Here are this week's Isthmus Picks. The Guide provides an extended listing of events in and around Madison.
Thursday, Aug. 28
Madison Children's Museum, 10 am
The school year is about to start here's and easy way to get into the swing o things. Early learners can do hands-on science experiments in cooking, aquaponics and mushroom farming.
High Noon Saloon, 6 pm
This local artist's eminently likable folk-pop is a good soundtrack for a cheerful happy-hour gathering on the High Noon's patio. It's also a fine pick-me-up if you're bummed about the start of school or a tough week of work.
East Side Club, 6 pm
Brown describes his music as "sad bastard Americana," but with clever lyrics and rugged vocals that complement his subject matter, it's so much more. Expect material from a new EP that's due this fall. Bonus: He'll join forces with Brown Derby bandmate Andrew Harrison for this show. With Ernie Hendrickson and comedy by Ryan Holman.
Mystery to Me, 7 pm
The UW professor and women's rights activist discusses Out of Havana, her personal chronicle of the last half-century of Cuban history. Go for the discussion, but stay for the Cuban music and appetizers. Extra credit: Proceeds from the book go to the NGO Health by Motorbike to support health projects in rural Kenyan villages.
Thursday, Aug. 28, Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7:30 pm
Reinventing Ukranian folk music with modern beats, this Eastern European band have made a splash on the American festival circuit, appearing at Bonnaroo this summer and the Madison World Music Festival in 2013.
Thursday, Aug. 28, High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm
This Chicago-based Americana act quickly gained steam after touring in 2011 and releasing a well-reviewed, eponymous debut in 2013. "Song for Sweet Thing," the album's pastoral second track, has echoes of Loudon Wainwright III and the Eels. With Christopher Plowman, Scarecrows and Meghan Rose.
Comedy Club on State, 8:30 pm. Also Friday (8 pm & 10:30 pm) and Saturday (8 pm & 10:30 pm), Aug. 29-30
Raised by West Virginia coal miners, this hilarious stand-up comedian is proof that being the black sheep of the family can be a very good thing. He stars in VH1's Best Week Ever each week, and he's also appeared on The Pete Holmes Show and Comedy Central's The Meltdown.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The Majestic wraps up its free series of Thursday-night parties with a set by a veteran jam band from southeastern Wisconsin. Fans of Phish and Dave Matthews are sure to be pleased. With the Grasshoppers, Flowpoetry x Dudley Noon and DJ Kayla Kush.
Friday, Aug. 29
Monona Terrace Rooftop, 5:30-9:30 pm
Ethnic and musical diversity are cause for celebration at this free rooftop dance party. DJ Pain 1, a hip-hop specialist who's collaborated with stars like Young Jeezy and 50 Cent, provides tunes throughout the night. There will also be live salsa and jazz by Latin group Orquesta de Kache and funk, R&B and more from Eddie Butts.
Kiki's House of Righteous Music, 8 pm
This indie rocker from the Pacific Northwest used to front the rock band Waxwing. Right now he's recording his eighth album with longtime colleague and friend Chris Walla, who recently departed Death Cab for Cutie.
High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm
ETM Records, a small label based in central Wisconsin, hosts its first showcase. Appleton metal band Decivilize headline the event, taking inspiration from the Frederick the Great quote "Every man has a wild beast within him." With At First Sight, the Gunderson Project, 3Pence, Force the Reckoning and Adam Domack.
Pick of the Week
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Hailing from South Australia, this hip-hop trio bonded over a mutual love of Public Enemy. Since dropping their first EP in 1997, they've become a major force in the Aussie music industry, pushing hip-hop into the mainstream. Released earlier this month, their new album, Walking Under Stars, is a chilled-out complement to their previous two records, which brim with energetic party jams and a pugnacious rapping style. With Sims.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
Even if jam bands aren't your thing, this local act's sax-glazed, disco-dunked funk-rock is a treat, especially when paired with a scoop of Babcock Hall ice cream.
Saturday, Aug. 30
Olin Park, 9:30 am. Also Sunday, 9:30 am
Teams from far-flung places like Sweden, South Africa, Latvia, the Netherlands and the U.K. battle for the title of world's best rope pullers on Saturday and Sunday. To get the crowd nice and rowdy, local teams show off their strength and teamwork on Thursday and Friday at 9:30 am.
Capitol Square, 2-8:30 pm. Also Sunday, Aug. 31, 11 am-7 pm (Alice BrightSky
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
Blessed with strong pipes and a big range, this New York City singer-songwriter lists fellow powerhouses Sarah Vaughan and Janis Joplin among her influences. She also sounds a bit like Lana Del Rey, who provides backing vocals under her original name (Lizzy Grant) on BrightSky's LP Box of Me. The album features a variety of melodic folk-rock songs, like the pleasant opening track "Up Up and Away."
True Coffee Roasters, Fitchburg, 8 pm
Smith has performed at Summerfest in Milwaukee and South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. She's also a rising star on YouTube thanks to "Ventriloquism," her country-influenced ukulele tune. With Tania Pincheira.
Token Creek Festival Barn, 8 pm. Also Sunday, 4 pm
The intimate celebration of chamber music wraps up its 25th season with a program titled "The Perennial Avant Garde." Works by Ravel and Debussy are on tap, as well as a piece by the festival's featured composer, C.P.E. Bach, J.S. Bach's influential but oft-overlooked son. (See Classical Music.)
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
This local band announced that they'll take a hiatus at the end of the summer, so now's your chance to catch the blend of punk and cabaret they've dubbed "remedial math rock." If you enjoyed Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons a few years back, this free concert will make your weekend. With Indonesian Junk and Sir! No Sir!
Jolly Bob's, 10 pm
Madison DJs Wyatt Agard and Lovecraft team up for this weekly event, which celebrates house music old and new in a tiny bar similar to the ones where the genre developed in the '80s. House legends like Jesse Saunders have been known to drop by, and it's also a good place to get acquainted with talented up-and-comers. (See Music.)
Segredo, 10 pm
"Freak," this Milwaukee-based act's collaboration with Bro Safari, reached the top spot on Soundcloud's trap charts and earned raves from EDM celebs like Diplo and A-Trak. Expect a bass-rich blend of hip-hop and electronic music at this show. With Foil, Fat Bitch Rodeo and Dyreckt.
Sunday, Aug. 31
UW Humanities Building, Mills Hall, 3 pm
Mills Hall is the perfect venue to celebrate the life of professor emeritus Howard Karp, who died on June 30 at age 84. For 38 years, three generations of the Karp family brought heavenly music to the Mills Hall stage every Labor Day weekend. And while the official Karp Family Concert has been canceled this year, this tribute will include musical performances and readings by his family and friends.
Frequency, 8 pm
The local record label throws a band-filled bash for its 15th birthday. Longtime local acts like Dan Kennedy and Marty Finkel will perform, as well as Ohio-based rocker Jeff German, Slothtrop founder Eric Hester, BandSwap 2013 participants Sexy Ester and talented teen songwriter Corinne McKnight.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
This punk-meets-ska band seemed to have flyers on every Madison street corner in the late '90s, but the group haven't reached their expiration date. Start Your Own Scene, the title of the EP they'll release at this show, is great advice for bands toiling away in non-trendy genres. Make great music, then make some noise about it, and open-minded fans are bound to follow. (Read our review.) With Survay Says, 4 Aspirin Morning and Noises.
Monday, Sept. 1
Madison Labor Temple, noon-5 pm
Show solidarity with your kindred toilers at this annual celebration sponsored by the South Central Federation of Labor. Take a load off with music by Chris Plata & Extra Hot and VO5, plus food, beer, kids' activities and info tables (natch).
High Noon Saloon, 4 pm
This all-ages back-to-school concert features recent high school graduate Gabe Burdulis with his award-winning blend of pop, hip-hop and R&B. The Sam Lyons Band, Son of a Gun, Taalbi Brothers, Pretty Boy Hefner and Black Star Drumline will also perform.
Wednesday, Sept. 3
100 block of State Street, 4:15 pm
The popular downtown jazz series keeps it local in this last concert of the summer with trombonist Darren Sterud and his orchestra, plus vocalist Jimmy Voegeli of the Jimmys. It's the perfect combination of jazz and blues, and, best of all, it's free. With Foundry Jazz Ensemble.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
For those who've always wished Stillwater from Almost Famous were a real band, this show is for you. Think blues-rock with a classic, gritty feel. With the Family Business.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
These red-lipped, honey-voiced sisters specialize in classic country, which they spice up with rockabilly and surf-inspired reverb. The show will focus on their latest album, Put Your Needle Down, which features an excellent cover of PJ Harvey's "The Pocket Knife." (See Tour Stop) With Whitney Mann.
Inferno, 9 pm
Led by Madison's Matt Fanale, aka DJ Eurotic, this act makes industrial and powernoise music that dares the crowd to act out dark desires on the dance floor. See if the set list contains "Kill AFI," a response to the famed punk band's song "Kill Caustic." With Everything Goes Cold and Crashfaster.
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
This act's easily digestible power-pop and punk songs come from Austin, Texas, and will appeal to fans of local legends Cheap Trick. With Cowboy Television and the Gonzo Wrongs.
Edited by Peter McGuire