Madison builds more early summer momentum this weekend with Festa Italia, the Isthmus Jazz Festival, a rock star recall concert, MMoCA Nights and the opening screening of Rooftop Cinema; Cows on the Concourse, Cars on State, Burgers & Brew, the Madison Area Music Awards, Ride the Drive, and the Tommy Awards. The calendar also includes: a Mad Rollin' Dolls bout and the Race for the Cure; productions of Queer Shorts 7, Tracks: A Cycle in Two Plays, and Hansel and Gretel; a performance by the Wisconsin Chamber Choir; and, more live music from Company of Thieves, Czarbles, Ami Dang, Ron Pope, Piper Road Spring Band, Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars, and Feist.
NOTEWORTHY: Action Comics debuts, 1938.
McKee Farms Park, Fitchburg, 5 pm-midnight. Also Saturday (11 am-midnight) & Sunday (10 am-7 pm), June 2 & 3
The annual celebration of Italian culture features musicians, folk dancing and enough pasta to last you through July 4.
Isthmus Jazz Festival
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 4 pm-midnight. Also Saturday, June 2, 12:30 pm-midnight
Tonight, Isthmus kicks off its free fest with local jazz purveyors like Gerri DiMaggio, as well as Modern Sounds and the Rajiv Halim Quintet, both from Chicago. Headliner Mary Stallings, a passionate singer who performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Jordan in the 1960s, plays a free concert in the Wisconsin Union Theater on Saturday at 8 pm. On the Terrace, Saturday's lineup includes such stellar locals as Dave Stoler, Madisalsa and the Alison Margaret Jazz Quartet (see Music).
Get Out the Vote Rally
Labor Temple, 5:30 pm
Activist musicians Jackson Browne, Tom Morello, Brother Ali, Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Mike McColgan (Dropkick Murphys), Sean Michael Dargan and the Solidarity Singers do their part to get Wisconsinites to the polls for Tuesday's recall election. Expect fire and brimstone.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 6 pm
The museum throws another chic soiree. This one marks the opening of One Must Know the Animals, which gathers beast-centric artworks by the likes of Warrington Colescott, Fred Stonehouse and Erik Weisenburger; and Within a Stone's Throw, with photographs and video by UW-Milwaukee's Cecelia Condit, who gives a talk at 6:30 pm. Stick around for MMoCA's first Rooftop Cinema event of the season (9:30 pm), a screening of the feature-length dance music video Girl Walk // All Day.
Mad Rollin' Dolls
Hartmeyer Ice Arena, 7 pm
Inter-league roller derby competition gets under way as Madison's Dairyland Dolls and Team Unicorn skate against, respectively, the Ohio Roller Girls All-Stars and Gang Green.
Queer Shorts 7
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), May 31 & June 2-3
StageQ, Madison's LGBT theater troupe, presents its annual festival of short plays. Culled from over 300 submissions, the 11 one-acts include "Dyke Tracy, Detective" and "A Small Fishing Nation Wedged Between Estonia and Latvia."
Tracks: A Cycle in Two Plays
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday, June 2, 8 pm
Writer and director Chris Younggren makes his Broom Street debut with a pair of rail-themed works, "Station" and "Train Song."
Company of Thieves
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
These Windy City indie rockers rip through energetic songs inspired by dark and contemplative artists like Nirvana, Elliott Smith and Fiona Apple. The band's 2011 album, Running from a Gamble, explores a 13-year-old girl's coming of age. With Phox.
Dragonfly Lounge, 10 pm
This local trio makes sludgy, instrumental prog rock a thing of beauty by combining dramatic louds and softs with time changes that impress both math fans and music nerds. With Golden Donna and Noxroy.
NOTEWORTHY: Queen Elizabeth II crowned, 1953.
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Alliant Energy Center, 6 am
The race helps raise funds for local and national breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment programs. There'll be 5K runs and walks, as well as a 1.25-mile course perfect for the stroller set. There probably won't be an obstacle course simulating the chaos of last winter, when Komen ended Planned Parenthood funding, then reinstated it.
Cows on the Concourse
Capitol Square, 8 am-1 pm
Some cow is responsible for that ice cream you're eating, so why not take time to appreciate the cows? Pet real live bovines, learn what makes them tick, and eat more ice cream.
Cars on State
State Street, 10 am-3 pm
The car show lines the downtown thoroughfare with classic automobiles, including a 1928 Ford Roadster, a 1973 Plymouth Cuda and a 1981 Delorean. New this year: motorcycles, including a skull-themed Harley.
Hansel and Gretel
Overture Center's Playhouse, 1 & 3:30 pm
Opera for the Young presents Engelbert Humperdinck's 1893 work about the famous brother and sister and the woman who would like to have them for dinner. Before the performances, there are workshops about singing and theater design.
Burgers & Brew
Capital Brewery, Middleton, 4-7:30 pm
REAP, the local sustainable-food group, puts its own spin on two iconic Wisconsin foodstuffs. This event brings together local chefs, brewers, farmers and cheesemakers for an afternoon of mini-burgers (including the veggie variety) and beers, plus music by SpareTime Bluegrass and Oak Street Ramblers. Proceeds benefit REAP's Buy Fresh Buy Local program.
Madison Area Music Awards
Capitol Theater at Overture Center, 6 pm
The winners of this year's MAMAs are announced at a glitzy show featuring performances by locals like the Cork 'n Bottle String Band, Sincere Life and the Madison Jazz Orchestra. The lineup also includes Roots Collective, Kat Trio, Making Purple, Mark Croft, Ida Jo with Midnight Voices, Charles Dieterle, Orphan Bloom and the Taalbi Brothers, who'll showcase their skills to help raise money for local music-education initiatives. After the ceremony, music fans can flock to the Brink Lounge, where Mark Croft and Ida Jo perform again at a free 10 pm after-party.
Project Lodge, 7:30 pm
This Baltimore-based musician digs into her Indian heritage with mesmerizing vocals and sitar solos, then fuses them with ambient electronica and experimental dance-pop to create a sound she's dubbed "Bollywave." With Problem Child, Drunjus and DJ Tolerance.
Redamte Coffee House, 8 pm
This artist's web-based hit, "A Drop in the Ocean," launched his career as a pop-rock singer-songwriter, which has recently spawned a new album called Atlanta. With Grace Weber and Josiah Leming.
NOTEWORTHY: Gemini 4's Edward White becomes first U.S. astronaut to perform a spacewalk, 1965.
Ride the Drive
John Nolen Drive and other downtown streets, 10 am-3 pm
Mayor Paul Soglin was for Ride the Drive before he was against it, or is it the other way around? Last year he confused everyone when he canceled, then un-canceled, this fun event, which closes streets to car traffic so bicyclists can have their way.
Wisconsin Chamber Choir
First United Methodist Church, 3 pm
The ensemble performs a program called Bernstein and Friends, featuring Leonard Bernstein's 1965 "Chichester Palms," as well a world premiere of Judith Shatin's "The God of Glory" and music of Beethoven, Ives, Copland and Schumann.
Piper Road Spring Band
Harmony Bar, 5:30 pm
Inspired by the live performances of Doc Watson and Bill Monroe, these five local musicians joined forces to explore acoustic bluegrass. Bits of classical, blues and Dixieland add diversity to their sound, and their Grateful Dead-inspired jams make them as Madison as can be.
Overture Hall, 7 pm
Named for Dairyland's own Tom Wopat, Overture's Tommy Awards celebrate the best in local high school musical theater. The event features performances and production numbers from nominated shows.
Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars
High Noon Saloon, 7:30 pm
The subjects of a documentary film of the same name, Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars found one another in the Republic of Guinea, when a civil war forced them from their homeland. Fueled by rebel yells and some extremely positive vibes, their music has been described as an ode to unity and a testament to the human spirit's durability.
Capitol Theater at Overture Center, 8 pm
After sharpening her rock chops with an all-girl punk band, Feist honed her quirky pop songs for her solo debut, Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down). Lately, she's been perfecting a cover of a song by prog-metal band Mastodon as they polish up a cover of one of her tunes (see Tour Stop). With the Low Anthem.