People Fest, Aug. 11-13, Driftless Music Gardens, Yuba: This music festival hosted by the People Brothers band was founded in 2008, and in recent years has found a home at the idyllic Driftless Music Gardens near Yuba. This outdoor spot will be especially appreciated by those who are camping out for the weekend, as it’s hard to find a more beautiful spot than the hills of Richland County in the summer. There will be beautiful music all weekend too; along with a couple shows by the hosts the lineup includes such regional favorites as Them Coulee Boys, Wurk, Joseph Huber, Chicago Farmer, and many more. If you’re not inclined to camp out, day passes are available; music starts at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, 11 a.m. on Friday and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Find tickets and the schedule at driftlessmusicgardens.com.
Watertown Riverfest, Aug. 11-14, Riverside Park, Watertown: Watertown is often overlooked among easy-to-access day trip destinations, but it’s well worth exploring. Even better, check it out during Watertown Riverfest, in which the town’s Riverside Park is filled with food, music and a good old-fashioned carnival. Music headliners include Steely Dane on Thursday, Them Coulee Boys on Friday, and Bruce in the USA, a Springsteen tribute band, on Saturday (all at 8:40 p.m.). Music closes out Sunday afternoon with Road Trip (4:45 p.m.). Find the schedule at watertownriverfest.com.
G.D. Brown, Thursday, Aug. 11, Mystery To Me, 6 p.m.: Milwaukee author G.D. Brown’s bleak yet gripping debut novel, Sinners Plunged Beneath That Flood, swirls around a handful of broken souls in a small Oklahoma town ravaged by the meth trade. Set in the late 1990s, the story stars a teenage girl whose best friend has disappeared, a damaged sheriff torn asunder and a wild preacher hungry for power. The tense prose announces Brown as a Wisconsin writer on the rise. He will discuss the new book with Doug Moe, and capacity is limited; find ticket info at mysterytomebooks.com.
Amanda McCavour, through Sept. 11, 2022, Chazen Museum of Art: There’s just one more month to see Suspended Landscapes, a big exhibit of Amanda McCavour’s large-scale “thread drawings” that have been filling all three stories of Paige Court in the Chazen’s Elvehjem building like a delicate prairie. The Toronto-based artist visited Madison several times to create a site-specific work incorporating images of Wisconsin flora on a big scale, stitching with a sewing machine on a fabric base that dissolves in water and leaves a strong but delicate-seeming web of images. McCavour also curated a show of artwork on campus that inspired her installation, alongside her own preparatory drawings and materials. Meet McCavour at a celebration of the exhibit from 6-8 p.m. on Aug. 11, or during Family Day art activities for all ages, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Aug. 13.
Madison Comedy Week, Aug. 7-14, various venues: More than 100 comedians gather in Madison for a week of stand-up, improv, roast battles and more — if you’re looking for a laugh, Madison Comedy Week is ready for you. Headlining is British-Jamaican comic Ian Edwards, performing a free show Aug. 13 at the Pursuit of Happiness Sessions at McPike Park. But that show is just one entry point; more than 30 events are set for a variety of venues, with a dozen shows at The Bur Oak (including Madison Indie Comedy’s “Unscripted,” with freestyling comics including David Louis and Nina Davis, Aug. 11) and a trio of events at the Harmony Bar (including Capitol Comedy Hour’s first visit to the Harmony stage, Aug. 12). Find the complete schedule and ticket info at madisoncomedyweek.net.
Cribshitter, Thursday, Aug. 11, Harmony Bar, 7:30 p.m.: Do you pass up an opportunity to see Cribshitter? No, you do not. The band’s eclectic, genre-embracing sound is jolly, cynical, witty and ultimately tuneful. In their willingness to experiment, you might compare them to Beck, but even that is inadequate. We’re submitting our request for “COVID Cove” early! With Madison singer-songwriter Aaron Scholz, who released the excellent Third Place in 2021.
Hamilton, Aug. 9-21, Overture Hall: In the seven years since Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking hip-hop musical and history lesson hit Broadway, Hamilton has become a classic of American musical theater. Alexander Hamilton, the ten-dollar founding father without a father, takes his place alongside Jefferson and Madison, and the musical itself its place alongside giants like West Side Story as the perfect blend of street and stage. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday; check ticket availability at overture.org.
Rooftop Cinema, Aug. 11, 25, Sept. 1, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 8 p.m.: Enjoy a quartet of independent documentary films on the MMoCA rooftop on upcoming Thursdays. Rooftop Cinema continues Aug. 11 with Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché, in which director/screenwriter Celeste Bell (daughter of the X-Ray Spex frontwoman) pieces together her mother’s past; coming up is The Village Detective: A Song Cycle on Aug. 25 and North By Current on Sept. 1. Ticket sales begin at 7:30 p.m. in the lobby; find more info on the series at mmoca.org.
Dane Dances, Fridays, Aug. 5-26, Monona Terrace rooftop, 5:30-9:30 p.m.: Monona Terrace is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and Dane Dances has been throwing its community dance party for nearly as long. This year’s lineup is straight fire as usual; still to come are VO5 and BBI, Aug. 12; international salsa star Luisito Rosario y Orquesta Estrella Madison and Orquesta SalSoul del Mad, Aug. 19; and Sounds of Slave and Sisters of Element & the Storm Chaser Orchestra, Aug. 26. Food and drink will be available at 5 p.m. from Kipp’s Kitchen, Lake Vista Cafe, La Taguara and Lemongrass, and music starts at 5:30 p.m. If it’s rainy, the show will go on; call 608-261-4094 for location information.
Ruddigore, Aug. 5-14, Bartell Theatre: It’s truly not summer without a Madison Savoyards production of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. This year the Savoyards are back to the live stage with Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse. Witches! Curses! Communicating with the dead! It’s all here in a steampunk-influenced production with all the tuneful mayhem one expects from the masters of the comic song. Performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Info at madisonsavoyards.org.
Happy Rebootiversary, Friday, Aug. 12, Working Draft Beer Company, 4-9 p.m.: Help Isthmus celebrate its one-year back in print and transition to a nonprofit! Madison’s Working Draft Beer Company has brewed a special beer for Isthmus for the occasion, Above The Fold, a hefeweizen brewed with Riwaka hops from New Zealand, which will debut at our Happy Rebootiversary party at the Working Draft taproom, 1129 E. Wilson St. There will be a cash bar, Q&A featuring Isthmus beer writer Robin Shepard and Working Draft head brewer Clint Lohman, music by Dearly Brearly, and the Ian’s Pizza truck. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway will read a proclamation at 5 p.m. that declares Aug. 12, 2022, ISTHMUS DAY in the city of Madison!
The Pursuit of Happiness Session, Aug. 12-14, McPike Park: How many live entertainment options and local vendors can organizers of the Sessions at McPike Park pack into three weekends? Find out at this series of free, volunteer-run events that benefit six area nonprofit organizations: Intertribal Agriculture Council, Centro Hispano, Community Immigration Law Center, NAMI Dane County, WORT-FM and Urban League. The Sessions kicks off with the brilliantly named “Pursuit of Happiness” opening weekend Aug. 12-14. Two stages feature visitors including Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, Making Movies, Razia Said, and artist-in-residence Andy Narell, as well as local favorites Josh Harty, Johannes Wallmann & Precarious Towers, and Grupo Balança…and even Madison Comedy Week headliner Ian Edwards. Future Sessions are Aug. 18-19 and Aug. 31-Sept. 1; visit sessionsatmcpike.org for the complete schedule of events.
White Oak Folk Fest, Aug. 12-14, White Oak Savanna Events Farm, Dodgeville: The White Oak Folk Fest is back for its third year, with a big red barn as a stage. The weekend getaway features bluegrass, blues, traditional country and more, with performers including The Cajun Strangers, Deep Fried Pickle Project, Greasy Gravy Blues Band, Tray Wellington Band, Robbie Fulks and others. Other activities include yoga, square dancing, instrument building, and jams. Food and camping are available; see details at whiteoakfolkfest.com.
Andy Narell + Ben Sidran, Friday, Aug. 12, Arts + Lit Lab, 7:30 p.m.: Arts + Lit Lab is killing it this summer with jazz experiences, and this is one of the best. Hometown jazz piano hero Ben Sidran needs little introduction. But it’s mind-blowing to imagine what collaboration may surface when Trinidad steel drum sensation Andy Narell shares the bill. Narell has worked across genres in his career and with artists ranging from Bela Fleck to Tito Puente. The ALL collaboration is the kick-off for Narell’s time in Madison as artist-in-residence with the Sessions at McPike Park; other club appearances include a lecture and jam session as part of the New Breed Jazz Jam (9 p.m., Aug. 16, Robinia Courtyard); and a BlueStem Jazz concert with Panchromatic Caribbean Jazz (8 p.m., Aug. 17, The Bur Oak).
Love’s Labour’s Lost, Aug. 12-Oct. 2, American Players Theatre, Spring Green: APT’s roots in Shakespeare will show as it mounts this talky but poetic early comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost. The wordplay is never better as a king and his retinue commit to three years of distraction-free study. Then a princess and her party arrive. Artistic director of the whole company, Brenda DeVita, directs. Tickets for this week’s performances (8 p.m., Aug. 12; 7:30 pm, Aug. 18) are limited; check availability at americanplayers.org.
Katya Zinn, Friday, Aug. 12, North Street Cabaret, 8 p.m.: Boston-based writer and educator Katya Zinn is on tour following the release of a new collection of poetry, stories and essays, Manic-depressive Pixie Dream Girl. Find a sample of Zinn’s performance poetry style in this Button Poetry video of “On Avoidance.” With poetry readings by Madison-based writers James P. Roberts, whose many books include the 2020 poetry collection One Hundred Breaths; and Rene B. Simon, author of the 2021 collection The Good Truth.
Mhos & Ohms CD release, Saturday, Aug. 13, Dark Horse ArtBar, 9 p.m.: A pair of heavy duos share a bill to celebrate a new CD release: Crypsis, by Mhos & Ohms. Featuring Anthony Leskinen on drums and vocals and Jeremiah Wunderlin on standard and baritone guitars, the duo creates a ferocious groove on Crypsis cuts such as “Nobody Knows How.” Also shaking the rafters will be Daughters of Saint Crispin, aka the dynamic doomcore duo of Russell Emerson Hall and Peter Leonard. Check out the new video for “What You Own, Owns You,” the closing track of their self-titled 2021 album, on YouTube.
Robin Jebavy + Andrew Reddington, through Aug. 14, James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy: On exhibit at the Wisconsin Academy’s James Watrous Gallery is Seeing is Being by Robin Jebavy, whose paintings make use of layers to create shimmering effects almost like stained glass. The collection is paired with Started with Good Intentions, by Andrew Reddington, who explores furniture forms in sculpture, utilizing old pieces and recreating new shapes with them. Reddington’s prints will also be on display. Gallery hours are Thursday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m., and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; the exhibits are up through Aug. 14.
Madison Black Restaurant Week, Aug. 14-21: A chance to support Black-owned businesses like these restaurants isn’t a hard sell, especially since what you get is some of the best food in the county. African, African American and Caribbean cuisines are all on the big menu. At the Food Tasting Jamboree (2-5 p.m., Aug. 21, in the parking lot of FEED Kitchens, 1219 N. Sherman Ave.) the spotlight also shines on food purveyors you might not get a chance to eat at regularly because they’re caterers or food carts, with $5 tasting plates available. Voting for favorites is new this year, and details on that and participating purveyors can be found at madisonblackchamber.com
MAMAs Finalist Announcement Party, Sunday, Aug. 14, Liquid, 6 p.m.: The initial voting round for the 2022 Madison Area Music Awards continues through Aug. 8 at broadjam.com/mama. Find out who you will be voting for in the finals at the annual announcement party, which returns as an in-person event with a raffle, silent auction, food, and signature MAMArita cocktail, all aiding the Madison Area Music Association’s work to provide instruments to kids. The event also features top-notch music, of course, by The Big Payback, K.I.L.O aka SkitL’z, Mackenzie Moore and The Whiskey Farm.
Hanson, Sunday, Aug. 14, The Sylvee, 8 p.m.: Billed as “30 Years of Music — 1 Great Show,” Hanson’s “Red Green Blue 2022 Tour” celebrates the band of brothers’ storied history while also showcasing individual talents. Each third of the new album, Red Green Blue, was written and produced by one of the brothers: Red for Taylor (the one who sang lead on “MMMBop”), Green for Isaac, and Blue for Zac. But this will be more than a 1990s nostalgia trip; Hanson has consistently evolved, releasing almost a dozen albums over the years — most on their own label — and they now collectively have 15 children. Feeling old yet?
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.