All-City Swim Meet, July 28-30, Ridgewood Pool: If you missed the All-City Championship Dive Meet (just completed on July 26), you can still see the best of the city’s youth swimmers at the All-City Swim. It’s one of the largest amateur outdoor swim meets in the country, and it is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Full schedule at swim.ridgewoodallcity.com.
Patricia Skalka, Thursday, July 28, Mystery to Me, 6 p.m.: Patricia Skalka was vacationing in Door County when she thought that it would be a perfect place to set a murder mystery. Seven “Dave Cubiak” mysteries later, Skalka will be at Mystery to Me bookstore in conversation with Doug Moe, to discuss the seventh and final installment in the series, Death Casts a Shadow. All the novels follow Dave Cubiak, a former Chicago homicide detective racked by grief and guilt after his wife and daughter are killed by a drunk driver. He relocates to Door County, finds work as a park ranger and eventually is elected sheriff. Free, but audience members will need a ticket; find info at mysterytomebooks.com.
Rock County 4-H Fair, July 26-31, Rock County Fairgrounds, Janesville: This county fair has the expected youth and community craft and critter exhibits and judging, along with some heavy-hitting grandstand headliners (Craig Morgan, July 28; Charlie Berens, July 30). There are also three performances daily by The Puppies of Penzance, a pirate-themed comedy dog troupe, which seems like something to see. You can find the full schedule at rockcounty4hfair.com.
WaunaFest, July 28-31, Centennial Park, Waunakee: The Only Waunakee in the World closes July out with the community fest you waunna go to (sorry). Plenty of summertime fun daily comes from a carnival and midway, beer tent and softball tournament. A fun run, craft show and cornhole tournament (all on Saturday) and a parade (11 a.m. Sunday) amp the weekend. And speaking of amps, plenty of bands take the stage. On Friday; The Retro Specz play at 7 p.m. and Boogie & the Yo-Yo’z at 9 p.m.; Saturday it’s Waunakee Project Brave at 2 p.m, Best Practice at 6 p.m and Road Trip at 9 p.m; and Sunday brings the Dave Austin Band at 1 p.m. Full schedule at waunafest.org.
First Date, July 28-Aug. 7 and Sept. 15-25, UW Vilas Hall-Mitchell Theatre: Summer is always fun at University Theatre, as many other local troupes are on hiatus. First Date, a musical send-up of the date everyone hates most, is perfect fare for those looking for some lighthearted but relevant fun. What happens when a blind date newbie is set up with a serial dater? The action moves through one date, with “inner critics” making physical guest appearances. Performances take place July 28-Aug. 7 (with a fall semester remount Sept. 15-25), with shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at 608-265-2787, through artsticketing.wisc.edu, or at the Mitchell Theatre box office one hour prior to performances.
Blooming Butterflies, July 14-Aug. 7, Olbrich Gardens-Bolz Conservatory, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: The exotic plants, birds, and water features of Olbrich Gardens glassed-in Bolz Conservatory are magical year-round. But it’s extra special when you can also have an encounter with a delicate, ephemeral butterfly (just make sure nobody rides along when you exit). The live butterflies are back at Bolz for the first time since 2019. Butterfly Action Day programming, focusing on monarch conservation, takes place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on July 29. Find out more at olbrich.org.
Willy Street Chamber Players, Friday, July 29, Immanuel Lutheran Church, 6 p.m.: With a mission to bring classical music to east-side audiences, the Willy Street Chamber Players returns with its signature summer series of concerts at Immanuel Lutheran Church. The final performance features guests including soprano Emily Birsan, flutist Iva Ugrčić and harpsichordist Jason Kutz, performing material by J.S. Bach, Jake Heggie and Gabriella Smith. Find ticket info at willystreetchamberplayers.org.
Madison Radicals, Friday, July 29, Breese Stevens Field, 7 p.m.: Ultimate is so entrenched in Madison’s culture that we no longer need to explain that it’s a disc sport featuring acrobatic plays and pinpoint passing, do we? Good. The Radicals are Madison’s pro ultimate team and their games at Breese Stevens Field are as Madison as it gets. Unlike every other major team representing the city, most Radicals either grew up in Madison or attended UW-Madison, or both. Heading into the final matchup of the regular season, the Radicals are 6-5; the team welcomes American Ultimate Disc League Central Division leader Chicago (9-1) to town on Friday.
Mad Lit, Friday, July 29, 100 block of State Street, 8-11 p.m.: Mad Lit is taking over the 100 block of State Street every other Friday for performances from local artists. The shows are organized by Greater Madison Music City, who seek to create more equitable, diverse and inclusive spaces for the Madison music community. This week features hip-hop, soul and pop by K.I.L.O aka SkitL’z, Juciee Monroe, Sira Sangaré, Danielle Crim and DJ Ace on July 29. Find the full schedule at ourgmmc.org.
Jeremy Cunningham, Dustin Laurenzi & Paul Bryan, Friday, July 29, North Street Cabaret, 8 p.m.: Frequent collaborators in the Chicago jazz scene, drummer Jeremy Cunningham and saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi have been working on the sonic experiments that became the new album A Better Ghost since 2017. Their assemblages of sax loops, synth sequences and drum patterns gelled when bassist/producer Paul Bryan joined the project. The finished work is an intriguing mesh of in-the-room playing and electronically created sounds, which should take on its own distinct flavor in this live concert hosted by BlueStem Jazz.
Wright and Like, Saturday, July 30, Madison/Middleton locations, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: This fun architectural series is back for its 23rd season. Every year this tour highlights a few special Frank Lloyd Wright designs, or designs by those architects heavily influenced by him. This year, it’s tours of private homes, so, score! You’re probably not going to see these any other way. Included are two of the original prefab homes Wright designed for Marshall Erdman, and the Lamp House (exterior only). Works by apprentices include a house by Herb Fritz Jr. on Lake Mendota and designs by John Steinmann and Eric Vogelman. This is all in the Madison area, which is not always the case with Wright and Like. Tickets and details at wrightinwisconsin.org/wright-and-like-2022; day-of tickets can be purchased at the Best Western InnTowner Hotel, 2424 University Ave.
Disability Pride Festival, Saturday, July 30, Warner Park, noon-5 p.m.: While disability rights have come a long way since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act 32 years ago, there are still many challenges. But the Disability Pride Festival is a day to feel good, and consider ways to make everyday life even more inclusive. The day includes kids’ activities, adaptive sports, artists and craftspeople, and entertainment for all ages by Natalia Armacanqui, Tani Diakite & the Afrofunkstars, Ken Lonnquist and Magic Morgan. Schedule updates at disabilitypridemadison.org.
Token Tekno, Saturday, July 30, Token Creek County Park, DeForest, noon-9 p.m.: Electronic music and sylvan surroundings may not be the first two subjects you would put in one sentence, but Token Tekno brings the concept to life with a free all-day concert. Visiting DJs include Chicago drum ‘n bass specialists Danny the Wildchild and Stunna and Milwaukeeans Thrasher and d1rt m@ll; a who’s-who of Madison spinners complete a packed lineup: Rainbow, JP Blanchet, Techsmith, Shawn Paul, Elmo, Hysteria, Axion, TrePointFive (formerly Ginjavitiz), Hypnoassassin and Eman. If you’re still upright after nine hours of dancing, an afterparty follows at Crucible.
AtwoodFest, July 30-31, 2000 block of Atwood Avenue: This east-side festival is celebrating four decades since its founding as Atwood Summerfest in 1982. Rebooted in 2014 as a collaboration by the Barrymore Theatre, Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara Neighborhood Association and the Wil-Mar Center, AtwoodFest returns at full strength in 2022. Nearly 30 bands on three stages include the addition of a new stage featuring Madison Music Foundry and Rockonsin youth bands and roots and blues artists sponsored by the Sugar Maple festival (itself coming up Aug. 5-6). The other two stages feature fest perennials guaranteed to make you shake it (VO5, Funkee JBeez, Steely Dane), local favorites (Dana Perry, Pine Travelers, Kat and the Hurricane), and many others. Find the whole schedule at atwoodfest.com.
Summer Kick-Back, Saturday, July 30, Penn Park, 3-7 p.m.: Learn about Urban Triage resources and celebrate community at the organization’s annual Summer Kick-Back. Free food, kids’ activities, games and giveaways will all be a part of the event, as well as music and a raffle. Urban Triage is a Madison nonprofit that uses education and leadership to support Black communities, families and individuals. Learn more about the organization at urbantriage.org.
Julius Caesar, through July 31, Young Shakespeare Players Playhouse: It’s a great thing to introduce kids to performing Shakespeare, to present drama as something fun and active and not difficult or impenetrable. The Young Shakespeare Players have been doing that since 1980 and even have their own dedicated theater near Trader Joe’s. The troupe’s current play is Julius Caesar, one of The Bard’s more straightforward tragedies, and also one of the shorter plays. That said, there’s no shortage of mayhem and intrigue, and some of the great speeches. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! At 6 p.m. on July 30 and 1 pm, July 31.
Lovely Socialite album release, Saturday, July 30, Cafe Coda, 7 p.m.: Madison experimental six-piece Lovely Socialite returns with a long-awaited new album, The Drift. By turns pensive and provoking, the group’s collaborative compositions utilize unique instruments to create a sound all their own; it may not be as scary as the Scott Walker album of the same name, but it’s certainly as trippy. Lovely Socialite will celebrate the new album with a launch party at Cafe Coda, which will double as a 10th anniversary party for their debut album, Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps Registers her Delight.
The Iguanas, Saturday, July 30, Bur Oak, 8 p.m.: Over 30 years and nearly as many albums, The Iguanas of New Orleans play a stormy mixture of Tejano, American southern blues, jazz and R&B, with a large chunk of Caribbean thrown in for good measure. Will Sexton recruited The Iguanas for his band on his 2020 release Don’t Walk the Darkness. On their own, “we’re a dance band,” says drummer Doug Garrison, and the tiny Bur Oak will be a fantastic place for dancers to flood the floor.
Comedy & Poetry Jam, Saturday, July 30, Brink Lounge, 9:30 p.m.: Madison comic Antoine McNeail is back with another installment of the Comedy & Poetry Jam, following a short break. The host welcomes visitors Comedian Roy (of Chicago) and Da Jester (of Milwaukee) for stand-up sets, and the poet Breyon. For info on advance tickets email email@example.com.
Mad City Ski Team, Sundays, through Sept. 4, Law Park, 5:15 p.m.: Heading to Law Park to see the Mad-City Ski Team perform their incredible balancing acts is a must at least once every summer. All volunteers, the skiers perform free most Sundays to Labor Day weekend, The team has won 11 national championships, one as recently as 2019. Bring a chair and your best cheering voice. And if you sit close to the lake, prepare to get splashed. And it’s all free, every Sunday through Labor Day weekend (except for Aug. 14, when the team is competing at the Division I Nationals).
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.