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What to do in Madison this weekend: International Festival, Midwest Log Rolling Championships and more Isthmus Picks – Isthmus


Xizhou Xie, through July 14, Garver Canvas; reception June 27, 6-8 p.m.: Art is an important part of the experience at Garver Feed Mill; director of public programming and business operations Bethany Jurewicz has a master’s degree in contemporary art theory and was determined to include art in the restored space. A spacious room on the first floor known as Garver Canvas is devoted to gallery-style public exhibits. For the next month and a half the space is devoted to the work of Xizhou Xie. “Layers of Self: Exploring Identities” ponders the question “Who am I?” While mostly abstract, Xie’s work does demonstrate some traditional Asian influences. A reception takes place from 6-8 p.m. on June 27. Gallery hours are noon-6 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Friday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

Graveslave, Thursday, June 27, The Annex, 6:30 p.m.: The lyrical themes of Minneapolis band Graveslave definitely put the death in death metal, but the band’s music pauses the punishing assault at times for prog moments (as in “Playing Dead” on the just released EP Relinquish Life). Madison’s Corridoré also has a new album, Abandon, on the way this fall, and recently previewed it in its entirety at a Wisco show. The heavy doesn’t stop at this show, which also features Madison thrashers Egödeath and doomy Tomah trio Thundergoat. Tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, June 27-Sept. 7, American Players Theatre, Spring Green: APT moves away from romantic comedy with this 1982 August Wilson play that centers on conflict during a recording session for blues singer Ma Rainey. Rainey’s real life inspired the play; “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is one of her own songs. Upcoming performances are at 7:30 p.m. on June 27 and July 3 and 8 p.m. on June 29; tickets and info at americanplayers.org.

Gully Boys, Thursday, June 27, Bur Oak, 8 p.m.: Gully Boys were born in a Minneapolis-area Ragstock in 2016, when Kathy Callahan met Nadirah McGill. Natalie Klemond later joined on bass, and finally Mariah Mercedes completed this garage power-pop/punk four-piece. Since this show was postponed back in January, the band released the banging “Bad Day” single, and their debut album is in the works. Madison’s LINE and Dad Bods open. Tickets at seetickets.us.

Murder!(s), June 27-28, Broom Street Theater, 8 p.m.: Are We Delicious? resurfaced in 2023 following an extended pause due to the pandemic. The Madison ensemble most often writes, rehearses and performs a one-hour show in two weeks, but this time is back with a revival of a show the group produced in 2019. Murder!(s), subtitled “a (mostly) true crime story,” concerns a murder-for-insurance-money scheme gone awry. The production is a fundraiser to help defray the costs to mount the show at the Green Bay Fringe Festival. Tickets at arewedelicious.org.

Shilpa Gupta, June 28-Jan. 14, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; reception June 28, 5-8 p.m.: “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 reception on June 28 includes a talk at 6 p.m. about Gupta’s work by Patricia Margarita Hernández, associate curator of learning at Amant (which co-produced the exhibition with MMoCA).

Dido, Queen of Carthage, June 28-30, Madison Children’s Museum: The fanciful and multi-level outdoor climbing structure known as the Wonderground at the Madison Children’s Museum is the set for Madison Shakespeare Company’s summer production, and it should make for some inventive staging. The play is Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage, one of his least performed (it’s his first play, possibly written during his undergraduate days) but with hallmark Elizabethan bloodshed and sexual intrigue. Aeneas stops by Carthage on his travels and Dido falls in love with him. Suffice it to say things go south from there. The performance is suggested for adults and mature teens. Shows at 7 p.m. on June 28, 5 and 7:30 p.m. on June 29, and 6 p.m on June 30. Tickets at madisonchildrensmuseum.org.

Mad Lit, Friday, June 28, 100 block of State Street, 8 p.m.: This annual series celebrating musicians and visual artists of color returns for five Fridays this summer, and kicks off Friday with headliner 608Trayce, who released two albums in 2023 and hosts the 608Potcast. The evening also includes sets by Love Ego, Dude Da Def., Eli B and DJ 4000; artists and vendors include SeeMore’s Designs, Wild Wind Organix, Dripsphere, Dani RAD and Lashay The Artist. The series is coordinated by Urban Community Arts Network and Greater Madison Music City; find more info on future dates at ucanmadison.org/madlit.

Beers with Queers, Friday, June 28, Breese Stevens Field, 9:30 p.m.: Cheshire Cat Comedy is offering several Pride Month showcases featuring LGBTQ+ performers in June, and their final event of the month has been generating buzz since it was announced. Headlining is Minnesota stand-up Emma Dalenberg, whose laid-back storytelling style and riffs on sex and gender roles drop some wisdom and spur some laughs. The all-Midwest lineup also includes Chicago-based comedian and actor Izzzy Salhani and Milwaukeean Michael Kittelson. This is an outdoor show, enter at gate 6. Tickets at eventbrite.com.

Whippets album release, Friday, June 28, Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m.: Madison trio Whippets releases their self-titled debut LP at this show. Guitarist/singer Bobby Hussy, bassist Tyler Spatz, and drummer Hart Alan Miller — veterans of a festival’s worth of bands including The Hussy, Poney and Vanishing Kids — present a set of tightly-played, anthemic post-punk bangers on Whippets. The lineup also includes locals Lunar Moth (who just released their own excellent album, Stranger), Milwaukee punkers Bad Crime, and Detroit outfit Day Residue.

International Festival, June 29-30, Overture Center: The International Fest is a good example of an event that would probably have an admission fee in other cities, but in Madison is free. Although the fest has a global food component (Saturday only) in the Overture lobby and a global marketplace both days, the heart of it is music and dance performances from local groups representing cultures the world over. Attendees can roam the various performance spaces all day with pretty much no down time to catch Django Reinhardt-inspired Romany jazz from LuLu Quintet, klezmer from Yid Vicious, bagpipes from Madison Pipes & Drums, traditional poetry songs (kwv txhiaj) with musical instruments from Hmong Institute’s Heritage Club…and that’s just dipping a toe in. More than 30 music or dance presentations are scheduled. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday; full schedule at overture.org.

Midwest Log Rolling Championships, Saturday, June 29, Wingra Park, 10 a.m.: You don’t have to head to Hayward or Rhinelander to see log rolling. It’s taking place right here on Lake Wingra, when the Midwest Log Rolling Championships celebrates its 20th anniversary by taking to the water of the smallest lake in town. The amateur competition begins at 10 a.m., celebrity log rolling at noon and elite competition at 1 p.m. The competition is free to watch, but fees from competitors and a silent auction benefit the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

Sequoya Summer Poetry Festival, Saturday, June 29, Sequoya Library, 1-4 p.m.: Sequoya Library has an excellent lineup for this one-day festival, sponsored by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Featured poet is Natasha Oladokun; special guest poet is Maliha Nu’Man, Madison’s youth poet laureate. Among the 15 poets reading we give a shout-out to Isthmus contributor Guy Thorvaldsen, UW-Madison poly sci prof emeritus Richard Merelman, author of the collection Midwife Ingrid Andersson, and Milwaukee’s up-and-coming DeShawn McKinney. Find the full lineup at madisonpubliclibrary.org.

8-Bit Opera, June 29-30 and July 13-14, various locations, 2 p.m.: Fresco Opera takes a different approach to attracting new fans to opera — they bring their productions to a suburban garage near you. Bring a camp chair and see opera from somebody’s driveway. This summer’s show, 8-Bit Opera, pairs classic video game characters with operatic heights of emotion. Saturday, June 29, the stage is 21 La Crescenta Circle; Sunday, June 30, at 6002 Galley Court; Saturday, July 13, at 2110 Vilas Ave.; and Sunday, July 14, at 2341 Talc Trail; all shows are at 2 p.m.

Festival Foods Lights the Isthmus, Saturday, June 29, Breese Stevens Field, 6-10 p.m.: In recent years, Madison’s downtown/near-east-side fireworks marking Independence Day have made a home at Breese Stevens with Festival Foods Lights the Isthmus. A 20-minute fireworks display is joined by games, food and drink, and bands. This year Chippewa Valley cover band Uncommon Denominator returns as headliner for a third year, joined by Madison pop/rockers Seasaw and folksinger Eddy Birth, and Minneapolis hip-hop artist Carnage the Executioner. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome on the field. Tickets at breesestevensfield.com.

The Songs Trio + Saideira Pagode, Saturday, June 29, Cafe Coda, 7 p.m.: Saideira Pagode is a Madison group dedicated to learning and playing Brazilian music, specifically pagode and samba de raiz, styles based in informal communal gatherings and barroom sessions. The Songs Trio is a new ensemble featuring three longtime music scene players: saxophonist Brennan Connors (who leads the experimental band Stray Passage), guitarist Richard Hildner Armacanqui (Barbacoa, Acoplados), and bassist Ari Smith (Feestet, Laminal Animil). Tickets at cafecoda.club.

Steev Baker & Dirt Sermons, Saturday, June 29, Communication, 7:30 p.m.: A showcase evening of three of Wisconsin’s most interesting underground achievers. Steev Baker is a lo-fi stylist who has bounced around the state for the last 20 years. Appleton’s Sinking Lessons is an acoustic folk duo that straddles outsider folk punk and indie rock. Janesville’s Sully Mayer is self-described “rowdy, cryin’ folk.” Tickets at communicationmadison.com.

The Virgin Queen Entertains Her Fool, through Sept. 19, American Players Theatre-Touchstone, Spring Green: This contemporary play by Michael Hollinger features a queen and her fool — mirroring the season’s later introduction of King Lear into the repertory. And like Lear, this thriller probes the question of succession and who is fit to rule a kingdom. Heavy hitters and audience favorites Tracy Michelle Arnold and James DeVita take the stage in The Virgin Queen Entertains Her Fool; and in a turn that surely would have pleased Shakespeare himself, Josh Krause plays the fool both here and in Lear. Read Janet Clear’s review here. Many dates are already sold out, but limited tickets were still available at midweek for the June 30 performance at americanplayers.org.

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




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