A whole new year of live music gets off to a strong start this weekend with the Wisconsin Punk Fest and Wisconsin Folk Fest at the Majestic, along with a Launchpad benefit, and more shows by Nick Brown, Altered Five, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, Vanessa Tortolano, Elusive Parallelograms, Tate & the 008 Blues Band, Stnnng, The Color Morale, and Vette. The calendar also includes: the Cyclo-Cross National Championships; art exhibits featuring Steve Boyum, and Toby Kaufmann-Buhler & Trent Miller; productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Class, and Acis and Galatea; performances by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Westminster Choir; and, displays of yo-yo virtuosity by Mark Hayward.
NOTEWORTHY: Amelia Earhart becomes first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California, 1935.
Badger Prairie County Park, Verona, through Jan. 13
Cyclo-Cross features the best of off-road cycling, with daredevil climbs, heart-stopping descents, snow, ice, mud and blood. You can meet the pros at a Friday party (6-9 pm, Machinery Row), hear the Squeezettes Polka Band on Saturday and Sunday (11 am-2 pm, Badger Prairie Park), and attend the closing party on Sunday (8 pm, Great Dane-Downtown).
Absolutely Art & Cafe Zoma, through Jan. 31. Reception: 5-9 pm
The late Steve Boyum was the son of the east side's favorite outsider artist, sculptor Sid Boyum. Steve was an artist in his own right, as you'll see in this retrospective of his expressionistic paintings.
Overture Center's James Watrous Gallery, through Feb. 24. Opening reception: 5:30-7:30 pm
In an exhibition called "Hidden States," digital artist Toby Kaufmann-Buhler's video/sound installations explore the intersection of human and environmental cycles, creating uncanny relationships and disjunctions out of familiar images and sounds. In "Spindrift and Tether," Trent Miller's energetic, vivid, nonobjective paintings, as well as his more representational charcoal drawings, suggest mysteries or codes to be deciphered.
High Noon Saloon, 6 pm
Brown Derby's bassist spikes melancholy, country-tinged songs with wry humor on his first solo album, Slow Boat, which he'll unveil at this show. (See Music.)
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Thursday (7:30 pm), Jan. 12 & 17
Strollers Theatre presents Tennessee Williams' steamy gumbo of family quarrels, revenge, jealousy, seduction, betrayal and alcoholism. In other words, Brick, Maggie the Cat, Big Daddy and the rest of the clan pretty much have all the deadly sins covered.
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday & Thursday, Jan. 12 & 17, 8 pm
This fictional retelling of a 1968 grade-school experiment, intended to examine prejudice after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., explores the dark, and darkly comic, side of being human. Following the Saturday show, stick around for Chez Bouché, a "bawd-villian" blend of standup comedy, dance numbers and bold sex appeal.
Playhouse at Overture Center, 8 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday (8 pm), & Sunday (2:30 pm), Jan 10, 12 & 13
Madison Opera tackles Handel's mythology-inspired pastorale, which stars a lovestruck shepherd, a big-hearted nymph and a villainous cyclops. (See Music.)
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
Guest artist Claude Delangle will coax mellifluous notes from his saxophone during Villa-Lobos' Fantasia and Glazunov's Concerto for Alto Saxophone in E-flat Major. Other program highlights include Beethoven's seldom-performed Contradances and Mozart's sprightly Symphony No. 31 in D Major (Paris).
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Five punk bands from across the state -- Jetty Boys, Whisky Pig, the American Dead, the Moguls and Direct Hit! -- will join Madison's most notorious crew of ski-mask-wearing songsmiths for a celebration of power chords and pogoing. (See Tour Stop.)
Hody Bar & Grill, Middleton, 9 pm
This Milwaukee band's fusion of blues and soul has earned accolades from Summerfest crowds and critics. For this free show, they'll bring their new album, Gotta Earn It, to the Madison area for the first time.
Dragonfly Lounge, 9 pm
Hernandez may look tiny, but her voice packs such a wallop that she drew Blue Note Records executives to her doorstep after a short time on Detroit's music scene. Steeped in the Latin music tradition, the Motown legacy and the sounds of her mom's new-wave record collection, she infuses pop tunes with strong hooks and sweet, sweet soul. With the Family Business and the Earthlings.
Inferno, 9 pm
In addition to singing and writing songs, this local Renaissance woman performs improv comedy with the Monkey Business Institute. At this show, she'll release her first solo album, Inclination, and perhaps lead a rousing game of charades. With Sexy Ester and DJ $amroc.
Frequency, 10 pm
A love of heady space rock unites this group, whose members are scattered across Milwaukee and Chicago. Swaddle yourself in the rich textures of their new EP, Fragments, at this show. With Tiny Riots and Problem Child.
NOTEWORTHY: Dr. James Bedford becomes first person to be cryogenically preserved with intent of future resuscitation, 1967.
Overture Center Rotunda, 9:30, 11 am & 1 pm
The Madison native is not only a world-champion yo-yo artiste, but a world-champion comedian. In this free Kids in the Rotunda show, expect to be amazed and entertained as he juggles, spins tops and puts the yo-yo through its paces.
Monona Terrace, 9:30 am
Michael Feldman welcomes the charming ABC news correspondent Jake Tapper to his live radio broadcast. Tapper will discuss his new book, The Outpost, which chronicles a deadly battle in Afghanistan that pit 53 Americans against nearly 400 Taliban fighters.
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 7:30 pm
Madison Symphony Orchestra's gorgeous Overture Concert Organ will accompany 40 singers from Princeton, N.J.'s esteemed Westminster Symphonic Choir during a program of works by Holst, Britten, Debussy and more.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Though they moved to Madison for a medical residency, East Tennessee expats Count This Penny have blazed a trail to a successful music career. Since starting up a couple of years ago, they've performed on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, opened for Americana wunderkind Sarah Jarosz, released their debut LP, Pitchman, and watched their 2010 EP, Gone, break the top 10 on iTunes' singer-songwriter chart. Local acts PHOX, Pioneer and Dietrich Gosser will round out the bill with their own distinctive brands of indie folk.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
A smorgasbord of local acts will serve up some of their favorite original songs to raise money for Launchpad, a competition for Wisconsin high schoolers' garage bands. Performers include the funky, horn-fueled nine-piece the Big Payback, Latin groove gurus Grupo Candela, versatile rockers the Daze and improvisation enthusiasts Devil's Fen.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
James Earl Tate is a mainstay of Madison blues, and his band most definitely knows how to get the party started.
Dragonfly Lounge, 10 pm
Recently returned from All Tomorrow's Parties, a post-rock-oriented festival in the U.K., these Twin Cities noisemakers will most likely preview a forthcoming album recorded by Steve Albini and mastered at London's iconic Abbey Road Studios. Earn some indie cred by figuring out if the band's name sounds like "sting," "stung" or "stunning" before the show begins. (Hint: The answer rhymes with a synonym for "wily.") With Fake Limbs and Tyranny Is Tyranny.
NOTEWORTHY: Johnny Cash performs live at Folsom State Prison, 1968.
The Color Morale Loft at Goodman Community Center, 6:30 pm
This God-fearing metalcore band isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you like the intensity of Glassjaw or Poison the Well, you'll probably drink up their live act. With One Last Night, Your Memorial, For All I Am and the Scenic Route.
Frequency, 8:30 pm
Though she could pass as a long-lost member of English trip-hop troupe Portishead, this Oshkosh-born, Berklee-trained singer's entrancing voice has wafted through jazz clubs and TV programs such as ABC Family's Switched at Birth.