Rock Culture Music Festival
Annex, 6 pm. Also Saturday, April 28, 6 pm
This traveling rock fest/music competition features all manner of rockin', from metal to punk to soul. The Last Few, When Fables Turn to Fear, and Facesteak are among the dozen-plus acts slated to appear.
Capital City Jazz Fest
Madison Quality Inn & Suites in Fitchburg, 7 pm. Also Saturday (11 am-11 pm) & Sunday (11:30 am-3:30 pm), April 28 & 29
The Madison Jazz Society's annual blowout is a godsend for fans of traditional jazz. Performers include pianist Butch Thompson (of A Prairie Home Companion), the Reuben Ristrom Quartet, Bob Schulz's Frisco Jazz Band and the New Black Eagle Jazz Band. Thompson, a stride and ragtime master, gives a pre-fest lecture-demonstration at Ward-Brodt Music Mall (Friday, 6 pm).
UW Russian Folk Orchestra
Mills Hall in the UW Humanities Bldg., 7:30 pm
The orchestra plucks balalaikas and domras, celebrating its 10th anniversary with a selection of Russian and Eastern European folk tunes.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm
The UW's song-and-dance troupe throw themselves into a high-energy revue featuring five decades½?? worth of pop songs. Mark Tauscher of the Green Bay Packers hosts, and guest artists the MadHatters croon a cappella.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The WCO welcomes guest pianist Adam Neiman in an irresistible all-Mozart program. Neiman also performs a solo recital at Farley's House of Pianos at 8 pm on Saturday, April 28.
UW Dance Anniversary
UW Lathrop Hall; concerts at 8 pm
The UW½??s venerable Dance Program celebrates 80 lively years with panel discussions, talks and performances. The concerts on April 26 and 27 feature regional alumni choreographers (Lisa Thurrell, Claudia Melrose, Carol Ceniti et al.); the one on April 28 features prominent alums from around the country (Judith Moss, Tania Isaac et al.).
Windham Hill 30th Anniversary Tour
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 8 pm
The Windham Hill record label celebrates 30 years of New Age and jazz music with a tour led by its founder, guitarist Will Ackerman. Joining him are fellow boundary-hoppers David Cullen (guitar), Samite (vocalist and multi-instrumentalist) and Tracy Silverman (electric violin).
Edgewater Hotel, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (11 am), April 28 & 29
Regional yarn-spinners put on a show for families (Friday) and adults and teens (Saturday and Sunday). You can also hear "fringe" performances after the Saturday and Sunday shows, including rap and fractured fairy tales.
Steppin' In It
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Michigan's vintage-instrument buffs have a way with old-time country, swing and blues. Mike & Amy Finders and the Dirty Shirts open.
Café Montmartre, 9:30 pm
If you're looking for down-home hillbilly types who endorse the pleasures of the simple life, don't bother with Truckstop Honeymoon. The careening male-female duo is all about drinkin', lovin' and drivin' with the top down and the Bible sequestered safely in the back seat. Jason & the Punknecks open.
Ferron & Tret Fure
High Noon Saloon, 7 pm
Both Ferron and Tret Fure have been instrumental in expanding the vocabulary of woman's music. Here, the two play folk and folk-rock in a "song swap" format.
Loft in the Lussier Teen Center), 7 pm
The Wisconsin metalcore specialists scored a new singer and promptly received kudos from a legion of critics. Tours here and abroad are sure to cement their reputation for doing violence to the cochlea in the name of some dude with the initials J.C.
Festival Choir of Madison
Asbury United Methodist Church, 7:30 pm
In a program called "American Voices," the choir sings indigenous folks songs, spirituals and hymns, as well as settings of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Robert Frost. Drew Collins, a candidate for the choir's artistic director, is the guest conductor.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
The Midwesterners pick some fiery old-time rock 'n' roll and honky-tonkin' Americana in the first installment of the Madison Music Project Charter Club Tour. It's a new monthly event that highlights local music and local clubs, based on Isthmus' online directory at MadisonMusicProject.com.
The Selfish Gene
Orpheum Theatre's Stage Door, 10 pm
Creative as anyone on the local pop-rock scene, the Selfish Gene score big points with headphone freaks and Beatles and Bowie fans on their expansive new CD, The Grand Masquerade. They celebrate its release tonight with help from the 1900s and Porcupine.
Madison Youth Choirs
Mitby Theater at MATC-Truax, 1 & 4 pm
Heavenly young voices apply themselves to newly commissioned works in a concert called "The Composer's Craft."
As Cities Burn
Loft (Lussier Teen Center), 6:30 pm
The post-hardcore seethers have both Christian and secular-rock fans hot and bothered.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
A one-man jam band, the lighthearted guitarist often makes a richer noise than actual ensembles thanks to looping technology. In a couple months, he'll be playing to huge audiences on the jam festival circuit, so this theater show qualifies as a pretty intimate gig.
Southern Culture on the Skids
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
We're partial to the grits 'n' gravy cover of "Muswell Hillbilly" and the swinging version of "Rose Garden," but pretty much everything on the band's new one, Countrypolitan Favorites, is a hoot and a half. The Exotics open.