It's the final week of the year, and the lull between holidays offers a great chance to catch up with some of Madison's ongoing offerings, from exhibits at the Chazen and MMoCA to kids' activities at the Madison Children's Museum, and from a year-end edition of Wednesday Nite at the Lab and a preview of spring programs at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center to resident gigs by The Barley Brothers, Venice Gas House Trolley, New Breed Jazz Jam, and Catfish Stephenson. The calendar also includes: a production of Barefoot in the Park; burlesque by Dead Man's Carnival; a performance by the Madison Marimba Quartet; more live music from F. Stokes, Winn Dixie, Kalispell, Butt Funnel, and Nick Droz; and, the annual holiday season exhibition by the Harlem Globetrotters.
NOTEWORTHY: Tsunami inundates Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and other countries, killing more than 230,000.
If the kids are starting to go stir crazy on holiday break, the Madison Children's Museum can help. They can make maple candy (Tuesday, 10:30 am), ice cream (Tuesday, noon), nanotechnology art (Tuesday and Thursday, 1-4 pm), whirligigs (Thursday, 10 am) and snowmen (Thursday, 10:30 am). They can also play outdoor games on the rooftop (Monday, 11 am) and go on a treasure hunt (Wednesday, 2:30 pm). Problem solved!
UW Humanities Building's Mills Hall, 1 pm
The ensemble presents its annual free concert -- called "Our Gift to You" -- for music lovers seeking live entertainment between Christmas and New Year's. It's always fun for the whole family, with a range of classical, jazz and holiday music.
Malt House, 7:30 pm
Helmed by Dirty Shirts guitarist Jeff Burkhart, Cajun Strangers drummer Colin Bazsali on banjo, and Owen Temple's fiddler, Brian O'Donnell, this old-timey string band steeps ears in sounds that range from Cajun to Appalachian to country blues.
Cardinal Bar, 9 pm
This local band characterize their sound as "cerebral groovalicious existential sacred fusion rock." In other words, they'll tickle your synapses as they inspire your limbs to dance. Volunteer for this sonic science experiment after a DJ set by Dr. Beatz.
Frequency, 10 pm
Fresh off of a gig opening for Digable Planets in the Big Apple, the Chicago-born, Madison-raised hip-hop artist stops by to share his latest musical creations, whose influences include Kanye West and Patti Smith. The set is likely to include "My Simple," a new single from Love Always, an in-the-works EP that drops on Valentine's Day.
NOTEWORTHY: Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, beginning nine-year adventure, 1979.
Chazen Museum of Art, through Jan. 15
This show, drawn from the Chazen's collection, looks at competing styles of Japanese printmaking as they developed in the first half of the last century.
Marquis Ballroom, 6220 Nesbitt Rd. in Fitchburg, 7:30 pm
Colleen Burns Benefit Theatre presents Neil Simon's sparkling comedy about mismatched New York newlyweds. All proceeds benefit Heartland Farm Sanctuary's animals and youth programs.
Cardinal Bar, 8:30 pm
Filled with spontaneous solos and oodles of original material, this weekly event has been known to pack the bar and convert at least a handful of visitors into avid jazz fans.
Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm
Wisconsin high-fives Kentucky whenever this local trio of Bluegrass State transplants hit the stage with their banjos, fiddles, ukes and guitars. With Dietrich Gosser.
NOTEWORTHY: Writer Susan Sontag dies, 2004.
Chazen Museum, through Jan. 15
If you haven't checked out the Chazen's fabulous new wing, what are you waiting for? It has catapulted Madison culture into a whole new league. While you're there, don't miss (actually, you can't miss) the first show in a new space for temporary exhibitions. Scully's massive paintings feature bold bands of color, some of them done in shiny oil paint thickly applied to metal surfaces.
Room 1111, The Auditorium, 425 UW Henry Mall, 7 pm
Tonight, the free UW Alumni Association lecture series features a talk by geneticist Suraiya Ruma Haroon's called "Remember! What Does Not Kill You, Will Make You Stronger: How Cells Adapt to Stress." The informative series runs every Wednesday, and if you made a 2011 New Year's resolution to attend at least one, this is your last chance.
High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm
Billed as a "vaudevillian circus burlesque show," this troupe present an avant-garde take on a traditional circus. Their performances are likely to include zombie cheerleaders, burlesque dancers, dueling medicine men, magic, a sideshow, live music, clowns and a fair amount of fire. To be honest, they had us at zombie cheerleaders.
NOTEWORTHY: British troops burn Buffalo, N.Y., 1813.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, through Jan. 15
MMoCA is home to one of the best collections of Chicago Imagists -- the bold, pop-culture-influenced artists who thrived in the Windy City 40 years ago. This exhibition tends toward figurative work, a bold color sense, puns, and influences from comic books and the grotesque.
Aldo Leopold Nature Center, noon-7 pm
The center offers a preview of interactive exhibits and programs that won't be open to the public until spring. Topics include polar ice caps, high altitude glaciers and weather -- and don't miss the giant spinning snow globe.
Alliant Energy Center Coliseum, 7 pm
The basketball comedy act stretches all the way back to the 1920s, counting the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson among its alumni. The Globetrotters appear in Madison every year during the holidays to show off their fancy ball-handling, impossible shots and timeless shtick.
Project Lodge, 8 pm
Shane Leonard's alt-folk project swells with poetic lyrics and chords that summon shivers. Drink in his latest tunes before he embarks on a tour of East Coast hotspots, including Brooklyn, Boston and Durham. With Bears of Blue River.
Frequency, 9 pm
This coterie of local rockers adopts faux German accents and miscreant personas in a quest to beget shock, awe and epic cases of hiccups. With Echo Island and the Other Side of Morning.
Up North Pub, 9 pm
One of Madison's most legendary buskers, Stephenson is a walking, talking blues tune with a penchant for guitar-fueled storytelling. Float over to the Up North Pub to bask in tunes such as "Sweet Intoxication" and "No Need to Be Lonely."
Alchemy Café, 10 pm
A Madison expat who now resides in Austin, Nick "Droz" Drozdowicz flexes his musical muscles in three bands in the Lone Star State, including folk-rock outfit the Blackwells and Twilight Broadcast, a pop-rock project founded in Madison. Grab a microbrew and sample his solo work at this laid-back show.