Late autumn in Madison doesn't really get any busier than this weekend. The calendar includes: Kids Expo, the Winter Art Festival, and the opening of Holiday Fantasy in Lights; Bioneers; productions of Sesame Street Live, Blood Wedding, Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, McBeth, and Room on the Broom and performances by Kanopy Dance, Jason Petty, and the Smothers Brothers; appearances by Sir James Galway, Mukoma wa Ngugi, and Jonathan Patz; and, an avalanche of live music by the Wisconsin Singers, Hank III & Assjack, Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely, The Fiery Furnaces, Pert' Near Sandstone, Real Estate, The Bitter Tears, the WCO, Miles Anthony Benjamin Robinson, Whitney Mann, Warren G., Alasdair Fraser with Natalie Haas, and Free Moral Agents with Zechs Marquise.
BIRTHDAYS: Oscar- & Grammy-winning actress/comedian Whoopi Goldberg, 1955.
BioPharmaceutical Technology Center, Fitchburg, 7:45 am-9 pm. Also Saturday, Nov. 14, 8 am-6 pm Join other sustainability-minded folks at this conference (see Environment).
Barnes & Noble West, 3 pm
Ahead of his performance with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the reknowned flutist signs copies of his new memoir, The Man With the Golden Flute.
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 7 pm. Also Saturday (10:30 am & 2 pm) & Sunday (1 & 4:30 pm), Nov. 14 & 15
Visit faraway lands on the Good Ship Rubber Ducky with your television puppet friends.
UW Vilas Hall's Hemsley Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, Nov. 12 & 14, 7:30 pm
University Theatre presents Federico García Lorca's sad, surreal 1932 play, in which a newly married woman runs away with a paramour and is pursued by her husband.
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Nov. 14 & 15
Kanopy presents its concert Autumn Heart, with work by, among others, Minneapolis' Footholds Dance Project and new dances from Kanopy choreographers.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, Nov. 14, 7:30 pm
The UW's all-singing, all-dancing troupe performs Don't Stop the Music, its revue of Broadway, rock 'n' roll and other genres. If it sounds wholesome, that's because it is.
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (1 & 6:30 pm), Nov. 12, 14 & 15
The Broadway comedy hit concludes its Overture run as four actors play the 150 roles of Hitch's 1935 film.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
Like his granddad, Hank Williams III has a talent for making honkytonk pop, and he also plays snarling punk and metal (see Tour Stop). With Those Poor Bastards.
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Nov. 14 & 15
Broom Street's artistic director Callen Harty has adapted Shakespeare's play and, sans a, set it in the corporate world. Yes, our hero is egged on by his wife.
UW Music Hall, 8 pm
Huge-voiced Reagon, daughter of civil rights pioneers, melds her crisp songwriting with sounds that combine rock, soul and folk influences. It's a powerful entertainment attack.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger return to Madison to break the pattern of their earlier avant-garde albums with songs from I'm Going Away, which takes the sibling duo into territory that's strange for them but pretty typical for just about everybody else: structured pop tunes with strong melodies. With Cryptacize and Dent May.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Like Old Crow Medicine Show and other string-music revivalists, the energetic Twin Cities combo Pert' Near Sandstone serves up an acoustic, old-timey country sound without getting hung up on bluegrass orthodoxy. With Henhouse Prowlers.
UW Memorial Union, 9:30 pm
The indie-pop fan favorite from this year's CMJ fest has included a lot of water-themed tracks on a self-titled new disc, but the feeling these songs evoke is more one of being underwater, floating through patches of sunlight refracted onto a swimming pool floor. With Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, Bird Names.
Inferno, 10 pm
These dudes from Chicago unleash a cacophony of horns, stringed instruments and even accordions in a manner that screams punk but sounds like a twisted-yet-enjoyable pastiche of folk, '70s movie soundtracks and high school drama club. With Butte and Mike Behrends.
NOTEWORTHY: Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa released from jail, 1982.
Olin Park, through Jan. 3
The Olin Park show is a Madison tradition, and it's courtesy of the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159. Thanks, union members.
Monona Terrace, 9 am-5 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 15, 10 am-4 pm
Scores of state artists set up booths to display their wares in this 20th annual extravaganza hosted by the Wisconsin Alliance of Artists and Craftspeople. Kids' activities and music keep the mood warm and inviting.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 10 am-4 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 15, 10 am-4 pm
The expo features hundreds of exhibitors representing services for children. While parents browse the booths, kids can keep busy with performances and activities.
Rainbow Bookstore, 2 pm
The former Madisonian discusses Nairobi Heat, his new novel, which is partly set in and around the greater Maple Bluff area.
Verona High School Performing Arts Center, 7:30 pm
Petty made his name performing as Hank Williams Sr. in the off-Broadway show Lost Highway. Tonight he presents Hank and My Honky Tonk Friends.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The ensemble welcomes Irish flutist Sir James Galway, who's as getty a get as they come in the classical world. There's music of Ibert, Copland and Stravinsky, and Lady Jeanne Galway joins in on Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
After enduring some incredibly unromantic moments, including a bout with homelessness, Robinson's luck changed when he met Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone, who praised and recorded his songs. His most recent recording, the just-released LP Summer of Fear, explores the depths with chilling accuracy. With Jeremiah Nelson.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
The local country songstress hits the east-side stage (see Music).
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
Though the rapper got started contributing to his stepbrother Dr. Dre's huge 1992 album The Chronic, he hit his own commercial peak just a few years later. See if he's poised for a comeback with his new CD, The G-Files. With U-N-I and Kidz in the Hall, DJ Vinnie Toma.
NOTEWORTHY: Moscow funeral services held for Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, 1982.
UW Arboretum Visitor Center, 2:30 pm
In this Wisconsin Academy Evenings event, the UW prof in the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment talks about "Heat Waves and High Water: Climate Change, Public Health and the 2050 Wisconsin Landscape."
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 3 pm
U.K.-based puppet troupe Tall Stories presents the story of a witch and her animal friends. They learn the maximum capacity of a flying broom, the hard way.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
In the 1960s, they went from funny, folk-song-singing comedians to funny, pioneering television broadcasters. Today, the Smothers Brothers are still funny.
UW Music Hall, 8 pm
One of Scotland's finest fiddlers, Fraser is a great champion of traditional Highlands music. He's joined tonight by cellist Haas.
Frequency, 9 pm
Two side projects of the Mars Volta, one focusing on jazz and hip-hop and the other on prog, join forces to blow your mind with meanderings into the more abstract side of the musical landscape. With the Penfield Mood Organ.