Seasonal celebrations around Madison gather steam this weekend with the opening of Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park and the Winter Art Festival at Monona Terrace. The calendar also includes: productions of Miscast, The Yum Yum Room, and You Hoo, Rent-a-Cop and the Ambulance Chaser's Bitch; standup by Mike Birbiglia; performances by Kanopy Dance, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Singers, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras; and, a bonanza of more live music by Dawes, Green River Ordinance, Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, The Safes, Jeff Daniels, Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band, Lotus, Heavy Cream, Mr. Gnome, Enter the Haggis, and Matthew Dear.
BIRTHDAY: Canadian rock singer-songwriter-guitarist-godfather of grunge Neil Young, 1945.
Holiday Fantasy in Lights
Olin Park, through Jan. 2
The holiday-themed light sculptures are a Madison tradition, and they're courtesy of American Transmission Company, the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159.
First United Methodist Church, 7 pm
Music Theatre of Madison presents a revue that, true to its name, matches unlikely singers and songs. The company calls the pairings "extreme abominations," but we bet they're pretty entertaining.
Kanopy Dance Company: 360
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7 & 9 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Nov. 13 & 14
Kanopy launches its fall season with a world-premiere, untitled work choreographed by Martin Lofsnes, director of New York's 360 Dance Company. Also on the program: the Midwest premiere of Ricardo Flores' "Que Color Tiene el Amor" and "The Maw" by Kanopy co-director Lisa Thurrell.
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Nov. 13 & 14
The ensemble tackles "The Great Gatsby Suite" by Pulitzer-winning, Dane County-based composer John Harbison, plus Richard Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks." Also: the young cellist Alisa Weilerstein plays Dvorjak's Cello Concerto.
The Yum Yum Room
UW Vilas Hall's Hemsley Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Nov. 13 & 14
As part of its Theatre for Youth series, University Theatre presents Australian playwright Stephen House's 2006 work about a troubled teen and his strained relations with his father. Director Andy Wiginton sets the action in a small Midwestern town.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, Nov. 13, 7:30 pm
Guest choirs from Marshall, La Follette and East high schools join the singing, dancing, smiling college kids of the UW's Broadway-style troupe.
You Hoo, Rent-a-Cop and the Ambulance Chaser's Bitch
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Nov. 13 & 14
The east-side troupe takes on the working life with this original comedy about a server, a security guard and an investigator. Ethan Mutz writes and directs.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The L.A. folk-rock quartet is readying a new album for a spring release. Listen for a few tunes from that project and enjoy some old favorites from 2009's North Hills. With the Moondoggies and the Romany Rye.
Green River Ordinance
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
Radio-friendly pop-rock is this band's specialty. While you may recognize their tunes from The Hills and The Young and the Restless, they've also been rocking out with Bon Jovi this fall at the "Concerts for the Coast" series in Gulf Shores, Ala. With Miggs.
Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
Slide guitarist Lil' Ed Williams, nephew of Chicago blues great J.B. Hutto, has been performing the Windy City's signature music since the 1970s, and his ferocious playing and raspy singing do the city, and his uncle, proud.
NOTEWORTHY: Whistle-blower Karen Silkwood dies in car wreck, 1974.
Winter Art Festival
Monona Terrace, 9 am-5 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 14, 10 am-4 pm
Are you freaking out about holiday shopping yet? We are, but we'll procrastinate anyway. But you shouldn't, and that's why you should attend this companion to the summer Art Fair off the Square. The name of the game is scores and scores of Wisconsin painters, jewelers, sculptors and such, plus music by Johnny Chimes, SpareTime Bluegrass and more.
Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras
UW Humanities Building's Mills Hall, 1:30 & 4 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 14, 2 pm
Salute the kids and their hard musical work as you take in performances, on Saturday, by the Sinfonietta and Concert Orchestra, then the Percussion Ensemble and Philharmonia Orchestra; and on Sunday, the Harp Ensemble and Youth Orchestra.
High Noon Saloon, 6 pm
The much-lauded Chicago trio's fast-paced, punk-fed, garage-raised pop numbers will get you dancing and thrashing with delight one moment and rage the next. Imagine what their slow dances might do. With the Motorz.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Daniels has proven his versatility as an actor, stealing scenes in Terms of Endearment, The Squid and the Whale and Dumb and Dumber, but he's also a longtime songwriter who's used music as a diary of sorts.
Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Ritter started out as a neuroscience major at Oberlin College but soon switched to a self-designed program called "American History Through Narrative Folk Music." While that focus isn't the textbook definition of "marketable," he's demonstrated that it can lead to success: He's made seven full-length Americana albums since 1999. With Thieving Irons.
Lotus, Mux Mool
Orpheum Theatre, 9 pm
Lotus started out as a jam band but found its calling a few years ago by adding Aphex Twin-influenced electronic sounds and some Tortoise-style post-rock flourishes. Tour mate Mux Mool will show off his debut LP, Skulltaste, which whisks hip-hop breaks and crazy chord progressions into a magical, mixed-up masterpiece. With Dire Wolf.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
This punk band from Nashville has been playing lots of college campuses and NYC cool-kid hangouts Union Pool and Cake Shop in recent months. With Giant People.
Mr. Gnome, Bear Claw
Frequency, 10 pm
The Cleveland duo Mr. Gnome's tidal wave of sound will knock you off your feet; then their doleful melodies will sweep you into a maelstrom of ecstasy and emotional turmoil. Meanwhile, Chicago's Bear Claw will channel the moods of Fugazi and Tortoise tunes through two bass guitars. With Self-Evident and United Sons of Toil.
BIRTHDAY: Prince Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor Mountbatten, 1948.
Enter the Haggis
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
This Toronto-based five-piece simmers the Celtic sounds of fiddles, bagpipes and Deger pipes with the guitars and harmonicas of classic rock to create a beautiful and unusual musical soup. Get a heaping helping at this show, with appetizers provided by Reptile Palace Orchestra.
Frequency, 8:30 pm
The avant-garde electronic artist surprised fans by doing some singing on 2007's Asa Breed and again on his dark new release, Black City. Find out more about his ever-changing approach -- and multiple identities -- in Tour Stop. With DJ Nick Nice and Vacation Dad.