Madison looks to be particularly rich with celebrations this weekend, a hearty rejoinder to the winter weather. The fun includes: the International Festival at Overture and a Mad City Mardi Gras at Liliana's; lots of live music, from the Great Midwestern Bluegrass Bash, an Analogy Records showcase, and a hip-hop focused MAMAs fundraiser to performances by Richard Wiegel, Daniel del Pino, Venice Gas House Trolley, Trevor Hall, Brian Whitson & the Night Wolves, Steppin' In It, Trevor Stephenson, Greg Abate with John Harmon, the Pro Arte Quartet, Corey Smith, and Juana Molina; and, of course, performances of Moonshine, Art & Desire, Lost Track, and Children of the Rainforest.
Noteworthy: John Glenn rides Friendship 7 to the first earth orbit by a U.S. astronaut, 1962.
Birthdays: Publishing heiress/Symbionese Liberation Army recruit/actress Patricia Hearst, 1954; singer Rihanna, 1988.
H'Doubler Performance Space, UW Lathrop Hall, 3:30 pm
This celebration of Black History Month features dance, music and spoken performances from students in the UW's innovative First Wave Spoken Word and Urban Arts Learning Community. This year First Wave director and UW dance prof Chris Walker asked students to consider what Africa means to them by way of preparation. Let's see how they answer.
Brink Lounge, 7 pm
The front man for the local Americana outfit the Midwesterners plays his patented rootsy music.
Art & Desire
UW Music Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Feb. 22, 3 pm
University Opera stages Maura Bosch's newly commissioned opera about the life of Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. The work, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of UW Opera director William Farlow, is set at a fictional meeting of Pollock's widow and the critic Clement Greenberg.
Daniel del Pino
Farley's House of Pianos, 8 pm
The accomplished Spanish pianist digs in to works of J.S. Bach, Liszt, Isaac Albéniz and others.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday (8 pm) & Saturday (2 & 8 pm), Feb. 19 & 21
Encore Studio for the Performing Arts, a professional theater company for people with disabilities, presents an original, mostly comic play about bipolar disorder.
Venice Gas House Trolley
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
The Trolley's Adam Gregory Pergament, a self-styled freak, layers his spoken poetry over a raucous live-music accompaniment (see Music). With Enemy Lines Music Ensemble.
Cafe Montmartre, 10 pm
The South Carolina-bred singer and songwriter performs shiny pop music reminiscent of Ben Harper's. His appealing tune "Other Ways" landed on the Shrek The Third soundtrack. Not a bad way to sell music these days.
Noteworthy: Malcolm X assassinated, 1965.
Birthdays: Talking Heads keyboardist Jerry Harrison, 1949; Juno star Ellen Page, 1987.
Children of the Rainforest
Olbrich Gardens, 10:30 am & 1:30 pm
The series is designed to help children learn about people who live in rainforest areas around the world. Hale O Malo Polynesian Dance do their thing, which ought to bring some warmth into the bleak midwinter.
Overture Center, 11 am-5 pm The mostly free event celebrates Madison's diverse cultures with a craft bazaar, a scrumptious international café and a wealth of performances by the likes of Zaibas Lithuanian Dancers and the Taiwan Puppet Troupe (see preview). The one ticketed concert features Kodo (Overture Hall, 8 pm), the traditional Japanese drumming troupe.
Brian Whitson & the Night Wolves
Project Lodge, 7 pm
The folk-punk troubadour and his ragtag band of bandits play a lot of basement and warehouse shows. They emerge from underground this week to share their stripped-down, sometimes-absurd tunes with the masses at the Project Lodge. With A Paper Cup Band, Hunger Strike Riot, Christopher Buckingham.
Steppin' In It
High Noon Saloon, 7 pm
The Michigan-based quartet evoke bygone days with their string-band instrumentation and wry ditties. Their most recent CD is called Simple Tunes for Troubled Times, which seems about right. With the Wiyos.
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 7:30 pm
The artistic director of Madison Bach Musicians performs preludes and fugues (F-sharp major through B minor, for those keeping score) from J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I. He'll also lecture on Bach and the interesting topic of 18th-century tuning.
Greg Abate, John Harmon
Farley's House of Pianos, 8 pm
With pianist Harmon, Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Abate careens through bebop numbers Charlie Parker-style.
Great Midwestern Bluegrass Bash
Orpheum Theatre's Stage Door, 8 pm
Four Wisconsin bluegrass bands (Dangergrass, Insomniac Gypsy, The Hillside Ramblers and Sweetgrass) plus one bluegrass DJ -- Aaron LeMay -- join forces to bring down the house at the Stage Door.
Pro Arte Quartet
UW Mills Hall, 8 pm
The university's resident foursome was founded back in 1912, as the court quartet to Belgium's Queen Elizabeth, and it moved to Madison in 1940. It performs music of Dvorák and, with violist Victoria Chang, quintets by Mozart and Ralph Vaughn Williams.
Analogy Records Showcase
Frequency, 10 pm
Four bands with a soft spot for electronica share the stage at the Frequency thanks to the new local indie label Analogy Records. The Projection People blend samples and synthesizers to create a sound that's part James Bond movie, part American Psycho. Learn more about the band and hear its newest single, "All the Fevered Colours," in this week's MadTracks review. Also playing: Butt Funnel, Revolving Doors, the Cemetery Improvement Society.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The Georgia singer has carved out a lucrative career in music thanks to a forward-thinking business model: play lots of shows everywhere, don't charge too much for them, give away the tunes on the Internet, and mine comfortable themes like nostalgia and boozing in tautly performed songs. With Lucas Cates, Sharp & Harkins Band.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
Though she's often accompanied by an acoustic guitar, Juana Molina's music is more Beth Orton in Buenos Aires than Bob Dylan in Brooklyn. She visits the UW this weekend to promote her 2008 Spanish-language album Un Dia. Rafter and the Rubblebucket Orchestra open.
Felicia Alima, Tefman
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Madison's 2008 Urban Artist of the Year, Australia-bred singer Felicia Alima, teams up with L.O.S.T S.O.U.L.S' Tefman and several other local hip-hop artists to raise money for the Madison Area Music Awards. Also playing: DLO & Kalo, Rob Dz, DJ Fusion.
Noteworthy: Courtney Love marries Kurt Cobain, 1992.
Birthdays: NBA legend Julius Erving, 1950; child star-turned-fun-loving actress & frequent Letterman guest Drew Barrymore, 1975.
Mad City Mardi Gras
Liliana's, Fitchburg, 10 am-midnight
Get a jump on Fat Tuesday at the suburban, New Orleans-style eatery with food, fun for the kids and music by Cliff Frederikson, Harmonious Wail, the Hanson Family Jazz Band and more.