Summer roars back to life this weekend with a deluge of festivals and other fun. The calendar includes: the opening of the Wisconsin State Fair, the North Star Blues & BBQ Festival, Dane Dances and First Fridays, the Johnny Winston Jr. Streetball and Block Party, Terrace Blues Fest, and Films in the Field; productions of Minglewood Blues, Tearoom Tango, and Hay Fever; a going away party for Jake Shut and JJO Band Camp; and, more live music from the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble, The Trews, Bible of the Devil, The Goddamn Gallows, the Summer Music Summit, Sleeping in the Aviary with Pale Young Gentlemen, The Builders and The Butchers, and Ifrit.
NOTEWORTHY: French aerialist Philip Petit walks tightrope between World Trade Center towers, 1974.
BIRTHDAYS: Woebegone radio host/author Garrison Keillor, 1942; actress Charlize Theron, 1975.
State Fair Park in West Allis, through Aug. 16
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 livestock, the rides and the music, including Foreigner (Aug. 6); Jackyl, Dokken, Slaughter (Aug. 7); Big & Rich, Cowboy Troy, Candy Coburn (Aug. 11); the Wallflowers (Aug. 12); Davy Jones, Gary Puckett, Spencer Davis Group (Aug. 13).
UW Vilas Hall's Fourth-Floor Terrace, 9-11 am
The young ones can meet Curious George and Sid the Science Kid at this carnival-style party, based on PBS children's programs. Attendees can bring a used children's book to donate to the Madison YWCA Third Street Program.
Windsor Sports Commons, Windsor, 4 pm. Also Saturday, Aug. 8, 11 am
Summertime, and the outdoor music festivals are easy. Enjoy America's music on Friday with Clovis Mann, Midwest Blues All-Stars and Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band, and on Saturday with Soul Shaker, Cash Box Kings, Greg Waters & the Broad Street Boogie, Mud Angels and Copper Box. There also is a barbecue contest. Do you have what it takes?
Monona Terrace Rooftop, 5:30 pm
Though it often gets billed as smooth jazz, Milwaukee's Christopher's Project has got more soul -- and funk and R&B -- than Kenny G. Also playing: Grupo Candela, DJ Laurie.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 5:30 pm
Each month MMoCA organizers create a pocket of chic with these events, which see well-dressed patrons sipping cocktails, listening to music (Que Flavor plays tonight) and -- lest we forget -- taking in interesting art exhibits. Tonight professor Marie Wunsch talks about From Nature: Realist Works in MMoCA's Collection (see review).
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 an eclectic program that this year includes works by composers from the British Isles: William Byrd, John Wilbye, Ralph Vaughan Williams, etc.
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Aug. 8 & 9
Broom Street's latest original play, by Doug Reed, is based on Harry Smith's seminal 1952 American Anthology of Folk Music, with a live band and characters from the anthology (Casey Jones, John Henry).
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Aug. 8, 8 pm
Mercury Players Theatre presents this play about gay men and the anonymous gay bathroom sex they love. It's by local playwright Douglas Holtz, who's next taking it to the New York International Fringe Festival (see preview).
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The popular Canadian rock band returns to Madison, this time with the classic-rock stylings of Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Z02, the stars of the Independent Film Channel's show Z Rock and unabashed fans of Twisted Sister, one of the many groups they've toured with as of late.
Frequency, 10 pm
The Chicago combo revives the spirit of Iron Maiden and other old-school metal acts. Make your head ready for banging, gentlemen. With Slough Feg, Droids Attack.
Annex, 11 pm
The Lansing, Mich.-bred band likes to play up the grime and twang of their sound so much that it's earned the nickname "gutterbilly." The Pistols at Dawn open.
NOTEWORTHY: ABC news anchor Peter Jennings dies, 2005.
BIRTHDAYS: U2 guitarist Dave "The Edge" Evans, 1961; Swiss tennis great Roger Federer, 1981.
Penn Park, 10 am
The school board's Winston once again throws his annual bash, with food, bingo, fun for the kids and an all-day basketball tournament. Music comes courtesy of DJs Latone Heart, Big Mike and Speakerboxx.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 3 pm
A half-dozen of the region's favorite blues performers, including Barrelhouse Chuck, Perry Weber & the DeVilles, Westside Andy, Johnny Chimes & Gatur Bait with Moses, and Boo Bradley, join forces to give the Terrace a Mississippi Delta vibe and a dose of rootsy roadhouse flavor.
Waisman Center, 6 pm
Wisconsin winters mean not enough opportunities to watch movies outside, so grab a quilt, rustle up the kids and settle down for a screening of Monsters vs. Aliens.
Capitol Lakes Grand Hall, 7 pm
The second in this summer's Madison Music Collective series features the avant-garde jazz sounds of the Hanah Jon Taylor Artet, the JoAnne Powers Quartet and the Tom Hamer-Tom Lachmund Duo.
American Players Theatre in Spring Green, 8 pm. Also Tuesday, Aug. 11, 7:30 pm
The much-loved APT gang further expand their offerings with this 1924 play by Noël Coward. Family members invite weekend guests; this being Noël Coward, effortless wit ensues.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Two bands that build super-modern songs off vintage sounds (Sleeping in the Aviary and Pale Young Gentlemen) team up with Vampire Hands, which has a thing for Red Krayola's brand of psych-rock.
Frequency, 10 pm
The excellent psych-pop of the Black Hollies and Awesome Snakes' two-person juggernaut of punk descend upon Madison to bid adieu to the Crustacean Records co-founder (and host of the WORT program "Charlie Don't Surf," which attracted many fans with its artful blend of punk, hardcore, garage, hip-hop and more). Shut is moving to the Twin Cities to finish up his graduate degree. With the Skintones, Uncle Eddie.
NOTEWORTHY: Richard Nixon's resignation takes effect at noon and Vice President Gerald R. Ford takes oath of office as 38th U.S. president, 1974.
BIRTHDAYS: Actress Melanie Griffith, 1957; rapper Kurtis Blow, 1959.
Alliant Energy Center, 10 am
Mudvayne, the metal-for-the-people band from Peoria, Ill., have a Madison connection in their manager, who landed them the deal with Epic Records that launched their career. See how far they've come in the decade since at this annual hard-rock bash. With Black Label Society, Hurt, PM5K, Red, Hed PE and Pop Evil.
Annex, 8 pm
Whether they're singing it or shouting it, Portland, Ore.'s The Builders and The Butchers know how to make a nice, dark pop tune both on disc (such as their month-old CD Salvation Is a Deep Dark Well) and on the stage. The real treats are their ballads, which combine the charm of folk with the verve of goth. With John the Savage, Crane Your Swan Neck.
Frequency, 9:30 pm
If you've got a day job or any other sort of Monday-morning obligation, chances are that Sunday nights are filled with gloom, doom and perhaps even a bit of rage. What better way to work it out than with a Quebecois death-metal band? With The Big Gigantic, Black River Bone Yard, Scarlet Veil.