Here is this week's critics' choice calendar. The Guide provides an extended listing of events in and around Madison.
NOTEWORTHY: Elizabeth II becomes oldest monarch of United Kingdom, 2007.
Winter Solstice Celebration
Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona, 6:30 pm
Ring in the official start of winter (and longer days!) at this family-oriented celebration on the snowy grounds of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. Events include a bonfire, a naturalist-led twilight hike and wassail drinking.
Guys on Ice
Barrymore Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (2:30 & 7:30 pm) & Sunday (1:30 pm), Dec. 19, 21 & 22. Through Dec. 29
Go Fish Productions stages its original story of two buddies on an ice-fishing trip in Wisconsin. A preview performance on Thursday, Dec. 19, doubles as a benefit for the Goodman Community Center's food pantry. (See Theater.)
Wisconsin Chamber Choir
Grace Episcopal Church, 7:30 pm
Bach's cantata "Wake, Awake, a Voice Is Calling" is the centerpiece of this holiday concert, which also includes a contemporary take on "O Magnum Mysterium" by Juilliard composer Wayne Oqui.
Claddagh Irish Pub, Middleton, 8 pm
The local singer and guitarist pairs subdued folk melodies with driving rhythms in excellent songs like "She's the Moon."
Ugly Sweater Christmas Party
Redamte Coffee House, 8 pm
Enjoy a cappuccino and a show in your most hideous holiday attire. Parias Day tend to rock hard and heavy, but their cover of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is an enchanting ballad laced with mournful vocal harmonies. Gabe Burdulis is an already-accomplished teen singer-songwriter who's won a Madison Area Music Award. With Sydney Prall and Mike Terry.
The Velvet Smash
Brink Lounge, 8 pm
Ever wondered what an easy-listening version of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" would sound like? This show might provide the answer. Armed with brass, accordion and vibraphone, this zany local group play '60s lounge music and lounge versions of newer tunes like Morphine's "Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer."
Coliseum Bar, 9 pm
Cates wends his way through numerous musical genres, including rock and country, with an acoustic guitar and an engaging voice. Catch his solo act before he hits the road for gigs in exotic lakeside towns like Crystal Lake, Ill., and Fox Lake, Wis.
Club Tavern, Middleton, 9 pm
These MAMA-winning showmen have enough original country tunes to fill the 10-gallon hat on an Arby's sign -- and at least as much allure as a plate of the fast-food chain's curly fries.
WinterJam with Roster McCabe
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The Majestic's SummerJam series has morphed into WinterJam, a free event with live music to keep downtown warm, even if the temperature drops below zero. The evening's stars are Roster McCabe, a Twin Cities act whose blend of jam rock and electronic music features hard-hitting vocals and plenty of guitar noodling. With the Coop and Kamino.
Destroy All Christmas
Crystal Corner Bar, 9:30 pm
This anti-holiday event hosted by hard-rocking locals Droids Attack seems to get more outrageous each year. Plus, it's a chance to dance with a robot wearing a Santa hat. With Real Knives and Sowbelly Bitch Hog.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The singer from Milwaukee's popular "streetgrass" group .357 String Band has struck out on his own with an album of original folksongs. (See Tour Stop.) With Horseshoes & Hand Grenades.
The Flavor That Kills
Frequency, 10 pm
Featuring members of Awesome Car Funmaker and Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons, two popular bands from Madison's past, this group began as an ode to '70s rock and morphed into a soulful ensemble with a retro Rhodes piano. (See Music.) With Drunk Drivers and Sir! No Sir!
Mod Versus Rocker Night
Mickey's Tavern, 10 pm
The Willy Street bar honors the music and uniforms of two '60s subcultures and their contemporary counterparts. Guests dressed in the coolest mod and rocker outfits will win praise and prizes, and there'll be live music from rockers Roboman and Max Elliott and DJs Tom Kay and Mascara Snake.
The Eight Reindeer Monologues
Broom Street Theater, 11 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 21, 5 pm
Know Better Productions presents a dark comedy about a scandal that erupts when a reindeer accuses Santa Claus of sexual harassment.
NOTEWORTHY: First crossword puzzle published in New York World, 1913.
Rockstar Kiddyoke with the Gomers
Overture Center Rotunda Stage, 9:30 & 11 am, 1 pm
Bring your budding rock star to this hilarious Kids in the Rotunda event. The Gomers know every song in the book and can definitely rock a stage. Outrageous costumes and dance moves are encouraged; "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" will never be the same.
Twas the Brass Before Christmas
Capitol Rotunda, noon. Also full concert Monday, Dec. 23, 7 pm, Crossroads Church
Sandy La Clair & the Impact of Brass present this jazzy, brassy program of holiday favorites for the whole family. Rhythm-band instruments will be provided so kids can join in.
Madison Choral Project
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 7 pm
Wisconsin Public Radio's Noah Ovshinsky reads prose and poetry to unite this concert's themes of light and darkness. Come for the world premiere of works by David Evan Thomas and stay for enduring favorites by Purcell, Ives and Rachmaninoff.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm
Madison Ballet shows off its sense of humor in a cheeky parody of The Nutcracker that includes local celebs, pop-culture references and some adult humor.
Alex Wilson Band
Brink Lounge, 9 pm
Wilson picked up the guitar at the tender age of 5 and became a professional blues rocker in the Milwaukee area before graduating high school. His band includes his uncle Marc Wilson, who has drummed for Buddy Guy, B.B. King and other legends.
Battle of the Boy Bands: 'N Sync vs. Backstreet Boys
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
DJs Josh B Kuhl and Aaron Jai will help decide which '90s boy band is dreamier by busting out dance-friendly pop hits by both groups at a free show. Period dance moves are welcome.
Inferno Anniversary Party
Inferno, 9 pm
The north-side bar and club celebrates its 17th birthday with a free, space-themed shindig featuring music by Sparklefuck and DJ Mike Carlson, burlesque by Greta Thorn & Sexual Chocolate, and comedy by Chris Lay, Pushy Muldowney, Geoffrey Asmus and Deon Greene. Intergalactic costumes, from moon boots to Spock spandex, are encouraged.
Waylan St. Palan & the Magic Elves, The August Teens
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
The screwy saint and his magical minions reunite for their yearly yuletide concert of crazy Christmas songs. The August Teens will spread tidings of comfort and joy by releasing a new EP of sugarplum-sweet power-pop.
The Material Boys
Crystal Corner Bar, 9:30 pm
Though this bluegrass septet have some toe-tapping original material, they're best known for their inspired covers of Madonna songs. You'd be surprised how good tunes like "Open Your Heart" sound with a banjo lick. With Double W and No Name String Band.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
This bluesy outfit took home five MAMAs a few months ago, including the coveted artist of the year award. See what they've been up to since then.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy repealed, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, 2010.
NOTEWORTHY: The Night Before Christmas published anonymously, 1823.
Lynnea Godfriaux & Brad Pregeant
Louisianne's, Etc., Middleton, 6 pm
Singer Godfriaux and pianist Pregeant team up with drummer Todd Steward and Ellington Dynasty bassist Dan Shapera for an evening of holiday-themed jazz at the New Orleans-inspired restaurant.
Middleton Community Orchestra
Middleton-Cross Plains Area Performing Arts Center, 7:30 pm
The polished ensemble celebrates the season with classical works that showcase guest artist Emily Birsan's beautiful soprano. The program includes "S'altro che lacrime" from Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito and "Mein Herr Marquis" from Strauss' Die Fledermaus. The orchestra will also perform Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and other treats.
NOTEWORTHY: Ku Klux Klan formed, 1865.
NOTEWORTHY: President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all Civil War Confederate soldiers, 1868.
NOTEWORTHY: Soviet Union formally dissolved, 1991.
Alliant Energy Center Coliseum, 7 pm
Marvel at insane b-ball moves that aren't allowed in the NBA when the Globetrotters bring their thrilling combination of comedy and sports skills to town. The event is part of their Fans Rule world tour, which lets fans choose new rules that affect the way the game is played.
Edited by the Flying Spaghetti Monster