Danielle St. Louis, May 23, Leopold’s Books Bar Caffe, 6 p.m.: Danielle St. Louis has penned a useful guide to hiking Wisconsin’s State Parks — with your dog. While state park trails generally allow dogs, St. Louis compiles details — from noting the odd off-limit trail to places to get in the water (other than off-limits human beaches). She even details how wide hiking trails are — useful for those with skittish or phobic dogs. She will discuss A Dog Lover’s Guide to Hiking Wisconsin’s State Parks, and it should be quite entertaining — she is a past winner of the Moth Story Slam.
Kwame Onwuachi, Monday, May 23, Central Library, 7 p.m.: Kwame Onwuachi first stepped on the national stage as a Top Chef contestant in 2015, and was named Rising Star Chef of the Year at the 2019 James Beard Foundation Awards. His acclaimed memoir, Notes from a Young Black Chef, told the story of how he got there, and has since been adapted for young readers. Now Onwuachi returns to share some of his culinary magic in the just-published cookbook My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef; he will discuss the book at this free Wisconsin Book Festival talk.
Sigra chapbook release, Tuesday, May 24, Leopold’s Books Bar Caffe, 5 p.m.: During this free happy hour concert, Madison artist Sigra unveils a new chapbook, 1-800-TRUTH, which includes new essays and poetry (along with collecting some work previously published in various magazines). Sigra will read selections from the book and play music with MQBS at the release party, which also includes a set by Deciduous.
Time(is): An Exploration of Black Art in Madison, through July 1, Central Library-Diane Endres Ballweg Gallery: Works by four Black Madison-based artists — Sharon L. Bjyrd, Simone Lawrence, Alice Y. Traore and Teena Wilder — are currently featured in the light-filled third-floor gallery at Central Library. The wide-ranging exhibit is meant to inspire conversation and reflection. Guest curator Sophia Abrams included the artists’ individual curated book lists, a great tie-in to the library.
Edna St. Vincent Millay Was Working Some Stuff Out, Tuesday, May 24, Dark Horse ArtBar, 7 p.m.: In the early 20th century, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was a phenomenon, widely followed for both her literary works and her uninhibited personal life. The Falconbridge Players will give theatrical readings of two of Millay’s plays, Two Slatterns and a King and Aria da Capo, and some of her poems. Expect lots of rhyme, and traditional forms turned upside down.
Walking Wednesday Tours, Wednesday, May 25. San Damiano Friary, 1 p.m.: Monona Parks & Recreation director Jake Anderson and a special guest will lead small group (limit 10) walking tours of the San Damiano property on Lake Monona and inside the historic Frank Allis House. There will also be updates on the planning process for the future of the property. Free, but you have to sign up for a Monona recreation account: details here. Tours continue Wednesdays through June 15.
Jim Berkenstadt, Wednesday, May 25, Mystery to Me, 6 p.m.: The history of rock music has no shortage of mysterious stories, and what really happened has only gotten murkier in the internet age. Madison author Jim Berkenstadt — aka the “Rock and Roll Detective,” and co-author of the invaluable Beatles bootleg guide Black Market Beatles — is here to help. Berkenstadt’s latest book, Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed, examines myths from the discovery of Elvis Presley to the recording of Nirvana’s Nevermind album, plus many more. Berkenstadt will discuss the book with Doug Moe; tickets are required to attend, and a livestream is also available.
Lizzi Neal Band, Wednesday, May 25, Red Rooster, 7 p.m.: Northern Illinois music scene veterans the Lizzi Neal Band mixes blues, rock and soul. The 2013 album So Long Heartache is a showcase for a rock solid rhythm section, fiery guitar work by Dave Neal, and the soaring, sassy vocals of Lizzi Neal. The group is working on a new album, so they should be fired up with some new material for this show, their first visit to Madison.
Shecase Showdown, Thursday, May 26, Harmony Bar, 7:30 p.m.: The Harmony Bar’s Live and Local series hosts a songwriters circle, the Shecase Showdown. The evening features singer-songwriter Mackenzie Moore, currently finishing up recording for a new album, along with three songwriters most often seen leading rock bands: Pam Barrett (of BingBong), Roz Greiert (of Heavy Looks), and Annelies Howell (of German Art Students and The Fauxtons).
Makaya McCraven, Thursday, May 26, High Noon Saloon, 7:30 p.m.: Drummer and producer Makaya McCraven has mastered the science of the loop, as documented by past mixtapes and remix projects; he even uses hip-hop cutting/mixing techniques on his own live jazz recordings to create something new, as on the acclaimed double album Universal Beings. McCraven’s most recent project takes a tour through the catalog of Blue Note Records (which also released the result, Deciphering the Message). The album melds elements of vintage recordings with new musical additions, which thanks to McCraven’s vision sounds reverential rather than wreaking havoc. It’s familiar and fresh all at once. Also just announced: McCraven will participate this summer in a revived Rotary Connection, celebrating the music of Charles Stepney. With an opening set by Blood Moon, a quartet led by saxophonist Tony Barba.
We hope it’s handy for you to find Picks grouped together in a single post. The individual Picks can still be found in the usual places online: collected here, and sprinkled throughout all the events.
Note: Many venues and businesses may continue to maintain individual requirements for masking, as well as proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or a negative test for entry. Before heading out for any in-person event, confirm it is still taking place and check for any attendance guidelines on the relevant business websites or social media accounts.