Yeah, the premiere event of this weekend is undoubtedly the epic showdown between the Packers and Bears, but there's also plenty of fun slated before the big game. The calendar also includes: Badger Bioneers; a Shinique Smith opening at MmoCA; the Folk Ball Festival at the UW; productions of The Wedding Singer and The Last Supper; performances by the WCO; Kids in the Rotunda, the Polar Dash, and Freeze for Food; a book reading by Barry Grant; the FUnK Winter Music Fest; and, more live music from Canyons of Static, Angélique Kidjo, Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble, David Francey, Kitty Rhombus, Nama Rupa, Tea Leaf Green, and the Eddie Butts Band; and, the opening of Madison's Winter Restaurant Week.
NOTEWORTHY: President Jimmy Carter pardons most Vietnam-era draft evaders, 1977.
BIRTHDAYS: Oscar-winning actress/Olympic-caliber archer Geena Davis, 1957; Baby Spice Girl Emma Lee Bunton, 1976.
American Family Insurance Corporate Headquarters, through Jan. 22
The eco-friendlies of Sustain Dane host this conference, which is a forum for 10 Madison-area leaders in sustainability. They include Robert Pierce, who promotes local food in low-income neighborhoods; and Monette McGuire, who, in managing purchasing for the city of Madison, strives to wean the government off no-no's like bottled water.
Shinique Smith: Menagerie
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, through May 8
Baltimore-raised, Brooklyn-based multimedia artist Smith fashions objects -- bales, figures -- from clothes, cloth and found items. See some of them at Smith's first museum show, which also gathers paintings, photographs and site-specific installations she's putting up with help from local high school students. Meet the artist and hear about her work at tonight's MMoCA Nights event, which begins at 6:30.
Folk Ball Festival
UW Memorial Union, through Jan. 23
The folk extravaganza includes three dance parties on Friday, featuring live music (7:30 pm); workshops on Saturday (10 am-5 pm) and Sunday (10 am-2 pm); and the blowout Folk Ball Dance Party on Saturday night (Great Hall, 7 pm), with music by Reptile Palace Orchestra, Orkestar Bez Ime and more.
The Wedding Singer
Madison College-Truax's Mitby Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm) & Saturday (2 & 7:30 pm), Jan. 20 & 22
It is New Jersey. It is 1985. And a wedding singer has love problems. That was the premise of the 1998 film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and it was the premise of the 2006 Broadway show based on the film. And it is the premise of this staging of that show by Kidz Wisconzin.
The Last Supper
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (6 pm), Jan. 22 & 23
Mercury Players Theatre presents playwright Dan Rosen's adaptation of the satirical 1995 film he penned, about a group of liberal graduate students who invite right-wing guests for dinner, then murder them. As we recall, the film was funny but a little formulaic. Still, this should be cathartic stuff in these turbulent times, if you're a liberal UW grad student. But we repeat ourselves.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
Music director Andrew Sewell's ensemble kicks off the new year with a multidisciplinary fiesta. Dancers from Madison Ballet perform 1927's L'Eventail de Jeanne, with music by Ravel, Poulenc and others. Also on the program: Vivaldi's Piccolo Concerto, featuring Molly Barth.
Canyons of Static
Frequency, 9 pm
This quartet from the Milwaukee burbs are intense, inspired and instrumental, giving passionate post-rock a shoegaze shine while decorating a smattering of screens with abstract homemade films. Check out the show to sample songs from their in-the-works LP. With United Sons of Toil, the Customary Silence and El Valiente.
FUnK Winter Music Fest
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
The Twin Cats, a duo of twins from the Twin Cities who pair funk with jazz, join creepfunk craftsmen Steez and dirty, flirty funkmeisters the Mustache for a party that will blast the winter blues away with groovy rhythms, dance-inducing drums and bootylicious basslines.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. Supreme Court hands down Roe v. Wade decision, 1973.
BIRTHDAYS: Exorcist star Linda Blair, 1959; actor Balthazar Getty, 1976.
Kids in the Rotunda: Mark Hayward
Overture Center's Rotunda Stage, 9:30 & 11 am, 1 pm
Madison native Hayward has the world on a string: He is a champion yo-yo guy. He is also droll, but children may find the yo-yo tricks more entertaining than the drollery.
Olbrich Gardens, 10 am
Physicians Plus sponsors this kids event, which has youngsters running a winter race course as they pull sleds bearing plush polar bears. The lesson is that outdoor recreation is fun and healthy in winter, something every Wisconsinite can stand to remember.
Freeze for Food
Vilas Park Shelter, 11:15 am (registration), noon (5K), 1 pm (10K)
Hosted by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin-Madison, this run/walk helps send medicine and supplies to a community in Colombia. If there was ever a good reason to freeze your patootie off, this is it.
Booked for Murder, 2 pm
Grant signs copies of Sherlock Holmes and the Shakespeare Letter, the sequel to The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes. In the earlier book, Arthur Conan Doyle's famous sleuth was revived in modern times (having been frozen in a Swiss glacier, natch). This time around, Holmes tracks down a missing missive apparently penned by the Bard himself.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The Beninese singer's list of influences is almost as long as her name, Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, but the depth of her talent justifies such a sprawling moniker. Hear her perform highlights from her extensive repertoire of jazz, Afropop, worldbeat and more, including songs from Õö, her Grammy-nominated 2010 release.
Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
Join Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble to raise a glass -- or a mug of French roast -- to the 101st birthday of Django Reinhardt, whose guitar-driven gypsy jazz set Paris clubs on fire in the 1930s and 1940s and continues to make music fans swoon and sweat today. The local combo will provide a live soundtrack for this evening of retro revelry.
Brink Lounge, 8 pm
The Scottish-born Canadian folk musician has won three Juno Awards for his heartfelt reflections on working-class life, and his tune "Skating Rink" has been the official theme song of Hockey Day in Canada several times. Come wave your Maple Leaf flag and hobnob with members of the Madison Folk Society, who are bringing him to town.
Willy Street Pub & Grill, 9 pm
Half the inventive local psych-prog quartet Kitty Rhombus moved to the Twin Cities recently, but the full band will unfurl its cracked masterpieces for the fans who welcomed it to the Madison scene and those who keep the remaining two rhomboids here. With Pewter Club, Pink Lightning and Venus in Furs.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
In addition to growing its fan base, this local reggae-and-dub group has been cultivating a new album, Planting a Seed, over the past few years. Enjoy the fruits of its labor and marvel at the creative ways it weaves hip-hop, funk and social critique into its songs. (See story.) With Kingtown Rockers and Tropical Riddims Sound System.
Tea Leaf Green
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The San Francisco jam-rockers are preparing a new album for this spring, but they're whetting crowds' appetites with a set of fan favorites from their past six studios albums, especially 2010's Looking West, which itself is a collection of fan favorites from their previous five albums. With Sons of Bill.
Eddie Butts Band
Scatz Sports Bar & Nightclub, Middleton, 9:30 pm
Smokey-voiced Milwaukee R&B vet Eddie Butts and his band aren't satisfied until everybody's out on the floor. Their song list is vast, so don't be shy about requesting some Ohio Players or Barry White.
NOTEWORTHY: Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inducts Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis & Elvis Presley as inaugural honorees, 1986.
BIRTHDAYS: Cheap Trick singer-guitarist Robin Zander, 1952; actress Tiffani-Amber Theissen, 1974.
Local restaurants, through Jan. 28
Foodies on a budget love this event, wherein eateries like 43 North, Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano and Harvest offer a prix-fixe menu for $25. There are 35 participating restaurants (see madisonrestaurantweek.com).