It's the heart of summer, and Madison continues its season of outdoor festivities with Maxwell Street Days, the Dane County Fair, and Paddle & Portage. The calendar also includes: Wonder Weekend at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center; a Mad Rollin' Dolls bout; a production of The Pirates of Penzance; a performance by Jared Stellmacher and the Gargoyle Brass, and Opera in the Park; Live on King Street with Cloud Cult, the Gold Velour Records Launch Party, the Mid-Summer Meltdown concert, and the Rock 'n Roar Dance; and, more live music from These United States, Painted Saints, Leverage Models, Maps & Atlases, Langhorne Slim & the Law, and Red Stinger.
NOTEWORTHY: Hank Aaron hits final home run in the majors, 1976.
State Street, 8 am-6 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-6 pm) & Sunday (10 am-5 pm), July 21 & 22
Downtown merchants revive the spirit of Chicago's old Maxwell Street Market by piling the sidewalks with their wares. The people-watching is primo, and the bargains can't be beat.
Alliant Energy Center, through July 22
The celebration of the county's bounty with carnival rides, critters and deep-fried everything. Main stage entertainment starts at 7 each night and includes country newcomer Dustin Lynch (Thursday), rockers Aranda (Friday) and local country favorites Madison County (Saturday).
King Street, 5 pm
End the week on a festive note with this free, new, all-ages concert series, which takes place outside the Majestic Theatre and the Isthmus office. The tuneful enviros of Cloud Cult and the dark, mysterious popsters of MS MR provide the soundtrack as revelers enjoy frosty beers and a dramatic sunset (see Music). At 10 pm, head into the Majestic for a 1980s-themed dance party, featuring hits by Talking Heads, the Cure and Joy Division.
UW Music Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (3 pm), July 21 & 22
Madison Savoyards, the well-established band of Gilbert and Sullivan fiends, stage what is perhaps the pair's most famous operetta, about a band of lusty, musical pirates and the young man trying to escape them. Spoiler alert: Everything works out in the end.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Get to know Sam Spence, Mic Kellogg, Mr. Horror and other artists from a new, local label dedicated to hip-hop and electronic dance music. A highlight: Mad Major Melvin unveils a new, self-titled album. With DJ Vinnie Toma.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
These veterans of South by Southwest, Lollapalooza and the CMJ Music Marathon share songs from their brand-new, self-titled album of freak folk, country-inspired twang and psychedelic garage-rock. With Will Phelan.
Dragonfly Lounge, 10:30 pm
Led by Paul Fonfara, a clarinet virtuoso and former member of Devotchka, this folk-meets-blues band paints luscious soundscapes with guitars, orchestral strings, a Colombian accordion and an assortment of whistles. The result? A sound they've dubbed a "spaghetti western-heroin-klezmer-chamber country-sad-bastard thing." With Stephanie Rearick Jr. and Stuart Davis.
NOTEWORTHY: Neil Armstrong sets foot on moon, utters history's most confusing famous words, 1969.
James Madison Park, 9 am
If you can paddle a canoe or a kayak real fast, and also run real fast while carrying a canoe or a kayak, you're a contender for this race, which this year is presented by Isthmus. It starts in Lake Mendota, proceeds on foot across the isthmus to Lake Monona, then winds up in Olin Park for a free 11 am post-race celebration (open to all) that features food and music by Harmonious Wail.
Overture Hall, 11 am
Stellmacher, music director and organist at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Hinsdale, Ill., plays Overture's mighty instrument in this morning concert. He's joined by the Gargoyle Brass, named for a signature architectural feature at the University of Chicago.
Aldo Leopold Nature Center, 11 am-4 pm. Also Sunday, July 22, noon-4 pm
At its Wonder Weekend events, the nature center offers oodles of activities, presentations and exhibits based on a theme. This weekend it's energy conservation.
Hartmeyer Ice Arena, 7 pm
It's a Wisconsin smackdown as the intercity roller derby competition, a summer tradition, continues. Madison's Dairyland Dolls and Team Unicorn take on Milwaukee's Brewcity Bruisers and Wall Street Traitors.
Project Lodge, 7:30 pm
Stars Like Fleas' Shannon Fields channels hints of funk, opera, proto-punk and modern classical music through his solo act, Leverage Models. He'll perform songs from two 2011 releases: Interim Deliverable and Forensic Accounting.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Fans of Americana and jam bands will flock to this mini-fest emceed by Triple M's Gabby Parsons. La Crosse's Smokin' Bandits gets toes tapping with a blend of bluegrass and rock, and Illinois folk singer Cody Diekhoff, a.k.a. Chicago Farmer, treats listeners to some Dylan-inspired lyrics. With Deep-Fried Grass and Chicken Wire Empire.
Garner Park, 8 pm
Madison Opera, the Madison Symphony Orchestra and guest artists team up for this annual free concert, held in the fresh air of the spacious west-side park. The program includes opera and Broadway favorites, plus highlights from Madison Opera's upcoming season.
Vilas Zoo, 8 pm
Visiting the zoo, did you ever wonder what it's like after dark? We always imagined a sort of animal Algonquin Roundtable, but the watchword tonight is dancing and fun at this Vilas Zoo fundraiser. The classic rock is by Fuzzy Side Up.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
These Pitchfork darlings craft out-there post-rock inspired by art, literature, film and bands such as Hella. Soak up songs from their new LP, Beware and Be Grateful. With Mutts.
NOTEWORTHY: FBI agents gun down outlaw John Dillinger outside Chicago's Biograph Theater, 1934.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
After a 4 pm in-store performance at Strictly Discs, Slim douses the High Noon stage with his ultra-modern cocktail of folk, country, blues and garage rock. This show revolves around The Way We Move, his chipper new breakup album. With Nineteen Thirteen.
Frequency, 8 pm
These charismatic Denver punks clothe political rants and moments of self-loathing in goofy stage antics, metal-esque guitar riffs and humor that's as clever as it is crass. With the 4 A.M., I Am Dragon and the Frenetic.