Here are this week's Isthmus Picks. The Guide provides an extended listing of events in and around Madison.
Thur. Aug. 7
Central Park Sessions
Central Park, 5 pm
John Primer joins Robert Randolph & the Family Band and Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound for what should be a spectacular display of blues licks, funk grooves and more. Proceeds benefit WORT-FM and the Urban League.
Corral Room, 7 pm
Based in Austin, this fingerstyle guitarist is known for his remarkable live performances. He draws from slack key, West African and Tex-Mex styles, but listen closely and you'll hear undercurrents of jazz and funk as well. His latest album, Black Pepper Corn, is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, showing off influences from around the world. With Matt Ahrens, Cedric Baetche and Catfish Stephenson.
Joe Crookston & Brother Sun
Brink Lounge, 7 pm
Banjo playing, guitar picking and lyrical storytelling are on the docket for this concert by an act that's won the International Folk Alliance's album of the year award.
Thursday, Aug. 7, American Players Theatre, Spring Green, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, Aug. 9, 8 pm. Through Sept. 20
Anton Chekhov's dark comedy follows a man struggling to step out of his famous mother's shadow, gain respect as a playwright and win the love of a young lady who lives nearby. Many consider Trigorin, the mother's celebrity boyfriend, one of Chekhov's greatest roles.
Ancora Coffee-King Street, 8 pm
After performing on the rooftop of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art late last month, Nelson brings his acoustic folk and Americana to an intimate indoor setting. Expect music from his latest EP, Whittier.
The Water Liars
Kiki's House of Righteous Music, 8 pm
This Southern folk-punk act just released an excellent self-titled LP, which Kiki Schueler, the show's host, says is "in the running for the best record of 2014." The band's gritty sound should please fans of Josh Ritter. With the Midwest Beat.
Pick of the Week
Thursday, Aug. 7, UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
There's a good reason this North Carolina group are called Matrimony: The bandmates joined forces -- and families -- when singers Ashlee Hardy and Jimmy Brown tied the knot. The couple are backed by Ashlee's brothers C.J. and Jordan, and their layered folk-pop brims with some of the things that make certain families so endearing: chemistry and warmth, with the occasional bout of screaming. Bring your own clan to the Terrace to hear songs from debut album Montibello Memories. If you're a fan of the Lumineers or Fleetwood Mac, you're bound to form a bond with this act.
Fri. Aug. 8
Monona Terrace, 5:30 pm
The free series unites Dane County's diverse population with music, food and dancing. This week's grooves include country by Wild Heart and mambo by MadiSalsa.
Live on King Street featuring Ziggy Marley
King Street, 6 pm
Fresh air, brewskis and a performance by one of the reigning kings of reggae: Could there be a more summery scenario? Admission is free, and so are good vibes -- and contact highs if the event unfolds as anticipated. With T.U.G.G. and DJ Nick Nice.
Mystery to Me, 7 pm
This winner of a Wisconsin Library Association Outstanding Achievement Award reads from a new poetry chapbook, New Girl.
A Chorus Line
Middleton-Cross Plains Area Performing Arts Center, Middleton High School, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Aug. 9 & 10. Through Aug. 16
Before there was America's Got Talent, there was A Chorus Line, the musical tribute to success, rejection, anxiety and heart among Broadway's chorus dancers. The characters and storylines are engaging, and it's filled with great songs like "One (Singular Sensation)" and "What I Did for Love."
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Aug. 9, 8 pm. Through Aug. 30
Ever wonder what happened to Robin Hood after he helped King Richard reclaim his kingdom? Broom Street Theater has a few ideas, which will be presented in an interactive show by Doug Reed, creator of the popular Lamentable Tragedie of Scott Walker.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
Performing soft, emotive indie folk and pop, this Eau Claire five-piece is led by vocalist and guitarist Adelyn Strei. "Perhaps," the group's most recent single, is a pretty, wispy delight. With Softly Dear and Jake Armerding.
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
This local band sound mighty fine through a pair of earplugs. Prepare for high volume and a generous helping of fuzz when they rip into their garage-punk tunes. With Lover's Spit and Neen.
Sat. Aug. 9
LGBTQ Pride Events
King Street, 4 pm-midnight. Also Sunday, Aug. 10, Central Park, Capitol Square & King Street, 2 pm-midnight
Bad bois, drag queens and bears, oh my! It's a celebration of LGBTQ culture, history and rights. On Sunday at 2 pm, OutReach hosts a costume- and float-filled Pride Parade from Central Park to the Capitol Square, where there'll be a rally and entertainment on the State Street corner. Revelers can warm up for the parade with music and more at a Saturday block party near Woof's, where fuzzy male burlesque group FurrLesque perform around 6:30 pm. The second bash, at the Majestic on Sunday, features DJ Matt Stands from San Francisco's Bearracuda, one of the nation's biggest dance parties for bears and their friends. Stands hits the decks from 7 pm to midnight, after a Pride Tea Dance featuring DJ Leo from 4 to 7 pm.
Rock Against Reagan Rehash
Crystal Corner Bar, 9 pm
Swamp Thing and other Madison bands from the '80s rise from the ether at this benefit for the Dane County Pantry Brigade. Members of Killdozer, Tar Babies, Honor Among Thieves and the Gomers will perform, as well as db Pedersen, the Yid Vicious Horns and other acts that melted faces to protest the Gipper.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
Last year Smith began her transition from burgeoning indie-folk artist to fun, sexy R&B and neo-soul songstress (see Tour Stop). She says the new sound reflects her true essence. Check out "Denim Boy" from 2011's Little Wind and "Magazine" from 2013's Half About Being a Woman to chart her evolution.
Jolly Bob's House of Love featuring Andrew Emil
Jolly Bob's, 10 pm
Emil, a longtime Chicago house DJ and concert-trained percussionist, joins local record-jammers Wyatt Agard and Lovecraft for an evening of blissful beats, colorful cocktails and crazy dancing.
Sun. Aug. 10
The Baseball Project
Kiki's House of Righteous Music, 5:30 pm
This event at Kiki's is a doubleheader, but plan on catching the early show since the 8 pm edition is sold out. The band's roster includes Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows, Mike Mills of R.E.M, Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate and Linda Pitmon of the Miracle Three, and they'll lob baseball-themed songs like "Extra Inning of Love" at the crowd.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Having formed on St. Patrick's Day in 1990, this punk band are serious about Irish-style revelry. Their song "Paint the Town Red" was featured in the climactic fight scene in the Oscar-winning film The Fighter. With Whiskey of the Damned.
Tue. Aug. 12
HotelRED, 6 pm
The former Chicago Tribune reporter sits down with Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss to discuss her memoir The Mockingbird Next Door, about her unexpected friendship with the famously press-averse Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) and her sister Alice. Lee has reportedly denounced the book as "unauthorized," which is sure to be part of the conversation.
High Noon Saloon, 6:30 pm
A minister's son with a dark past, rocker Joe Scorsone pours his struggles with religion, health and hope into a noteworthy solo act. With Catch Kid.
Nuts in the Ballroom: Grilled
Brink Lounge, 7:30 pm. Also Wednesday, Aug. 13, 7:30 pm
The Bricks Theatre presents this story-share show based on its popular "That's What She Said" series. This time it's the men's turn to dish, as seven local gents share their perspectives on life.
Wed. Aug 13
Alfonso Ponticelli with Swing Gitan
100 block of State Street, 4:15 pm
This Chicago-based gypsy-jazz act has been a favorite among attendees of the Midwest Gypsy Swing Festival. That event is organized by local gypsy-swing purveyors Harmonious Wail, who'll also perform at this edition of Jazz at Five. With Skai Jazz Band.
Elks Teeth & Rabbits Feet, Diana Lawrence
High Noon Saloon, 7 pm
Describing themselves as "folk rock noir," this Madison-based duo pair Blair Clark from the Sills with vocalist Leah Conway. Diana Lawrence is a Chicago-based singer-songwriter whose soul-influenced pop ought to appeal to Regina Spektor fans.
Boy Hits Car
Inferno, 9 pm
Boy Hits Car are in their second decade of performing "love core," a variety of world music informed by both metal and Middle Eastern sounds. Their latest album, All That Led Us Here, is heavy and heady. With Falling from Fiction and Autumn Reverie.
Edited by Rocket Raccoon