Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Maple Syrup Fest
March looks like it will be ending wildly, complete with forecasts for some spring snow. Bid farewell to winter with: a Wisconsin Arts Board Visual Arts Fellows exhibition; a production of Falling Girls; the Maple Syrup Fest and the 20th Anniversary Spring Luau at Tyrol Basin; and plenty more live music from the likes of Railroad Earth, Bowerbirds, Cloud Cult, Porter Batiste Stoltz, the Pro Arte Quartet, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, The Hard Lessons, The Ladybug Transistor, Ingrid Fliter, and Daniel Martin Moore.
NOTEWORTHY: Marlon Brando refuses best-actor Oscar for The Godfather, 1973.
BIRTHDAYS: Nobel-winning X-ray pioneer Wilhelm Roentgen, 1845; pulpy Oscar-winning filmmaker/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, 1963.
Wisconsin Arts Board Visual Arts Fellows James Watrous Gallery in Overture Center, through May 10 In 2008 the Wisconsin Arts Board granted fellowships to seven Wisconsin artists working in sculpture, painting, drawing, installation, metalwork and mixed media. See why at this exhibition of their work, dubbed "High Honors," and shmooze at tonight's reception (5:30 pm).
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
Yes, they're a jam band, and yes, they're from New Jersey, but the six guys known as Railroad Earth can put on a darn good show with a plethora of instruments, from guitars and basses to dobros, bouzoukis, mandolins and pennywhistles. Split Lip Rayfield opens.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 8:30 pm
It doesn't get much better than John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats calling you his "new favorite band in forever," at least if you're a freak-folk artist like Sufjan Stevens, Akron/Family or, in this case, Bowerbirds, a charming trio from Raleigh, N.C. Opening are the Daredevil Christopher Wright and the Wars of 1812, both on Eau Claire's happening Amble Down label.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Even if the name Cloud Cult doesn't ring a bell, you've probably heard the Minneapolis art-pop band's single "Lucky Today" on one of those animated Esurance commercials. The group's live shows are truly artistic, in fact, featuring the live creation of a painting that's auctioned off during the encore. Mason Proper and Jeremy Messersmith open.
NOTEWORTHY: Three Mile Island nuclear plant meltdown, 1979.
BIRTHDAYS: Oscar-winning actress Dianne Wiest, 1948; Grammy-winning rapper Cheryl "Salt" James, 1969.
UW Vilas Hall's Hemsley Theatre, 2 pm. Also Sunday, March 29, 2 pm
University Theatre's Theatre for Youth presents a fanciful work about three girls who draw and play during an adventure in the desert. Falling Girls is by Dutch dramatist Moniek Merkx, of the ambitious children's theater company Theatergroep Max.
Porter Batiste Stoltz
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
This power trio -- bassist George Porter Jr., drummer Russell Batiste Jr., guitarist Brian Stoltz -- are veteran New Orleans sidemen who play jam-inflected funk on their latest release, MOODOO. Their music will make you want to dance, and the Overture brain trust has anticipated this reaction in announcing that seats are being removed from the Capitol Theater in order to make room for hip shaking.
Pro Arte Quartet
UW Humanities Building's Mills Hall, 8 pm
The university's resident foursome was founded back in 1912 as the court quartet to Belgium's Queen Elizabeth, and it moved to Madison in 1940. In this concert the group performs music of Haydn, Mendlessohn and Beethoven.
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Saxophonist Denson toured with Lenny Kravitz's band and with the Greyboy Allstars. Now, with Tiny Universe, he performs thrillingly tight funk music. Also appearing: the Clyde Stubblefield Band, who know some things about funk, too.
The Hard Lessons
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Fresh off of the South By Southwest concert circuit, the Hard Lessons perform hard-rockin', soul-laced songs. Fellow Michiganders My Dear Disco, Great Lakes Myth Society and Deastro get the show started.
The Ladybug Transistor
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
A few weeks ago the Elephant Six Collective sent us Elf Power; this week they send us the Ladybug Transistor and its pretty, poppy and occasionally twee-leaning tunes. What's next, a Neutral Milk Hotel reunion on the Terrace? The Tweedle Dums open.
NOTEWORTHY: Junk-bond icon Michael Milken indicted for racketeering, 1989.
BIRTHDAYS: Triple Crown winner Man O' War, 1917; Monty Python mischief-maker Eric Idle, 1943.
Maple Syrup Fest
Aldo Leopold Nature Center, 1 pm
Spring is here, and the sap is rising. Kids can learn up close how Native Americans and pioneers tapped trees for maple syrup and sugar, and try the techniques out themselves. All very educational, but did we mention that the event includes fresh syrup served over ice cream?
20th Anniversary Spring Luau with the King Bees
Double Diamond Bar, Tyrol Basin, Mount Horeb, 3 pm
The southern blues of the King Bees has rocked both bayou bars and New York City's Lincoln center, plus dozens of other venues around the world. This Friday, expect them to turn a Hawaiian-style party into a down-and-dirty festival of riffs and dusty tales of bad relationships and good moonshine.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
The Argentinian pianist studied in Europe and performs all over this green earth, and she is the first woman recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award. Tonight she plays music of Schumann, J.S. Bach and Chopin.
Daniel Martin Moore
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
The Cold Spring, Ky. singer-songwriter and Sub Pop Records artist made a splash at South By Southwest a few days ago, and now he's bringing his sweet nouveau folk music here. With Jentri Colello, Robby Schiller.