Even if you don't head out intending to find some music, the music may find you.
Now in its second year, Make Music Madison bills itself as a concert extravaganza that's intended to be enjoyed by everyone. But that's not all: The event's also a chance to seize the day on the summer solstice, June 21. It encourages local residents to give performing a try, even those who've never picked up an instrument.
The invitation could lead to a full day of cacophony, but for the most part, the event seems to draw musicians who love to play but don't get to perform at high-profile venues like Overture Center or the High Noon Saloon. It’s the kind of opportunity that could convince a retiree to launch a second career as a piano teacher or help a shy teenager shed his stage fright. With at least 25 youth ensembles on the bill, including an East High jazz ensemble (HotelRED at 2 p.m.) and a teen mariachi band (The Gardens senior community on Segoe Rat 10:45 a.m., Michael's Frozen Custard on Monroe at 1 p.m., Wirth Court Park at 4 p.m.), there are plenty of chances for audiences to show their support for nascent local talent.
Overall, there will be at least 380 concerts at more than 100 pop-up venues across town. Some performance spaces will showcase a particular genre of music. For example, the East Madison Community Center plans to highlight hip-hop for much of the afternoon, and the 600 block of Few Street has seven rock bands on the docket, including the Periodicals (11 a.m.) and Tween Wolf (2:45 p.m.). Most of the venues are outdoors, near such landmarks as Monona Terrace and Monty's Blue Plate Diner. Several, such as the Wisconsin Historical Museum and Cargo Coffee, will host music indoors if a storm pays a visit (see the insert in the June 13 issue of Isthmus for details).
Spaces known for quietude, such as Central Library, will become boisterous gathering spaces as groups like the Raging Grannies of Madison (11 a.m.) get the crowd to chant, clap and chuckle. And places that are often boisterous, like the Dance County Regional Airport, should gain a focal point thanks to performances by accordion act Sultan of Squeeze (12:15 p.m.) and the Madison Classical Guitar Society (10 a.m.). Some homes will even turn into venues, from a front yard at 1824 Yahara Place to a driveway at 10 N. 4th St. to a garage at 5609 Westbury Place.
Most performers signed up for the event weeks in advance, but the organizers have also scheduled activities that transform listeners into players. For instance, at 1:30 p.m., the Madison Area Ukulele Initiative (MAUI) will descend upon Hilldale Shopping Center to perform an hour-long concert. (For those who'd like to practice ahead of time, the song book is available here.) Around sunset, volunteers will distribute 250 drumsticks at Olbrich Park so visitors can turn trees, sidewalks and rocks into percussion instruments. The most intriguing gig of the day may be the Silent Disco on the Capitol Square. From 4-9 p.m., participants will create a performance-art piece of sorts, singing and dancing to music that DJs from Plan B pipe into 100 sets of wireless headphones.
Even if you don’t head out intending to find some music, the music may find you. Flowpoetry will rove several central-city streets around 10:15 a.m., sharing their blend of music and spoken word, and a convertible Mini Cooper will make stops around town throughout the day, treating onlookers to rock-playing cellists and other surprises.