Though it may not quite feel like it yet, spring really is right around the corner, heralded this weekend by the start of Daylight Savings Time and annual pairing of the Bike-o-Rama and Canoecopia sports expos, not to mention the Canoecopia! benefit show. The calendar also includes: the Vital Skills artisans' exhibit; a book reading by M. Henderson Ellis; stand-up by Amy Schumer; productions of To Kill A Mockingbird, 9 Circles, and And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank; a Dracula ballet; performances by the MSO and Johannes Wallmann & the Sweet Minute; The Gerswin Songbook revue and the Notes for Needs a capella benefit; The Great Midwestern Bluegrass Bash, Cold Sweat: A Madison Funk and Soul Revue, the Charity Jamboree concert, and the WORT-FM Blues Bash Benefit; and, more live music from Dar Williams, Gaelic Storm, Heavy Hand, The 4onthefloor, MC Geologic, Popa Chubby, Kristen Ford, The Quebe Sisters Band, The Drain, The-Drum, and Blues Control with Julian Lynch.
NOTEWORTHY: New York Stock Exchange founded, 1817.
Overture Center's James Watrous Gallery, through May 5. Reception: 5:30-7:30 pm In this remarkably diverse exhibition, works by 25 Wisconsin artisans showcase traditional hand skills and cultural traditions. Participants include basket makers, boat builders and metalsmiths.
Alliant Energy Center's Arena, noon-9 pm. Also Saturday (8 am-9 pm) & Sunday (10 am-4 pm), March 9 & 10
Some go to this annual expo to shop for a new bike. Others go for the free daredevil shows, in which stunt riders do things they really shouldn't.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, 4-9 pm. Also Saturday (9 am-6 pm) & Sunday (10 am-5 pm), March 9 & 10
If the annual paddle sports expo is here, spring must be around the corner. Time to buy some gear, listen to some speakers and pray for the snow to melt.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
This pop-folk singer-songwriter is living proof that stage fright can be overcome with lots and lots of performing. You'd never guess she had jitters 20 years ago when you hear her assured renditions of "Crystal Creek" and "The Light and the Sea," two highlights from her 2012 album, In the Time of Gods.
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), March 9 & 10
Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud will make his third appearance with the orchestra at a concert featuring two works by Mozart and Shostakovich's magnificent Tenth Symphony (see Music).
The Gershwin Songbook
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), March 9 & 10
In this Four Seasons Theatre revue, local singers and a jazz combo perform the evergreen songs of George and Ira Gershwin, including "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Embraceable You."
To Kill a Mockingbird
Mitby Theater at Madison College-Truax, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), March 9 & 10
Madison College offers an adaptation of Harper Lee's coming-of-age novel set in 1930s Alabama, where a lawyer defends a black man accused of raping a white woman.
4010 UW Vilas Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, March 7 & 9, 7:30 pm
Wisconsin Studio Productions presents this moving tale of a returning Iraq combat veteran, loosely based on Dante's Inferno.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), March 9 & 10
Madison Ballet presents an original rock ballet by artistic director W. Earle Smith: a steampunk-inspired adaptation of Bram Stoker's vampire novel, with a seven-piece rock band joining the dancers onstage (see Dance).
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
Gear up for St. Patrick's Day by raising a pint to songs from Chicken Boxer, the latest album by these globetrotting Celtic rockers.
The Great Midwestern Bluegrass Bash
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, March 9, 8 pm
Celebrate the history and diversity of bluegrass music with a two-night hoedown. Friday's lineup includes Whiskey Rodgers' Galactic String Band, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Evergreen Grass Band and Insomniac Gypsy; Saturday's includes the Tillers and the banjo-fueled Madonna tribute the Material Boys.
Dragonfly Lounge, 9 pm
Watch this Milwaukee-based trio define the term "angular" with lightning bolts of electrifying noise-rock.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
These Minnesota bluesmen pound through their sets with four bass drums and the stompin' spirit of Delta Blues greats like Robert Johnson and Charley Patton.
Cold Sweat: A Madison Funk and Soul Revue
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight as Megan Bobo, a talented soul singer from season five of American Idol, shares the stage with central-Wisconsin funkmeisters the Mustache and brassy local nine-piece the Big Payback.
UW Union South Sett, 9:30 pm
This Filipino-American performer first grabbed the spotlight in Blue Scholars, a Seattle project that examines issues like class conflict and racism through a hip-hop lens.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
This Bronx-born electric blues artist will show off his 2011 album, Back to New York City.
Rigby, 10 pm
This Boston-based singer-songwriter couldn't bring her band on tour, so she's teaming up with musical friends in each city she visits. See which Madisonians she picks for a show peppered with beatboxing and percussive guitar playing.
Essen Haus complex, noon
A who's-who of local acts (Mighty Short Bus, Natty Nation, Clovis Mann) perform at this benefit for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the UW Carbone Cancer Center and the American Diabetes Association. Nearly two dozen bands on three stages means there's something for everyone.
And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank
Overture Center Playhouse, 7 pm. Also Sunday, March 10, 2:30 pm
Children's Theater of Madison uses the real-life stories of Anne Frank's childhood friends to give audiences -- including kids as young as 10 -- a perspective on the Holocaust. The multimedia production combines drama with archival images and videotaped interviews.
Notes for Needs
Mills Hall, UW Humanities Building, 7 pm
Enjoy the vocal acrobatics of five UW a cappella ensembles, including Redefined and Tangled Up in Blue, at this benefit for Sarvodaya USA, a community-development program in Sri Lanka.
The Quebe Sisters Band
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
This lively quintet specialize in Western swing, hot jazz and Texas-style fiddle tunes that have been heard on A Prairie Home Companion.
High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm
Justine Curgenven will screen clips from This Is the Sea 5, a new film shot in exotic locales such as Patagonia and Sardinia. The Mad Polecats cap off the evening with some accordion-driven punk and ska.
Frequency, 9 pm
Revel in the rhythms of this local post-punk band's debut LP, which was inspired by '80s and '90s legends such as Joy Division and Sonic Youth.
UW Union South Sett, 9 pm
This Chicago duo's new EP recently caught the attention of The Fader, which described it as "dark and sleekly textured techno-futurism."
NOTEWORTHY: Nearly 300,000 Tibetans surround Dalai Lama's palace to prevent his abduction, 1959.
M. Henderson Ellis
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
Ellis reads from his absurdist debut novel, Keeping Bedlam at Bay in the Prague Café, in which a Chicago barista tries to set up mobster-themed coffeeshops in Prague.
WORT-FM Blues Bash Benefit
High Noon Saloon, 3 pm
More than a dozen local blues musicians, including Joe Nosek, Kyle Henderson and Rob Corbit, will perform at this fundraiser for the community radio station.
Johannes Wallmann & the Sweet Minute
Brink Lounge, 3:30 pm
Wallmann is the UW's new Jazz Studies professor and a pianist who rewards close listening. He debuts a new lineup for his brass-oriented Sweet Minute ensemble.
Barrymore Theater, 7 pm
This edgy new comedian with girl-next-door looks gained notoriety on Comedy Central's roasts of Roseanne and Charlie Sheen. She's been on more late-night talk shows than you can swing a cat at and has her own TV show premiering next year. What's next? The presidency in 2016?
Blues Control, Julian Lynch
Good Style Shop, 9 pm
Julian Lynch, a UW grad student and home-recording guru, will perform material from his forthcoming album, éLines. Blues Control will share a sonic mélange of analog electronics and wisps of dub, boogie and ambient music.