St. Patrick's Day usually marks the point at which Madison's spring arts season really lights up, particularly in terms of live music, with this weekend serving up shows by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, Kat Edmonson, The Expendables, Veronica Falls, Sara Watkins, Peter Rowan, Danny the Wildchild, and Animal Collective with Dan Deacon. The calendar also includes: the Crystal Ball film fest party; the Line Breaks hip-hop festival; stand-up by Ralphie May and Tracy Morgan; the Joseph McCrindle Collection exhibit at the Chazen; productions of Space Voyage: The Musical Frontier, L'Amico Fritz, Mary Poppins, and 8; performances by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and Oakwood Chamber Players; and, the Kids' Expo.
NOTEWORTHY: Syrian civil war begins, 2011.
Hilldale Shopping Center, 6 pm
This benefit for the Wisconsin Film Festival offers food, beer, door prizes, music and a chance to grab your tickets early for the April 11-18 event. Plus: Get a sneak peek at the festival's films!
Lathrop Hall-H'Doubler Performance Space, 6 pm nightly through March 20
The UW's free hip-hop festival features performances by both students and pros, including interdisciplinary artist DawN Crandell.
Bartell Theatre, 7 pm. Also Thursday (7 pm) & Saturday (2 & 7 pm), March 14 & 16
UW InterMission Theatre presents this student-written off-Broadway-style musical parody, following the adventures of the bumbling crew of the U.S.S. Derivative as they attempt to save the galaxy.
UW Music Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday (3 pm) & Tuesday (7:30 pm), March 17 & 19
University Opera presents the 1891 opera by Pietro Mascagni, a charming comedy about a matchmaker's efforts on behalf of a wealthy bachelor.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
When Hicks started blending swing, bluegrass and cowboy folk more than 40 years ago, he was described as a young guy playing old sounds. Thanks to his timeless sense of humor, songs such as "I Scare Myself" sound surprisingly modern, especially for a 71-year-old.
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (1 & 6:30 pm), March 16 & 17
The magical English nanny floats into Madison on her umbrella, courtesy of this touring Broadway musical. It brings the Disney movie to life with spectacular stagecraft.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
The plus-size comedian got his break on NBC's Last Comic Standing and has since made a mark with Comedy Central specials. He mocks prejudice and his own girth in his R-rated act.
Mills Hall in the UW Humanities Bldg., 8 pm
At this free concert, the quintet will premiere "Gravikord," a work UW music professor Daniel Grabois penned to herald the ensemble's 40th-anniversary season.
Frequency, 9 pm
American Idol sent this gifted jazz singer home in 2002 because she didn't "look like a star." Since then, her voice has earned praise from critics who think she's a master of nuance with enduring appeal.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
If you can't make it to Austin for the Majestic's SXSW party, there's still plenty of fun to be had here during a show by the Expendables, a California surf-rock group known for their bodacious dueling guitars.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Fans of sweet yet melancholy groups like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart have flocked to this band's dark, elegant guitar-pop. They'll perform highlights from Waiting for Something to Happen.
Chazen Museum of Art, through May 26
This exhibition features more than 150 English, Italian and French drawings from the 16th through the 20th centuries, exploring how styles evolve from one generation to another.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 10 am-4 pm. Also Sunday, March 17, 10 am-4 pm
The expo features hundreds of exhibitors of interest to parents. But don't be afraid to bring the kids, who can check out a variety of activities.
Majestic Theatre, 6:30 pm
The singer and fiddler from the Grammy-winning Americana group Nickel Creek has been chugging along in her solo career, recruiting celebs such as Jackson Browne for last year's Sun Midnight Sun.
Oakwood Village-University Woods Auditorium, 7 pm. Also at UW Arboretum Visitor Center, Sunday, March 17, 1:30 pm
The ensemble will perform music by French composers and their mentors, including works for woodwinds by Poulenc and Ferenc.
First Unitarian Society, 7:30 pm
Dustin Lance Black's play is about the legal battle over California's Proposition 8, which denied the right to same-sex marriage. This reading by the First Unitarian Society is part of a nationwide series of productions touting marriage equality as a basic constitutional right.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Though his instrumental talents include guitar and mandolin, this former member of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys is a vibrant vocalist who uses live shows to prove that yodeling is indeed an art form.
Dragonfly Lounge, 9:30 pm
This Chicago-born artist became a record-spinning wunderkind before he turned 12 and won a local DJing contest. See what he brings to the decks with more than 20 years of experience under his belt.
NOTEWORTHY: National Gallery of Art opens in Washington, D.C., 1941.
Barrymore Theatre, 7 pm
After his brilliantly oddball stints on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, the comedy legend has returned to standup. (See Comedy.)
Orpheum Theatre, 8 pm
See if Dan Deacon can top the rave-meets-Romper Room spectacle he brought to the Majestic last November. Then bounce through the psychedelic carnival of Animal Collective's Centipede Hz.