Borders Books West, 7 pm
The winner of 2007's Man Booker Prize for Fiction reads from The Gathering, a rich family epic. Members of an Irish clan gather for a wake in which long-buried secrets come to light.
University Book Store-Hilldale, 7:30 pm
The pop-culture journalist offers his idiosyncratic take on sports, sex, music and celebrities as part of the UW's Distinguished Lecture Series.
Democracy in Wisconsin: Cleaning Up Our Act
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 7 pm
Remember when Wisconsin was known for clean politics? Us either. Joel Rogers, Bill Kraus and Brady Williamson Jr. offer perspectives on democratic reform.
Borders West, 7 pm
The author of the military memoir Jarhead reads from his first novel, Exit A. Two teenagers fall into a rebellious romance in a U.S. Air Force base outside Tokyo.
Majestic Theatre, 7:30 pm
Picking and choosing from a big buffet of pop, rock and even prog sources, Ralston moved up to the next level on the varied, highly polished Vampire Songs. Helicopter and Freshwater Collins open.
Shoghaken Folk Ensemble
Great Hall in the UW Memorial Union, 8 pm
The ensemble give us a taste of authentic Armenian folk music, played on instruments like the duduk, dhol and shvi.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
On his new CD, the singer-songwriter drifts from the bouncy pop of "Mr. Pitiful" to the easygoing guitar folk of "Vienna" without breaking a sweat. Expect some exceptionally soothing sounds. Delta Spirit opens.
Annex, 9:30 pm
Toss Mr. Bungle in the blender with a half-dozen arena rockers from yesteryear and a couple anonymous pop-punk bands and you get Chicago's likable Tub Ring, an energetic quintet with an advanced degree in sarcastic self-revelation. Helliphant and the Facesteak open.
Born to Dance
Restaurant Magnus, through May
Madison artist Eric Rattan has created a formidable 8-by- 10-foot slate mosaic, inspired by the 16th-century alchemist Paracelsus and inhabited by sylphs and gnomes.
Art on Stage
Chazen Museum of Art, 6:30 pm
The Chazen and the Madison Repertory Theatre team up for a special preview reception for the Rep's Permanent Collection (March 7-30), set in an art gallery. There will be scenes from the play, food, a cash bar and a silent art auction.
Morphy Hall in the UW Humanities Bldge., 7:30 pm
The UW pianist divides his program between traditional repertoire played on a Steinway grand and contemporary music played on a Yamaha Disklavier. In other words, Schubert will be keeping strange company.
Orpheum Theatre's Stage Door, 8 pm
Milwaukee's Cosmic Railroad aren't trying to take the jam-band nation beyond the collective legacies of the Dead, the Allmans, Hendrix and Phish. But they're as reliable as that vintage copy of Workingman's Dead you filched from mom and dad.
Great Hall in the UW Memorial Union, 8 pm
Junky pop hits, classic rock, familiar hip-hop tracks, perky club grooves -- they're all fodder for Greg "Girl Talk" Gillis' continuous cycle of mashed-up mischief. He's a glorious goofball, an unbound beat-master, a musical contagion. Party animal Totally Michael ("Cheerleaders vs. Drillteam") also appears.
Project Lodge, 8 pm
Eric Elbogen's synthesizer-powered indie thing just received a nice chunk of positive press in The New York Times. But that's not likely to brighten up his tuneful melancholia all that much. All ages!
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
The New Orleans-based jazz-funkers had a lot of success teaming up with name rappers on last year's From the Corner to the Block. Here, they reignite some of that in-studio fire with help from Chali2na of Jurassic 5. Ohmega Watts opens.
Café Montmartre, 9 pm
The country-shaded singer-songwriter can yearn with the best of 'em, but he's also a master of the laid-back guitar tune. In a heavy week of singing guitar strummers, he may be the best of the lot. Sons of William and Alexa Wilkinson open.
Mike Massey & Francie Phelps
Ivory Room, 9 pm
The pianists play cover material, take requests and work in some tunes from Massey's recent The Attack of the Delicious. It's the latest installment of the Madison Music Project Club Tour, based on Isthmus' online directory at MadisonMusicProject.com.