Life springs ahead this weekend, and Madison welcomes the new season with Bike-o-Rama, Canoecopia, and the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on the Square. The calendar also includes: more demonstrations at the Capitol and the Sounds of SolidARTity and Speak-Out for Workers' Rights: Say No to Union Busting indoor rallies; Adult Swim Night at the Children's Museum; the "Holy Image, Sacred Presence" icon exhibit at the Chazen; productions of Make Me a Song and The Very Hungry Caterpillar; the FestivAle craft beer tasting; performances by Ancora String Quartet, Paul Badura-Skoda, and the Oakwood Chamber Players; more live music from Jackie Greene, Orgone, Return to Mono, Archie Powell & the Exports, Dirt Drifters, The Pink Floyd Experience, Middle Brother, and Sleeping in the Aviary.
NOTEWORTHY: Queen Elizabeth II knights Paul McCartney, 1997.
BIRTHDAYS: Unworried & happy jazz singer/songwriter/pianist Bobby McFerrin.
Alliant Energy Center's Arena, noon-9 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-9 pm) & Sunday (10 am-6 pm), March 12 & 13
Spring is just days away, so prepare for outdoor recreation on two wheels at this expo, featuring the latest in cycling plus the stunt riding of Jeff Lenosky, who can jump over just about anything.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 4-9 pm. Also Saturday (9 am-6 pm) & Sunday (10 am-5 pm), March 12 & 13
If outdoor recreation on the water is more your style, don't miss the annual confab devoted to all things paddling, with exhibitors, vendors and speakers.
Orpheum Theatre's Stage Door, 5 pm
This benefit for the Wisconsin Democrats' efforts to recall Republican senators begins with an exhibit of protest-related art and the jazz of Charlie Painter. The main musical event starts at 8 pm, with local acts the Black Caps, Venus in Furs, the Type, John Masino, Anna Wang & the Oh Boys, and Mikey Fuss & the Cherokee.
Madison Children's Museum, 6-10 pm
If you'd like to check out the spiffy new digs of the children's museum but don't have kids -- or want to get away from your kids -- here's your chance. Tonight all exhibits are guaranteed child-free, including the human gerbil wheel. With music by Chick Singer.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, March 12, 8 pm
StageQ presents the 2006 revue of tunes by Tony-winning composer William Finn, who wrote the recent hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as well as the acclaimed 1992 Broadway show Falsettos.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Straddling the line between pop music and roots-rock, this California singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is living the dream after being discovered by a record-label owner at an open-mike night. Hum along to the gorgeous melodies of Till the Light Comes, his 2010 release, at this show. With Baghdad Scuba Review.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Now that they're done warming up stages for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, this funky and soulful L.A. nonet are shining the spotlight on their own 2010 release, Killion Vaults, which AllMusic.com praised as "a breezy, cinematic single-setting listen." With Herman Astro.
NOTEWORTHY: Susan Butcher & her sled dogs win the Iditarod, 1986.
BIRTHDAYS: Sweet Baby James Taylor, 1948; author/editor/publisher/staggering genius Dave Eggers, 1970
Chazen Museum of Art, through June 5
This exhibit gathers about 30 Orthodox Christian paintings from the Chazen's permanent collection. It serves as a reminder that icons are not just those things you click on your computer.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 11 am
Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia presents this show based on the classic story by Eric Carle. The black-light puppetry makes the show visually engaging and easy to follow for very young audiences (it's recommended for ages 2-8).
East Side Club, 1-4 pm
The folks from the Arthritis Foundation have gathered an impressive lineup of craft beers from Wisconsin and beyond. Music and food round out the experience.
High Noon Saloon, 4 pm
This show has nothing to do with mono, the viral illness, though the San Francisco electro-rock band's new album, Framebreaker, is quite contagious. It features luscious layers of Moog synths, hard-hitting vocals and lots of guitar riffs.
Barrymore Theatre, 7 pm
You know your progressive-politics hootenanny is really heating up when progressive politician and commentator Jim Hightower is involved. He'll be on hand for this session along with Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Dennis Kucinich, plus FightingBob.com's Ed Garvey and The Progressive's Matt Rothschild.
First Unitarian Society Auditorium, 7:30 pm
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Madison foursome enlists Madison Symphony Orchestra and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra cellist Karl Lavine to play Schubert's String Quintet in C Major. Also on the program is Alexander Borodin's String Quartet No. 1 in A Major.
Farley's House of Pianos, 7:30 pm
A consummate classical performer, this 83-year-old Vienna-born pianist won the Austrian Music Competition in 1947 and went on to record more than 200 albums, specializing in the work of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Hear him perform a marvelous recital on a magnificent instrument in an intimate setting.
Oakwood Village-West Auditorium, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, March 13, 1:30 pm
The local ensemble performs a program called "Bagatelle Byway," with music by Poulenc, Simon Mayr and Paul Juon.
Project Lodge, 8 pm
This Chicago band tap into the energy of some of the catchiest songs and most charismatic songwriters of the 1980s and early '90s, from Elvis Costello to Tom Petty to Paul Westerberg. See if they've got anything in the league of "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" up their sleeves. With Sat. Nite Duets.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
This Nashville five-piece haven't yet released their first album, but they've got a sweet contract with Warner Bros. Records and a hot new single called "Something Better" on the charts. Get a sneak peak at their debut, This Is My Blood, at this show.
Overture Hall, 8 pm
For those too young to have experienced live performances by prog-rock legends Pink Floyd, sinister floating pig and all, there is the Pink Floyd Experience, a sextet that recapitulates the English rockers' spacey tunes. Have a cigar.
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME BEGINS (CLOCKS SPRING FORWARD ONE HOUR)
BIRTHDAYS: Actress Dana Delany, 1956; U2 bassist Adam Clayton, 1960.
Capitol Square, 1:30 pm
It's about time we saw a little green around here. The annual parade features Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney as grand marshall. The fun starts with a run/walk at 10 am.
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
The frontmen of Dawes, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit have joined forces to form this supergroup, which spikes the alt-country tradition with a punk-fueled irreverence. Check out the tunes from their just-released self-titled debut at this performance. Get there when the doors open to catch additional sets by Dawes and Deer Tick, too.
Frequency, 9 pm
Since the start of the year, former Madison residents Sleeping in the Aviary have received some electronic ink from TinyMixTapes.com, released three music videos and embarked on a zany tour in support of their 2010 album, Great Vacation! Head to the Frequency to find out what they have planned for this spring. With Dial-Up, Buffalo Moon and Pioneer.