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.
Note, the Kanopy Dance concerts scheduled for April 21-23 have been moved to October.
Earth Day 2022: Water on the Rise, Thursday, April 21, UW campus and online, 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.: In its day-long community event in honor of Earth Day, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison takes on the compound that affects all life on Earth: water. Too much water, or not enough, and you have trouble right here in River City, folks. Events are mostly virtual, with some talks taking place at venues on campus. It’s free, but registration is required at earthday.nelson.wisc.edu. The event is paired with the annual Water@UW Symposium on April 22; find out more at water.wisc.edu.
Humorology, April 21-23, UW Memorial Union-Shannon Hall, 7 p.m.: Six casts of UW-Madison students, six short plays, and a worthy cause. Humorology is an annual compilation of student written, directed, choreographed and performed musical comedies. Proceeds from “The Way Back Home” — Humorology’s 75th anniversary show — will go to the Respite Center, an emergency childcare organization in Dane County for low-income, homeless and at-risk families. Purchase tickets in advance and contribute to Humorology’s $300,000 goal. The Thursday evening show is recommended for students, Friday for Humorology alumni and Saturday for those interested in the award ceremony.
The Floridians, April 21-May 1, Governor’s Mansion Inn: Russian money-launderers working as travel agents would prefer to be in musical theater; retirees looking for something, anything, to do decide to become amateur investigators and run afoul of an FBI agent on a similar track. Comedy ensues, as written by TNW Ensemble Theater co-founder Danielle Dresden in the new play The Floridians. The company produces the new play at the restored, historic Governor’s Mansion Inn; performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Buy tickets here.
Heathers the Musical, through April 24, UW Vilas Hall-Mitchell Theatre: The 1989 film Heathers was the demonic sibling of Pretty in Pink — a black comedy crossed with the John Hughes high school coming-of-age zeitgeist thing that was happening in the ’80s. Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe have set the whole thing to music, and expect the UW-Madison’s Department of Theatre and Drama to have a field day with this. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, plus a 2 p.m. matinee on April 23-24. Hopefully you got tickets in advance, as the remaining performances are all sold out.
Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy, April 21-May 8, Overture Center-Playhouse: Forward Theater Company will round out the 2021-22 performance season with Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy. Employees at the Internet Research Agency in Russia busily post disinformation aimed at Americans ahead of an election. The play, by Sarah Gancher, was named a New York Times Critics Pick, and takes a clever, comedic approach to telling the stories of the employees’ daily lives. This will be the first live stage production of the play, originally written as a virtual production. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, plus additional 2 p.m. matinees on April 30 and May 7.
The Quebe Sisters, Thursday, April 21, Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 p.m.: Texas siblings Grace, Sophia and Hulda Quebe have spent 15 years perfecting three-part harmonies and triple fiddles to deliver their grin-inspiring contemporary take on neo-traditionalist western swing music. Part Bob Wills, part Count Basie, part Willie Nelson, and all charm and class, The Quebe Sisters (pronounced “Kway-bee”) infuse their performances with original songs, traditional compositions, cover tunes and instrumentals. The sisters are backed by a guitarist and upright bass player, and collectively they gracefully breathe new life into old-time music.
Gang of Youths, Thursday, April 21, Majestic Theatre, 8 p.m.: This is the Aussie group’s first visit to Madison, and the audience should expect a high-energy, uplifting rock performance, as the band has always embraced emotion and lead singer David Le’aupepe has always worn his heart on his sleeve. They’re touring the U.S. in support of their third studio album, Angel in Realtime, a 13-track tribute to Le’aupepe’s late father and the band’s most ambitious and personal album to date. With Casual Male. Read Stephen Coss’ show preview here.
Reading Between the Wines, online auction through April 28; in-person event April 28: Literacy Network’s annual fundraiser event is back with both virtual and in-person components. The silent auction is online now and continues through 11:45 p.m., April 28. The Reading Between the Wines social and program is at 5:30 p.m. on April 28 at Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona; register by April 21 to attend in-person, or by April 27 for a virtual option. Find the silent auction and registration info at literacynetwork.schoolauction.net/readingbetweenthewines22.
WUDStock, April 22-24, UW Union South-The Sett: The WUD Music Committee has put together the usual intriguing mix of artists for its annual end-of-the-school year celebration. April 22 (7 p.m.) features a pair of rising hip-hop artists: Mavi, whose most recent release is February’s End of the Earth EP; and Minneapolis-based rapper-actor Dua Saleh, recently seen as Cal Bowman in Sex Education (Netflix); opening is WSUM-FM music director and DJ Tuti. Also from Minneapolis is Gully Boys, a rock quartet sharing the bill on April 23 (8 p.m.) with Chicago jazz saxophonist and composer Isaiah Collier. April 24 (7 p.m.) features soul singer-songwriter Ginger Root with local up-and-comers Jenny 123 (funky, synthy pop) and Conor Keogh (pop-rock singer-songwriter).
Madison Early Music Festival, April 22-24, Hamel Music Center, UW-Madison’s long-running Early Music Festival continues with master classes and performances all weekend. Where else can you hear music performed on historic wind and brass instruments, including shawms and sackbuts? Piffaro presents “Musical World and Legacy of Charles V: The Spanish-Flemish Connection” at 7:30 p.m., April 22; Incantare performs “Exile: Music of the Early Modern Jewish Diaspora” at 7:30 p.m., April 23; and the All-Festival Concert is “The Happy Journey: Pastime with Good Company” at 2 p.m. on April 24. Concert tickets are available in advance at the Campus Arts Ticketing Box Office (Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St.), online, or by calling 608-65-2787, and at the door. Find the full schedule at madisonearlymusic.org.
UW Varsity Band Spring Concert, April 22-23, Kohl Center, 7:30 p.m.: You don’t have to be a Badger to love the UW Varsity Band. There’s something thrilling about this much sound welling up, that much brass blasting. The spring band concert gives the spotlight to the band, sans football. This year’s music includes “Bohemian Wait for It,” “Country Classics” and “The Music of Panic at the Disco.” Yes, “If You Want to Be a Badger” is on the docket and frankly we would be shocked if “Varsity” didn’t make an appearance. Director Corey Pompey is in charge; ticket sales benefit the Badger Band program. Find info at badgerband.wisc.edu.
Susan Werner, Friday, April 22, The Bur Oak, 8 p.m.: Singer/songwriter Susan Werner takes the stage in support of her latest EP, The Birds of Florida. With a voice that can be low and troubled, high and lonesome, or sweet and seductive, Werner defies categorization but is never less than entertaining.
Shakespeare in the Park, Saturday, April 23, Rennebohm Park Shelter, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.: It’s the 406th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the 10th anniversary of Madison Shakespeare Company’s birth. So time to celebrate the Bard of Avon and the continuing enthusiasm with which groups like this one present his works. BYO camp chair or blanket to the show, or use park shelter seating. Full length works to be performed include Romeo and Juliet at 11:30 a.m., A Midsummer Night’s Dream at 2 p.m., and Henry VI: A Tiger’s Heart (an Ithaca Shakespeare Company adaptation drawing on all three parts) at 4 p.m.
Gaines & Wagoner + Ladies Must Swing, Saturday, April 23, Wyndham Garden Hotel, Fitchburg, 1 p.m.: For the first time in two years the Madison Jazz Society presents a live concert showcase. Both Ladies Must Swing, an 18-piece, female jazz band, and the Gaines & Wagoner Trio were formed at Madison Jazz Society end-of-year parties and return to relaunch the MJS concert series. A nonprofit membership organization founded in 1984, MJS paused live performances due to COVID-19; in 2023, they will shift focus from concerts to educational programs.
Wisconsin Triennial: Ain’t I a Woman? April 23-Oct. 9, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art: MMoCA’s Triennial, which focuses attention on Wisconsin artists every three years, this year drills down further and focuses on Black women artists in Wisconsin. In Ain’t I a Woman? g uest curator Fatima Laster of Milwaukee breaks away from the status quo with her attention to “the intersection of race and gender.” An opening reception takes place from 5-8 p.m. on April 23. Read Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli’s preview here.
Charlie Parr, Saturday, April 23, Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 p.m.: Minnesotan Charlie Parr not only writes songs about misfits and outsiders, he tends to live his life like one, too. Cooking burritos on the hot manifold of his car while traveling, for example. When he points your attention directly into the souls of the people he sings about it can be so emotional you almost need to look away. The older he gets the further into the dark he appears to be able to see. This will be one of his first shows back in the U.S. after a long European tour.
Amos Lee, Saturday, April 23, Orpheum Theater, 7:30 p.m.: Singer-songwriter Amos Lee returned to adult alternative radio in a big way in 2022, with the single “Worry No More” hitting the Top 10 airplay charts. It’s from the new album Dreamland, a set of new songs exorcising Lee’s struggles with anxiety and isolation during the pandemic — a journey that will resonate with many. As part of his tour, Lee (a former teacher) is seeking nominations of teachers to receive free tickets and classroom supplies; find a sign up form at amoslee.com. With Jensen McRae.
Mark Hummel’s Blues Survivors, Saturday, April 23, Red Rooster, 8 p.m.: West coast harmonica master Mark Hummel brings the Blues Survivors to Madison’s newest venue: The Red Rooster, opening in the former home of Knuckle Down Saloon. For this gig, Hummel and company will be joined by guest Billy Flynn on guitar; expect some tasty guitar interplay by Flynn and longtime Blues Survivors guitarist Rusty Zinn. Update: The Red Rooster’s official grand opening will now coincide with the music schedule kick-off April 22; doors open at 5 p.m. and music by The Jimmys starts at 8 p.m.
Star Monster, Deucez, TRON3X, C.A.M., Saturday, April 23, Crucible, 9 p.m.: Madison producer and DJ 8Hertz is hosting a banger of an event featuring a quartet of dubstep/bass performers who could all be headliners on their own: Madison-based Star Monster, in recent months piling up streams on Soundcloud and Spotify; Deucez, Detroit-based dubstep artist; TRON3X, a bass specialist from Florida now based in Green Bay; and C.A.M. (aka Creating*A*Movement), a Madison dubstep/hip-hop mixologist. The event also includes vendors, live painting, flow artists and more.
Femmestival, Sunday, April 24, Garver Feed Mill, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.: The inaugural Femmestival in February 2020 was one of the final food/art gatherings before the COVID shutdown. It’s finally back, with its celebration of “womxn, femmes and nonbinary entrepreneurs, artists and producers” and goal of highlighting the talents of these underrepresented makers. The 2020 iteration was a foodie dream and you can again expect treats from The Culinary Ladies Collective and more; menu items will be $6.25 each. A portion of Garver Lounge bar proceeds will benefit Centro Hispano and the Culinary Ladies Collective. The day also includes living sculpture in the Garver atrium by Cycropia and Briar Loft; music on the patio by Ladyslipper, Dana Perry and others; and music inside by DJs Femme Noir, Sara Akawa and Mel-down.
Ukraine Beer Festival, Sunday, April 24, Wisconsin Brewing Company, Verona, noon-5 p.m.: Brew for Ukraine was hatched in the early days of the war at the Pravda Brewery of Lviv, Ukraine. Brewers around the world were invited to use Pravda’s recipes and label art to call attention to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Madison area brewers immediately got five brews going and now they can be quaffed, with proceeds going toward relief efforts. There’s Putin Huylo, a dry hopped strong ale; Syla, a Belgian tripel; Red Eyes, an American red ale; Frau Ribbentrop, a Belgian witbier; and From San to Don, a Ukrainian imperial stout. Music by Angela Meyer and food, too. Find more info at wisconsinbrewingcompany.com.
Mai Sugimoto, Sunday, April 24, Arts + Literature Lab, 5 p.m.: Saxophonist Sugimoto’s jazz is a duality; culturally informed by her Japanese roots, musically guided by her present day Chicago experience. Her fearless, physical improvisations are also approachable and moving. This is a chance to catch an authentic member of Chicago’s flourishing new wave of free-form jazz, as part of the ALL New Music Series, curated by Madison baritone saxophonist Anders Svanoe.
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.