Fall serves up an impressive supply of delights this weekend, one of the busiest of the season, with MadCon, Food for Thought Festival, Madison World Music Festival, Willy Street Fair, Urban Assault Ride, and Prairie Music Festival. The calendar is brimming with more, including: Invisible Boy by Broom Street Theater; performances by The Choir of Clare College, Pro Arte Quartet, and Les Thimmig with Matan Rubinstein; and, a wealth of more live music from El Ten Eleven, Menomena, Laura Veirs & the Hall of Flames, the Lucas Cates Band, Those Darlins, and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys.
NOTEWORTHY: Nirvana releases Nevermind, 1991.
BIRTHDAYS: Filmmaker Nia Vardalos, 1962.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, through Sept. 26
The confab offers workshops and events for science fiction and fantasy fans. Notable presenters include authors Gene Wolfe and Patrick Rothfuss, as well as the guest of honor, legendary writer Harlan Ellison -- who, ailing, says this is his last conference appearance (see Words).
Madison World Music Festival
UW Memorial Union Sept. 23-24, Willy Street Fair Sept. 25
The free festival again hosts a smorgasbord of global sounds, from traditionalists to up-and-comers. Enjoy Romania's Mahala Rai Banda, the Sway Machinery's bluesy, Brooklyn-style take on Afrobeat, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars (see Tour Stop) and much more. For a complete lineup, visit Food for Thought Festival
UW Humanities Building, Room 3650, 7 pm. Also Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saturday, Sept. 25, 8 am-1:30 pm
The annual food fiesta explores ways to make eating more healthy, sustainable and -- last but not least -- delicious. Friday's panel discussion features California's "Renegade Lunch Lady," chef Ann Cooper, as well as Wisconsin school food representatives. Saturday's events include a talk by Cooper, exhibitors, cooking demos and kids' activities.
The Choir of Clare College
Luther Memorial Church, 7:30 pm
One of England's leading choral groups -- it's based at Cambridge University -- performs Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Kyrie and Agnus Dei," William Byrd's "Ave Verum," Thomas Tallis' "Ave Verum" and much more. The mixed-voice ensemble was founded in 1971.
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Sept. 25 & 26
The east-side theater company presents an autobiographical play, by artistic director Callen Harty, about surviving childhood sexual abuse.
El Ten Eleven
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Many graphic design nerds know El Ten Eleven's ethereal, experimental post-rock from Gary Hustwit's typography documentary Helvetica. However, the group's sound -- especially on its forthcoming album, It's Still Like a Secret -- also tends to attract fans of Sigur Rós and folks who appreciate unique amalgams of shoegaze and Americana music. With Dosh and Baths.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The three-man rock band from Portland, Ore., is known for its collaborative approach, swapping instruments during the recording process and sharing vocal duties onstage. Live performances also feature a glockenspiel, tons of MIDI samples, various saxophones and a super-cool Moog synthesizer. With Suckers and Tu Fawning.
Laura Veirs & the Hall of Flames
Frequency, 10 pm
Veirs' newest album, July Flame, is aptly named considering the sound of her songs and how they make you feel. They radiate with warmth, from sunny acoustic guitar playing to unusual lyrics that burn their way into your brain slowly but fully. With the Watson Twins and Led to Sea.
BIRTHDAYS: Filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, 1951; actress Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas, 1969.
Willy Street Fair
800-1000 blocks of Williamson Street, 1:30 pm. Also Sunday, Sept. 26, 11 am
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, the Willy Street Fair mixes creative global acts with all manner of rockers, folkies, alt-twangers and groovists, like Josh Harty, Tani Diakite & the Malian Blues Band, Ken Lonnquist & the Whateverlys, the Jimmys and the Transgressions. The parade at 11 am on Sunday is -- well, it just doesn't get more Madison.
Lucas Cates Band
Brink Lounge, 8 pm
Local rocker Cates plays a set of his very appealing, very assured pop music. This event celebrates the release of the new Lucas Cates Band album. With the Ryan Casey Band.
Pro Arte Quartet
UW Humanities Building's Mills Hall, 8 pm
A welcome sign of fall: The university's resident foursome begins its season performing Mozart's "String Quartet in E-flat major," K. 428; Dvorak's "String Quartet in D minor," Op. 34; and Schumann's "String Quartet in A major," Op. 41 No. 3.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
This trio of kitsch-loving gals and their trusty drummer are so fun and campy that they'll convert at least a few "I like everything but country music" types into bona fide fans of their saucy rockabilly and teasing twang. With These United States, Turbo Fruits and the Deep Dark Woods.
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
To his credit, Big Sandy's old-school approach to rockabilly and classic country favors swinging and sweating above clownish posing. No doubt Eddie Cochran smiles a little wider up in heaven each time the Fly-Rite Boys punch up another finger-snapping beat.
BIRTHDAYS: Aussie singer Olivia Newton-John, 1948; tennis champion Serena Williams, 1981.
Urban Assault Ride
Olin Park, 9 am
Participants in this lively event bicycle to designated checkpoints, where they engage in wacky physical exertions (example: piggyback polo). It's all in the name of fun, promoting cycling and sustainability -- and winning a sweet ride, the Belgium Brewing Cruiser Bike.
Prairie Music Festival Les Thimmig, Matan Rubinstein
Cannery Grill, Prairie Music Academy and Beans 'n Cream Coffeehouse, Sun Prairie, 2-6 pm
UW Humanities Building's Mills Hall, 2 pm
The UW reed man plays a recital, offering jazz standards and original compositions on a small arsenal of flutes, clarinets and saxophones. He's accompanied by Rubinstein, the UW-trained pianist who's now teaching at UW-Whitewater.
Les Thimmig, Matan Rubinstein