Get the holidays rolling early this weekend. The calendar includes: the Holiday Art Fair and Madison Women's Expo; the Wis-Kino Fall Kabaret; productions of The Little Match Girl, 1 SW33T R1DE, and the UW Dance Fall Faculty Concert; a book reading by Chris Newbold; Funk Out Cancer!; and, a bumper crop of live music by Carrie Newcomer, Modern Skirts, the MSO, Cougar, Haley Bonar, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Sexy Ester & the Pretty Mama Sisters, God's Pottery, the Wisconsin Chamber Choir, The Audition, Band from TV, Mason Jennings, The United Sons of Toil, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Trio, and The Lighthouse & the Whaler.
BIRTHDAYS: James Gang/Eagles singer-guitarist Joe Walsh, 1947; Beastie Boys rapper Mike Diamond, 1965.
Holiday Art Fair
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, noon-5 pm. Also Saturday (10 am-5 pm) & Sunday (11 am-3 pm), Nov. 21 & 22
Hear that? It's the sound of pages flying off a calendar as your gift-giving winter holiday of choice rapidly approaches. But don't fret if you're still empty-handed, because artists from these parts and beyond are offering their wares at MMoCA's big sale. There's music and food, too.
The Little Match Girl
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7 pm
PlayTime Productions presents an all-kid cast in Hans Christian Andersen's classic story, which the Danish great engineered to drive you to the depths of despair and sympathy. PlayTime is staging this in various venues over the next couple of weeks. See Wis-Kino Fall Kabaret
Sundance Cinemas 608, 7 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 22, 7 pm
Check out the short films at tonight's open screening and learn the secret ingredient. What's that? It's the motif of the short film you'll have 48 hours to make if you want to show it at the Sunday event.
Brink Lounge, 7:30 pm
The skilled singer-songwriter, whose résumé includes a tour with Alison Krauss and a spot on Nickel Creek's 2003 CD This Side, joins local cafe jazz group the Stellanovas to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Nov. 21 & 22
Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum joins the ensemble for Ernest Bloch's "Schelomo" and Dvorák's "Silent Woods." Ottorino Respighi's "Fountains of Rome" and Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 5" complete the program (see Funk Out Cancer!
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Local songsters Phat Phunktion, Mama Digdown's Brass Band and the Mark Croft Band join forces in a benefit for the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
1 SW33T R1DE
Mercury Players Theatre's MercLab, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Nov. 21, 8 pm
Mercury Players Theatre presents local playwright Rob Matsushita's portrayal of the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 8:30 pm
If you're going to smell like booze when you visit your parents, it may as well be art-gallery wine rather than $2 beer. Maybe that's why the New York post-rock band with Madison roots are bringing songs from their newest album, Patriot, to the local art-gazing crowd before indulging in some pumpkin pie with their relatives. Or perhaps it's just that their sharp instrumental tunes will make a lovely soundtrack for pondering the abstract.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Bonar's folk-pop with a lick of country seems to get prettier and more polished each time she visits Madison. With Sin Ropas and Corey Hart.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
They've been described as techno on tranquilizers and mosh pits on morphine, but these Philly-based musicians are best at exploring pop through the distorted lens of shoegaze and dreampop (think My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins), especially on their lovely new album, Ashes Grammar. Read a review of the disc.
Sexy Ester & the Pretty Mama Sisters
Frequency, 10 pm
The local power-pop outfit teams up with the two other winners of this year's Isthmus Favorites Poll -- the rock-lovin' foursome of Little Red Wolf and sexy, silly electro maniac Shane Shane -- for a night of awesomeness.
BIRTHDAYS: Violent Femme Brian Ritchie, 1960; Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork Gudmundsdottir, 1965.
Madison Women's Expo
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 10 am-4 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 22, 10 am-4 pm
Brava magazine hosts its annual confab for women, with exhibitors and demonstrations about wellness, beauty, food, recreation and what have you. Don't miss celebrity appearances by television stars Greg Grunberg, Bob Guiney, James Denton and Adrian Pasdar, otherwise known as the charity cover act Band From TV.
Barnes & Noble West, 3 pm
What to get the little future UW undergraduate in your life? Try a copy of Newbold's children's book The Big Bucky Badger Mystery, a tour of the city guided by a certain sweater-wearing animal. Bucky himself will be on hand.
Project Lodge, 7:30 pm
The maniacally smiling New York comedy duo were finalists on NBC's Last Comic Standing. They satirize Christian music with faux pro-abstinence songs like "The Pants Come Off When the Ring Goes On."
Wisconsin Chamber Choir
Trinity Lutheran Church, 7:30 pm
Celebrate the harvest season with the local group, which is presenting its fall concert, Bacchus. There's music of Haydn, Brahms, Mozart, Copland and more.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
For this interdiscplinary evening, called Splash, UW Dance Program choreographers (Li Chiao-Ping, Kate Corby, Chris Walker) and dancers collaborated with other university departments, including the School of Human Ecology and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience. There's also work by New York-based Susan Marshall.
Orpheum Stage Door, 8 pm
It seems weird for a band that are billed as pop-punk and that have appeared at the Vans Warped Tour multiple times to be promoting Nikes on their MySpace page, but we'll let that slide for now since we've heard they put on a pretty rockin' show. With DJ Vinnie Toma.
Band From TV
Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center, 8 pm
There are lots of reasons people go to see bands live, and they don't all have to do with music. In this case, many people will be trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite TV stars, including Heroes' Greg Grunberg on drums, House's Hugh Laurie on keys and Desperate Housewives' James Denton on guitar, as they raise money for charity.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Minnesota troubadour and frequent Madison visitor Jennings has long made a virtue of wry lyricism, impassioned politics and sweet chord progressions. With Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel.
The United Sons of Toil
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9 pm
The revered local math-rock-meets-post-punk trio will rock the Union with precise, political songs from their first two albums -- and perhaps a couple of new tunes they're considering for their third. Read more about their approach to songwriting in this week's music column. With High Hopes and A Farewell to Silence.
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The former Drive-By Truckers guitarist and vocalist has been doing his own thing with a new band for the past two years. Earlier this year he released a debut of Southern rock and country-flavored soul that's a bit more radio-friendly than the Truckers' material but equally solid. With Juniper Tar.
NOTEWORTHY: President Kennedy assassinated, 1963.
Justin Roberts and 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. His latest release, Pop Fly, features the track "Stay-At-Home Dad," proving that he has his finger on the pulse of parenting trends.
The Lighthouse & the Whaler
Frequency, 5:30 pm
The Cleveland indie-folk trio have only been around for a year, and their self-titled debut is even newer, but they've managed to nab a "Live at Paste Magazine" recording session and Filter's "Undiscovered Band of the Month" crown. Now they've embarked on a tour of some of the country's most sought-after small stages, including Pianos and Pete's Candy Store in New York City and the Frequency here in Madison. Consider yourselves discovered, boys. With JoAnn Riedl.