Madison stages blossom with more activity this weekend as the spring arts season approaches its peak. The calendar includes: Science Expeditions at UW; the Fixed Images photo exhibit; stories by Jeff DeMark and Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour; productions of Love Stories and The Gentlemen; dance by Cycropia, Pilobolus Dance Theater, and Luma Theater; Opera Up Close; Bachanalia! and the Madison Bach Musicians; performances by the WCO and UW MadHatters; and, more live music from Count This Penny, Buckethead, Fred Eaglesmith, Bassnectar, Good Old War, Caveman, Ari Herstand, Big Freedia & the Divas, The Naked & Famous, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Marilyn Crispell, and Bombino.
NOTEWORTHY: Downtown Chicago floods, 1992.
Count This Penny
Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 5:30 pm
The talented local Americana outfit performs songs inspired by letters from Wisconsin Civil War Soldiers, drawn from the museum's collection.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm
Luther Memorial organist Bruce Bengston joins violinist Eleanor Bartsch, oboist Marc Fink and soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine for a program of music by the one, the only, J.S. Bach. Plus a little Liszt.
Majestic Theatre, 7:30 pm
Though he wears a KFC bucket on his head, Buckethead has no trouble focusing when he's onstage. His guitar prowess has landed him on numerous best-of lists. With That 1 Guy and Wolff & Tuba.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
This alt-country notable writes songs much like an author pens novels. Some feature unreliable narrators, and others fascinate listeners with shocking plot twists and familiar country themes like farming, trucks and booze. With the Fabulous Ginn Sisters.
Kanopy Dance Company
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7 & 9 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), April 14 & 15
The contemporary dance group presents Cassandra, which is the title both of the concert and of a piece choreographed by Kanopy co-artistic director Lisa Thurrell, based on the Greek myth. Other highlights include works by guest artist Sandra Kaufman, a Martha Graham veteran.
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), April 12, 14 & 15
Forward Theater Company presents amorously themed playlets by Bertolt Brecht, Dorothy Parker and G.B. Shaw. The program stars American Players Theatre's James Ridge and Colleen Madden.
Audio for the Arts, 8 pm. Also Saturday, April 14, 8 pm
The Blue Lake, Calif., poet and raconteur presents two events: stories and songs on Friday (with musicians Andy Ewen and Tony Castañeda) and, on Saturday, a performance of his comedic monologue "Went to Lunch, Never Returned." DeMark lived and performed in Madison in the 1970s and 1980s.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
The WCO performs Gerald Finzi's "Dies Natalis" and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Along with the Festival Choir of Madison, vocalists Michelle Areyzaga, Jamie Van Eyck, Robert Bracey and Timothy Jones raise the rooftop for a dazzling season finale.
Encore Studio for the Performing Arts, 8 pm. Also Saturday, April 14, 2 & 8 pm
This is an original multimedia play by Encore, Madison's professional troupe for people with disabilities. It explores the strengths and frailties of eight disabled men.
Exhibition Hall at Alliant Energy Center, 8 pm
Propelled into the limelight after numerous festival performances, this EDM DJ and producer has built his live act into a spectacle filled with light shows and writhing crowds of dancers. With Beats Antique and Vibesquad.
Good Old War
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
This indie-folk trio's sophomore album cracked the Billboard 200, and their new release, Come Back as Rain, is likely to do the same. Songs from the album veritably tumble from the mouths of fans at their live shows, which have been known to inspire sing-alongs. With the Belle Brigade and Family of the Year.
UW Memorial Union's Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
These New York City rockers are diehard devotees of melody. Their debut album, Coco Beware, channels hints of the Strokes and the Feelies through waves of reverb (see Tour Stop). With Screaming Females and Giant People.
NOTEWORTHY: John Wilkes Booth shoots President Lincoln at Ford Theater, 1865.
Chazen Museum of Art, through June 24
This photography exhibit draws on the museum's Baker/Pisano Collection, whose images, by luminaries like Matthew Brady, Ansel Adams and Robert Mapplethorpe, date from the 1840s to the 1980s.
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and other campus venues, 10 am-4 pm
The UW invites budding scientists of all ages to a free afternoon of hands-on activities and demonstrations. Programs include "The Wonders of Physics" and "Dinosauria." See science.wisc.edu for details.
Madison Bach Musicians
Grace Episcopal Church, 8 pm. Also Sunday, April 15, 3:30 pm
The secret word is cantatas as Trevor Stephenson's ensemble performs two of them by J.S. Bach, plus a motet. The singing soloists are soprano Emily Birsan and counter tenor Joseph Schlesinger.
Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
Lefty radio host Miller brings her sharp political humor to town. Though we can't imagine she'll have much to talk about, because not much political is going on these days.
Pilobolus Dance Theater
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
Founded at Dartmouth in 1971 and named for a fungus, the Pilobolus company practices a patented form of movement that combines elements of mime, modern dance and sheer aggressive entertainment.
Overture Hall, 8 pm
The university's signature a cappella group presents its spring concert -- and celebrates its 15th anniversary.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
In chasing dreams of musical stardom, Herstand has moved from Madison to Milwaukee to Minneapolis to L.A. His live shows brim with loops, which blend acoustic guitar, trumpet, tambourine and beatboxing into an entrancing sonic stew. With Anna Vogelzang and Dizzy Joan.
Big Freedia & the Divas
Sett at UW Union South, 9 pm
The reigning queen of bounce music -- a fun-loving sound that's emerged from New Orleans' housing projects -- performs booty-shakers that feature bursts of call-and-response vocals.
The Naked & Famous
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
This five-piece from Auckland, New Zealand, bobs in the waters of indie rock and electropop. Its tunes have been featured on such TV shows as The Vampire Diaries. With Vacationer and Now Now.
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
Big Sandy sings rockabilly and classic country as the Fly-Rite Boys punch up finger-snapping beats.
NOTEWORTHY: British and Canadian troops liberate Bergen-Belsen death camp, 1945.
Opera Up Close
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 1 pm
Madison Opera gives a multimedia preview of its season-closing production, Cinderella.
Brink Lounge, 3:30 pm
This dazzling free-jazz pianist, whom The New York Times has compared to a volcano, performs as a solo artist and with a trio composed of local multi-instrumentalist JoAnne Pow!ers and Chicago free-jazz veterans Harrison Bankhead and Avreeayl Ra.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm
This dance/theater troupe (once based in Madison) takes to the stage with luminescent objects of all kinds, for an effect that's reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Raised near the Sahara Desert, this young musician learned to capture the spirit of the winds and sand with his guitar. Punctuated by syncopated claps and rhythmic licks, his hypnotic soundscapes are suffused with a rebellious spirit. With Tani Diakite & the Afrofunkstars.