Madison will hum over this busiest weekend of spring, with the convergence of Isthmus Green Day, the Midwest Horse Fair, Line Breaks, the opening of the outdoor Dane County Farmers' Market, Record Store Day, Busking for Books, and three full days of the Wisconsin Film Festival. The calendar also includes: the Bonnaroo Comedy Tour and The Bob & Tom Comedy Tour; talks by David Maraniss and Jacqueline Houtman; productions of Into the Woods and Mercury Rising; performances by the Kanopy Dance, the MSO, the UW Varsity Band, and The Blanks; the Community Hymn Sing; and, more live music by Loudon Wainwright III with Richard Thompson, The BoDeans, Gerri DiMaggio, Cloud Cult, Hey Champ, Rogue Wave, Ellis Paul, Steve Leslie, Carrie Newcomer, and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
BIRTHDAY: Actor/all-time NBA career scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 1947.
Midwest Horse Fair
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 8 am-7 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-7 pm) & Sunday (8 am-5 pm), April 17 & 18
Saddle up for three days' worth of equine events. The animals will be stunning, as will be the aroma.
Bonnaroo Comedy Tour
UW Memorial Union's Great Hall, 7 pm
This offshoot of the Tennessee festival features Bonnaroo alums Pete Holmes, Amy Schumer, Kumail Nanjiani and Reggie Watts. Best of all, you don't have to sleep in a tent.
Borders Books West, 7 pm
The Pulitzer-winning journalist and Madison native signs Into the Story, his collection of articles and book excerpts.
Into the Woods
UW Vilas Hall's Mitchell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm), Sunday (2 pm) & Wednesday (7:30 pm), April 17, 18 & 21
Stephen Sondheim just turned 80, and that -- plus the music -- is reason enough to see University Theatre's production of this show, which intertwines Grimm fairy tales.
Kanopy Dance Company
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), April 17 & 18
The local dance company presents "Dark Nights: Tanztheater," a premiere by Amit Lahav of the U.K.'s Gecko Physical Theater Company. Also: the premiere of "IKAROS" by Kanopy's Robert E. Cleary, and more.
The UW Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives' hip-hop symposium includes public events at the Wisconsin Historical Society, including performances by the UW's must-see First Wave Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble (Thursday & Friday, April 15 & 16, 7 pm) and Stew and Heidi Rodewald, of Passing Strange fame (Monday, April 19, 7 pm). See omai.wisc.edu for complete lineup.
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), April 17 & 18
In the season closer, the ensemble plays Rimsky-Korsakov's "Russian Easter Overture," pianist Philippe Bianconi performs Rachmaninoff, and bass Dean Peterson sings excerpts from Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. Say ciao to retiring concertmaster Tyrone Greive and cellist Janet Greive.
UW Varsity Band
Kohl Center, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, April 15 & 17, 7:30 pm
Mike Leckrone's band stirs the Badger faithful with a 100th-anniversary salute to a ditty called "On Wisconsin!"
Loudon Wainwright III & Richard Thompson
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Wainwright is known as much for his screen appearances as for popular songs like "Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)." Thompson's fame focuses mainly on his guitar chops, so much that Rolling Stone declared him "the greatest guitarist in British folk rock."
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
The Milwaukee roots-rockers swing through Madison to celebrate the release of a new CD, Mr. Sad Clown.
Inn on the Park Hotel, 8 pm
In a boon for jazz fans, the accomplished local singer is producing a series of Friday-night shows by jazz acts at the downtown hostelry. She inaugurates the run.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, April 17, 8 pm
Mercury Players Theatre presents eight short comedies that won the troupe's new play competition.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Cloud Cult's Craig and Connie Minowa recently moved to the Madison area, where they've been working on an album and making a home for their new baby. Welcome them by taking in a creative show that's likely to include onstage painting and video art. With Roma Di Luna.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 pm
The Chicago-via-Rockford electropop trio have been on a roll since their single "Cold Dust Girl" made a big splash. And they're likely to make an even bigger splash in July, when their album produced by Lupe Fiasco hits stores.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
You've probably heard a fair share of Rogue Wave's songs. "Lake Michigan" was in a recent commercial for the Zune MP3 player, while the band and their song "Eyes" were a focal point of the 2009 movie Love Happens. With Man/Miracle and JBM.
NOTEWORTHY: Apollo 13 splashes down safely after aborted moon mission, 1970.
Dane County Farmers' Market
Capitol Square, 6 am-2 pm. Also Wednesday, April 21, Martin Luther King Blvd., 8:30 am-2 pm
The season kickoff. Life is worth living again.
Record Store Day
In these times of downloads and Lala, this nationally organized event asks us to remember record stores, where shaggy clerks are still behind counters. There's music and fun in the daytime at B-Side, Exclusive Company, MadCity Music Exchange, Strictly Discs and Sugar Shack.
Isthmus Green Day Expo
Monona Terrace, 9 am-5 pm
Isthmus' event is a one-stop shop for all your needs relating to sustainable living. Visit booths on health, gardening, transportation, etc.; witness a green wedding; and check out speakers including celeb chef Rick Bayless and environmentalist Bill McKibben.
Community Hymn Sing
Overture Hall, 11 am
Madison Symphony Orchestra organist Samuel Hutchison leads you -- yes, you -- in singing church songs of Eastertide.
The Bob & Tom Comedy Tour
Barrymore Theatre, 7 pm
Standups who have performed on radio's Bob & Tom Show -- Bob Zany, Greg Warren, Greg Hahn and Donnie Baker -- offer a crash course in contemporary comedy. With MC Kristi Lee.
High Noon Saloon, 7 pm
Paul's whip-smart folk-pop is credited with sparking the '90s folk revival that launched the careers of Dar Williams, Patty Griffin and many others.
Brink Lounge, 7 pm
The Nashville-based artist is not only a great performer but an in-demand songwriter who's written tunes for Kenny Rogers, George Strait and many other country greats.
Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ, 7 pm
The skilled singer-songwriter, whose résumé includes a tour with Alison Krauss and a spot on Nickel Creek's 2003 CD This Side, performs to benefit Habitat for Humanity.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7:30 pm
Sam Lloyd, otherwise known as the lawyer Ted on Scrubs, sings with the a cappella group that has been prominently featured on the show.
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Tripp Commons at UW Memorial Union, 9 pm
The avant-garde metal group incorporates faux-scholarly lectures and custom-made instruments into performances that feature unusual time signatures, lots of experimentation and even more irony. With Lords of the Trident and Erebus.
NOTEWORTHY: Great San Francisco Earthquake, 1906.
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
The local author reads from The Reinvention of Edison Thomas, her young-adult novel about a socially awkward sixth-grader.