Wisconsin Union Theater, 7 pm
The annual Spoken Word & Hip-Hop Educator's Institute opens with a bang. Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) is the brilliant and controversial music critic (Blues People), playwright (Dutchman) and activist associated at various times with black nationalism, Marxism, the Beat movement and the Black Arts Movement. No one would be surprised if his lecture is laced with incendiary statements.
Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam
Wisconsin Veterans Museum, through Sept. 1
This exhibition chronicles life on the troopship General Nelson M. Walker. The ship carried U.S. soldiers to Vietnam, a journey that covered over 5,500 miles and took over three weeks. We see an original eight-man berthing unit with bedding and life vests; we also see how soldiers passed the time by drawing graffiti on the bottoms of their canvas bunks.
The Beautiful Girls
Annex, 8 pm
The first of two hooky Australian acts making their way to the isthmus this week specializes in eclectic, reggae-stroked rock and world pop that at points recalls the Police. Nama Rupa and Patchwork open.
Concerts on the Square
Capitol Square, 7 pm
The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra continues its free outdoor pops series with a program emphasizing classic trumpet virtuosity. Guest soloist Ryan Anthony, late of the Canadian Brass, wraps his chops around the lip-busting "Trumpet Voluntary" and "Carnival of Venice."
Darin Strauss and Rae Meadows
Borders Books West, 7 pm
Strauss, author of the bestselling novel Chang and Eng, signs More Than It Hurts You, the satirical story of a doctor who accuses a mother of hurting her child to gain attention. Madison novelist Meadows signs No One Tells Everything.
Great Hymn of Thanksgiving and Conversation Storm
Nottingham Co-op, 8 pm
A favorite of the San Francisco Fringe Festival and the NYC Frigid Festival, the Nonsense Company presents a free performance blurring the line between experimental theater and avant-garde music. "Great Hymn of Thanksgiving" deconstructs War-on-Terror speak; "Conversation Storm" finds friends with different political positions arguing their way through a ticking-time-bomb scenario.
Games + Learning + Society Conference
Monona Terrace, 9 am onward. Also Friday, July 11, 9 am onward
The conference explores videogames' effect on education and culture. Participants will join academics, educators and game designers for workshops and talks, and the latest games will be available to play. That's right -- you can test out the new Grand Theft Auto in the name of research.
Alliant Energy Center's Willow Island, 6 pm
Umphrey's catholic tastes have long encompassed everything from Yes-style "Renaissance rock" to reggae to treacly pop. The college demographic still laps up their musical smorgasbord, but we bet the party atmosphere out on Willow Island will draw a wide range of revelers. Veteran electronic jammers Sound Tribe Sector 9 open and also play a separate concert at the Barrymore Theatre at 11 pm.
John & Jen
West Side Club, 437 City Highway M, 7 pm
Music Theatre of Madison presents a two-person musical in a cabaret setting. Written by Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald and originally presented off-Broadway, it's the story of a woman who protects her little brother in an abusive household; leaves him behind when she discovers the hippie movement; mourns when he's killed in Vietnam; then names a son after him to make amends.
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
A pro in her native Australia since her early teens, Higgins has the experience and chops to power up forceful, pop-flavored singer-songwriter material. Committed to the reduction of carbon emissions, she's touring aboard a biodiesel-fueled bus in support of her Grey's Anatomy-friendly CD On a Clear Night. Eric Hutchinson, Kelly Pardekooper (who'll soon say farewell to Madison) and Josh Harty open.