Forward Music Festival
Various downtown venues. Also Saturday, Sept. 20
The ambitious new music fest has packed its wall-to-wall schedule with quality local acts and name artists with ties to the Midwest. Rock predominates, but hip-hop, alt-country, and indie-dance acts also get their due. On Friday, Detroit Cobras, Bob Mould, Neko Case, Giant Sand, Dan Deacon, Leslie & the LYs, Monotonix, and Scotland Yard Gospel Choir are all good bets. Saturday sees the return of Madison-bred noise-rock greats Killdozer as well as plenty of other tasty sonic options, including sets from Flosstradamus, Dillinger Four, Yea Big & Kid Static, Mason Jennings, and Thao With the Get Down Stay Down. A $40 weekend pass gives you a shot at all the shows; entrance to individual concerts is guaranteed by VIP badges priced at $10. Yup, that's a pretty durn good deal.
World Music Festival
Sept. 18-21, UW Memorial Union & other venues
In its second weekend, the sprawling fest concludes with music of, among others, Bulgaria's Kabile and India's Dya Singh, plus an appearance at the Willy Street Fair of Etran Finatawa of Niger.
Quilts in Bloom: Fall Quilt & Flower Show
Olbrich Botanical Gardens, through Oct. 12
If you needed a reason to visit wondrous Olbrich, here's one. The gardens' annual show features local quilters' works, with designs incorporating botanical themes.
Tony Castaneda Latin Jazz Sextet
Cardinal Bar, 6 pm
Tony Castaneda's Afro-Cuban summits are always worthwhile, but tonight the local conguero and his compadres should be especially fired up for this gig, which benefits hurricane victims in Madison's sister city Camaguey, Cuba.
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (4 & 8 pm), Sunday (2 pm), Wednesday & Thursday (7:30 pm), Sept. 20, 21, 24 & 25
Madison Repertory Theatre begins its first season since the departure of artistic director Richard Corley. The series begins, probably wisely, with laughs in this one-performer comedy about the woman who takes reservations at an exclusive New York restaurant.
Stoughton Opera House, Stoughton, 7:30 pm
The Whitewater-based accordionist, son of Polka Hall-of-Famer Verne Meisner, keeps the family tradition alive. The polka is Wisconsin's state dance, y'all, so show it some love.
Barrymore Theatre, 7:30 pm
Westenhoefer is a pioneer, the first out lesbian comic to appear on Letterman and land an HBO special. But don't worry, straight people: She can entertain you, too.
UW's Music Hall, 7:30 pm
The UW's opera company kicks off its season with a gala concert saluting the tenth anniversary of director William Farlow. Students and alumni will sing selections from Mozart and Wagner, as well as Broadway tunes.
The Comedy Club, 8 & 10:30. Also Thursday (8:30 pm) and Saturday (8 & 10:30 pm), Sept. 18 & 20
The comic made a name in the '80s with his boyish looks and manically delivered gags. The boy is a silver-haired, middle-aged man now, but his nightclub act is screamingly funny. Andi Smith and Nate Ford also appear.
Robert Schultz: Drawings
Chazen Museum of Art
The Madison-based artist, a UW graduate, works largely in graphite and draws mostly nudes. This exhibit collects Schultz works dating back to 1990. Meet the artist at a reception Friday, Sept. 19 (6 pm).
Food For Thought Festival
Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, 8 am-1:30 pm
The annual sustainable-food confab celebrates its tenth year with a cooking demonstration, a cake-decorating contest and exhibitors including grocers, farms, nonprofits and food producers that keep it real with local and organic fare. The night before, on Friday, Sept. 19, the related Friday Night Forum features author Michael Ableman and chef David Swanson (UW's Agricultural Hall, room 125, 7:30 pm).
Oakwood Chamber Players
Oakwood Village West (6201 Mineral Point Road), 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Sept. 21, 2 pm
The ensemble's season begins with music of John Harbison and Jurriaan Andriessen, plus a specially commissioned work by Arizona composer Rodney Rodgers.
Willy Street Fair
Sat., Sept. 20 (2 pm) & Sun., Sept. 21 (11 am), 800-1000 blocks of Williamson Street
Traditionally, Willy Street's freaky alfresco get-together marks the end of the summer festival season. Thanks to a partnership with the UW's World Music Festival, this year's musical lineup mixes creative global acts like Germany's 17 Hippies and Zimbabwe's Chiwoniso with all manner of local and touring rockers, folkies, alt-twangers and groovists. Felicia Alima, the Box Social, Blueheels, Paul Cebar, Yid Vicious, Blake Thomas, SONiA and many more will take to the fair's multiple stages over its two-day run.
Travis Tritt/Marty Stuart
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 8 pm
With Tritt dishin' rootsy ballads and southern country-rockin', members of the local the wine and cheese set aren't likely to venture down to Overture tonight. Opener Marty Stuart's ability to jump from A-level back porch pickin' to polished country to poetic song cycles is startling at time when so much of Nashville remains focused on forgettable pop.
Pro Arte Quartet
UW's Mills Hall, 8 pm
The university's resident foursome was founded back in 1912, as the court quartet to Belgium's Queen Elizabeth, and it moved to Madison in 1940. In this concert the group performs music of Mozart, Beethoven and Leo Janácek.
1326 MacArthur Road (house concert), 9 pm
A brilliant, clear-eyed singer-songwriter with soul to spare, sixty-something David Olney digs to the pith of things on a mix of folk, country, blues and swing. He's often compared with the late Townes Van Zandt, who admired Olney's sobering, charcoal-toned originals. Sergio Webb also appears.
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
Far as we know, Gomers multi-instrumentalist Blumfumgagne's live backing of Robert Wiene's expressionist masterwork The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari isn't an official Forward Music Fest show, but it might as well be. Free!
Annex, 7 pm
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page deserve royalties from some of 10 Years' aching power ballads. Otherwise, the Tennessee metal act traffics in grandiose rockers that recall chart toppers Staind. Earshot and Meriwether open.