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.
Centering Resistance: Imaginings of a New Feminist Future, April 7-9, Zoom: The annual conference hosted by the UW System Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium remains in a virtual space this year, along with being free and open to all participants. There are many threads and themes to explore in the conference’s various concurrent presentations over three days, but the overall focus is on what two years of the pandemic and uprisings for social justice have taught us about barriers to equality for all, and how to use that knowledge to build a better society going forward. Along with speakers and panel discussions, there is also a virtual exhibit featuring work by a dozen artists. Find a schedule and registration at consortium.gws.wisc.edu.
Wisconsin Film Festival, April 7-14: Back in person after a canceled 2020 and a virtual 2021, the Wisconsin Film Festival kicks off on April 7 at the UW Memorial Union, with an opening night reception and presentation of the Golden Badger Awards (5:30 p.m., Main Lounge) and a showing of the film Anaïs in Love (Les amours d’Anaïs) which concerns a young woman who has a fling with a married man but falls in love with his wife — yes, it’s in French (7 p.m., Shannon Hall). The fest continues through April 14 with documentaries, dramas, experimental films and animation at venues on campus and Hilldale’s AMC 6. Find more details at wifilmfest.org.
Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival, April 7, Overture Center-Capitol Theater, 7 p.m.: It’s two nights of adventure films (14 in all) brought to Mad City from the heart of the Canadian Rockies. This film fest is all about immense landscapes, wild animals, athletic feats on the edge (often literally), and environmental consciousness. Reawaken your senses, live vicariously and revel in the terrifying and the sublime. The program on April 7 includes a screening of Breaking Trail, about Ice Age Trail through-hiker Emily Ford. Find tickets at overture.org.
Angela Trudell Vasquez, Thursday, April 7, Central Library, 7 p.m.: Angela Trudell Vasquez, Madison’s poet laureate, had a number of plans for her tenure but then COVID hit. Fortunately, Vasquez has been reappointed for a second term and some big plans are back. In this Wisconsin Book Festival event, she will read from her new collection, My People Redux. Typical of Vasquez’s thoughtful works, the poems encompass stories from her past and her ancestors who came to the Midwest from Mexico in the late 1800s, but they’re not limited to that — geographically or imaginatively. In addition, Vasquez will be poet-in-residence at Madison Public Library through May 2022, hosting workshops for all ages in which she will pair up with an artist, dancer or nature educator “to provide an interactive exploration that broadens the ways we experience poetry.” See more details at madpl.org/poetry.
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.
The Essential Midwest James, Thursday, April 7, Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7:30 p.m.: Mills Folly Microcinema presents a cross-section of the multidisciplinary work of James D. Gavins, a UW-Madison graduate and staff member for the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives since 2019. The program includes a screening of Cicada, a film adaptation of a play written by Gavins and Karl Michael Iglesias which premiered at the 2021 Wisconsin Science Festival; dance theater performances by Gavins, Papa-Kobina Brewoo and Roel Hernandez; and music by Gavins accompanied by drummer Tim Russell. Find tickets at midwestjames.bpt.me.
Joe Hill: Alive as You and Me, Thursday, April 7, Dark Horse ArtBar, 7:30 p.m.: Unionization efforts have been in the news lately, including a successful campaign by Colectivo Coffee workers and the ongoing efforts of nurses to have their union recognized by UW Health. Industrial Workers of the World activist and songwriter Joe Hill was an early 20th century exponent of labor’s fight for better conditions, and one of the movement’s martyrs; he was executed in Utah under questionable circumstances in 1915. Hear his songs and learn about his life from singer and storyteller Tom Kastle. This Fermat’s Last Theater program also includes a post-concert discussion of the modern union movement led by UW School for Workers professor emeritus Frank Emspak. Free admission; proof of vaccination required.
D.R.I., Thursday, April 7, Crucible, 7:30 p.m.: Not too many punk/thrash bands have ever undertaken a 40th anniversary tour, but Dirty Rotten Imbeciles are up to the task. Led by singer Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy, the group is one of the few genre originators that has remained in (mostly) constant operation since its foundation. Their most recent release, the 2016 EP But Wait…There’s More!, even came out on Milwaukee’s own Beer City Records. With Arizona thrash metal outfit Intent and Wisconsin bands Diskillery and Court Caust. Tickets here.
Intercambios: Art, Stories & Comunidad, through April 10, Ruth Davis Design Gallery: Painting, textiles, photography, printmaking, music and video made collaboratively by 10 artists in Madison, Wisconsin, and Oaxaca, Mexico, take over the beautiful Ruth Davis Design Gallery on the UW-Madison campus. The artists explore issues ranging from art and craft to life and death. Exhibiting artists include Madison-based artists John Hitchcock, Carolyn Kallenborn, Dakota Mace and Roberto Torres Mata. Artists from the central valleys of Oaxaca include Miriam Campos, Alvaro Torres Cisneros, Virginia Alvarez Juárez, Erasto (Tito) Mendoza, Moises Martinez Velasco and Ana Paula Fuentes. Ruth Davis Design Gallery is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday, and noon-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Science Expeditions, April 8-10, UW Campus: The annual open house returns to UW-Madison science-related facilities and other spots on campus. Presentations include a special Friday edition of the popular Wednesday Nite at the Lab series featuring a talk by the archeologists who helped recover a 1,200-year-old canoe from Lake Mendota last fall (7 p.m., April 8, Wisconsin Historical Society), and “Lake Science on the Lakeshore” (noon, April 9-10, Hasler Lab). Physics Fair exploration stations can be found from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on April 9 at Chamberlin Hall; there’s an open house from 8-10 p.m. on April 8-9 at Washburn Observatory; and those highlights are just a start. Find a schedule and information on virtual options at science.wisc.edu.
DIG Jazz, Friday, April 8, Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7:30 p.m.: DIG Jazz from Madison Music Collective returns to in-person concerts for its spring series, hosted at ALL’s new space on Livingston Street. On April 8, keyboardist and composer Luke Leavitt unleashes the album Rose’s Space, accompanied for this show by the Leavitations. (Hear the jazz-dance pop fusion of “Buff By Dawn,” the lead single, at lukeleavitt.bandcamp.com). The spring series concludes April 15 with the trio of trumpeter Chad McCullough, bassist Larry Kohut, and drummer Jon Deitemeyer; they will be playing music inspired by The Technique of My Musical Language, a 1944 book by French composer Oliver Messiaen on his compositional techniques and use of harmony. Admission for both concerts is free.
Attack of the Killer Bs, through April 16, Broom Street Theater : Barbara and Glen take a trip to the cemetery to visit a grave and are beset by zombies. If that sounds familiar, you have seen Night of the Living Dead. This play by Sean Abley starts there and then proceeds to tour its characters through a panoply of other classic (and not so classic) horror, sci-fi and exploitation films. It should provide an entertaining travelogue for anyone familiar with vintage drive-in fare, and laughs even if you can’t name an Ed Wood movie. Broom Street Theater’s production of Attack of the Killer Bs hits the stage at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.
KennyHoopla, Friday, April 8, Majestic, 8 p.m.: From working behind the counter at the hype-wear shop August in Madison, to dating Willow Smith and collaborating with Travis Barker (who produced his new single, “Dirty White Vans”), KennyHoopla is a true success story. Enjoy a night of hard hitting emo music headlined by the Midwest native; the vibrant nature of his beautifully howled vocals and screeching instrumentals makes for an extraordinary show. With Conor, Shoobie.
Flight of Lights, through April 17, along International Lane, 7:30-11:30 p.m.: How are traditions hatched? This one was born out of the first year of the pandemic, when experiencing anything resembling mass entertainment was best from within the confines of your car. This third annual spring light display features six installations along the route around the airport, including tributes to first responders, the medical community, Wisconsin sports, animals and nature, tropical and nautical themes, and some favorite destinations. And just in case you’ve forgotten how to get to the airport, this can act as a practice drill. Vehicles enter the “Flight of Lights” route via International Lane. More info at flightoflights.com.
Art in the Wright Place, April 9-10, First Unitarian Society: It’s a sign that spring and summer arts fair season is here when the annual Art in the Wright Place event returns to the historic, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed meeting house of First Unitarian Society of Madison. This year’s show and sale features 40 regional artisans, including felted animal creations by Irene Clark, art glass by Ann Kleckner, watercolors by Geri Schrab, and much more. Find a full list of artists at fusmadison.org/artfair. Show hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on April 9 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m., April 10.
Celebrity Basketball Experience, Saturday, April 9, Madison College-Truax Campus, 3 p.m.: Basketball is not over! While the state high school championships are complete and the NCAA has wrapped up, you can still head to a basketball game featuring former UW athletes Zak Showalter, Ben Brust, Mike Wilkinson, Montee Ball, David Gilreath, Josh Gasser, Jack Cichy, Troy Fumagali and others. The game is free, but donations support Easterseals Wisconsin’s programs and services for people with disabilities. A pregame Shot Doctor Skills Academy for kids grades 3-6 runs from 1-2:30 p.m.; space is limited, and registration is required here
The Madpolecats, Saturday, April 9, BarleyPop Live, 8 p.m.: It’s been a while since all the original members of The Madpolecats — winners of the 2014 Overture Center Rising Stars competition, who mix a bluegrass/Americana base with a bit of reggae — have shared a stage. But the wayward members are returning for this concert with a cause: financial assistance for Ukraine. Ticket sales will be directed to Poland’s Ukrainian Assistance Fund, via Polish Center of Wisconsin. Also on the bill is Meet Raffle, a newer group which includes some Madpolecats members.
Finding North album release, Sunday, April 10, High Noon Saloon, 6 p.m.: Finding North is led by Paul and Sussanah Herrick, who trade lead vocal and harmony duty on their Americana-inflected pop-rock songs. The project performs both as a duo (Paul on guitar and Sussanah on keys) and larger band, and this will be a full band show celebrating the release of the new album Anchors and Arrows, available on CD at the concert. With Josh Harty, Water Street Jacks, Paul Mitch.
Comic Relief: Stand-Up Comedy for Ukraine, Sunday, April 10, Brink Lounge, 7 p.m.: Enjoy some laughs courtesy of comedians from Chicago (Jaime de Leon, host of the monthly Pilsen Stand Up at Simone’s, and Izzy Salhani) and Madison (Allie Lindsay, host of the monthly Comedy at the Cabaret at North Street Cabaret, David Schendlinger, and host Jared Porter). Ticket sales for this Cheshire Cat Comedy showcase will be donated for Ukraine relief efforts.
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.