Spring in Madison reaches its apex this week with the opening of the twelfth annual Wisconsin Film Festival. The calendar also includes: talks by Chris Abani and David Sedaris; and, live music by Gregory Alan Isakov, Mickey Factz, The Church, Great American Taxi, Alberta Cross, Dead Meadow, Brandon on the Road, and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.
NOTEWORTHY: Sonny Bono elected mayor of Palm Springs, 1988.
BIRTHDAYS: Late Show host David Letterman, 1947; Indigo Girl Amy Ray, 1964.
NOTEWORTHY: Hank Aaron goes 0-for-5 vs. Cincinnati in his major-league debut with the Milwaukee Braves, 1954.
BIRTHDAYS: E Street drummer Max Weinberg, 1951.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 11 am
In the 1980s, Abani's writing got him jailed by the Nigerian government. Now the author teaches at the University of California-Riverside and has notched numerous plaudits for his works of poetry and prose, including the 2007 novella Song for Night, about a West African child soldier.
Gregory Alan Isakov
High Noon Saloon, 7 pm
The singer-songwriter is traveling through the Midwest to promote his 2009 album, This Empty Northern Hemisphere, which landed on Paste magazine's "The Best of What's Next" list last year.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm
The world-class satirist reads from his work. Expect gentle absurdity and hilarious autobiographical oddities.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The Bronx-raised, mixtape-loving recording artist has been infusing hip-hop with even more hipster style as of late, gracing the cover of The Fader, collaborating with the Cool Kids and serving as a poster boy for Japanese clothing label Rocksmith Tokyo. With Theophilus London, Just.One.Duran and Fun Cartel.
BIRTHDAY: Actor/comedian/playwright/author/philosopher Steve Martin, 1945.
Wisconsin Film Festival
The big spring event runs April 14-18 in downtown venues, with series showcasing, among other things, African cinema, the Korean director Joon-Ho Bong and homegrown efforts. For complete listings visit wifilmfest.org.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
You thought the Australian rockers, of moody "Under the Milky Way" fame, had been permanently relegated to snarky VH1 documentaries about the 1980s. But they're back with a new album, Untitled #23, and a tour.
Great American Taxi
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Leftover Salmon's Vince Herman leads this easy jamming outfit through tunes that incorporate bluegrass, rock and other rootsy styles. Expect the Deadheads to be out in force for this one. With Wally Ingram & Jerry Joseph.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 8:30 pm
Though they get labeled as blues-rock, this New York-via-U.K. duo are more in the vein of the Raconteurs than Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Their new release, Broken Side of Time, injects a big dose of '70s-style folk-rock into their formula, and perhaps some new fans into their audiences.
Annex, 9 pm
The hard-rockin' D.C.-based trio with a thing for J.R.R. Tolkien will show off their newest album, Three Kings, while Imaad Wasif, whom you may recognize from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 2007 tour or the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack, will likely share tunes inspired by Indian folk music. With sleepcomesdown.
BIRTHDAY: Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson, 1959.
Branson on the Road
Stoughton Opera House, 3 & 7 pm
Thanks to this trio of tunesters, you can experience the Branson, Mo., version of country music without the unbearable traffic jams on Highway 76. (To experience Yakoff Smirnoff, you still have to go to Branson.)
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Saxophonist Denson toured with Lenny Kravitz's band and with the Greyboy Allstars. Now, with Tiny Universe, he performs thrillingly tight funk music. Also appearing: Steez.