The visual, directed by myself, shot by Samer Ghani, designed by Rakim, and edited by Blizz, is intended to capture the frenzy and disorientation that this rage can incur, instilling a sense of urgency and defiance that is the driving theme of the song and visual.”

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