What To Do in August
Live on King Street concerts start this month, plus plenty of exciting visual arts exhibits throughout town
King of Rock
August 16 & 23
The idea was fairly simple: Invite musicians to play on a stage just outside of the Majestic Theatre. But Live on King Street has become more than a mere venue for outdoor tunes.
It’s a fantastic celebration of summer, downtown and, of course, great music, with crowds packing the entire block. This month, catch “one-man jam band” Keller Williams on August 16 and Reverend Horton Heat rocking in from Texas on August 23. liveonkingstreet.com
Back to the Roots
Each year at Madison’s Lake Farm County Park, both creators and fans of bluegrass, jazz, country, roots, Cajun and other styles of indigenous music come together at the Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival. This year, performances, workshops and interactive jam sessions feature such musicians as Al Scorch & the Country Soul Ensemble, the Steel Wheels, Martha Redbone and Dave Landau. sugarmaplefest.org
Hollywood offered its version of Les Misérables last year, and now Four Seasons Theatre is taking a turn at the world’s longest-running musical. Convict Jean Valjean is on the run, hunted by policeman Javert after breaking parole, and attempting to keep his vow to raise the young orphaned Cosette in nineteenth-century France on the brink of revolution. fourseasonstheatre.com
Feast for the Eyes
On large-scale canvases often embellished with glitter and glitz, local artist Romano Johnson creates expressive, dynamic and symbol-filled compositions (pictured at right). His work is showcased at Cafe Zoma, while “watercolor shadow paintings” by Minnesota artist Matt Berbee hang next door at Absolutely Art. absolutelyartllc.com
Her parents are musical legends—father is bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto and mother is Brazilian singer Miúcha—but Bebel Gilberto has earned her own accolades in the music world. The internationally acclaimed Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter bridges the divide between New York jazz and Brazilian bossa nova and brings her smooth voice to Overture Center’s Capitol Theater. overturecenter.com
With the Band
August 16–September 7
Ever dream about being backstage while your favorite band rocked out? Broom Street Theater goes behind the curtain and past the screaming fans with The Waiting Room. In this black comedy, roadies, techs and stagehands share their stories about the other, less glamorous side of the music scene. bstonline.org
Perhaps the only thing better than a trip to the Dane County Farmers’ Market is following your morning shopping and snacking with some beautiful music. The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Free Farmers’ Market Concert highlights Overture Center’s impressive concert organ, plus the talents of fourteen-year-old organist Adrian Binkley. madisonsymphony.org
Detroit native Bethany Helzer has long been intrigued by the city’s “urban decay” and captures beautiful architecture in states of neglect through her photography (pictured at left). Since moving to Madison, she’s shifted her focus on new and old architecture, as well as nature, found here. hatcharthouse.com
August 7–September 4
It’s that time of year again, when Wednesdays become one of the best nights of the week and the top of State Street’s the place to be to hear live jazz. Celebrating its twentieth year, Jazz at Five showcases the diverse styles of Randy Sabien, Chuchito Valdez and Madison’s own Gerri DiMaggio and Ben Sidran. jazzatfive.org
Where do you want to be on a Friday evening in August? On the Monona Terrace rooftop, of course! That’s when Dane Dances throws a city-wide party, with ethnic food vendors, DJs and hot musical acts such as Primitive Culture, VO5, MadiSalsa, Grupo Candela and others sure to get you out grooving on the dancefloor. facebook
August 2–October 5
In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Hamlet’s a bit player but the Prince of Denmark’s friends enjoy the limelight. American Players Theatre stages Tom Stoppard’s play for the first time in a season that also offers Hamlet (through October 4) in the signature outdoor Up-the-Hill theater. Arthur Miller’s All My Sons (August 9–September 28) and Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (August 11–October 20) also open this month. americanplayers.org
with Greg Hettmansberger
For more than twenty years, John and Rose Mary Harbison have found new ways to celebrate world-class music making in and around the bucolic comforts of “the barn.” Rose Mary’s family farm has become the pivot point between the summer season and the advent of fall, and with her Pulitzer Prize–winning husband and their distinguished colleagues, they offer Bach, jazz, flora and fauna.
This season the variety may be greater than ever. The Token Creek Chamber Music Festival always includes some jazz, and this year kicks off with it on August 21 and 22. With guests VocalJazz, the local members of the TCF band survey the songs of Harry Warren (“I Only Have Eyes for You,” et al.).
Composer-violinist Andrew Waggoner brings his ensemble, Open End, for concerts on August 24 and 25—programs that will also offer the premiere performances of Harbison’s Violin Sonata No. 2, performed by Rose Mary.
The next pair of concerts offer another glimpse into the possibilities of weaving Shakespeare scenes with new incidental music, along with songs and arias set to texts from the Bard by Haydn, Schubert and more recent composers.
The festival closes with a local favorite, classical scholar/pianist Robert Levin in his newest completions of unfinished movements, and many other Mozartean rarities. As always, tickets may be scarce—but worth searching out. August 21–September 1, tokencreekfestival.org
Want more classical coverage? Find Greg Hettmansberger’s Classically Speaking blog.
Katie Vaughn is managing editor of Madison Magazine. Check out her arts and entertainment blog.