Summer offers up yet another magical weekend, with the Wisconsin State Fair, the Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival, the Terrace Blues Fest, National Mustard Day, Africa Alive, and the Savor the Summer Festival. The calendar also includes: the opening of Dane Dances and a new MMoCA nights; a reception for Dennis Nechvatal Landscapes at the Chazen; productions of Rent, A Woman on Paper, and The Circle; the Super Freak and Sushi Lounge dance parties; a performance by the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble; more live music from Marc Cohn, Pearl Snap Saturday, and Arp of the Covenant; and, the Med Flight 25th Anniversary Celebration.
NOTEWORTHY: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Voting Rights Act, 1965.
BIRTHDAYS: Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, 1972; actress Soleil Moon Fry, 1976.
State Fair Park in West Allis, through Aug. 15
It's a state law that all Wisconsin residents must visit the fair and eat at least one cream puff. They also must check out the livestock, the rides, the guy selling ShamWows, and the music, including Lyle Lovett and Asleep at the Wheel (Aug. 5), pride of Wisconsin Steve Miller and his band, plus Dave Mason (Aug. 10), and Train with Kris Allen (Aug. 12).
Lake Farm County Park, 5 pm. Also Saturday, Aug. 7, noon
Bring your own camping gear and settle in for this two-day fest, which features incomparable bluegrasser Tim O'Brien, Appalachian musicians Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz, Dennis Stroughmatt with Creole Spirit and much more. You should also bring your own instrument, for jamming purposes.
Terrace Blues Fest
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 5 pm. Also Saturday, Aug. 7, 2 pm
The waterfront blues fest begins tonight with music of Johnny Chimes and Paul Filipowicz. The second day features several varieties of the genre, including Catfish Stephenson's catchy country-blues, Boo Bradley's Delta blues and the Jimmys' Hammond organ-powered take. Also playing: Purgatory Hill, Houndstooth, Sequoia, the Velveetatones and Hot Money.
Monona Terrace Rooftop, 5:30 pm
The annual concert series kicks off with the R&B of the Eddie Butts Band and the funky grooves of Primitive Culture, plus DJ Laurie.
Chazen Museum of Art, through Oct. 3
Nechvatal, a mainstay of the Madison art scene for decades, presents landscape paintings, including the large-scale Hope, an acrylic of towering trees and undulating ground cover. See for yourself at tonight's reception (5:30 pm).
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 6:30 pm
The museum welcomes the evening crowd with music by Caravan Gypsy Swing. Check out the Wisconsin Triennial, which runs through Aug. 15, then head upstairs for the summer's last program of avant-garde films at Rooftop Cinema, including Bruce Conner's Breakaway, Helen Hill's Tunnel of Love and more.
Luther Memorial Church, 7:30 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 a program that is, of all things, music of Christmas and Advent by Praetorius, Rachmaninoff and others. (The ensemble is recording a CD at the concert, if you were wondering.)
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (2 & 7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Aug. 5, 7 & 8
Broadway Kidz Wisconzin presents the acclaimed musical about life and love in the gritty city. Just try to leave the theater not singing "La Vie Boheme." Just try. Because you can't.
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Aug. 7 & 8
The merry thespians of Broom Street present this original play about the love of painter Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz.
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
You guessed it: It's a dance party dedicated to funk master and over-the-top reveler Rick James, who died six Augusts ago. DJs Nick Nice, Mike Carlson and Vilas Park Sniper will keep his memory alive and kickin' with songs like "Give It to Me Baby," "Mary Jane," "You and I" and, of course, "Super Freak."
NOTEWORTHY: French aerialist Philip Petit walks tightrope between World Trade Center towers, 1974.
BIRTHDAYS: Actress Charlize Theron, 1975.
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, music of the Poupon U Accordion Band and the Red Hot Horn Dawgs, and more.
Capital Brewery, Middleton, 2 pm
The outdoor family festival features performances by West African Dance of Madison, Tani Diakite and Tony Castañeda, plus food and crafts. Proceeds benefit Kidlinks World, which is helping AIDS orphans in Africa.
Troy Gardens, 3-7 pm
Troy Gardens, the unique urban development near Warner Park, features a day of free entertainment, with hay rides, vegetarian food and music of Black Star Drum Line.
American Players Theatre, 8 pm. Also Tuesday, Aug. 10, 7:30 pm
In W. Somerset Maugham's tale of two romantic triangles, Lady Kitty left her family 30 years ago, ditching her husband to run off to Italy with Lord Porteous. Now, the grown son she abandoned is in the midst of a triangle of his own. Do people ever learn from the past?
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The musician behind the 1991 hit "Walking in Memphis" has a new album of covers from 1970, aptly titled Listening Booth: 1970, which hit the Billboard charts at number 28 two weeks ago and features a duet with Aimee Mann of Badfinger's chart-topping single "No Matter What."
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
The Jack Johnson-influenced local five-piece, which won the UW's All-Campus Battle of the Bands competition in 2008, is reuniting temporarily to play some tunes that recall those romantic summer nights on the frat house lawn. With The Shibs.
Frequency, 10 pm
It's a feast of fanciful electronica this evening, ranging from the jazz fusion-esque stylings of Minneapolis' Arp of the Covenant to the party-time klezmer jams of Madison's own Shtetlblasters. Also playing: Dharmonic Deluxe.
Edo Japanese Restaurant, 532 S. Park St., 10 pm
DJ Stickee Fingazz, of HoneyPot Crew fame, is joining forces with breakbeats blaster DJ Rapture and the jungle-lovin' DC 10 to create a sake lounge, complete with music, moves and classic kung fu movies.
NOTEWORTHY: President Richard Milhous Nixon delivers resignation address, 1974.
BIRTHDAYS: U2 guitarist Dave "The Edge" Evans, 1961.
University Bay Recreation Fields, noon-3 pm
UW Health's airborne medical transport system celebrates its silver anniversary, 29,000 patients later. Celebrate by viewing the helicopters up close, enjoying refreshments and thrilling to the music of the UW marching band.