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Sunday, January 25, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 28.0° F  Overcast
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Madison Music Scene and Heard: A.N.T. & Kinfolk, Commentaraoke, Whitney Mann

A weekly update about upcoming concerts around Madison and notes on the local scene.

On the horizon

Hip-hop continues to cross over into all musical genres, due both to bands under its influence and rappers trying out something different. New Madison band A.N.T. & KinFolk was formed in April by local emcee Anthony Ward (who performs as A.N.T.); they'll be playing at R Place on Park Thursday, Oct. 22 (note corrected date), at 9:30 p.m.

Ward says his motivation to assemble a full band was multifaceted. "First I wanted to add a live element to the hip-hop I was doing as a solo artist, and second I wanted to create some great original music with a group of talented people. Hip-hop struggles to draw crowds and be well supported, so I figured that if we did our own original music with a live band not defined by a genre, we could get more opportunities."

Along with A.N.T., KinFolk also features Marcus Fleming (lead singer for Vibe Syndicate and Mifasol) and Lavar Charleston (a former backup singer for Lyle Lovett) on vocals. Jazz guitarist Richard Hildener, one-time Felicia Alima Band bassist Corey Saffold, and Chicago transplants Damon Scruggs on keyboards and the singularly-named Ramon on drums hold down the groove.

The band started with covers and has been gradually introducing originals into their sets, Ward says. "Marcus and Lavar both play instruments and we all are songwriters. We are hoping to have an album done in early spring, to be released next summer."

Just announced

The Zac Brown Band brings its latest tour to the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum on Sunday, December 6. The group conquered the country charts during the past year, hitting the top with their first single after signing to a major label. They've also built a following among jam band and Southern rock fans with a relentless touring schedule opening for acts from Sugarland to Etta James.

Audience participation

In your secret heart of hearts, has karaoke always made you want to laugh? Budding parodists should head to the Frequency tonight (Monday, Oct. 19) for the latest installment of Commentaraoke. Participants are invited to sing their own lyrics to pre-recorded backing tracks of popular songs; a list of available tracks is here, or participants may bring their own backing track.

The genesis of Commentaraoke dates to Wisconsin Public Radio producer Doug Gordon's work with CBC Radio. In the mid-'90s he created some song parodies for the show "Definitely Not the Opera," and later re-purposed one with fresh lyrics after he began working on WPR's "To the Best of Our Knowledge."

"More recently, I came up with the name 'commentaraoke' to describe these song parodies," Gordon says. "Over the last few months, I decided that I should really go ahead and present 'Commentaraoke' as a real event. As far as I'm concerned, it's just the kick in the ass that karaoke needs right now. The Gomers have been doing their part with Gomeroke over the past five years but it seems to me that we need to put the danger back into karaoke."

Commentaraoke kicks off at 6 p.m., with mini-sets from Barenaked Cockburns, HiphoP Lovecraft and Joe Soko. Gordon says the future schedule's not set yet, but he hopes to expand the event. "What I'd like to do is turn it into a real contest-type extravaganza called 'American Yankovic,' complete with local celebrity judges and fabulous prizes."

More audience participation

If you'd prefer to choose the song but not have to sing it, Americana artist Whitney Mann provides that option with her monthly gig at Alchemy, happening next on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Mann says the concept provides benefits both for the listener and for herself. "Generally, people like listening to songs they already know, even if those songs are sung by someone they aren't entirely familiar with. I feel like if someone requests a song, they're more likely to come to the next month's show to listen to me play it. Also, taking requests is a good motivator in terms of getting me to focus on sitting down with my guitar and playing something new, even if that 'something' is a cover song."

The first installment in September didn't present any hurdles, Mann says. "So far I've been able to 'folkify' every request. Although, as of now, the people who've made requests are people who know me or have seen me play before. So most of the song requests I've gotten are from people who think a song would fit well with my voice, which makes it easier."

Mann says covers of Gillian Welch and Tom Petty are already on the agenda for Wednesday's 10 pm show. For listeners interested in hearing more of her own music, Mann will also be playing an opening set Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Frequency; showtime is 6 pm.

It's not happening

Wisconsin Union Directorate's Music Committee has announced that the Neon Indian and Capgun Coup concert scheduled for Friday, Oct. 30 has been canceled. Indie poppers shed a tear.

Legend of the week

Folk-rock icon Arlo Guthrie has made Madison a regular tour stop in the new millennium, and 2009 will be no exception, as Guthrie returns to the Barrymore Theatre on Tuesday, Oct. 20, as part of his trek marking the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. It's a family affair, as son Abe and daughters Cathy, Annie and Sarah Lee will join Arlo on stage, as well as some of his grandchildren. They'll also be playing some of the songs featuring lyrics by father/grandfather Woody which were set to music in the last decade by Wilco, Billy Bragg and others.

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