Here comes summer! The long Memorial Day weekend opens the new season with the Madison Classic Horse Show, WisCon, World's Largest Brat Fest, People's Bratfest, Madison Marathon, and Wurst Times. The calendar also includes: the Seen/Unseen exhibit at MMoCA; the Claddagh's Got Talent competition; more live music from Reptile Palace Orchestra, Ben Sollee, Count This Penny with Winn Dixie, The Gusto, The Handphibians with Grupo Balanca, Spider John Koerner, Jimmy Murn + The HeyMakers, Trinidad Tripoli Steel Drum Band, and Eef Barzelay; and, the Summer Palooza concert. The long weekend concludes with Memorial Day observances, including a parade in Monona, and ceremonies at the Capitol and James Madison Park.
NOTEWORTHY: Cassius Clay knocks out Sonny Liston at 1:56 of the first round to retain the heavyweight boxing title, 1965.
Madison Classic Horse Show
Alliant Energy Center's Arena, through May 27
The annual American Saddlebred and Hackney Ponies show features over 400 horses from around the Midwest competing for horsy glory. Expect gorgeous animals, skillful riders and many interesting smells.
Concourse Hotel, through May 28
Madison's renowned science fiction convention emphasizes issues of feminism, race, gender and class. The guests of honor this year are Andrea Hairston, who won the James Tiptree Jr. Award for her novel Redwood and Fire; and Debbie Notkin, who chairs the Tiptree Motherboard.
World's Largest Brat Fest
Alliant Energy Center, 6-9 am (Take Your Brat to Work Day) & 10 am-9 pm. Also Saturday (10 am-9 pm), Sunday (10 am-9 pm) & Monday (10 am-6 pm), May 26-28
Brat Fest has been raising money for worthy causes lo these many years, and how is it done? It is done by you buying and eating greasy sausages. So bon appétit, and while you're there, enjoy the music of scores of acts including Anna Vogelzang, Sunspot, Sexy Ester and Beth Kille.
Reptile Palace Orchestra
High Noon Saloon, 5:30 pm
These performers fuse lounge tunes, klezmer music and Balkan jams with hints of the Caribbean and the Middle East. Check out their new album, Songs and Dances of Madisonia, at this show.
Majestic Theatre, 7 pm
This cellist, vocalist and member of the Sparrow Quartet hops genres as nimbly as a jackrabbit, incorporating the sounds of bluegrass, jazz and R&B as he sees fit. Find out what he's been up to since releasing Inclusions in 2011.
Count This Penny, Winn Dixie
Project Lodge, 8 pm
Two local Americana bands showcase skillful banjo picking, mandolin strumming and sweet vocal harmonizing at the community art space on East Johnson Street.
Frequency, 9 pm
Learn about alternative energy sources by observing how cold beer, fist pumps and the exhilarating freedom of a Friday night power this band of seasoned punk rockers. With She Likes Todd, Voice of Addiction, MF Ruckus and Sparklefuck.
The Handphibians, Grupo Balanca
Terrace at UW Memorial Union, 9 pm
The Handphibians fill the Terrace with the joyful rhythms of Brazilian-style percussion, and Grupo Balanca explores Brazil's samba tradition with instruments such as the tan-tan and the reco-reco.
NOTEWORTHY: George Willig climbs the World Trade Center, 1977.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, through June 16
Drawn from the museum's permanent collection, these modern/contemporary works of painting, sculpture, printmaking and photography offer varying interpretations of the nature of reality. Featured are pieces by Sol LeWitt, Marsden Hartley and numerous others.
The People's Bratfest
UW Library Mall, 10 am
Last year's sausage-separatist movement is back with this alternative to the main bratwurst event, featuring food sourced from local bakeries and meat-makers, and a music lineup that includes the Pints, the Skintones and the Solidarity Singers.
Spider John Koerner
Knuckle Down Saloon, 8 pm
In the 1960s trio Koerner, Ray and Glover, this Minneapolis folk blues legend found the perfect complement for his jumpy guitar playing and laconically hip talking-blues songwriting. The group performed and recorded together for the better part of 40 years.
Claddagh's Got Talent
Claddagh Irish Pub, Middleton, 9 pm
Now that TV's The Voice has crowned its season-two winner, music fans are looking for a new talent competition to follow. Resist the urge to channel surf by cheering on local singers vying for a $5,000 prize.
Jimmy Murn + The HeyMakers
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Fans of poppy punks such as the Ramones and punky popsters such as the Smoking Popes, this local band teases out the differences between the two approaches at their live shows. Get acquainted with their new album, Hudson River Rookie, at this performance. With Bes Monde (see Music), Mercy Whip and DJ Jenni Ladd.
Trinidad Tripoli Steel Drum Band
Terrace at UW Memorial Union, 9:30 pm
Helmed by Hugh Borde, a Trinidad-born resident of Ypsilanti, Mich., this band was among the first to explore the musical potential of discarded oil drums. In addition to spearheading the steel-drum movement in the 1950s, the musicians found fans in unlikely places as they began to tour the world. Liberace became enamored of their sound in the late 1960s, sitting in with the group for a 1972 album that won a Grammy. Toast sunny calypso and the band's colorful history with a cup of freshly poured Terrace ale.
NOTEWORTHY: Russian President Boris Yeltsin signs treaty with NATO, 1997.
Capitol Square, 7 am The annual event features a full marathon, a half marathon (7:12 am), a 10K (Saturday, May 26, 6:30 pm) and a kids' race (Saturday, May 26, 6:40 pm). You can also just stand on the sidelines and cheer for the athletes (wimp).
High Noon Saloon, Brass Ring, Brink Lounge 11 am
At this spirited alternative to the World's Largest Brat Fest, attendees can devour sausages grilled by people who don't support Gov. Scott Walker and drink in music by scads of bands including Anna Wang & the Oh Boys, Sexy Ester, A Minute Jack Forum and Fun with Atoms. Beginning at 9:30 pm, an after party at the High Noon Saloon explores the harder-edged sounds of Celtic punk and psychobilly with the help of performers Flatfoot 56 and Three Blue Teardrops. Proceeds from the day's events benefit a cause nearly everyone can support: the Second Harvest food bank.
Indie Coffee, 7 pm
Clem Snide's front man stops by the tiny Regent Street coffee joint for a cup of joe and an intimate concert that just might feature one of the Journey covers he unveiled at Chicago's A.V. Fest last fall. With the Heligoats.
NOTEWORTHY: 19-year-old West German pilot Mathias Rust makes unauthorized landing in USSR, 1987.
Monona Memorial Day Parade
Monona Grove High School, 10 am
Time to remember the too many American soldiers who've died lately, as well as others who've served their country. The parade is followed by ceremonies at Highland Memory Gardens, and Blooming Grove and Roselawn cemeteries. Other Memorial Day ceremonies take place at the Capitol (9:30 am) and James Madison Park (1 pm).
Up North Pub, 12:30 pm
Local bands celebrate the advent of road-construction season every 90 minutes until at least 8 p.m. The lineup includes the Lucas Cates Band, MoonHouse, the Color Pharmacy, Electric Spanking, Hypnopotamus and People Brothers Band.