What to do in Madison this week: Kommuna Lux, Mingo Mania and more Isthmus Picks – Isthmus

Kommuna Lux, Monday, July 8, North Street Cabaret, 7 p.m.: From Odesa, Kommuna Lux plays Ukrainian folk music and klezmer with the on-the-edge intensity of a punk band. It’s a joyful sound that makes it hard to sit still while hearing it. The band is on tour raising funds for humanitarian aid for Ukraine (and have even started a nonprofit,, for the cause). Tickets at

Art for Humanity’s Sake, through July 8, Java Cat: Work by more than 25 artists is part of this silent auction coordinated by Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, to benefit Middle East Children’s Alliance’s humanitarian work in Gaza. Art is on display at Java Cat; the auction is open through 5 p.m. on July 8 at

Sally Franson, Tuesday, July 9, Kismet Books, Verona, 5 p.m.: Former Madisonian (and once-upon-a-time Isthmus contributor) Sally Franson returns to her old stamping grounds to read from her latest novel, Big in Sweden. Based on what really happened when Franson tried out for a Swedish reality TV show, the novel centers on Sverige och Mig, a show where Swedish-Americans compete to win a reunion with their Swedish relatives. Hilarity does, in fact, ensue. A meet and greet begins at 5 p.m. and the reading starts at 6 p.m. Franson now lives in Minneapolis; she is also the author of A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out. Tickets, which are required, are available at

Surfer Joe, Tuesday, July 9, Mickey’s Tavern, 6 p.m.: If a band is going to use the name Surfer Joe — the title of the B-side of “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris, one of surf music’s foundation stones — they better be ready to deliver. Hailing from Livorno, Italy, Surfer Joe (also the nom de rock of guitarist Lorenzo Valdambrini) is more than up to the task of carrying the reverb-drenched torch for the genre in the 21st century. This is a rare matinee patio show at Mickey’s.

Shilpa Gupta, through Jan. 14, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art: “I did not tell you what I saw, but only what I dreamt” features 12 works by Shilpa Gupta, a conceptual artist based in Mumbai, India. The installations (some of which require interactive engagement) encourage viewers to consider issues of culture and identity, the meaning of enforcing national borders, free speech, and more. The exhibition is co-produced by MMoCA and Brooklyn, New York, arts organization Amant.

Olbrich After Hours, Tuesdays, July 9-30, Olbrich Gardens, 7 p.m.: The summer concert series at Olbrich Gardens is now called Olbrich After Hours, and features food carts, a bar, and more (along with the gardens being open later each Tuesday). This month’s lineup is stellar: July 9 brings a performance of Sirena, a story in song combining traditional Filipino kundiman songs with jazz and classical, created by Leslie Damaso with Ben Ferris, Mike Koszewski and Jason Kutz, and also featuring Jon Irabagon, Janice Lee and Jose Guzman (an album of the work was just released digitally in June); July 16 features a collaboration by Searchlights and Chicago drum ensemble Ho Etsu Taiko, accompanying Cycropia Aerial Dance; July 23 is Madison electro-rockers The Earthlings; and July 30 is Kenosha-based singer-songwriter Ben Mulwana & the Village. Find more info at

Moulin Rouge: The Musical, July 9-21, Overture Hall: If you can’t get to Paris to visit the original music hall, try this Broadway musical. Based on Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film, Moulin Rouge: The Musical is set in the Belle Époque era at the turn of the 20th century, and a young composer falls in love with a dancer from the show. The boy-meets-girl plot is less crucial than the dancing and singing, with the original score and popular music contemporary to our own day. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays, July 9-21; tickets at

Tuesday Bluesdays, Tuesday, July 9, Cafe Coda, 8 p.m.: Cafe Coda has a couple new features on the schedule during the month of July: Sunday afternoon classical music and a blues jam on Tuesdays. The house band on Tuesdays is led by guitarist/singer Bruce Wasserstrom, and also features multi-instrumentalists Don Rembert and Joe iaquinto, along with drummer Terry Galloway. Players welcome to bring an instrument and sit in for a song or two.

Mingo Mania, Wednesday, July 10, Breese Stevens Field, 6-8 p.m.: With a recent six-game winning streak, Forward Madison FC is riding high this summer. Their next match isn’t until July 13 (vs. Central Valley Fuego FC), but fans can meet players and get autographs as part of the Mingo Mania social on July 10. The family-friendly evening includes plenty of other activities for the younger set, including a petting zoo, arts and crafts, games and balloon animals. Admission is free.

Flying by the Seat, Wednesday, July 10, Harmony Bar, 6:30 p.m.: This new local duo merges bluegrass (Annie Emmenegger of Annie & the Oakies) with hardcore country (Tim Haub of Jim James & the Damn Shames). But the set won’t be limited to those two core influences. The duo’s strong harmony singing will be put to use in the delivery of Americana and folk music as well.

Thank You, David Bordwell, Wednesdays, through July 24, UW Cinematheque, 7 p.m.: The UW’s cine-fan theater pays tribute to one of its own, film scholar David Bordwell, who passed away in March, with a series called “Thank You, David Bordwell.” All the Wednesday night screenings this summer will be 35mm prints of films from Bordwell’s own collection, now housed at the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research. July 10 features the French film Vagabond from 1985; July 17 highlights Laura, the Otto Preminger murder mystery of 1944; and the series closes July 24 with Tiger on Beat, a Hong Kong buddy-cop film that Bordwell praised as “exciting, even exhilarating.” All films are at 7 p.m. at 4070 Vilas Hall.

Rotten Milk + Bongo Frontier, Wednesday, July 10, Gamma Ray, 8 p.m.: Rotten Milk — a founding member of Chicago drone band Cave — has of late been in New Orleans making experimental synth music like the meditative 2023 release manqué. Southwestern Wisconsin duo Bongo Frontier similarly bases their musical experiments around keys, but adds many other instruments along the way. What comes out can sound like just about anything, judging by the 2024 album Weakling Doodle Rides Again, released on tape by Kitschy Spirit. The most unpredictable show of the week.

La Fête de Marquette, July 11-14, McPike Park: As per usual, the lineup for the midsummer landmark La Fête de Marquette may give music fans with wide-ranging interests some existential FOMO in choosing where to settle in among the varied stage schedules. The Musique Electronique stage headliners are legendary figures in the house/techno scene: English electronic musician/DJ Luke Slater on Friday and Chicago DJ/producer Derrick Carter on Saturday (both also play late-night sets at High Noon Saloon; tickets here). The fest’s French theme (Bastille Day is July 14) is represented by Cajun and zydeco music by Cedric Watson et Bijou Creole, CJ Chenier, Mo Mojo and Cajun Strangers. There’s jazz plus other genres explorers (Mr. Chair, Lovely Socialite), folk-punk (Hurray for the Riff Raff), Latin (Rebulú), danceable rock (The Claudettes)…plan your own adventure by perusing the schedule at

Lakewaves Trio, Thursday, July 11, Up North Pub, 6 p.m.: Lakewaves, a project featuring the compositions of keyboardist Graham Marlowe, can be encountered as a solo concert or as the Lakewaves Trio, with Marlowe joined by bassist Mason Aumanstal (Dogtown Hollow, Sortin’ the Mail) and drummer Will Bailey (Maestranza, CoMingle). In either incarnation expect impressionistic jams adjacent to jazz and rock, both composed and improvised, which in the trio form have much added groove due to the rhythm section’s presence. Be prepared to dance and maybe laugh if they announce their equally impressionistic yet humorous song titles.

Ladies Must Swing, Thursday, July 11, San Damiano, 6 p.m.: We have highlighted the 19-piece all-female jazz band that is Ladies Must Swing in this space before. This time, we must also call attention to their venue, the lovely grounds of the former San Damiano Friary, once the home of Frank Allis, of Allis-Chalmers farm equipment fame (and wealth). The city of Monona is treating the area as a public park while a master plan is developed. The shady lawn on the shore of Lake Monona is a perfect spot for enjoying a summer evening. In addition to the music, there will be beer concessions, food trucks and yard games, starting at 5 p.m. The site, at 4123 Monona Drive, has extremely limited parking, but the lot at nearby Monona Grove High School is usually recommended.

Dallas Moore, Thursday, July 11, Main Street Music, Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.: During the last quarter-century, singer-songwriter Dallas Moore built a following the old-fashioned way: a steady stream of solid records and charismatic performances on a relentless touring schedule. Rather than focusing on his own songs, Moore’s 2023 album, No God in Juarez, collects songs written by one of Moore’s influences. Billie Gant — like Moore, a native of Ohio and country performer — became a prolific songwriter during a long period of recovery following an automobile accident. Moore’s whiskey and ground glass voice is a good fit for Gant’s outlaw tales. He returns with a set of his own songs on the forthcoming album Gems & Jams. Tickets at

The Midwest Movie Mixtape, Thursday, July 11, The Bur Oak, 8 p.m.: The spirit of inventive, low-budget filmmaking hasn’t changed, even if the equipment has. Tonight, for your viewing pleasure, there will be what is described as “a selection of short films from the weirdo Wisconsin youth/student underground.” The program includes eight short films from Wisconsin filmmakers — Arielle Bordow, Clark Gapen, Carolann Grzybowski, Alex Jacobs, Jayce Kolinski, Xarion Lattimore, Ben Miller and James Runde — who will be at The Bur Oak to talk and answer questions. Plus a DJ spinning vinyl before and after. Tickets at

Find the individual Picks collected here, and as part of the full calendar of events.

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