Start your Thanksgiving merry-making early with the Holiday Art Fair at MMoCA and the Madison's Women's Expo at Monona Terrace. Simply want to sit back and take in some live music or theater? This weekend brings shows by Low vs Diamond, The Hussy, Pelican, Pale Young Gentlemen, Fred Ho and the Afro-Asian Music Ensemble, Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble, Susan Tedeschi, Dub Trio, and JJ Grey & Mofro, as well as productions of The Gingerbread Man, The Snow Queen, Over the River and Through the Woods, Madame Butterfly by the Madison Opera, a new show by Kanopy Dance, and the UW Dance Fall Faculty Concert.
Holiday Art Fair
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 10 am-6 pm. Also Saturday (10 am-5 pm) & Sunday (11 am-3 pm), Nov. 22 & 23
Hear that? It's the sound of pages flying off a calendar as your gift-giving winter holiday of choice rapidly approaches. But don't fret if you're still empty-handed, because artists from these parts and beyond are selling their wares at MMoCA's big sale. The Madison Youth Choir carols on Saturday, and what could be lovelier?
The Gingerbread Man
Goodman Community Center, 7 pm. Also Saturday (7 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Nov. 22 & 23
The familiar tale is told in a musical-theater version for the kids by Kenland Players Theater. As you might have guessed, the local humorist Ken Lonnquist has a hand in this.
The Snow Queen
Harambee, 7 pm. Also Warner Park Community Recreation Center, Saturday, Nov. 22, 1 pm & Barrymore Theatre, Sunday, Nov. 23, 6 pm
Kids ages 8-15 star in this locally roving show by Playtime Productions Children's Theatre, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story. The Snow Queen is no one you want to meet up with.
Kanopy Dance Company
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Nov. 22 & 23
Kanopy, one of Overture's resident arts companies, presents its concert Autumn Heart, featuring frequent Kanopy dancer and choreographer Kiro Kopulos. Men's dance is in the offing, as is work set to Wagner.
Over the River and Through the Woods
Bartell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (3 pm), Nov. 20, 22 & 23
Madison Theatre Guild stages Joe DiPietro's sentimental 1994 comedy about a young Italian American man whose meddling grandparents conspire to keep him close to home. Pass the ravioli.
Low vs Diamond
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Low vs Diamond began as a jam band at the University of Colorado, but they built their riffs upon the ambient melodies of Brian Eno and Air rather than the hippie anthems of Phish and the Grateful Dead. They stop in Madison as part of a tour for their first full-length album, also called Low vs Diamond. Also playing: Rose Hill Drive, Barcelona, Colour Revolt, Paper Route.
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 23, 2:30 pm
Madison Opera presents the Puccini masterpiece about the love affair of a Japanese geisha and an American seaman. It all ends badly, of course, and is there any better reason to go to the opera? In Italian with English titles.
UW Dance Fall Faculty Concert
UW H'Doubler Performance Space, Lathrop Hall, 8 pm. Also Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 21 & 22, 8 pm
Collaboration is the word at this program, which features choreography by UW dance faculty members Jin-Wen Yu, Li Chiao-Ping and Chris Walker and guest artist Chris Elam, among others. UW dance program events feature a fine mix of professional and student dance.
Willy Street Pub & Grill, 9 pm The Hussy's grimy, insistent garage rock recently caught the attention of Tobi Vail, who made them the feature of the week at the Kill Rock Stars mail-order department. Also playing: Holy Shit!, Uh-Oh, the Baby Ladies.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Instrumental post-rock has enjoyed a boost in popularity of late due to the soundtrack to the TV show Friday Night Light, composed largely by indie favorite Explosions in the Sky. Pelican's version of post-rock adds more metal to the mix but is equally uplifting. Also playing: Suicide Note, Head of Skulls.
Madison Women's Expo
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 10 am-4 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 23, 10 am-4 pm
Brava magazine hosts its annual confab for women, with exhibitors and demonstrations about wellness, beauty, food, recreation and what have you. The fun includes bidding on eligible Madtown bachelors, plus appearances by Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame and the incomparable Debbie Reynolds, who changed our life in Singin' in the Rain.
University Book Store-Hilldale, 2 pm. Also Sunday, Nov. 23, 2 pm
Every holiday season you drive by it, that long line of illuminated trees along University Avenue near the U-Pump. Pretty, you think, but what's it all about? Find out from Kammer, whose new book is The Story of the University Avenue Holiday Lights.
Pale Young Gentlemen
High Noon Saloon, 5:30 pm
The hometown favorites return from a cross-country tour to share tunes from their brand-new offering Black Forest (tra la la). Also playing: Amo Joy! (also back from touring!), Sleeping in the Aviary.
Fred Ho and the Afro-Asian Music Ensemble
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm
An artist-in-residence with the UW-Madison Arts Institute, Ho is a jazz saxophonist, composer, activist and all-around interesting guy. Tonight he presents Revolutionary Earth Music & Performance: People & the Planet Before Profit!, featuring his own ensemble, along with a performance piece by UW students and collaborative work with UW choreographer Peggy Choy.
Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble
Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, 8 pm
The gypsy-jazz trio of two guitarists and a bassist -- plus the occasional violinist, clarinetist and drummer -- re-create and expand upon the sound of Django Reinhardt's band, La Quintette du Hot Club de France.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
The Massachusetts blueswoman is a Madison favorite thanks to her inspired musicianship and tough, emotional singing. With James Hunter.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Blending stoner metal, reggae and psychedelic noise, Dub Trio's sound is quite innovative and 100% rocking -- so much, in fact, that their newest album, Another Sound Is Dying, landed on ALARM magazine's best-of list for this year. El Valiente warms things up with beautiful, Western-style instrumental soundscapes. Also playing: Revolving Doors.
JJ Grey & Mofro
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Just as a harsh northern winter sets in, Jacksonville, Fla. sends us JJ Grey & Mofro's super-Southern blues-rock with a funk chaser. Grey's biggest influence might just be soul, however, as one of his most popular touring songs is a tribute to Otis Redding. Trombone Shorty opens.