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Bid farewell to summer over this long Labor Day weekend brimming with tunes, eats, and treats. The fun includes: the Taste of Madison; the Snake on the Lake Fest, Music & Comedy Under the Stars, the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival, and Recreational Rhythms 6; First Fridays and the premiere of In the Beginning: An Evolutionary Musical; the American Idol Live Tour, and more live music by Woody McBride, Rootbeer, Nathaniel Bartlett, Noah Gundersen, The Kentucky Waterfalls, Hum Machine, LA Riots, and Julian Lynch; WWE Presents Raw Live! at the Coliseum; Venetian Night on Lake Mendota; and LaborFest. Welcome to autumn!
NOTEWORTHY: Los Angeles est., 1781.
BIRTHDAYS: Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, 1951; destined child Beyonce Knowles, 1981.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 4 pm
UW-Madison's student-run radio station has charmed another great lineup to town for an epic free show, including Philly DJ RJD2 and his ear-pleasing blend of samples and live instrumentation, plus Hollywood Holt & Million $ Mano, Free Energy, Yourself & the Air and Maritime. Local band the Nod opens (see Music).
Art in the Barn, Fitchburg, 5 pm
Music makers Moondance, Duo Acustico, Dave Carper and Freddy Clarke join comedian Jodi Cohen in a benefit for the Johns Hopkins Colon Cancer Center.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 5:30-8 pm
Each month MMoCA organizers create a sublime pocket of sophistication with these events, which see well-dressed patrons sipping cocktails, listening to music (Caravan Gypsy Swing plays tonight) and -- lest we forget -- taking in interesting art exhibits, including the recently opened From Nature exhibit of realist works.
Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center, 7 pm
Whether you're a fan of the kooky jazz vocals of Megan Joy, the Milwaukee soul of Danny Gokey or simply want to celebrate (or protest) the surprising results of American Idol's eighth season, the 10 finalists will be on hand to entertain you with covers of various Top 40 hits. With Adam Lambert, Kris Allen and the rest of the gang.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm), Sunday (2 pm) & Thursday (8 pm), Sept. 5, 6 & 10
Mercury Players Theatre presents the latest musical from Catherine Capellaro and Andrew Rohn, Madison's answer to Rodgers and Hammerstein. This one's about the creation myth, so brush up your pentateuch (see preview).
Token Creek Festival Barn, DeForest, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (4 pm), Sept. 5-6
The friendly musical confab begins its second weekend with a jazz program by singer Annette Sanders and trombonist Tom Artin. The concluding program on Saturday and Sunday features music of artistic director John Harbison, including his "Piano Quintet," which is dedicated to Sun Prairie's own Georgia O'Keeffe (the program is a celebration of her), plus Bach and Haydn.
Inferno, 9 pm
It seems that photo time capsules of raver culture are surfacing all over Facebook these days, but perhaps the best way to remember the days of glowsticks and phat pants is a musical trip back in time via the decks of Minneapolis' DJ ESP (a.k.a. Woody McBride), who engineered weird, wild techno parties in the Twin Cities from the early '90s until the turn of the century. With Ryan Gatesman, Cody V. and Chris Rusu.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
If the song "Chimpanzee" off Rootbeer's new EP Pink Limousine doesn't make you lose all your social graces in a completely hilarious way, you might be part alien. The group's two members -- Pigeon John and Flynn Adam -- will do just about anything to get you laughing and connecting with that slightly embarrassing bit of humanity that makes you take yourself a lot less seriously. With AD (of the Crest) and the Last Hope.
NOTEWORTHY: Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) wins boxing gold medal at Rome Olympics, 1960.
BIRTHDAYS: Actress Raquel Tejada (Welch), 1940; cartoonist Cathy Guisewite, 1950.
Elvehjem Park Shelter, 1 pm
Roots Collective, Art of the MC, Elf Lettuce, Taki All Stars, Electric Spanking and the Cause team up to raise money for the United Way at the Elvehjem Park Shelter.
Capitol Square, 2-9 pm. Also Sunday (11 am-7 pm), Sept. 6.
The annual food fest features more than 60 restaurants serving delectable samples. They set up booths around the Capitol and practically dare you to overeat. Helping you transition from crab rangoon to jerk chicken are dozens of national and local bands, including snarky rapper Asher Roth, country heartthrobs Love and Theft, and Seattle rockers Candlebox.
Promenade Hall at Overture Center, 8 pm
This ain't no farmers' market marimba: Bartlett, a Madison native trained at the Eastman School of Music, blends topnotch instrumental technique with electronics and a bit of physics savvy, positioning his audience so that they're completely surrounded by sound.
Brink Lounge, 8 pm
The Centralia, Wash., singer and songwriter was raised in a Christian household, and although these days he doesn't profess much, religion-wise, he's still engaging spiritual topics. Witness "Jesus, Jesus," the track that's as discomfiting a bit of theology as you're likely to hear on MySpace. With Paper Mache, the Stoves and Meteorade.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The local country duo stage a fake wedding to marry their disparate influences and promote their new CD. Get the details -- and an MP3 from the new disc, The Real Me -- in a MadTracks review. With Cold Hard Cash and Earl Foss & the Brown Derby.
Thirsty's Bar & Grill, 10 pm
The popular local band from the late '90s has reunited to record a live album just north of town in Arlington and needs fans to help out with the yelling-and-clapping part.
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
DJ duo and Coachella favorite LA Riots don't mess around with mixing bands that are still under the radar. They focus on big-name indie favorites -- Hot Chip, Cut Copy, Tegan and Sara, M.I.A. -- and cut straight to the hooks to fill up the dance floor. With Nick Nice.
NOTEWORTHY: Princess Diana's funeral service held at Westminster Abbey, 1997.
BIRTHDAYS: Tony- & Emmy-winning actress Swoosie Kurtz and Pink Floyd bassist-songwriter Roger Waters, 1944.
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 5 pm
Our story in professional wrestling so far: Large, angry men, some heroes, some villains, have been shouting threats, then beating the tar out of each other in a form of highly ritualized theater. In tonight's event, there will be more of the same.
Lake Mendota's eastern shore, dusk
A parade of lighted boats makes its way from Maple Bluff Beach to UW Memorial Union in the inaugural event. Watch from parks along the route, and then check out the fireworks.
Indie Coffee, 7 pm
New Jersey-via-Wisco recording artist Julian Lynch likes to cover Cyndi Lauper, but he's into all sorts of other catchy stuff as well, using his impressions of it to create lo-fi pop that's especially suitable for nice weather. With Boyscouts.
NOTEWORTHY: ESPN debuts on cable, 1979.
BIRTHDAYS: Pretenders singer-songwriter-guitarist-frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, 1951; Rapper Eazy-E, 1963; actress/VH1 host Shannon Elizabeth, 1973.
Madison Labor Temple, noon-5:30 pm
How better to celebrate Labor Day than to keep it real at the labor temple? Arise, ye workers, and enjoy food, fun activities for the kids and the music of West Side Andy/Mel Ford Band and Paul Cebar & the Milwaukeeans.