Spring is imminent! Head outside for the spring air and mark the changing season with: the Home Products Show, the FestivAle Craft Beer Tasting, and a Mad Rollin' Dolls bout; performances of Picnic, Campus Affairs, Cloud 9, and by the Li-Chao Ping Dance Company; a YMCA Youth Center Benefit concert; and, more live music by The Academy Is, the MSO, Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Retribution Gospel Choir, Toubab Krewe, AA Bondy, The Big Wu, Dave Barnes, Jayme Dawicki, Phosphorescent, Haley Bonar, Ralph's World, and Tea Leaf Green.
NOTEWORTHY: Former Bush aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr. convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, 2007.
BIRTHDAYS: U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, 1926; Nobel-winning Colombian author Gabriel García-Márquez, 1928.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 2-7 pm. Also Saturday (9 am-7 pm) & Sunday (10 am-5 pm), March 7 & 8
Construction season is almost here, which means it's time to examine the latest in doors, floors and cabinets at this expo. If you plan to work on your house this year, please don't fall off the roof.
Loft at Goodman Community Center, 7 pm
Break out the skinny jeans: The poppy, punkish emo-rock of the Academy Is is hitting the east side. Hey, it was the centerpiece of the 2006 Warped Tour, so it's certainly cool enough to kick off your weekend, right? This Providence and Evan Taubenfeld open.
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), March 5 & 7
The UW Dance Program's amazing Li presents A Little Off Kilter, with works choreographed by Li herself (including her latest solo, "Becoming") and by guests Cynthia Adams and Ken James of Fellow Travelers Performing Group.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), March 7 & 8
Israeli conductor Yoav Talmi leads the ensemble in the overture from Alexander Borodin's opera Prince Igor, as well as Dvorák's "Symphony No. 8." The guest soloist is Lithuanian violinist Julian Rachlin, who will perform Stravinsky's "Violin Concerto."
MATC-Truax's Mitby Theater, 7:30. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), March 7 & 8
There's William Inge in the air. Madison Rep's last production was of the playwright's Bus Stop, and now comes MATC Performing Arts' staging of Picnic, about a moody drifter who rolls into his old hometown and shakes things up.
TAPIT/New Works, 8 pm. Also Saturday, March 7, 4 & 8 pm
Playwrights Ink and UW Phi Beta present this original comedy about a professor who falls under the influence of a colleague's love potion.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, March 7, 8 pm As with the concurrently running Vamp, StageQ and Mercury Players Theatre team up on this production of the English dramatist Caryl Churchill's sexually adventuresome comedy, set first in colonial Africa, then in the here and now.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
With her band Immigrant Soul, fiddler Ivers, formerly of Cherish the Ladies and the roving Irish extravaganza Riverdance, mixes African and Latin influences with traditional Irish sounds.
Orpheum Theatre's Stage Door, 9 pm
The Duluth trio boasts Low's Alan Sparhawk and performs hard-driving, guitar-centric rock 'n' roll on its self-titled debut. Groovy stuff.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
If you've never heard a kora, a kamelengoni and a souk -- two types of lutes and a horsehair fiddle -- it's worth spending a Friday night getting acquainted. They really rock when the Krewe pairs 'em with the electric guitars and basses of American surf and zydeco music. The Bridge opens.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
Former Verbena front man AA Bondy has had a great run since going solo in 2007. He visits the Rathskeller as he wraps up his spring tour and sets his sights on Bonnaroo for June. Chris Bathgate opens.
NOTEWORTHY: Beatles' BBC radio debut, 1962.
BIRTHDAYS: Zombies bassist Chris White, 1943; author Bret Easton Ellis, 1964.
High Noon Saloon, noon
The folks from the Arthritis Foundation have gathered an impressive lineup of Wisconsin craft beers, plus locally produced foods that pair perfectly with each brew. The honkytonk-happy Dirty Shirts will play a set around 4 p.m., but the sipping and munching will go on all afternoon.
Club Tavern (Middleton), noon
Bands young and not-so-young, from the hard-rockin' teens of Boulderfist to the geeky-yet-seasoned shredding of Sunspot, team up to raise money for youth programs at the local Y. Pine, Sand, Lucas Cates, 4xDaily and several others are likely to drown the bar in sound all afternoon and well into the evening.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 6 pm
The roller derby league's inaugural season at the Alliant rolls on as the Vaudeville Vixens take on the Unholy Rollers and the Reservoir Dolls battle the Rockford Rage in interleague action.
Orpheum Theatre, 8 pm
The Minnesota jam band, no strangers here, arrive to do that thing. With Shoeless Revolution, Moon Boot Posse.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Nashville-based Barnes performs genial, R&B-inflected pop music. He built a national following via the MySpace/YouTube route, but he joined a label for his most recent release, Me & You & the World. With Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors.
Brink Lounge, 9 pm
The Milwaukee native performs stately, piano-based rock -- maybe you heard it on MTV's The Real World-Brooklyn. She appears in Madison ahead of a South By Southwest show later this month.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9 pm
Matthew Houck, a.k.a. Phosphorescent, just released To Willie, a collection of tunes dedicated to Willie Nelson that the Red Headed Stranger surely must admire. Here's your chance to find out why. Mike Bones and Light Pollution open.
Cafe Montmartre, 9:30 pm
Haley Bonar's been getting a lot of boosts from notable Midwestern musicians, from a debut album on Low's label back in 2003 to a spot on Andrew Bird's 2007 release, Armchair Apocrypha. Her own release of late, Big Star, has won the hearts of many critics and fans in the Twin Cities and beyond. Ben Weaver opens.
U.S. DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME BEGINS (SPRING FORWARD)
NOTEWORTHY: Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio dies, 1999.
BIRTHDAYS: Monkees drummer Mickey Dolenz, 1945; Sports Illustrated swimsuit model/actress Kathy Ireland, 1963.
High Noon Saloon, 11 am
Ralph Covert came out of Chicago's indie rock scene (he led the pop-rockers the Bad Examples), and that experience serves him well in his incarnation as a popular children's musician. His bouncy songs are so melodically hip that they hook parents as well as their kids.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
The prog-leaning San Francisco jammers serve up a night's worth of shaggy-haired grooving. Attention Phish phans! With Outformation.