This is one portentous weekend, with Friday the 13th followed in turn by Pi Day and the Ides of March. The occasion is accompanied by a massive entertainment calendar for Madison, with the fun including: Bike-O-Rama, Canoecopia, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras Winterfest, the Feel the Beat producer competition, the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and a St. Pat's Eve Celebration; productions of The Birds That Are Your Hands and Cosi Fan Tutte and performances by Jazzworks Dance Company and Cirque Eloize; and live music from Iris DeMent, Afro-Cuban All Stars, Antique Scream, Joan Baez, Andy Ewen and Frankie Lee, The Broken West, Peaking Lights, Justin Roberts & the Not Ready For Naptime Trio, and Alice Russell.
BIRTHDAYS: Astronomer Percival Lowell, 1855; rapper Common, 1972.
Alliant Energy Center's Arena, noon-9 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-9 pm) & Sunday (10 am-6 pm), March 14 & 15
It really is actually the case that spring is just days away. So prepare for your outdoor recreation on two wheels at this expo, featuring the latest in cycling plus the stunt riding of Jeff Lenosky, who on his bike 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 14 & 15
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.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Though her last name conjures up images of manic behavior and crazy high jinks, Iris DeMent's music more closely resembles her first name: simple and beautiful as the purple flower that's the favorite of many gardeners. It's also got an earthy appeal in the vein of John Prine, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle, all of whom she's sung duets with and who've tapped her as a contemporary favorite.
Afro-Cuban All Stars
Overture Hall, 8 pm
After a delay of too many years, Juan de Marcos González's combo returns to Madison to perform the irresistible son y rumba that is the group's trademark sound (see preview).
The Birds That Are Your Hands
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (6 pm), March 14 & 15
The east-side theater company's latest features scenes from life in Palestine and on the U.S./Mexican border.
Cosi Fan Tutte
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm. Also Sunday, March 15, 2:30 pm
Madison Opera presents Mozart's comedy about lovers, their conflicts and the games they play. Spoiler alert: Love isn't as simple as they thought. Sung in Italian with English titles.
BIRTHDAYS: Relatively wild-haired physics theorist Albert Einstein, 1879; Talking Heads singer-guitarist/world-music impresario David Byrne, 1952.
Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras Winterfest
Mills Hall, UW Humanities Building, 11:30 am
Salute the kids and their hard musical work as you take in performances by the Harp Ensemble and Sinfonietta Orchestra; the Percussion Ensemble and Concert Orchestra; and the Youth Orchestra.
Frequency, 6 pm
In the process of moving from Phoenix to Seattle, the bar-lovin' trio of faux classic rockers is trying out the crowd -- and the libations -- in Madison. Planet of Lamb opens.
Barnes & Noble West, 7 pm
The author discusses his Wisconsin Historical Society Press book Milwaukee Braves: Heroes & Heartbreak. It was sad when they moved to Atlanta, and we're not afraid to say so.
Jazzworks Dance Company
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm
The vibrant local troupe presents a program of dance in modern jazz, hip-hop and other styles for this globally themed event called A World Without Walls.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
No one can vibrate a musical note quite like Joan Baez -- or make the songs of workingmen, hitchhikers and protesters sound nearly as stately. If you haven't guessed, it's worth hearing in person.
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Sunday, March 15, 2 pm
Montreal-based Cirque Éloize strikes nostalgic notes in Nebbia, a circus-style performance that combines music, dance and theater.
Andy Ewen and Frankie Lee
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
The guitar-playing frontman of Honor Among Thieves teams up with the local blues-harmonica king for what promises to be one of the weekend's most interesting jam sessions.
Feel the Beat Producer Competition
Let us now praise hip-hop producers, those unsung heroes who lay down the musical accompaniment to your favorite MCs. At this event, producers face off to determine who is the best. With DJ Schooly, Lucha Libre.
The Broken West
Orpheum Theatre's Stage Door, 9:30 pm
L.A.-based the Broken West mine the Kinks and Big Star to create an appealing update on the power-pop sound. With Blind Pilot, Crane Your Swan Neck.
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
Analog can be at least as trippy and transcendent as digital, especially if you're Peaking Lights, the Spring Green-based collaboration between ex-Numbers drummer Indra Dunis and ex-Heart of Snow guitarist Aaron Coyes. The Real Jaguar opens.
IDES OF MARCH
NOTEWORTHY: Julius Caesar asks, "Et tu, Brute?" 44 BC.
BIRTHDAYS: Family man Sly Stone, 1944; Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider, 1955.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
Capitol Square, 1:30 pm
Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, which means everybody should turn out for this annual event. NBC-15 morning anchor Sarah Carlson serves as grand marshal, so don't be surprised if she tries to send it over to Charlie for the weather.
Justin Roberts & the Not Ready For Naptime Trio
Majestic Theatre, 3 pm
Chicago-based singer and songwriter Roberts performs pleasant, indie-rock-inflected kids' music, which is presumably why the cognoscenti are calling it "kindie" music. Last year's Pop Fly features the track "Stay-at-Home Dad," proving that he has his finger on the pulse of parenting trends.
St. Pat's Eve Celebration
High Noon Saloon, 3 pm
The yearly celebration of everything Irish is still two days away, but you can get a leg up with this bash featuring music by Navan, Greenfyre, the Currach and Amy McFarland & Maria Terres. Also: Dance by Cashel Dennehy School of Irish Dance and Trinity Academy of Irish Dance.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Alice Russell doesn't just sing soul, she embodies it with a personality all her own: half retro-flavored pop tart, half Aretha Franklin trapped in the body of a blond English girl. And she's got a killer nine-piece orchestra to boot (see Tour Stop). Nick Nice spins a few cool records to get the show started.