Summertime in Madison reaches its zenith this weekend with Art Fair on the Square, Art Fair Off the Square, La Fete de Marquette, and the Madison Early Music Festival. The calendar also includes: UW Spoken Word & Hip-Hop Training Institute performances by Old Money, Thiarhera Nurse and others, and a show by the city's National Poetry Slam team members; the UW's 2010 Summer Dance Institute; a production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee; the Fireball Masquerade Ball; the inaugural Bartell Theatre Awards show; schtick from Patton Oswalt; a performance by Samuel Hutchinson; and, more live music from Mike Behrends, Islands with Active Child, and Jonny Lang.
BIRTHDAYS: Striped raconteur Jack White, 1975.
South Dickinson Street at East Washington Ave., 5 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (12:30 pm) & Sunday (9 am), July 8, 10 & 11
Highlights of this year's French-themed music fest and neighborhood celebration include Ivory Coast chanteuse Dobet Gnahoré (Friday), Austin-via-Louisiana blues-rock queen Marcia Ball (Saturday), super-funky New Orleans brass player Trombone Shorty (Sunday) and Acadian traditionalists Vishtèn (Saturday and Sunday). Learn more about Vishtèn in this week's Tour Stop.
Wisconsin Historical Society Auditorium, 7 pm. Also Saturday, July 10, 7 pm, UW Memorial Union Terrace
This annual symposium for hip-hop educators features a couple of compelling public shows. Tonight it's the Ivy-educated rapper Homeboy Sandman and Old Money (the latter plays the UW Memorial Union Terrace later this evening), and tomorrow sees a performance of the remarkable spoken-word piece "Daddy Dress Up" by Queens teen Thiahera Nurse, a new student in the UW's First Wave program.
UW Vilas Hall's Mitchell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, July 10, 7:30 pm
University Theatre presents the funny, poignant, perceptive musical, which knocked 'em dead on Broadway. It explores the human drama -- and hilarity -- of a provincial spelling bee.
UW Lathrop Hall's H'Doubler Performance Space, 8 pm. Also Saturday, July 10, 2 pm
The UW dance department's summer colloquium hosts teachers and choreographers from around this big world, and you can see their work at this weekend's concerts, along with pieces by UW faculty members.
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
Time to get your costumed freak on with this event featuring variety acts like Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies, James the Magician, the Yard Dogs Road Show and more.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
Old Money's blend of grime, hip-hop, favela funk and Afrobeat is the kind of thing the cool kids in Brooklyn -- you know, the ones who discovered M.I.A. six years ago -- are listening to now. The three-man collective, who call both Vancouver and the Big Apple home, dish up sounds from their new EP, No. 1 Champion Sound.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. wins Women's World Cup, 1999.
Capitol Square, 9 am-6 pm. Also Sunday, July 11, 10 am-5 pm
Over the decades, the fundraiser for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art has grown from a shopping-mall sidewalk sale to a nationally recognized juried fair featuring almost 500 artists. Expect the usual cheek-by-jowl crowds peering at paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture, jewelry, handmade clothing and the odd unclassifiable object. Live performers on three stages include the Selfish Gene, Natty Nation, Mark Croft, Lou and Peter Berryman and dance troupes showing off Irish, Italian, tango and modern styles, among others.
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. & Monona Terrace, 9 am-6 pm. Also Sunday, July 11, 10 am-5 pm
This is the local complement to the Art Fair on the Square, with 140 Wisconsin artists and craftspeople showing their high-quality work. The fair also offers children's entertainment, a public art project and refreshments.
Overture Hall, 11 am
The Madison Symphony Orchestra's organist plays music of Sousa and other patriotic favorites.
Bartell Theatre, 7 pm. Red carpet, 6 pm
The downtown theater hub throws a bash celebrating the best work of its resident companies, in categories conventional (Best Dramatic Performance by an Actor/Actress) and screwball (Best Portrayal of a Non-Homo-Sapiens). The awards are dubbed the Barties, natch.
Project Lodge, 7 pm
Behrends fell in love with folk in Duluth six years ago but moved to Madison to take his songwriting to the next level, and the results have been promising. At this show, he'll unveil an album called New Feet, which fans of Bob Dylan and Sufjan Stevens will want to check out. See Music, and listen to the song "New Mexico" in the latest MadTracks. With Gentlemen Trailblazers and the Bitter Tears.
Majestic Theatre, 7 & 10 pm
Oswalt, familiar from work on television shows like The King of Queens and The United States of Tara, has been doing standup since the 1980s. He's notched cable specials and multiple albums, and he spearheaded the Comedians of Comedy tour, which saw various offshoots. His pop-culture-inflected shtick is sure to please.
Concerts at the UW Humanities Building's Mills Hall, 7:30 pm
This year's confab of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music is called "England: Merry & Musical Before Elizabeth." There's an array of classes, lectures and concerts. This week's performers include Parthenia with Julianne Baird (Saturday), the King's Noyse (Sunday), Hesperus (Monday) and LIBER (Tuesday).
Talula, 8 pm
The annual National Poetry Slam begins Aug. 3 in St. Paul, and here's your chance to see the works that will be presented in individual and team performances by Madison's contingent. Slam poetry is an often moving mix of clever wordplay and heartfelt emotionalism.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9 pm
Critics have recently dubbed Active Child's sad and synthy take on pop "hymntronica," while Islands' calypso-spiked tunes feel summery, even when the band's singing about death and darkness. With Steel Phantoms.
BIRTHDAYS: Rapper Lil' Kim, 1975.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7:30 pm
The blues rocker's virtuosic guitar playing and jaw-dropping vocals gained him notoriety and a record deal as a teen back in the mid-1990s. These days, you can hear his vocals on Cyndi Lauper's latest album, Memphis Blues, and his guitar playing on the Jonas Brothers' 2009 release, Lines, Vines and Trying Times.