Madison is thawing out this weekend for a hot slate of shows and celebrations. The calendar includes: the Lake Home & Cabin Show and the Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest; the Monster Nationals; Children of the Rainforest and Celebrating Youth; a production of Mamma Mia!; performances by the Madison Savoyards; live music from Freedy Johnston, John Hammond Jr., Warren Nelson, David Hollands, Lords of the Trident, Tapes 'n Tapes, Mark Shurilla & the Greatest Hits, Kings Go Forth, The Exotics, Fitz & the Tantrums, and Dan Navarro; the indieQueer 5th Birthday Bash, a blues music benefit for the ACS, and the Fire Ball; and, stand-up by Gabriel Iglesias.
NOTEWORTHY: Space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after launch, 1986.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 2-8 pm. Also Saturday (10 am-7 pm) & Sunday (10 am-4 pm), Jan. 29 & 30
Summer can't come soon enough, especially if you're the lucky owner, or would-be owner, of your own cabin getaway. Meet 150 vendors who will help you finance, decorate, remodel and otherwise make perfect your cozy haven.
High Noon Saloon, 6:30 pm
Often dubbed a "songwriter's songwriter," sometime Madisonian Johnston lives up to the label. His musical tales of loners and loneliness are arguably some of the best in the business. With Darden Smith.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Over the years the New Jersey-based bluesman has recorded dozens of albums, worked with the likes of Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson and, from time to time, written some songs. Some say his most recent release, 2009's Rough & Tough, could be his best.
First Unitarian Society Auditorium, 7:30 pm
The very model of a Gilbert and Sullivan repertory group, the Savoyards presents its annual winter concert of the duo's loping melodies and improbable rhymes -- called, this year, "Matches & Mismatches."
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (1 pm), Jan. 29 & 30
Sure, highbrow culture is great. But sometimes you just want to watch big trucks jumpin' over stuff and smashin' stuff. A press release says of one of the vehicles, Star Marshall, "This new truck is a good truck with a bad attitude." We have no doubt.
Concourse Hotel, 7:30 pm
Nelson founded the ongoing Bayfield music party Big Top Chautauqua, and he also is a singer and songwriter with numerous CDs under his belt. His most recent one, Song in Your Hat, with tracks like "Wizard in This Blizzard," came out last year. With Rowan Nelson-Ferris.
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (1 & 6:30 pm), Jan. 29 & 30
Madison gets another look at the popular 1999 musical, based on ABBA's irresistibly cheesy songs. The touring show brings us the story of a single mom and her soon-to-be-married daughter, who's determined to discover her father's identity.
Inferno, 9 pm
Time Out New York has deemed this tech-house guru "one of the city's top DJs," but crafting grooves for clubbers isn't his only talent. He's done production work for Nintendo and served as music director for the off-Broadway production De La Guarda DJ Connection, which combined techno, acrobatics and avant-garde theater (see Tour Stop). With JP, Kee, Soulgroove, Dominic and Jared.
Annex, 9 pm
This comical, costumed local metal quintet will make you chuckle as you headbang, which could lead to an epic case of the hiccups. Don't worry: That's just what they intended. This show will feature an extended set of metal-licious tunes from their brand-new album, Chains of Fire. With Thunderunderus.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
This indie rock band from Minneapolis recorded its first, self-titled EP in a northern Wisconsin cabin, then rose to fame in 2004 after some heavy blog buzz and a big thumbs-up from Pitchfork. See how the new material from the just-released album Outside stacks up to the tunes from the group's rustic adventure and those from its previous album, 2008's Walk It Off. With Oberhofer.
BIRTHDAYS: Queen of all media Oprah Winfrey, 1954.
Olbrich Gardens, 10:30 am & 1:30 pm
The series is designed to teach children about people who live in rainforest areas around the world. Tamboula Haitian Dance & Drumming ought to bring some warmth into the bleak midwinter.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 1-5 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, taste the goods from scores of Badger State brewers and cheese makers and enjoy pairing presentations by chocolatier Gail Ambrosius and others.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
The Barrymore's spending an evening remembering the Day the Music Died, that fateful date in 1959 when the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson crashed. Wisconsin Area Music Industry award-winners Mark Shurilla & the Greatest Hits will play these stars' hits, plus those of other 1950s celebs, to honor their memory. With Liam Ford, John Van Thiel, Danny J and Jayne Taylor.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
There's a soul revival sweeping the nation, and Milwaukee 10-piece Kings Go Forth are leading the way with a funky, 1970s-inspired sound that's giving Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones a run for their money. Plus, they've recently signed with David Byrne's record label, Luaka Bop, which released their debut LP, The Outsiders Are Back, last year. Get acquainted with their live act before they hit the big time. With JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound and DJs GA and Record Jammer Slayron.
Frequency, 10 pm
Gear up for a very unusual beach party as you hop snowbanks and coast across ice patches: Milwaukee surf-rock revivalists the Exotics are teaming up with Knuckel Drager, Madison's masked surf-metal gods. With Roboman.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
This cheeky alternative to the Frostiball features entertainment by Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies, Miss Tamale, Cycropia Aerial Dance, Shane Shane and more.
Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm
Return to the spot where iQ Night began in 2006, before it grew to fill the King Club, the Majestic Theatre and Plan B with throngs of dancing queens and supporters of LGBT nightlife. DJ Lizzy T, iQ's founder, will join DJ Fuzzy Duck to turn the neighborhood bar into a dizzying discotheque before night's end.
NOTEWORTHY: Tet offensive begins, 1968.
Monona Terrace, 11 am-5 pm
The annual children's talent showcase features art, hands-on activities and performances by the likes of the Young Shakespeare Players, Madison Unicyclists and Wild Rumpus Circus.
Harmony Bar, 1 pm
Take in a full day of blues music to help the American Cancer Society. The roster of performers includes Paul Filipowicz, the Velveetatones, the Mark David Group, Shari Davis & the Hootchy Kootchy Band, Joel Pingitore & the Playground of Sound and the Piano Willie/A.J. Love Blues Band.
Frequency, 7:30 pm
Though he's the cousin of Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, Dan Navarro is best known for his acoustic duo with fellow singer-songwriter Eric Lowen. They've written for many other artists, from the Four Tops and the Temptations to the Bangles and Pat Benatar. They perform their interpretations of these songs, including "We Belong," which Benatar transformed into a huge hit in 1984. With Ida Jo.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
These guitar-free L.A. soul-pop sensations haven't been around long, but they've been proving they're hot stuff with a sizzling live show. Their recently released debut LP, Pickin' Up the Pieces, has also been starting parties from coast to coast, reaching number 20 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in late 2010. Read a review of the album. With Herman Astro.
Barrymore Theatre, 10 pm
The comic brings his "I'm not fat...I'm fluffy" shtick to the big east-side stage. The early show is sold out, so try the late one.