Brave the snow and cold this midwinter weekend and hit the town. The calendar includes: the Wedding Planner & Guide Bridal Show; the Mad Rollin' Dolls season opener; productions of Apartment 3A, Blasphemy!, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Mangia, Mangia; a photo exhibit by John Kohl-Riggs and a reception for painters Kristin Abraham and Alfonso Llamas; the Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund Benefit and a medical benefit for Mark Burdulis; and plenty more tunes from The Delta Jets, Eddie Butts Band, De La Buena with Que Flavor!, Marty Finkel, Ladybeard with Jaggernauts and Underculture; Jentri Colello, IfIHadAHiFi, and Victorian Halls.
The Gomers' Slappy Hour Variety Special
Frequency, 5:30 pm
The Reptile Palace Orchestra brings its entertaining mix of lounge and klezmer music -- voted Isthmus readers' favorite world music in 2008 -- to the Frequency for the Gomers' new variety event.
John Kohl-Riggs: Overlooks & Perspectives
Steenbock Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy, 5:30 pm
The photographer is on hand for a reception at his new show, a collection of large-format color photographs. They're part of a larger work, Succession, a study of the Iowa County landscape.
Presented by Strollers Theatre at the Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm) & Saturday (4 & 8 pm), Jan. 8 & 10
In actor-dramatist Jeff Daniels' play, a public-television fundraiser's life falls apart (see preview.
Blasphemy!: An Unholy Trinity of Musical Comedies
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Jan. 10, 8 pm
The local team of Andrew Rohn and Catherine Capellaro have distinguished themselves with a series of satiric musicals, including Temp Slave and Walmartopia, which ran off-Broadway in 2007. They're back with Blasphemy!, a collection of three mini-musicals that are -- at least potentially --blasphemous.
The Delta Jets
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
Make Friday night a relaxing one with a cup of tea, your favorite granny-riffic couch at Mother Fool's, and a set or two of slide-guitar blues by the Delta Jets. Also playing: Spitzer Space Telescope.
Eddie Butts Band
Badger Bowl, 9:30 pm
Smokey-voiced Milwaukee R&B vet Eddie Butts and his band aren't satisfied until everybody's out on the floor showing their stuff. Their song list is vast, so don't be shy about requesting some Ohio Players or Barry White.
Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund Benefit
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Who says a benefit has to be a quiet affair? The Killer Dolphin With Rabies kicks off the show with snippets of hardcore, followed by the United Sons of Toil's noisy math rock and the splendid, sordid surf metal of Knuckel Drager. Warm up for the show with a free MP3 from the Killer Dolphin With Rabies, this week's featured MadTracks artist.
She Swings, She Sways, with Sabertooth Man
Frequency, 10 pm
She Swings, She Sways bring their finely crafted Americana up from Iowa, while Sabertooth Man show what Madison's got to offer the world of folk-pop this year. Also playing: Nebula & the Patchwork Monkey, Blake Whitworth.
Wedding Planner & Guide Bridal Show
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 10 am-5 pm. Also Sunday, Jan. 11, 11 am-5 pm
Attention, brides: Now that the U.S. economy is on its knees, our only hope is for you to spend, spend, spend on flowers, apparel, food, booze, music and all the rest. So find your ideally matched vendors at this expo.
The Phantom Tollbooth
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 2 pm
We always liked The Phantom Tollbooth, the 1961 kids' book by Norton Juster about the adventures of Milo in the Kingdom of Wisdom by way of the Mountains of Ignorance (boo, Mountains of Ignorance). This musical version is presented by Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour.
Kristin Abraham & Alfonso Llamas: The Nomadic Project
State Street Gallery, 6 pm
Visual artist Abraham and musician Llamas spent a year traveling the 50 states and coming up with a painting and a musical work for each state. Now the saga continues as the pair travel the land exhibiting the work. Meet them at this reception.
Mad Rollin' Dolls
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 6 pm
Fast Forward Skate Center, the roller rink on Verona Road, has its charms, but its shortcomings as a roller derby venue include overwhelmed bathrooms and bad sightlines (good nachos, though). So kudos to the Rollin' Dolls for landing a slot at the gleaming Coliseum, where the Vaudeville Vixens take on the Quad Squad and the Unholy Rollers battle the Reservoir Dolls in the season opener.
De La Buena, Que Flavor!
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Take it from us: Nothing chases away winter ennui like the sexy elegance of the salsa step -- at least once the dancers have taken off their down parkas. Skirts will swish at this salsa dance, just you wait.
Frequency, 9 pm
The Middleton High School graduate and Elliott Smith acolyte solemnizes the release of The Good Life, a collection of alt-country and rock tunes. With Adam Hooks, Box of Baby Birds.
Ladybeard, Jaggernauts, Underculture
Crystal Corner Bar, 9:30 pm
The Jaggernauts, an Eau Claire band that describe their craft as "geek power pop," team up with Underculture's raucous racket of psychobilly to open for Ladybeard, which, after a series of moves by a few core members, has put down some roots in Madison.
Mark Burdulis Medical Benefit with the Arge and Cement Pond
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
With out-of-control health-care premiums and skyrocketing prescription drug costs, it's not a surprise that lots of local bands are playing benefits to help their friends and neighbors preserve their health without going bankrupt. This benefit brings together the Arge and Cement Pond, two bands that share a passion for garage rock. Also playing: Lulabelle, Markopolis.
Cafe Montmartre, 9:30 pm
If you're up for a thought-provoking Saturday night, you can't do much better than a show by Mount Horeb-reared singer and songwriter Jentri Colello, plus a beer or two, in the cozy confines of the Momo. Chris Koza Band and Court & 7th open.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
It's hard to believe that Milwaukee noise-rock band IfIHadAHiFi has been around for nine years -- longer than the Mad Rollin' Dolls themselves, who are hosting this event as the afterparty for their season-opening bout. If you haven't heard 'em before, it's fine time you did. Also playing: Them Damned Young Livers, The Hussy.
Presented by TAPIT/New Works at Bunky's, 1 pm
This play by the storied east-side troupe recalls Madison's old Italian enclave the Greenbush, thanks to interviews producing artistic director Danielle Dresden did with former Greenbush residents. Your admission also gets you an Italian lunch right there at Bunky's.
High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm
Fans of Death From Above 1979 and the Blood Brothers, rejoice. Chicago's Victorian Halls is bringing the torch of screamy, crazy, over-the-top pop to Madison this week before returning home to release a new CD on Jan. 24. Read more about the band in this week's Tour Stop. Also playing: The Projection People, Living As Wolves, Cleobury.