Anderson Farm Dog Park opening, Thursday, May 19, 914 Union Road, Oregon, 4-6 p.m.: Anderson Farm County Park outside Oregon is now Dane County’s eighth park with an off-leash dog area. The 35 acres includes a separate small dog area, two parking lots, a storm water basin and an edible orchard. At the opening celebration there will be treats for pups (Excite Bites dog treat truck) and hoomans (Karben4 beer, with 10 percent of proceeds benefiting Dane County Parks and the Anderson Park Friends group).
Wisconsin Triennial: Ain’t I a Woman? Through 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. Guest curator Fatima Laster of Milwaukee breaks away from the status quo with her attention to “the intersection of race and gender.” Read Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli’s preview here. Current hours at MMoCA are noon-6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.
Decoteau J. Irby, Thursday, May 19, A Room of One’s Own, 6 p.m.: An associate professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Decoteau J. Irby examines racial equity in K-12 schools in the 2021 book Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership. Irby follows the actions of leaders at a large high school over a five-year period as they work toward equity for a student body becoming continually more diverse. (The title phrase, “stuck improving,” refers to making strides for equity while also learning more needs to be done.) Irby will discuss the book during an in-person event on the patio at A Room of One’s Own.
Wisconsin Wrights, May 19-21, Edgewood College-Ballweg Theatre, 7:30 p.m.: Forward Theater Company’s 2022 Wisconsin Wrights New Play Festival kicks off on May 18 with a reading of Viragos — A Play with Found Text by Katherine E. Norman of Madison (directed by Jessica Lanius). It’s followed by Civil Union by Amy Hanson of Racine on May 19 (directed by Dana Pellebon); and Lifers by Quan Barry of Madison on May 20 (directed by Mary MacDonald Kerr); plus a “bonus reading” of Artemisia by Lauren Gunderson on May 21 (directed by Jennifer Uphoff Gray). There’s nothing more exciting than seeing the debut of a new play, especially by a writer from your own city. $15 suggested donation at the door.
Jason Vargas & the Apollos EP release, Thursday, May 19, High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.: This Madison trio plays the blues with a side of psychedelia; the cut “Look Out” on their self-titled debut EP sounds like a lost early Jimi Hendrix Experience track. The juxtaposition of Vargas’ soulfully lighter-than-air vocals and the heavy music makes for a unique combination. The EP makes its debut on CD at this show. With Chicago jam rock ensemble Earthmother.
Shock and Awe, Thursday, May 19, The Rigby, 9 p.m.: Did you know Madison has a homegrown movie-riffing collective (a la Mystery Science Theater 3000)? Well, now you do. Shock and Awe for May features comedians Cody Lemke, Chris Schmidt and Olivia Witt, who will poke fun at The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. If you’re not familiar with the film, it was an attempt by legendary horror/sci-fi studio Hammer Films to combine its Dracula franchise with kung fu, by collaborating with the also legendary Hong Kong production company Shaw Brothers. Results were mixed, but it does have Peter Cushing as Van Helsing.
Interpretation in the States: Views from the Bench, Friday, May 20, UW Memorial Union-Tripp Commons, noon: With the federal Supreme Court continuing to push decisions of national import to state legislatures and courts, it’s ever more relevant how state Supreme Courts interpret the legal framework undergirding society. The State Democracy Research Initiative at the UW Law School is hosting a panel discussion featuring five state justices — including Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Brian Hagedorn and Jill Karofsky — on various aspects of how state courts operate. In-person spots are limited but there’s also a virtual version; register here.
Disney’s Freaky Friday the Musical, through May 22, Madison Youth Arts Center: When teenager Ellie and mom Katherine swap bodies, they have only 24 hours to switch back in this mystery-comedy musical. Though the two never see eye to eye, they must set aside their differences before they’re stuck in each other’s bodies forever. This incarnation of the classic Disney film and novel by Mary Rodgers is presented by Children’s Theater of Madison at the new Madison Youth Arts Center Starlight Theater. The musical will run through May 22, with showings at 7 p.m. on Fridays, 2:30 and 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1 and 6 p.m. on Sundays. Read Gwendolyn Rice’s review here.
Overture Concert Organ Series, Friday, May 20, Overture Hall, 7:30 p.m.: Have you been neglecting your organ? Overture Hall’s “Mighty Klais” gets loud with this concert featuring organist Greg Zelek and the Diapason Brass Quintet, with thundering timpani from the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s timpani principal, John Jutsum.
Lo Marie (album release), Friday, May 20, High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.: Somehow or other Lo Marie has prepped the release of a new recording project even as she finished up a regional tour with her Frank Zappa tribute band The Furious Bongos. The Bar, her fourth studio album, references where we place the bar that measures who we are and how we do things. Three of the contributors, based in Washington, D.C., also perform in The Furious Bongos. Madison’s big-sound soul and funk band The Civil Engineers support.
Laconia, May 20-21, Broom Street Theater, 8 p.m.: Will a play created around papier-mâché masks (by Broom Street Theater staffer Christa Dahman) work? It’s time to find out as BST presents Laconia, of which director Doug Reed writes, “I can’t describe it, but I love it.” Along with Dahman and Reed, the writing crew includes Colman, Maria Dahman, Brent Holmes and Taylor Kokinos. See what they have come up with on the final weekend of this short performance run. Tickets here.
Bitch, Friday, May 20, The Bur Oak, 8 p.m.: Bitch began as half of the classic queercore duo Bitch and Animal; now solo, she spent eight years writing her new album, Bitchcraft, released in February on Kill Rock Stars. The sound is contemporary synth pop with a political edge. Singer/songwriter Katie Cash, who can sound like a cross between Joni Mitchell and Mary Gauthier, opens.
Dizzy Wright, Saturday, May 21, Red Zone/Annex, 6:30 p.m.: Rapper Dizzy Wright has built a fan base during the last decade while managing to mostly keep it indie. That method of operation was possibly informed by his early exposure to the music industry through family members (including uncles in Bone Thugs-n-Harmony) and his own groups at a young age. Wright is on tour with DJ Hoppa behind his September EP, Slidin’ and Glidin’. This show was rescheduled from December; support includes Demrick, MarleyB, Okayt98.
Chai Anxiety, May 21-22, Crucible, 7 p.m.: Pile of Cats Theatre Company proudly asserts its status as a fringe company, performing in unconventional spots, with a back-to-basics attitude. The scenes compiled as Chai Anxiety probe our high-stress times, in a variety of situations that have a tendency to turn to the comic. The show is intended for adult audiences, but, organizers say, there’s no violence and it’s LGBTQ-friendly. All shows will be presented night club style with table seating. RSVP: email@example.com.
Bill Charlap, May 21-22, Farley’s House of Pianos: Acclaimed jazz pianist Bill Charlap will finally get to make his Madison debut as part of the Salon Piano Series, following postponements due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. A contemporary player with a firm grasp on jazz history, Charlap has played in the past with legends such as Gerry Mulligan and Frank Wess, and captured a Grammy for his 2015 collaboration with Tony Bennett, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. Concerts take place at 7:30 p.m. on May 21 and 2 p.m. on May 22; check ticket availability here. The public may also observe a masterclass by Charlap at 4 p.m. on May 21.
Ritt and Wilder Deitz, Saturday, May 21, North Street Cabaret, 8 p.m.: Madison singer-songwriter Ritt Deitz and his son, multi-instrumentalist Wilder Deitz, return from a brief tour to celebrate the release of Hinge, their new album. On many cuts, Ritt’s warm, laid-back vocals and rock-solid guitar work are accompanied mostly just by Wilder’s piano or mandolin, and that stripped-back approach lets the moments depicted in the songs shine through. Opening is rock trio Vegan Steakhouse, who just released an album of their own, Steer in the Headlights, in April.
The Mountain Goats, Saturday, May 21, The Sylvee, 8 p.m.: Whether as part of The Mountain Goats or as a novelist (most recently, January’s Devil House), master storyteller John Darnielle is the e.e. cummings of rock. That is if e.e. cummings rode a motorcycle and loved pro wrestling. There’s no separating Darnielle’s devotion to pop culture and the mess that it creates for us all. What we have here is The Cat in the Hat meets the New York Dolls. When band member Matt Douglas breaks out his baritone sax on “Foreign Object,” and the wrestlers are flying off the turnbuckle, you’re gonna want your mommy. With an opening set by Will Sheff of Okkervil River.
Wisconsin Was There: Sharing the Legacies of Printmakers Who Served in the Military, through June 1, Wisconsin Veterans Museum: Yvette Pino, curator of veteran art for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, organized this exhibit featuring works spanning from the Civil War to modern times by more than 20 artists with state ties. The exhibit opened in March, in conjunction with the SGC International annual conference in Madison.
WORTstock, Sunday, May 22, Warner Park, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.: In 2020, Madison community radio station WORT-FM planned a reinvention of its annual block party by moving the party to the north side. 2020 of course was a wash, but the first WORTstock made it through the rain with a rescheduled fall 2021 debut and returns the event to spring for 2022. The music lineup is typically eclectic; it kicks off with a BlueStem Jazz concert by long-running Milwaukee jazz improvisers The Erotic Adventures of the Static Chicken at noon. Also on the bill: Madison music including string band Grandpa’s Elixir at 1:15 p.m. (subbing for previously announced Ad Hoc String Band), Malian sounds from Tani Diakite & the Afrofunkstars at 2:30 p.m., and popsters BingBong at 3:45 p.m.; and veteran hip-hop tribute act Too Hype Crew at 5 p.m. As always at a WORT fest, find local food, arts and crafts vendors, beverages coordinated by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, and info booths from nonprofits.
Birds, Bikes & Brews, Sunday, May 22, Capital Brewery, Middleton, noon-5 p.m.: This annual birding event moves to spring this year. Birding is the marquee activity; biking is optional. Walk or hike or pedal or skateboard to birding spots near Capital Brewery, and return for a beer afterward. Bird-lovers with mobility challenges may request a free all-terrain outdoor wheelchair courtesy of Access Ability Wisconsin, as well as a limited number of hand-cycles provided by Madison SCI. Proceeds benefit the Madison Audubon Society’s missions of bird conservation, education, and citizen science. Register at madisonaudubon.org, and don’t forget the binoculars.
The Big Big Big Charity Show, Sunday, May 22, The Bur Oak, 7 p.m.: Madison Indie Comedy presents a showcase subtitled “Stand-up Comedy for a Cause.” The cause this time around is raising funds for Planned Parenthood. The comics are all visiting from out of town: From Milwaukee, Carly Malison; and from Chicago, Luis Arevalo, Olivia Carter, Mark Kelly and Anthony Siraguse. Shauna Jungdahl hosts; find tickets here.
Carcass, Sunday, May 22, The Majestic, 8 p.m.: Prepare yourself for an aural onslaught! British extreme metal mavens Carcass are touring the States in support of their seventh studio album, 2021’s Torn Arteries, which features such ditties as “Eleanor Rigor Mortis” and “Kelly’s Meat Emporium.” This is brutal stuff, but you’d expect nothing less from a bill that also includes New York death metal vets Immolation (which, funnily enough, were known early on as Rigor Mortis) and Texas-based Creeping Death (which blurs Swedish-style death metal with desert-induced doom). Headbanging is not optional.
Sunflower Bean, Sunday, May 22, High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.: New York City trio Sunflower Bean reinvents the rock power trio format for modern times, mixing heavy/fuzzy and soft/sweet in equal measure across their three albums. Headful of Sugar, just out on May 6, feels a bit darker in texture on initial spins — fitting for an album mostly made at home by the band during the ongoing pandemic and the cascade of other existential threats of our current times — but the band’s innate catchiness shines through the gloom. A stellar bill also includes spiky pop from Chicago-based Jackie Hayes and hypnotizing post-punk by Madison’s Interlay.
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.