Need motivation to get through another dreaded week at your soul-sucking job? There’s no shortage of cool stuff to do in Madison… it’s just figuring out which cool stuff best suits you. Here’s what Madison is doing this week.
John K. Samson
Monday, Nov. 25, High Noon Saloon (info)
Few artists have impacted me like The Weakerthans. The bookish Canadian pop punk quartet is responsible for some of my favorite lyrics ever (“let the toast to absent members push through the ceiling”). And that’s all due to head honcho John K. Samson. One of rock’s greatest storytellers, the unassuming Samson is hyper-observant. His songs are full of little details that make you feel like they’re about you — even if you’ve never curled before in your life. Support comes from his wife, singer/songwriter Christine Fellows, as well as Christopher Gold.
‘They Say It Can’t Be Done’
Monday, Nov. 25, The Marquee at Union South (info)
As Earthlings (or “Terrans,” if you’re a Marvel fan), there are quite a few existential threats to our life on this planet. Michael Ozias’ documentary They Say it Can’t Be Done seeks to offer solutions to four of them in particular: climate change, global hunger, organ waitlists, and ocean pollution. And it does so by taking a close look at four companies working to solve these problems through their own innovative spirit. It’s an intriguing look at good ol’ fashioned American ingenuity. (And it’s also a chance to see this film before it officially comes out in 2020.)
Tuesday through Sunday (except Thursday), Nov. 26-Dec. 1, Overture Hall (info)
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is near-universally beloved and sells out everywhere it goes. As you probably know, it’s the story of statesman Alexander Hamilton — from his youth in the West Indies to his distinguished career as one of the founding fathers of the United States. Performances began here last week and will continue Dec. 3-8.
Wednesday, Nov. 27, Comedy on State (info)
Now in its 15th year, Kevin Bozeman’s night-before-Thanksgiving comedy show is a Madison tradition. Each year the comic (who got his start doing stand-up here in town) brings a surprise crew of his friends — all of whom are nationally touring comics — to Comedy on State for a night of laughter. It’s a perfect way to relax before heading off the next day to explain to your extended family what exactly a “contributing editor” is and why you couldn’t have just gone into marketing like your cousin. (Personally, I’d blame Bozeman… he was one of my college professors.)
Latin Music Fest
Wednesday, Nov. 27, Majestic Theatre (info)
Add a little Latin flavor to your usual turkey and stuffing this year. The 12th annual Latin Music Fest will feature an unbeatable bill of local Latin acts that includes The Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Band, Orquesta Salsoul Del Mad, Grupo Rebulo and DJ Rumba. And if you don’t know how to dance, fear not: Francis Medrano will provide lessons from 8-9:15 p.m.
Found Footage Festival
Friday, Nov. 29, Barrymore Theatre (info)
Comedy vets and Madison natives Joe Pickett (The Onion) and Nick Prueher (The Colbert Report) will return home to present the ninth edition of the Found Footage Festival. Here you’ll find only the best bad VHS treasures, including home video from a Canadian hose factory and a sadly-forgotten fitness trend called “Jugglercise.” Come out and celebrate the warm, grainy nostalgia of the videocassette generation.
Celebration of Tom Petty
Friday, Nov. 29, Majestic Theatre (info)
It’s been more than two years since Tom Petty took his final journey into the great wide open, and there’s a notable Petty-shaped hole in the modern music landscape. Fill it by celebrating the legendary rocker’s life and music with a stacked lineup of local folk rock musicians. Driveway Thriftdwellers, WheelHouse, Civil Engineers and Dan Tedesco will pay their respects to the genius behind Damn the Torpedoes and Full Moon Fever.
Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29-30, Comedy on State (info)
Josh Gondelman is one of the sharpest minds in comedy. He’s written for uproariously funny folks like John Oliver and the Bodega Boys, but Gondelman is at his best when he’s his own sweet, empathetic self. The 34-year-old has a book out called Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results. It’s a lot like his stand-up material, full of anecdotes from the comic’s own experiences making lemons out of lemonade. But as funny as the book is, it’s better to just hear it straight from Gondelman’s mouth.
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Saturday, Nov. 30, TCF Bank Stadium / ABC (info)
The Badgers travel to Minneapolis and will hopefully return with some hardware. The hated Gophers took home Paul Bunyan’s Axe last year, snapping a 14-game winning streak for UW. But now there’s even more on the line than bragging rights — the winner of this game will play (The) Ohio State next week for the Big Ten championship.
‘The Last Waltz’ and Beyond
Saturday, Nov. 30, High Noon Saloon (info)
The Band’s Scorsese-directed final gig The Last Waltz is the greatest concert film ever. Here, a star-studded collection of local musicians will play the role of the legendary group (and its impressive cast of collaborators, including Bob Dylan and Neil Young), including members of Pine Travelers, Nuggernaut, The People Brothers Band and others. This will also double as a food drive for Second Harvest food bank, so bring something non-perishable for $2 off your ticket.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage
Saturday, Nov. 30, Orpheum Theater (info)
A Charlie Brown Christmas is a towering piece of holiday media. There’s a reason families have been watching America’s favorite blockhead since 1965: the story is sweet, earnest and even manages to get into the Christian history of Christmas without being too preachy about it. Here you can watch it performed live on stage, actually putting you in the audience of the pageant within the special. If anything, it will be worth it to see how the handle the chaotic dancing of the Peanuts gang.
Reina del Cid
Sunday, Dec. 1, High Noon Saloon (info)
There’s a lot to like about Reina del Cid (born Rachelle Cordova). The Minneapolis musician and her band play an amorphous brand of folk, able to suit the sensibilities of everyone from jam band aficionados to indie rock enthusiasts. She makes accessible tunes that don’t shed their intricacies for listenability. Don’t believe me? Just ask any of the 30-odd million viewers who have watched her YouTube series Sunday Mornings with Reina del Cid. Her new album Morse Code was released in October.