Romance is in the air this Valentine's Day weekend, but so too is a hint of spring, and the calendar is overflowing with options to hit the town both before and after that dinner for two. The fun includes: the Garden Expo, Celebrating Youth, the Celtic Film Festival, and the So Seductive Valentine's Ball; performances by the Madison Savoyards and Peking Acrobats, and the regular wealth of live music provided by Andy Bey, Umphrey's McGee, Thomas Mapfumo, Awesome Car Funmaker, Caroline's Spine, Houses in Motion, Mötley Crüe, the Oakwood Chamber Players, and the Karp family.
Noteworthy: Allied air strikes on Dresden begin, 1945.
Birthdays: Actress Stockard Channing, 1944; chart-topping pop singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, 1950.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 4-9 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-6 pm) & Sunday (10 am-4 pm), Feb. 14 & 15
Spring is reportedly around the corner. The Expo offers demonstrations, workshops and exhibitors to help you plan for the season's unlikely arrival.
First Unitarian Society, 7:30 pm
The very model of a Gilbert and Sullivan repertory group, the Savoyards present Winter Jollity, a performance of tunes from past productions and from next summer's crowd-pleaser, The Yeoman of the Guard.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
The singer and pianist is a distinguished jazz treasure, and since the 1950s he has mined pop, funk, blues and vocalese on a series of interesting recordings. Hear for yourself in this Isthmus Jazz Series event (see preview).
Jesus Christ Superstar
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Feb. 14, 2 & 8 pm
In the beginning -- 1971 -- a young composer named Andrew Lloyd Webber and the lyricist Tim Rice put together this crazy little rock opera about the savior of all humanity and his groovy followers. If you've seen it already, don't give away the ending.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday, Saturday & Sunday, Feb. 12, 14 & 15, 8 pm
While it definitely draws a hippie jam-band crowd, Umphrey's McGee gains its edge -- and its inspiration -- from the example of groups like King Crimson and Iron Maiden. If you've been curious about Umphrey's, this four-night stint is your chance to learn.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The inventor of Chimurenga isn't just a musical innovator; he's a political legend. Back when Zimbabwe was ruled by a small group of whites, Mapfumo became one of the first people to openly sing in the traditional Shona language and recite lyrics calling for the overthrow of the government. This Friday, learn how it all began and maybe start a revolution of your own.
Awesome Car Funmaker
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
After six fun-filled years, Awesome Car Funmaker is calling it quits. Come bid farewell to the zany band and their high-kicking, jumping-jack-filled ways at an all-ages show at the UW (see preview). Apparently Nothing and Cealed Kasket open.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Whether you first heard Caroline's Spine on a college radio station or the soundtrack to An American Werewolf in Paris, "Sullivan" is probably attached to at least one memory of the mid-'90s. Hear what the band's been up to recently and catch a few oldies but goodies, too.
Houses in Motion
Cafe Montmartre, 10 pm
Houses in Motion's covers of Talking Heads classics are nothing to sneeze at, thanks to taut musicianship and front man Greg Ujda's compelling version of David Byrne's wild-eyed stare. Listen to their cover of "The Book I Read" in the latest MadTracks review.
Noteworthy: League of Women Voters est., 1920.
Mannerism in Italy & the Low Countries
Chazen Museum of Art
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Mannerist artists dispensed with the studied formalism of Renaissance classicism and instead rendered exaggerated versions of the human form. This collection gathers Mannerist works, mostly engravings, by Giovanni Battista Scultori, Bartolomeus Spranger and others.
Monona Terrace, 11 am-5 pm
The kids entertain us with "Hoopla Circus," featuring 30 performances on four stages, along with exhibitors and hands-on activities. Performers include Chicago's Cirque Esteem, the JugHeads youth jugglers and the Children of the Sun Drum group.
Celtic Film Festival
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 11 am. Also Sunday, Feb. 15, 11 am
The Celtic Cultural Center and the UW-Madison Celtic Studies Program present 11 recent shorts and features in English, Welsh and Celtic -- as well as Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle, the first film in Scottish Gaelic, which is something. Free.
Coliseum at the Alliant Engergy Center, 6:30 pm
Whether you're a bona fide fan of Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and company or simply love the clichés of the hair-metal band's hard-rocking and hard-living ways, there's no better means of impressing your special someone than a live sing-along to "Without You" on V-Day. Hinder and Theory of a Deadman open.
Oakwood Chamber Players
Oakwood Village-West Auditorium, 7:30. Also Sunday, Feb. 15, 2 pm
The local ensemble's season continues with Make New Friends & Keep the Old, featuring works by John Frantzen, Bohuslav Martinu, Peter Schickele and David Schiff.
Parry, Howard and Frances Karp
Mills Hall, UW Humanities Building, 8 pm
Members of Madison's musical dynasty -- violoncellist Parry and pianists Howard and Frances -- perform a Valentine's slate of romantic works by Sibelius, Liszt, Chopin, Saint-Saëns and more in this UW Faculty Concert.
So Seductive: A Valentine's Day Ball
Brink Lounge, 9 pm
Toast your sweetie with a solid hip-hop lineup that includes L.O.S.T S.O.U.L.S, Blackboy, P. Swagger, Rickaby, DLO, Speakerboxx DJz, DJ Fusion, DJ Papi Love and DJ Fabulust.
Noteworthy: Leon Spinks upsets Muhammad Ali in split decision for heavyweight title, 1978.
Birthdays: Simpsons creator Matt Groening, 1954; Green Bay Packers running back Edgar Bennett, 1969.
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
The vegan ambassador talks about her 2008 tome, Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals, arguably the world's first "fun book about the animal rights movement."
Overture Hall, 2 pm
The 26-member troupe of gymnasts, jugglers, clowns and cyclists return to amaze us with feats of balance and dexterity, accompanied by a Chinese orchestra.