Syttende Mai Celebration
Stoughton, through May 18
No one celebrates the signing of Norway's constitution as fervently as Stoughton -- probably not even Norway. The annual festival features dancing, music, a parade and a Saturday run/walk from Madison to Stoughton.
Cypress Spray Park, corner of Magnolia Lane and Cypress Way, 1:45 pm
The Madison Arts Commission unveils a public artwork created by local artist Melanie Kehoss for the Cypress Spray Park. "One-Two-Three-Go!" consists of cheerful cast-aluminum figures, attached to the park's fence.
McKee Farms Park, 4 pm-midnight. Also Saturday (10 am-midnight) & Sunday (1-4 pm), May 17 & 18
The festival emphasizes Fitchburg's Irish roots with performances by the Cashel Dennehy Irish Dancers, the Young Dubliners and the Kissers. The carnival, on the other hand, will have a distinctly American flavor.
Bike to Work Week
Vilas Park Shelter, 4-7 pm
A week's worth of communal pedaling winds down with a Final Fiesta for registered riders. There'll be food, beer, bike checks and music by the German Art Students. Gas? Who needs gas?
Openings at two galleries make a nice excuse to drive out to picturesque Paoli. Paoli House Gallery (6891 Paoli Rd.) features unique objects by Hai-Chi Jihn, who investigates women's social roles; and Nissa Kubly, whose metal sculptures are inspired by the camera obscura. (Reception: Friday, May 16, 5-9 pm.) The Artisan Gallery (6858 Paoli Rd.) shows fiber art by Pat Kroth, ceramics by Rachelle Miller and sculpture by Ruth Hansen. (Reception: Friday, May 16, 5-9 pm.)
TL Solien: Myths & Monsters
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, through Aug. 17. Art Talk with Solien and curator Jane Simon: 7 pm. Reception: 8 pm
Solien is a Madison-based artist whose strikingly surreal imagery borrows from many sources in its attempt to make sense of his experience, mixing the horrible and the humorous. MMoCA's survey of his career includes 43 paintings, prints and works on paper, going all the way back to the 1980s.
Madison Poetry Slam Finals
Inn on the Park, 7 pm
Madison's top slam poets compete for a spot on the local team that will compete in this summer's National Poetry Slam. All the competitors have placed in previous rounds, so the field will be strong. Former local champ Kyle "El Guante" Myhre is the featured poet.
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, May 17, 2 & 7:30 pm
Madison Ballet closes its season with an intimate performance featuring five of the company's dancers. It includes three premieres by artistic director W. Earle Smith.
Overture Center Playhouse, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (4 & 8 pm), Sunday (2 pm), Wednesday & Thursday (7:30 pm), May 17, 18, 21 & 22
Madison Repertory Theatre presents Larry Shue's light farce about a socially challenged geek who stays -- and stays -- with his old Army buddy. The play breaks no new ground, but it's a crowd-pleaser, and the tight, likable ensemble hits all the right notes.
Bernie Taupin Night
Wil-Mar Center, 7:30 pm
Aaron Nathans, Nancy Rost, Greg Winkler, Dale Kidd, Michael Gruber, Andrew Nath and Tracy Jane Comer play folk interpretations of Bernie Taupin's songs -- not only his well-known collaborations with Elton John, but also his solo work and songs for other artists.
Monty Python's Spamalot
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (2 & 7 pm), May 15, 17 & 18
A touring company presents the Tony-winning musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, that sublimely silly movie masterpiece. Comedy pro Mike Nichols directed, with book, lyrics and music by Python madman Eric Idle.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
The Los Angeles alternative band, famous for the catchy, ethereal single "No Rain," ceased performing after the 1995 death of singer Shannon Hoon. But they've regrouped with a new singer, Travis Warren, and a new CD, For My Friends. Down the Line opens.
The Von Bondies
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The Detroit rockers crank up the guitars and yowling vocals on songs from an upcoming album. Die! Die! Die! and Sleeping in the Aviary open.
Annex, 9:30 pm
The adventurous Bay Area pop group writes songs chock-full of mysterious characters and narratives. Their shifting soundscapes can be disorienting, but their new album, ExitingARM, finds them at their most accessible. Fog and Locks open.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra & Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 2:30 pm
The pros play with the kids in this Side-by-Side concert, featuring Barber's "Adagio for Strings," Ravel's "Tzigane" and an excerpt from Dvorak's "Symphony No. 3." Watch out for proud parents in the first 10 rows.
Tex Tubb & the Jokermen
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Tubb joins with other local musicians, including members of the Kissers and Sean Michael Dargan's band, in a tribute to Bob Dylan. With Dylan's voice nearly gone, this will be a rare chance to actually understand his lyrics in a live setting.
Crystal Corner Bar, 9:30 pm
The country band made their mark on Madison music around the turn of the century with songwriting that was both clever and classic, parodying country tropes while also delivering real tear-in-your beer intensity. The Junkers went their separate ways in 2003 (golden-throated vocalist Kenneth Burns now works for Isthmus), but they reunite one last time in the name of honky-tonk memories.
The Moon Gypsies
Harmony Bar, 9:30 pm
The celebrated band of Madison music-scene veterans says so long after nearly a decade in action. This show also gives fans of the soulful roots-rock quartet a chance to hear bands that members are moving forward with: the Rowdy Prairie Dogs (with Robert J) and the Stellanovas (with Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines).
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
The Chicago guitarist plays jazz, classical and Indian music. Sometimes he fuses all these styles, creating subtle and intricate textures.
WORT Block Party
600 block West Doty Street, 11 am-7 pm
The community radio station's amiable event features food, kids' activities, a beer garden and music by the Nob Hill Boys, the Gadjo Players, Vibe Syndicate, Roots Collective, the Blueheels and the Pints. And collectors are sure to find some steals at the annual CD and record sale.
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
The novelist reads from Open Line, a satire of our crazy political culture. It's about a struggling radio talk-show host who creates a national sensation by claiming that the Vietnam War was a government hoax.
Spin Cycle Improv
Coliseum Bar, 7 pm
Mother's Day is past, but the local comedy troupe still has mom on the mind, playing short-form improv games with a maternal theme. You can eat dinner at the Coliseum Bar before the show, BUT DON'T FORGET TO WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST!
Asylum Street Spankers
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
The Austin band consistently defy expectations with their all-acoustic repertoire of '20s jazz tunes, obscure blues, scarifying country ballads and sardonic originals. They're also capable of gut-busting political satire, as in their gut-busting new video for their Tony Orlando lampoon "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV."