The Folk Ball Festival
The spring semester entertainment season in Madison gets started this weekend, with a broad array of options to be found in town this weekend. The fun includes: the Folk Ball Festival and Monster Nationals; a production of Sweeney Todd and performance by Tim & Eric; an art opening with Jennifer Angus and John Hitchcock and Kids in the Rotunda; the Winter Dubtactular, a Launchpad benefit with Dissent and Revolt, and a United Way bluegrass benefit; and plenty more live music from the WCO, Nickel Eye, The Dials, Itsatrap, Jeremiah Nelson & the Mysterious Bruises, and Venice Gas House Trolley.
Noteworthy: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis & Elvis as inaugural honorees, 1986.
Birthday: Cheap Trick singer-guitarist Robin Zander, 1952; actress Tiffani-Amber Theissen, 1974.
Jennifer Angus, John Hitchcock: SuperBug
Overture Center's James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy, 5:30 pm
Meet the artists, who muse on nature's intricate designs in works that combine drawings of insects with prints featuring microscopic views of viruses and disease. You'll almost taste the TheraFlu.
Project Lodge, 7 pm
One-woman home-recording powerhouse Zola Jesus makes music that falls somewhere between the groundbreaking No Wave of Lydia Lunch and the art-rock of Kate Bush. After winning best-of-2008 kudos from Earbleed, Wire and Sound on Sound, and playing New York City's Knitting Factory with her band, she's created some considerable buzz for her recent 7-inch Souer Sewer. Also playing: Blight-Sized Pisces, Absinthe Minds.
Folk Ball Festival
UW Memorial Union, through Jan. 25
The folk extravaganza includes workshops, plus three dance parties on Friday (7:30 & 8 pm), as well as live music with Reptile Palace Orchestra, Orkestar Bez Ime and others on Saturday (7 pm), and finally a closing bash with Survivors Sunday at the Crossing (8 pm).
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (1 pm), Jan. 24 & 25
Sure, highbrow culture is great. But sometimes you just want to watch big trucks, trucks, trucks jumpin' over stuff and smashin' stuff. Trucks in the running include Executioner, Grave Digger and Black Stallion.
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (1:30 pm), Jan. 24 & 25
Stephen Sondheim, the man who brought you musicals about assassins and Florida real estate, went for the jugular with the darkly comic Sweeney, the singing, dancing, throat-slitting spectacular about a barber who takes more than a little off the top. Actors and singers play the instruments in this acclaimed revival.
Tim & Eric
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
Expect comic mayhem from the duo, who take inspiration from Monty Python and Mr. Show in their Cartoon Network sketch broadcast, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The chamber orchestra's fall season was all but destroyed by the bitter labor dispute between musicians and management, but regularly scheduled concerts are now proceeding pending an actual settlement. This evening's performance features cellist Amit Peled and music of Rautavaara, Haydn and Respighi.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Remember the Strokes? Amid a two-year hiatus, the ebullient rockers' bassist Nikolai Fraiture has founded this homophonic side project. Fraiture touts Leonard Cohen and the Kinks as influences; he also touts a new CD, The Time of the Assassins. Also: Low Vs Diamond, Sleeping in the Aviary.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
If you didn't catch Chicago's Dials at last summer's Forward Music Fest, do yourself a favor and catch 'em now. The band professes to be gaga for power pop, and they are, but they're also blending New Wave and No Wave in a pretty unique way. (See Tour Stop.) Mannequin Men, another great Chicago four-piece, open the show with their swaggering brand of post-grunge psych-rock. Also playing: the 2 Plus 2, the Type.
Glass Nickel Pizza -- Atwood Avenue, 10 pm
Milwaukee's Itsatrap yearns to sound like Mars Volta yet comes up with a sound that's got a bit of the Deftones' intriguing dream pop/nu metal blend to it. Also playing: the Cemetery Improvement Society, Asperse.
Noteworthy: Gold discovered at Sutter's Mill, 1848.
Birthday: Singing brother Aaron Neville, 1941; snake charmer/actress Nastassja Kinski, 1961.
Kids in the Rotunda: Mikael the Mime
Overture Center's Rotunda Stage, 9:30 & 11 am, 1 pm
Minneapolis-based Mikael the Mime eschews the berets and the tired clichés (look, I'm trapped in a box, and it's shrinking!) in favor of a vaudeville-inflected repertoire of juggling, puppets and soft-shoe dance. There's life in mime yet.
Winter Dubtacular: The Drastics, Roots Collective, the Takebacks
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
This Saturday's music at the Majestic isn't just a concert, it's a celebration of island sounds amid cold weather, complete with '80s beach movies and all sorts of good things to eat from Jamerica. Also playing: Tropical Riddims Sound System.
Launchpad Benefit: Dissent and Revolt
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Launchpad, a statewide garage-band competition for high-schoolers, gets a boost from some of the region's seasoned alt-rock and metal bands, including Madison's Dissent and Revolt, which released a good 7-inch split, Total Harmonic Distortion, with screamo-metal veterans Dissolute over the summer. Also playing: Planet of 9, Snooky, Silence Is Broken.
Jeremiah Nelson & the Mysterious Bruises with Icarus Himself and Wars of 1812
Cafe Montmartre, 10 pm
Patchwork's Jeremiah Nelson shares the bill with Icarus Himself -- the acoustic side project of National Beekeepers Society's Nick Whetro -- and the Americana-tinged indie of the Twin Cities' Wars of 1812, which earned 2008's top honors from the Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages a few weeks ago.
Venice Gas House Trolley, Kitty Rhombus
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
The local "beat freak" three-piece known as Venice Gas House Trolley pairs up with the inspired experimental four-piece known as Kitty Rhombus to hypnotize bar-goers under the hazy red lights at Mickey's.
Birthday: Singer Etta James, 1938; chart-topping singer/songwriter Alicia Keys, 1981.
United Way Benefit: SpareTime Bluegrass, Cork 'n Bottle String Band, Oak Street Ramblers
Barrymore Theatre, 1 pm
For the eighth year in a row, the local bluegrass community convenes at the Barrymore to raise money for the United Way and put on a mini-show for the kids. Dave Landau heads up the children's-songs department this year, while SpareTime Bluegrass, the Cork 'n Bottle String Band and the Oak Street Ramblers turn Atwood Avenue into a festival of Appalachian sound.