The Spy in MEs
Mandt Park, Stoughton, noon-10 pm. Also noon-10 pm Thursday, Saturday & Sunday, July 5, 7 & 8.
The revel in the town south of Madison continues with a carnival and exhibits, plus the Great Plains Rodeo Thursday and Friday nights. On Saturday and Sunday nights, it's demolition derby, wherein cars smash one another to bits in a way that's weirdly satisfying.
Joy Kills Sorrow
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 5 pm
How many acoustic acts include a national flat-picking guitar champ, a conservatory-trained mandolin player and a multi-instrumentalist who's recorded with jazz bass great Dave Holland? Suffice it to say that Joy Kills Sorrow's chops are displayed to excellent effect on their ringing takes on back-porch music.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 5:30-8 pm
The downtown institution once again throws open its rooftop sculpture garden for shmoozing, spectacular views and, in this instance, the music of Sparetime Bluegrass.
The Cash Box Kings
Capital Brewery, Middleton, 6 pm
Madison Music Project Charter Club Tour heads outdoors this week, and both blues and beer lovers couldn't be happier. No doubt the Cash Box Kings' rough-and-tumble salutes to the heyday of Chicago 12-bars will keep the festivities suitably loose. Free!
Grace Chosy Gallery, through July 28. Reception: 6-8 pm
Canadian-born, Milwaukee-based Hidson works in bright acrylics, and in her new paintings she layers cartoonish imagery over dramatic squares and rectangles of color. In the vibrant "Anne's Florida Home" she draws on a visit to the Sunshine State, where New Orleanians were celebrating Mardi Gras in the aftermath of Katrina.
A Room of One's Own, 6:30 pm
Madison's own troupe of drag kings present what they are touting as a political show. Whatever the politics, we hope they do their version of "Gee, Officer Krupke."
Once on This Island
Mitby Theater at MATC-Truax, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) and Sunday (2 pm), July 7 & 8
Four Seasons Youth Theatre stages the acclaimed 1990 musical fantasy by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Seussical), about a French Antilles peasant girl who rescues a rich boy from a car crash. The show stars students ages 9-20 from all over Dane County.
Why We Come Here
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), June 16 & 17
A straight woman and a lesbian meet at a bar in Megan McGlone's episodic, dialogue-driven comedy. Actresses Laura Collins Peterson and Laura Wineland are both likable, and their characters' comments are at times cleverly incisive.
American Players Theatre in Spring Green, 8 pm. Also Wednesday, July 11, 7:30 pm
In George Bernard Shaw's satire, the life of a free-spirited young woman changes abruptly when an airplane crash brings a new man into her life.
The Spy in the MEs/Plök
Annex, 9:30 pm
Both of these energetic Danish indie acts defy expectations. The keyboard-friendly Plök are more playful and anarchic, but chart-topping the Spy in the MEs (that's the Danish chart, of course) have plenty of fun stuffing twisted pop melodies, oblique rock and, yes, polka into their musical Cuisinart. Dirty Little Rabbits and Czarbles open.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
The city's most lovable cover band know something like 1,000 tunes, so that Captain and Tennille fave you've been dying to hear again definitely isn't out of the question. The Low Czars are also on hand to celebrate the Sweethearts' fifth anniversary.
The Midwest Beat
King Club, 10 pm
The Midwest Beat explore the tuneful side of '60s psychedelia and a little twang in celebration of a new, period-correct CD that contains the same. Garage-rock fans won't be disappointed. Whitney Mann and Cribshitter open.
The Hall of Self-Reliance
Through Aug. 26, Chazen Museum of Art
This show features roughly 30 samples of Chinese painting and calligraphy. They're selections from the museum's recently acquired Simon and Rosemary Chen Collection of Chinese works, dating from the 17th through the 20th century.
Madison Early Music Festival
Mills Hall in the UW Humanities Bldg.; all concerts 7:30 pm, with pre-concert lectures at 6:30 pm in the Chazen Museum of Art
This year's celebration of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music offers classes, lectures and concerts emphasizing 15th- and 16th-century music from the Low Countries. Piffaro plays the music of Flemish composers (Saturday, July 7); Marion Verbruggen plays recorder music by Johkheer Jacob van Eyck (Sunday, July 8); Fortune's Wheel showcases the music of Burgundy court musicians (Tuesday, July 10); and festival faculty bring to life "The Age of the Netherlanders" (Thursday, July 12).
Club Tavern, Middleton, 9 pm
Zellar's old band the Geardaddies were alt-country long before folks had a name for it. He remains a poignant writer and singer. Griff Vittone opens.
Capitol City Tattoo Anniversary Party
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Veteran atom-smashers Zeke head up a punky, appropriately in-your-face shindig in celebration of Capitol City Tattoo's first seven years of inking up bare flesh. The Suit, Dead End Rejects and St. Hell Brothers are also part of the festivities.
Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash
Harmony Bar, 10 pm
With the Fourth falling in the middle of the week, it's okay to consider the hard-touring Bastard Sons' polished tributes to the Bakersfield sound and other classic twang part of the holiday weekend. Grab a few cold ones and let 'em go all Americana on your ass.
The Super Eights
King Club, 10 pm
The Super Eights get together for one final set of joyous, careening pop-rock. They'll be missed. They top the Wisconsin Pop Implosion, so this also marks the end of cooperative gigs by some of the city's best garage and indie acts. The Nervous System and Vid Libert also appear.
Marques Bovre & SoDangYang
High Noon Saloon, 7 pm
During his long career as a singer-songwriter, local treasure Bovre has ping-ponged from dance floor-filling country-rock to well-considered acoustic material. Tonight he debuts a new CD with his latest band, which includes blues-rock pioneer Jim Schwall. The release party benefits the construction of a new outreach facility in rural Haiti.