Valentine's weekend in Madison offers a surfeit of opportunities to hit the town with your honey. Choices include: the Garden Expo; and the Midwinter Midwest Gypsy Swing Fest; productions of Buffalo Soldiers: The Legacy, Sappho in Love, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, and The Vagina Monologues; WWE Road to Wreslemania, a Mad Rollin' Dolls bout, and a show by the Peking Acrobats; benefits for Haiti relief and the United Way; live performances by Cherish the Ladies, the Madison Savoyards, Luciana Souza, and Joan Curto; and, more tunes from the German Art Students, Tim McGraw, Ridley, Jack Ingram, Willy Porter, Lookbook, Eastern Blok, Dawes, and James Baljo.
NOTEWORTHY: NAACP est., 1909.
BIRTHDAYS: Actor Josh Brolin, 1968; actress Christina Ricci, 1980.
Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall, 4-9 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-6 pm) & Sunday (10 am-4 pm), Feb. 13 & 14
Hard as it is to believe right now, spring may come one day. You can prepare at this Wisconsin Public Television fundraiser, which features demonstrations, workshops and exhibitors.
High Noon Saloon, 5:30 pm
Prepare to have your heart shattered this Valentine's Day weekend: A Madison music-scene mainstay will break up before your very eyes. Thankfully, they'll do it to a soundtrack of their stellar tunes, which feature surfy guitar lines, layered harmonies and melodies so classic you'll swear you grew up to them.
MATC-Truax's Mitby Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, Feb. 13, 1 & 7:30 pm
Kojo Productions presents local playwright Richard Scott's work about the African American men of the 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment. Those men were trailblazers, and it's a story worth seeing.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
The all-female traditional Irish act have garnered praise for their close ensemble work, their strong facility on guitars and fiddles, and their winning way with Irish standards.
First Unitarian Society, 7:30 pm
The very model of a Gilbert and Sullivan repertory group, the Savoyards present "I Have a Song to Sing, O!," a performance of tunes from past productions and from next summer's crowd-pleaser, H.M.S. Pinafore.
Alliant Energy Center, 7:30 pm
The country superstar will fill the Coliseum with songs from his 2009 album, Southern Voice, as well as thousands of lovestruck fans. With Lady Antebellum and the Lost Trailers.
Brink Lounge, 7:30 pm (also Feb. 13)
This year's festival isn't just about the romantic style of music Django Reinhardt popularized; it's about the love affair between the performers and their songs. Friday night's lineup includes three renowned ensembles: the Amsterdam Gypsy Swing Quartet, the Don Stiernberg Trio and Harmonious Wail. On Saturday, Minneapolis' Cafe Accordion Orchestra will drop by with hometown favorites the Stellanovas. Find out more in this week's music column.
Project Lodge, 7:30 pm
The electronica-meets-rock duo recently became a trio and recorded a new album, Materialize, which they'll release at a Project Lodge party this Friday. Even if you can't make it to the show, check out one of their new songs in this week's MadTracks review.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Feb. 13, 8 pm
StageQ presents Carolyn Gage's comedy about the ancient poet, who's the focus of spirited competition as Greek goddesses descend on Lesbos for some recruiting activities.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
The throaty Nashville songster rode to the top of the country charts with the 2005 smash "Wherever You Are," and he's since notched successes with ballads like "Lips of an Angel" and the summery rocker "Barefoot and Crazy."
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
In this Isthmus Jazz Series event, percussion star Cyro Baptista and master guitarist Romero Lubambo will join the queen of Brazilian bossa nova, whose voice has also graced the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the L.A. Philharmonic and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (see preview).
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
The Milwaukee singer-songwriter with the magic fingers can ruminate with the best of 'em, but it's his more anxious acoustic blues, folk and rock that'll make audience members look up from their drinks in wonder. With Chris Trapper.
Harmony Bar, 9:30 pm
Local musicians Stephanie Rearick, Jeremiah Nelson & Shawn Drake, Boo Bradley and Taki Allstars join forces to benefit Red Cross International and the ongoing calamity in Haiti.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
The Twin Cities electropop duo know how to turn a pop hook into a nostalgic moment without making you feel sappy or overly indulgent. Their debut album, Wild at Heart, strikes an excellent balance between moments that make your heart soar and those that darken the mood. With Light Pollution.
NOTEWORTHY: Soviet Union expels dissident author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1974.
BIRTHDAY: Black Flag alumnus/spoken-word artist Henry Rollins, 1961.
Overture Center's Playhouse, 2 & 5 pm. Also Sunday, Feb. 14, 2 & 5 pm
Children's Theater of Madison presents an adaptation of works by local children's author Kevin Henkes. Meanwhile, Henkes has another charming picture book on the way (see Books).
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm
The UW presents its annual production of Eve Ensler's play, in which women discuss both their private lives and private parts.
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 7:30 pm
It is a long road to Wrestlemania, and along it, very large men (tonight: John Cena, Jack Swagger and many more) wear tights, grapple and preen for cheering or jeering spectators.
Restaurant Magnus, 9:30 pm
The Chicago-based quartet, composed of a classical guitar virtuoso, an upright bassist, a sax-and-woodwinds player and a percussionist, don't just reproduce beautiful melodies from Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria. They're creating incredibly innovative compositions that will be performed for years to come.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
Two roots-rock groups with a hot new endorsement from Rolling Stone take the stage at the Rat to promote their new albums: Chisel's deeply felt Death Won't Send a Letter and Dawes' soulful North Hills (see ?Tour Stop). With Jason Boesel.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
BIRTHDAY: Beausoleil singer-fiddler Michael Doucet, 1951.
Alliant Energy Center, Coliseum, 1 pm
The season rolls on as the Unholy Rollers take on the Reservoir Dolls and the Quad Squad battle the Paper Valley Roller Girls.
Barrymore Theatre, 1 pm
The annual fundraising even features mountain tunes and other old-time music from some of the city's most enthusiastic bluegrass musicians, including SpareTime Bluegrass, Cork 'n Bottle String Band and the Oak Street Ramblers. Dave Landau will present a special set of children's songs, too.
Overture Hall, 3 pm
The troupe of gymnasts, jugglers, clowns and cyclists return to amaze us with feats of balance and dexterity, accompanied by a Chinese orchestra.
Good Style Shop, 6 pm
The drummer from experimental garage-psych group White Manna drops by the snazzy record-and-clothing shop for a mind-bending, soul-swirling set. With Sick Llama.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7 pm
The Chicago-based cabaret singer performs a program called "Love Is a Simple Thing" in this Cabaret Dinner Theater event. As she's singing, make goo-goo eyes at your sweetie.