Wisconsin Union Theater's recently finished facelift took more than two years, but now the university's Langdon Street theater is back, complete with a spruced-up Play Circle and spiffy Shannon Hall, which has better lighting, acoustics and seating than the old main room.
Here are a few of the most exciting music events coming to these two spaces this fall.
Memorial Union and Williamson Street, Sept. 12-13
Technically this celebration of international music spills into other parts of the Memorial Union -- and even onto Willy Street -- but the Play Circle is one of its performance spaces. More than a dozen acts will visit, including flamenco music and dance troupe EviscerArt (Play Circle, Sept. 12), Trinidad's Calypso Rose and Kobo Town (Memorial Union, Sept. 12), Taiwanese traditionalists A Moving Sound (Memorial Union, Sept. 13), Hungarian strumming sensation Söndörgő (Willy Street, Sept. 13) and Argentine singer La Yegros (Willy Street, Sept. 13). Mezcla, a group from Cuba, wrap up the fest (Memorial Union, Sept. 13) with their jaw-dropping mix of rumba, souk, nueva trova, rock, blues and rap.
Shannon Hall, Sept. 18
Decorated composer and bassist Michael League brings his fusion band to Madison for the Isthmus Jazz Series, in between gigs with the likes of Erykah Badu and Justin Timberlake. The group won a Grammy earlier this year, so they should be more energetic than ever as they perform material from their new album, We Like It Here.
Shannon Hall, Sept. 21
These South African siblings scored their first big hit in the States last year with "Come with Me Now," a single off their new album, Lunatic. Even if Spotify has completely erased your desire to listen to traditional radio, you may have heard their catchy, guitar-driven rock in the movie The Expendables 3.
Shannon Hall, Oct. 4
These hippie-era folkies are touring together this year. Collins has transformed pop songs ("Both Sides Now"), show tunes ("Send in the Clowns") and traditional spirituals ("Amazing Grace") into works of art with her lovely voice and distinctive delivery. In addition to singing the classic "American Pie," McLean has inspired recordings by pop megastars like George Michael.
Shannon Hall, Nov. 8
The brainchild of drummer and former Arsenio Hall Show bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington, this multigenerational act presents an eclectic mix of female jazz perspectives in a show filled with virtuoso performances. For this concert, Carrington will bring along pianist Geri Allen, vocalists Lizz Wright and Gretchen Parlato, and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.
Play Circle, Nov. 19
This crowd-pleasing band visit from Portland, Ore., with their fourth Kill Rock Stars LP, So It Is with Us. With roots in the American folk tradition and the world of indie rock, their sound is easy to love and hard to forget. In other words, this is a concert you can enjoy with even the fussiest of friends.