MadFest Juggling Extravaganza
Winter may be amidst its deepest freeze, but Madison pulses with activities, from Adult Swim and Star Fest to the Polar Dash and Madfest Juggling Extravaganza. The calendar also includes: the sold-out Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest; the Ellsworth Kelly and The Force of Color exhibitions at MMoCA; productions of Collected Stories and Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens; children's shows by Ballet Folklorico Mexico and David Landau; performances by the MSO and Echelon String Quartet; and, live music from Garnet Rogers, Romero, Awkward Terrible, Murder By Death, Emancipator, Anne Heaton, The Walkmen with Father John Misty, Plume Giant, Wook, Brandon Santini Band, The Hussy, and Reel Big Fish.
NOTEWORTHY: Airbus A380, world's largest commercial jet, unveiled in Toulouse, France, 2005.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, through April 28. Opening: 5:30-9 pm
Kelly is a major figure in American abstract art, with ties to minimalism and color field painting. This major retrospective features his printmaking, with an emphasis on lithography. The opening includes a 6 pm discussion on "Collecting Ellsworth Kelly" and music by Lynette Margulies & Jane Reynolds.
Madison Children's Museum, 6 pm
"Caribbean Cruise" is the theme of the Madison Children's Museum's adults-only party, with sand-castle building and shuffleboard games. Od Tapo Imi provides the island music.
Brink Lounge, 7 pm
At the Madison Folk Music Society's first show of 2013, this Canadian singer-songwriter will spin musical yarns with his rich, warm baritone and character-driven lyrics.
Red Dragon TV Studios, 7 pm
Armed with tunes from a brand-new album, these hard rockers will pummel eardrums at Inna Godda Davida, Red Dragon's weekly, web-based broadcast of live performances. (See Music.)
Overture Center Playhouse, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (7:30 pm), Sunday (2 pm) & Wednesday (7:30 pm), Jan. 17, 19, 20 & 23
In a collaboration with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Forward Theater Company presents Donald Margulies' 1997 play about the complicated relationship between an acclaimed writer and her assistant. Things get sticky when the assistant publishes a tell-all book and her fame threatens to eclipse her teacher's.
Bartell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, Jan. 19, 7:30 pm
Music Theatre of Madison offers two performances of the musical by Bill Russell and Janet Hood, featuring songs and monologues inspired by the AIDS Quilt and Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. The show features 50 local performers and benefits AIDS Network.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Jan. 19 & 20
Pianist Gabriela Montero joins the orchestra for a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1, which is likely to feature her signature treat: an improvised encore based on suggestions from the audience. Other works on the program include Dvorak's uplifting Symphony No. 6 and blue cathedral by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon.
Barrymore Theatre, 7:30 pm
Josh Thompson, Thomas Rhett and Due West will get their twang on at 96.3 Star Country's benefit for American Family Children's Hospital.
Dragonfly Lounge, 9:30 pm
Pretend you're zapping pixelated aliens or dodging hungry ghosts as this Milwaukee band performs chiptunes inspired by vintage videogame soundtracks. With Chants and Lazy Reason.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
This Indiana band funnels eerie, Nick Cave-style melodies and dark tales into country and Southern-rock tunes. (See Tour Stop.) With Mutts and the Sharrows.
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
Americana instruments such as banjos and mandolins tango with traditional Asian sounds when this trip-hop producer hits the decks. This performance will also feature live violin solos from Ilya Goldberg. With Mux Mool and Tor.
NOTEWORTHY: Iranian officials agree to release 52 American hostages after 14 months of captivity, 1981.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, through March 31
As an adjunct to MMoCA's new Ellsworth Kelly exhibition, The Force of Color looks at the role of strong color in works by artists associated with 1960s abstraction. Included are works by Sol Le Witt, Bridget Riley and Frank Stella.
Meriter Monona Clinic, 6408 Copps Ave., 10 am
This family event features racecourses where children can pull a plush polar bear on a sled through the snow. It's part of an effort by Meriter and Physicians Plus to fight childhood obesity and promote exercise.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 10:30 am & 1:30 pm
Milwaukee's Ballet Folklorico Mexico performs a family-oriented show, featuring dancing, drumming and extravagant costumes.
High Noon Saloon, 11 am & 1 pm
The local singer-guitarist is an engaging children's entertainer. Plus, his show features half-price root beer for any kid in cowboy boots.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 2-6 pm
If you're a fan of craft beer and exquisite cheese, there's no better place to live than Wisconsin. At this Isthmus event, you can taste the goods from scores of Badger State brewers and cheesemakers, chat with them about their products, and take in presentations on beer, cheese and chocolate pairings.
Barrymore Theatre, 7 pm
The family-oriented variety show draws object manipulators from far and wide, and the best part is you never know what's coming next. It's part of the free MadFest Juggling Festival held at Madison Area Technical College-Truax Campus (Jan. 18-20), with workshops, demonstrations and competitions open to all.
Kiki's House of Righteous Music, 8 pm
Enjoy pensive, piano-driven pop from Honeycomb, a new album that explores Rumi's mystical poetry and Heaton's own struggle with depression. With Whitney Mann.
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
These UW-Whitewater grads shatter stereotypes about chamber ensembles by performing original arrangements of rock songs and clever interpretations of contemporary classical works.
Capitol Theater, Overture Center, 8 pm
American Songwriter and Stereogum agree that the Walkmen's 2012 album, Heaven, is their best yet. Capitol Theater's excellent acoustics should let the indie-rock charmers' quiet moments sound just as stunning as the sonic storm of their perennial encore "The Rat." Father John Misty will open with some atmospheric material from his 2012 album, Fear Fun.
Frequency, 8:30 pm
These Brooklyn-dwelling Yale alums craft buoyant folk-rock with vocal harmonies, a harmonium and myriad stringed instruments. With Anna Vogelzang and Paul Otteson.
Segredo, 9 pm
Welcome the arrival of this local jamtronica band's debut album, Glowstick Sidewalks, by lighting up the dance floor with some brilliant moves. With Brainchild.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm Raised in Memphis, the former frontman of Delta Highway developed a taste for soul and blues before discovering his talent for harmonica playing. Sample songs from Santini's first solo album at this show.
Crystal Corner Bar, 10 pm
High on the success of 2012's Weed Seizure, which got noticed by Chicago Reader critics and other tastemakers, this local psych-punk duo plan to take their forthcoming album on a world tour. With Skintones and Dick the Bruiser.
NOTEWORTHY: L.A. Thompson patents roller coaster, 1885.
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
Though its popularity peaked with the release of 1996's Turn the Radio Off, this group has kept the ska-punk sound alive by recording a new album nearly every two years. With the Pilfers and Dan P.