Kickstart May and bid farewell to the spring arts season simultaneously over this weekend bursting with events. The calendar includes: Gallery Night and the Mifflin Street Block Party; The Progressive centennial and its "Raise the Roof" party; a performance by Tapestry Dance Company, Kids in the Rotunda, and a talk by Dwight Allen; and a deluge of live music from the MSO, Dobet Gnahore, Hot Buttered Rum, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Robbie Fulks & the 50-Vc. All-stars, Ha Ha Tonka, These Are Powers, The Rousers, Millions of Dead Cops with The Atrocities, Allá, Pert' Near Sandstone, Madison Youth Choirs, Jason Mraz, and Willy Porter with Raining Jane.
MAY DAY/INTERNATIONAL LABOR DAY
NOTEWORTHY: Soviets shoot down U-2 spy plane & capture U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers, 1960.
BIRTHDAYS: Filmmaker Wes Anderson, 1969.
The semi-annual showcase for Madison's visual-arts scene includes special events at 59 local galleries, museums and businesses. Highlights include a 5:30 pm curators' talk at the Chazen Museum of Art, in conjunction with the new exhibit "Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix, 1963-1990"; a 5:30 pm reception at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art for "Return to Function"; acrylics by Laura Meddaugh at Absolutely Art; mixed-media fiber works by Mary Hark at Grace Chosy Gallery; and "Project 99," featuring Nan Griffin, Deb Menz, Mary Jo Scandin at State Street Gallery.
Monona Terrace Rooftop, 6 pm
Take part in the Madison-based periodical's 100th birthday celebration with this bash featuring the Rev. Jesse Jackson, broadcaster Amy Goodman, poet Martin Espada and host Michael Feldman. Music: DJ Trini, Tony Castaneda. (Madison Symphony Orchestra
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), May 2 & 3
Conductor John DeMain and the ensemble conclude the season with Verdi's towering 1874 Requiem. They're joined by four soloists: soprano Karen Slack, mezzo-soprano Kristine Jepson, bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen and tenor Arnold Rawls.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
The Afropop singer, an Ivory Coast native, helps keep African culture vital by incorporating a variety of languages and traditional rhythms (see preview).
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The Austin, Texas-based troupe presents "The Souls of Our Feet," which salutes the fine old tradition of American tap dancing. Fred Astaire did it best. No, Gene Kelly.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The San Francisco-area "newgrass" five-piece stop in Madison often, even when they don't have a new album to promote. Perhaps it means they want to be more than just friends with our town and its constantly renewing population of jam-band and progressive-bluegrass enthusiasts. Stealin' Strings opens.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
The folk-rock singer-songwriter and his three-piece band light up the Terrace with a bit of Leonard Cohen, a bit of Buddy Holly and at least a little classical-guitar influence. Other Lives opens.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The alternative country avatar recorded 50 new songs, then released them all at once on his website. He shares a bunch of them in a rare seated event at the Saloon (see preview.) Scream for his cover of Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable" till he plays it.
Frequency, 10 pm
The poppy indie rock of Springfield, Mo.'s (and Bloodshot Records') Ha Ha Tonka doesn't have much to do with toy trucks, but it does have a certain "na-na-na-boo-boo" playground-taunt quality that makes you listen with just a tad of anger or self-consciousness. Ben Weaver and the Selfish Gene open.
Tornado Club's Corral Room, 10 pm
These Are Powers is reinventing the "No Wave" tag with its dark and chaotic take on post-punk, descended from the dirty subway platforms of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the dark and windy alleyways of Chicago. Also playing: Diamonds, All Creatures, Cash Dawg, Inyan Kara, Yolks.
NOTEWORTHY: Marla Maples & The Donald announce their separation, 1997.
BIRTHDAYS: Guitarist Frederick Lincoln "Link" Wray, 1935; actress/model/famous wife/human-rights activist Bianca Jagger, 1945.
400-500 blocks of Mifflin Street
The annual party began as a political rite back in the Vietnam era and is now just an excuse to have fun. Nothing wrong with that, as long as everyone behaves.
Overture Center's Rotunda Stage, 9:30 & 11 am, 1 pm
Madison duo KG & the Ranger keep the Old West alive with rope tricks, cowboy songs, yodeling and really impressive Western shirts.
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
The beloved local roots-rockers -- and a few special guests -- celebrate a quarter-decade of playing together with some long-lost material from their archives and lots of tunes to get the masses dancing like fools.
Annex, 9 pm
The names of the bands on this bill, which also includes Mouth Sewn Shut, Embrace the Kill and Operation Stillborn, say it all: You're in for a night of hardcore punk that's about as raw and crusty as it gets. The real treat here is the seminal hardcore act MDC, whom we used to read about in Maximumrocknroll back in junior high.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
Allá is made up of three musical siblings with Mexican roots, but their sound has more in common with Lykke Li, Faust and Kraftwerk than a mariachi band. First Communion Afterparty and DJs Red Dog and FM Predator open.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Like Old Crow Medicine Show and other string-music revivalists, the energetic Twin Cities combo Pert' Near Sandstone serves up an acoustic, old-timey country sound without getting hung up on bluegrass orthodoxy. Good stuff. With Blue Turtle Seduction.
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
NOTEWORTHY: National Public Radio est., 1971.
BIRTHDAYS: Godfather of Soul James Brown, 1933.
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
The skillful Madison novelist discusses his latest, The Typewriter Satyr. It's set in a liberal-minded Wisconsin city ("Midvale") that's full of eccentrics. Sounds like a place we know.
First Unitarian Society, 3 pm
The young singers apply their heavenly voices to "Songs for a Small Planet: Hearing with the Heart."
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 7:30 pm
The singer-songwriter and San Diego avocado farmer has ditched the veggies temporarily to give a second dose of publicity to his 2008 release, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things., the recording of which was documented on the YouTube series "Crazy Man's Ju-ju." It reached number three on the Billboard charts last year. Plain White T's open.
Majestic Theatre, 7:30 pm
The Milwaukee-area singer-songwriter brings his folk-and-blues-flavored pop and jam-style guitar to Madison this week, along with L.A. folk-rock sensation Raining Jane, who are touring college campuses until they reach their hometown's Hotel Café in June, where they'll take up residence all month.