Summer enters its home stretch this weekend amidst seasonal festivities. The calendar includes: the Wisconsin State Fair; the kickoff of Dane Dances at Monona Terrace and the close of Blooming Butterflies at Olbrich; a Wisconsin PBS Kids open house and Garden Day on the UW campus; National Mustard Day in Middleton and Africa Alive in Fitchburg; productions of Chicago and Of Mice and Men; standup by Emo Phillips; performances by the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble; an electroLUST party and more live music from Cash Box Kings, Iceage, Fences, Bitchin' Bajas, and Ken Saydak; the Jessepalooza fundraiser; and, a book reading by Erin Celello.
NOTEWORTHY: Marilyn Monroe found dead, 1962.
BIRTHDAYS: Number-one spaceman Neil Armstrong, 1930; actress Loni Anderson, 1946.
State Fair Park in West Allis, through Aug. 14
It's a state law that all Wisconsin residents must visit the fair and eat at least one cream puff. They must also check out the furniture-sized livestock, the rides and the music acts, including Big Time Rush (Aug. 6), ZZ Top (Aug. 9) and Whitesnake (Aug. 11).
UW East Campus Mall, next to Vilas Hall, 9 am
At this carnival-style party, the young ones get a chance to shmooze with characters from public-TV shows Martha Speaks and The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. Music is by Mr. Steve, and you're encouraged to bring books to donate.
Olbrich Gardens, 10 am-4 pm, through Aug. 7
Just a few days remain to check out this lovely happening, which sees more than a dozen species of butterflies emerging from their chrysalises and fluttering picturesquely around the Bolz Conservatory.
Monona Terrace Rooftop, 5:30 pm
The annual concert series kicks off with the jazz stylings of the Davis Family and the salsa sound of Grupo Candela, plus DJ Tempest. You won't be able to tear the kids away from the Cash Box Kings
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 5:30 pm
These local bluesmen steep their tunes in the grooves of the 1940s and 1950s, covering classics by legends such as Muddy Waters, lesser-known talents like Robert Nighthawk, and modern-day wonders including R.L. Burnside. A big Blues Fest evening begins with Guy King, and next is Peaches Staten.
Middleton-Cross Plains Area Performing Arts Center, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Aug. 6 & 7
Kander and Ebb's 1975 musical had faded into memory by 1996, when a stunning Broadway revival, still playing, got everyone talking about the show's dark themes, lively tunes and slinky Bob Fosse-style choreography. Expect Fosse derbies and more when Middleton Players Theatre's production hits the stage.
Luther Memorial Church, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Aug. 7, 3 pm
This ensemble comes together for only one performance a year, but it's a doozy. Top regional singers rehearse intensely for two weeks under the direction of Scott MacPherson, then perform an eclectic program that includes works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Antonio Lotti and Andrew Rindfleisch.
Comedy Club on State, 8 & 10:30 pm. Also Thursday (8:30 pm) & Saturday (8 & 10:30 pm), Aug. 4 & 6
A generation ago Philips, he of the wild eyes and pageboy haircut, belonged to a vanguard of quirky comedians (Steven Wright, Pee-wee Herman) who seemed determined to permanently kill off the old take-my-wife-please school of one-liner shtick. These days Philips has eased into a persona less like the troubled child of his 1980s performances and more like, well, a veteran telling finely crafted jokes. With Nathan Craig.
Project Lodge, 9 pm
Blending hardcore with good old-fashioned 1970s-style punk, these Danish teens have summoned a tidal wave of buzz from the tastemakers at Vice and WNYC. Catch them before they're playing VIP events in Johnny Rotten's basement. With Pleasure Leftists, Deep Shit and DJ Slayron.
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
DJs David Boggio, Staggerlee, Radish and Wyatt Agard are preparing their decks for an explosion of sound that's likely to include glitch gems, electro party-starters, and lots of thumping bass to get the crowd moving.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Hot off of a tour with the power-poppers of Hellogoodbye, this quartet of Seattle indie rockers will likely showcase their self-titled debut LP, which landed on Spin's Albums You May Have Missed list last year. With Mansions and Dead Luke.
Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm The solo project of Caves guitarist Cooper Crain delves even deeper into analog technology, using an army of vintage synths and organs to create swirls of meditative drone-rock. Fans of Emeralds will be in heaven, and Krautrock enthusiasts are likely to be pleased as well. With Samantha Glass and Legalize It DJs.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima, 1945.
BIRTHDAYS: Timbuk 3 singer-songwriter pAt mAcdonald, 1952; filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, 1970.
Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery, 10 am-noon
Gardeners, if you can tear yourselves away from your plots on a summer Saturday, here's your chance to dig into a campus event just for you. Listen as Wisconsin Public Radio host Larry Meiller talks with horticulturalist Bob Tomesh, tour the Institutes' own Mesozoic Garden, and more.
National Mustard Museum, 10 am
Celebrate the popular condiment at the place where you would logically do so. There will be hot dogs, fun for the kids, and music of the Poupon U Accordion Band and the Red Hot Horn Dawgs.
Agora Pavilion, Fitchburg, noon-7 pm
The outdoor family festival features performances by Djam Vivie, Tani Diakite, Atimevu, Mandjou Mara, Limanya Dancers, FreeQuenC and the incomparable Goongoo Peas. Proceeds benefit Kidlinks World, which is helping AIDS orphans in Africa.
Keva Sports Center, Middleton, noon-10 pm
This fundraiser supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and honors the memory of Jesse Alswager, who died last year at age 13 of diabetes. Rockers Bascom Hill perform, as well as the Distractors, the Campaign and Reaul.
American Players Theatre, Spring Green, 8 pm
Kate Buckley, who directed last season's moving APT production of Exits and Entrances, tackles a classic of American literature about migrant workers during the Great Depression.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 5 pm
Saydak, a Chicago-based blues pianist and songwriter, has accompanied big names such as Lonnie Brooks and Johnny Winter, but if Billboard is to be believed, his true calling may involve fronting a band. The Saturday program of the Terrace's Blues Fest also features Purgatory Hill, Boo Bradley, and Paul Filipowicz & His Blues Bandits.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin resolution, 1964.
BIRTHDAYS: Woebegone radio host/author Garrison Keillor, 1942; actress Charlize Theron, 1975.
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
Madisonian Celello reads from her debut novel, Miracle Beach, about a Vancouver horse lover who faces unsettling truths after her husband dies.