Fourth of July weekend is always a busy one, and the fireworks get started early with the Elver Park display on Friday. More mid-summer fun can be found throughout the region, including the Stoughton Fair, the Monona Community Festival, and Independence Day celebrations in Columbus, DeForest and Evansville. Also on the docket are: the National Women's Music Festival; productions of The Comedy of Errors and The Philanderer at APT; stand-up by Randall Chestnut; a UW Carillon recital, Madtown Bloodbath V, and more live music by Cash Box Kings, Pearl Snap Saturday, Babyland, The Record Low, Lucha Libre, Pupy Costello, and Pterodactyl.
NOTEWORTHY: Amelia Earhart disappears, 1937.
BIRTHDAYS: Couch-jumping actor Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, 1962.
Mandt Park Picnic Shelter, Stoughton. Also Thursday & Saturday, July 2 & 4
The high season of summer is upon us, and that is the best time to explore the towns and counties of Wisconsin on the fair circuit. This fair is par for the course, with pig wrestling on Thursday (7:30 pm), a truck and tractor pull (2 pm) and horse pull (6 pm) Friday and a demolition derby on Saturday (7 pm), wherein cars drive around and smash each other up real good. Talk about wholesome American fun.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 5, 9:30 pm
Two local groups bring the soul and guts of Chicago blues to the land of beer and brats. Queenie starts the night at 5 pm with some sizzling vocals, and Cash Box Kings keep the train rolling at 9:30 pm with a bass-and-harmonica jam that's bound to get folks dancing. Learn more about these artists and Chicago blues in this week's music column.
Comedy Club, 8 & 10:30 pm. Also Thursday, July 2, 8:30 pm
Whether he's slyly dissing hippies or adroitly facing down a hornet's nest of hecklers, Madisonian Chestnut puts on a show worthy of your comedy dollar. With Shannon Thompson.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
The local frat-boy favorite, whose MP3 library is well-stocked with Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson and Elvis hits, have decided to call it quits, but not until they've played a bro-tastic farewell show at the Majestic.
Also Thursday, Saturday & Sunday, July 2, 4 & 5, Marriott-West in Middleton
This multi-day event celebrates the creative talents and technical skills of women in the visual, performing and fine arts, and of course includes lots of well-known women musicians. Madison's own Tret Fure, Lucie Blue Tremblay, Cris Williamson, Erin McKeown and Sarah Bettens of K's Choice are among the performers. People of all genders are invited to attend (see Tour Stop).
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Elusive L.A. duo Babyland sends synth pop, hardcore and drum-n-bass through the garbage disposal to make a beautiful mess aptly labeled "electronic junk punk." Beforehand, Madison's CTRLSHFT will get the crowd's minds and ears buzzing with an electronic salad of industrial and IDM. Also playing: Caustic.
BIRTHDAYS: Oscar-winning actress Eva Marie Saint, 1924.
Observatory Drive, between UW Ingraham Hall and Social Science Building, 1 pm
Lyle Anderson performs a holiday program on the UW's iconic Memorial Carillon. It's timed to coincide with "Let Freedom Ring," a Philadelphia-based project that's been coordinating Independence Day bell-ringing nationwide since 1963. The overlook opposite the UW's Washburn Observatory is a good place to put your blanket.
Fourth of July Fireworks
There are several places to see the rockets' red glare, including the Monona Community Festival in Winnequah Park, the Evansville Fourth of July Festival in Lake Leota Park, the DeForest Fourth of July Festival in Fireman's Park, Shorewood Hills' Blackhawk Country Club, and the Stoughton Fair at the Mandt Park Picnic Shelter. The booms start at dusk.
American Players Theatre in Spring Green, 8 pm. Also Tuesday, July 7, 7:30 pm
American Players Theatre has a solid track record with Shakespeare's farces, and this production, treated as a 1940s madcap comedy, proves entertaining and funny. Two sets of identical twins who have been separated at birth end up in the same town, leading to... a comedy of errors.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
Sure, you could schlep over to Milwaukee for the big Stephen Malkmus show along Lake Michigan, but why not celebrate Independence Day with independent artists on the shores of Lake Mendota? Chicago rockers The Record Low just put the finishing touches on a new studio album, while local favorite Blueheels just released a new live CD, The Only Dance You Know.
Frequency, 10 pm
Last year Isthmus designated Lucha Libre's The Takeover the best Madison hip-hop album of 2008, thanks to the deft production and the forceful raps of Mic Virus and NVl, delivered in a mix of Spanish and English. The edgy tracks fit, since the group is named for a freestyle form of Mexican wrestling. With 9 Delegates, Diz Scrilla, DJ Skooly.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Hardcore punk and thrash metal converge for the biannual smackdown of sound known as Madtown Bloodbath, in which Brainerd, the Warhawks, Dead End Rejects and Pistofficer will give a middle finger to Uncle Sam and other authority figures.
Crystal Corner, 10 pm
Expect the heroes of the Grand Ole Opry to get their due as Pupy's fun-lovin', beer-celebratin' crew do their retro-country thing. With Sweet Grass.
NOTEWORTHY: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs National Labor Relations Act, 1935.
BIRTHDAYS: Band guitarist/songwriter Robbie Robertson, 1944; actress Edie Falco, 1963.
American Players Theatre in Spring Green, 6 pm. Also Wednesday, July 8, 7:30
American Players Theatre gives us a chance to see a rarely produced early George Bernard Shaw comedy, in which a man philosophically opposed to marriage meets his match in a "new woman." The play takes on serious issues -- the status of women, the value of marriage -- but still is frothy summer fun.
Frequency, 9 pm
Though Pterodactyl calls the same record label and New York borough home as Parts & Labor, they're notably less noisy, trading sharp experimental racket for something more easygoing and accessible. Bella Novela, Lemming Malloy and Icarus Himself open.