Whether along the length of State Street or across the width between Lakes Mendota and Monona, downtown Madison will buzz this weekend with Maxwell Street Days and Isthmus Paddle & Portage. The calendar also includes: the Dane County Fair; the La Follette High School 50th anniversary celebration; a gallery opening with Eddee Daniel; a book reading by Lisa Lutz; productions of Iolanthe, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Pounding Nails in the Floor With My Forehead; the opening Live on King Street with the Smith Westerns; more live music from Grupo Balanca, Alex Goot, Nick Jaina, Sidewalk Chalk, Kitty Rhombus, The Handsome Family with Caitlin Rose, Run the Jewels, Brandon Santini, and Daughn Gibson; and, A Biselle KlezKamp celebration.
NOTEWORTHY: Maurice Garin wins first Tour de France, 1903.
Maxwell Street Days
State Street and Capitol area, 8 am-6 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-6 pm) & Sunday (10 am-5 pm), July 20 & 21
Definitive proof that State Street is a great street. More than 100 downtown merchants revive the spirit of Chicago's old Maxwell Street Market by displaying their wares on the sidewalks. Expect notable bargains and people-watching.
Dane County Fair
Alliant Energy Center, through July 21
The celebration of the county's bounty continues with carnival rides, critters and deep-fried everything. Music headliner Katie Armiger performs Friday at 7 pm.
Live on King Street featuring Smith Westerns
King Street, 5 pm
This free outdoor show features Pitchfork-approved indie rockers Smith Westerns and Tapes 'n Tapes, plus CMJ favorites Kopecky Family Band. DJ Nick Nice will spin records atop the Majestic Theatre's marquee before the show. Around 10 pm, Madison-raised rapper F.Stokes and up-and-coming hip-hopper Michael Medall will draw fans into the Majestic for an afterparty filled with soulful beats and rhymes.
Tamarack Studio & Gallery. Reception: 5:30-8:30 pm
The Milwaukee photographer presents a show called "Hard Ecology," meditating on our desire to mold nature to our purposes.
Cardinal Bar, 5:30 pm
Samba the night away with this Latin octet that includes a guitar, a saxophone and Brazilian percussion instruments such as a reco-reco.
Loft at Goodman Community Center, 6:30 pm
The youthful piano rocker has amassed one of YouTube's largest subscriber lists by making videos of his covers of hits like Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper."
UW Music Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm), Sunday (3 pm) & Thursday (7:30 pm), July 20, 21 & 25
For their annual Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the Madison Savoyards pick the same one they did for their first production in 1963. The 1882 gem Iolanthe is a wicked political satire about a clash between the House of Lords and a group of fairies.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Bartell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday & Thursday, July 20 & 25, 7:30 pm
Music Theatre of Madison recounts the life and times of our seventh president, who wed a married woman, was injured in a duel and won anyway, and threw wild parties at the White House. The July 20 performance will be followed by the company's annual fundraiser.
Pounding Nails in the Floor With My Forehead
MercLab, 930 N. Fair Oaks Ave., 8 pm. Also Saturday, July 20, 8 pm
In this Mercury Players Theatre production, Whitney Derendinger performs Eric Bogosian's scathing one-man show, a series of monologues by characters on the urban fringe.
Kiki's House of Righteous Music, 9 pm
Seattle Weekly has compared Jaina's graceful pop tunes to "Tom Waits playing at a kangaroo carnival, with brief interruptions for the funeral of Paul Simon and Elvis Perkins." With Corey Hart.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
Rapping, singing and even tap dancing complement keyboards and a horn section in this inventive ensemble, which the Chicago Reader named the city's best hip-hop act in 2010. With Damacha and K.Raydio.
Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm
With members in Madison and Minneapolis, this band know a thing or two about long-distance relationships. But listening to their technically proficient, no-wave-influenced experiments, you'd think they practiced every day. With Tom Teslik & the Night Owls and Perhaps.
Isthmus Paddle & Portage
James Madison Park, 9 am
If you can paddle a canoe or a kayak, and also run while carrying a canoe or a kayak, you're a contender for this quirky race presented by Isthmus. It starts in Lake Mendota, proceeds on foot across the isthmus to Lake Monona, then winds up in Olin Park for a post-race celebration (open to all) with food and music.
La Follette High School 50th
La Follette High School, noon-5 pm
Celebrate five decades of high school life with tours, a choir reunion, a battle of the bands and more. Go Lancers!
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 1 pm
In this precursor to the Wisconsin Book Festival, the bestselling mystery writer reads from The Last Word, the latest in her series featuring reluctant San Francisco private eye Izzy Spellman. Bet it won't really be the last word.
The Handsome Family, Caitlin Rose
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
For two decades, the Handsome Family have inspired musicians such as Andrew Bird with their intriguing take on gothic country, which flirts with bossa nova on their new album, Wilderness. Rose, their talented, Nashville-based tourmate, will belt out tunes from her latest release, The Stand-In. With Azita.
Run the Jewels
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9 pm
Killer Mike and El-P have teamed up to form a tough yet funny hip-hop act named Run the Jewels (see Tour Stop). They'll perform with Despot and Kool A.D. before heading down to Pitchfork Fest on Sunday.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
The blues vocalist and harmonica whiz swings through Madison with his new album, This Time Another Year, which takes some pleasant detours into Memphis soul.
NOTEWORTHY: NASA's space-shuttle program ends with landing of Atlantis, 2011.
A Biselle KlezKamp
UW Union South, 9 am-9 pm
The free, all-ages event comes courtesy of the UW-Madison Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture. It's a celebration of Eastern European and American Jewish life, featuring music, dance, and children's activities. And yes, it is a mitzvah to attend.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Though Gibson got his start drumming for Pearls & Brass, he's a talented singer and songwriter as well. He'll perform selections from his new Sub Pop album, Me Moan. With Steve Gunn and Oedipus Tex.