May goes out strong with a bonus weekend overflowing with early summer fun. Good bets include: Festa Italia and the World Dance Alliance-Americas General Assembly; the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and Burgers & Brew; productions of Twelfth Night and Queer Shorts 4; standup by Jeff Dunham and the home season closer for the Wisconsin Wolfpack; the Spring Splash Reggae Bash, and more live music by Nathaniel Bartlett, the Meat Puppets, Brainerd, Brothers Burn Mountain, the Ancora String Quartet, the Oakwood Chamber Players, The Felice Brothers, Pupy Costello, Chiodos, and Dead Sparrows.
NOTEWORTHY: Wisconsin achieves statehood, 1848.
BIRTHDAYS: Grammy-winning rocker Melissa Etheridge, 1961; Scary Spice Girl Melanie Brown, 1975.
UW Lathrop Hall, through May 31. Opening-night concert: Overture Center's Capitol Theater, Thursday, May 28, 8 pm. Closing concert: Wisconsin Union Theater, Sunday, May 31, 8 pm Dancers from around the country and around the world (Germany, India, Kenya, Thailand) converge for a conference, public classes and a series of seven public performances in what promises to be a remarkable smorgasbord of movement. See www.dance.wisc.edu for a schedule and Arts Beat, for a preview.
McKee Farms Park, Fitchburg, 5 pm-midnight. Also Saturday (11 am-12:30 am) & Sunday (11 am-7 pm), May 30 & 31 The annual celebration of Italian culture features musicians, folk dancing and enough pasta to last you through June. Don't expect to beat the old Greenbush residents in the bocce tournament.
MATC-Truax's Studio Theatre, 7 pm. Also Saturday (7 pm) & Sunday (2 & 7 pm), May 30 & 31
The brash youth "indie theater" troupe Quick and Dead Productions sets Shakespeare's comedy in post-Katrina New Orleans (see profile).
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), May 28, 30 & 31 StageQ, the LGBT-themed theater troupe, presents 11 short one-act plays by playwrights from throughout North America; tying them together is the theme "It's only love" (see Nathaniel Bartlett
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 8 pm
Bartlett plays contemporary classical music with a marimba hooked up to computers and an eight-channel cube of loudspeakers. Tonight he performs the world premieres of his own "Sound/Space System" and Allan Schindler's "Take Flight."
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 8 pm
The ventriloquist is a Comedy Central superstar, thanks in part to his signature "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" routine. Representative gag: "How do you spell your name?" "A...C...phlegm..." So funny we forgot to email the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Actually, you might temporarily forget about the terrorist shtick when he's mocking gays and Jews.
Annex, 9 pm
Meat Puppets began as a hardcore punk band in 1980, but it was their addition of country and psych-rock sounds that helped create the cowpunk genre and inspired bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pavement to make history in the '90s. Read our interview with Puppets singer/guitarist Curt Kirkwood in this week's Tour Stop. Alan Sparhawk and Dark Meat open.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Dred I Dread and Prince Paul & the Conscious Party swing down from Minnesota to share their custom blends of hip-hop and reggae, and Madison's own Chafo opens the show with a dub-meets-Latin sound.
Frequency, 10 pm
The hard-rocking hometown guys from Brainerd team up with noisy math-rockers United Sons of Toil to celebrate the release of a new CD, The Goat. Sample a track from the disc in this week's MadTracks review. Also playing: This Specific Dream, Disguised as Birds.
NOTEWORTHY: Joan of Arc burns at stake, 1431.
BIRTHDAYS: Rock guitarist Tom Morello, 1964.
Alliant Energy Center's Willow Island. 6-7:45 am registration, races begin 8:30 am
The race helps raise funds for local and national breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment programs. There are 5K runs and walks, as well as a one-mile course perfect for the stroller set.
Capital Brewery, 4 pm
REAP, the local sustainable-food group, puts its own spin on two iconic Wisconsin foodstuffs. It brings together Dane County chefs, brewers, farmers and cheesemakers for an afternoon of mini-burgers (including the veggie variety) and beers. The event raises funds for REAP's Buy Fresh Buy Local program.
Frequency, 5:30 pm
The acoustic group from the far-west suburbs of Milwaukee tend to play coffee shops and other low-key venues, but they're preparing for a big July 2 set on the Summerfest Cascio Stage with a performance at one of Madison's favorite rock clubs. Nick Josephs & the Blamers open.
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 7 pm
The Wolfpack, proud members of the Continental Indoor Football League, finishes up the home season in a match with the Chicago Slaughter.
First Unitarian Society, 7:30 pm
The ensemble, whose history dates back to 2000, winds down its season with selections from Charles Griffes, Bedrich Smetana and Paul Hindemith. Wisconsin Public Radio's Norman Gilliland picked the program; he speaks at 7 pm.
Oakwood Village-West Auditorium, 7:30. Also Sunday, May 31, 2 pm
The septet likewise performs its final 2008-2009 concert with music of Carl Nielsen, Kaspar Kummer and Craig Bohmler, plus the premiere of a work by Shanghai native Wang Jie.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9 pm
The New York City subway platforms are some of the most democratic venues in the world, and they've launched the careers of many fine musicians such as the Felice Brothers, an earthy folk-rock outfit that features washboards, fiddles, organ, accordion and at times a horn section. Taylor Hollingsworth opens.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Expect the heroes of the Grand Ole Opry to get their due as Pupy's fun-loving crew make another classic country-themed club appearance. Also: Cash Box Kings with Joel Paterson, Jimmy Sutton and Oscar Wilson.
BIRTHDAYS: Spaghetti-western star/filmmaker Clint Eastwood, 1930; Fall Out Boy drummer Andy Hurley, 1980.
Majestic Theatre, 6:30 pm
Call it nuevo-emo, call it post-hardcore, call it whatever you want: Chiodos brings a powerful and prickly live performance to the Majestic stage. Better yet, it's at least slightly inspired by the bizarro flick Killer Klowns From Outer Space. The Silent Years, Miss May I, Your Best Friend and Noris open.
Frequency, 9:30 pm
Dubbed "the workhorses in a field of posturing model-rockers" by Working Class magazine, the New York City quartet -- formerly Madison's Cummies -- show they can bring it both onstage and on disc, visiting the Frequency to celebrate the release of a new album, Into the Nettles. Des Roar and the Optimistic open.