11 events on the official first weekend of autumn

Enjoy comedy, music and more

With the official arrival of autumn this week (Sept. 23) comes the first fall events in Madison. Olbrich Botanical Gardens hosts a Crackle Fire & Froth event on Friday night and the Madison Children’s Museum engages kids in a multitude of seasonal activities at its Fall Harvest Festival all day Saturday.

Concerts by Lee Ann Womack, Ben Harper and TOTO stand out, as does a live recording of the national podcast Savage Love and a few comedy shows.


Crackle, Fire & Froth, Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Friday, Sept. 27, 7-10 p.m.
Enjoy a fall evening at Olbrich Botanical Gardens this Friday when bonfires, food and beverage carts and live music are offered during the venue’s Crackle, Fire & Froth event. Wisconsin blues, soul and Americana band Craig Baumann & The Story will perform. If you can’t make this event, another Crackle, Fire & Froth will be held next Friday, Oct. 4, when the blues band the Cash Box Kings will play. Either night while you’re there, make sure to take in “GLEAM, Art in a New Light,” Olbrich’s annual display of light sculptures throughout the gardens and open to viewing Wednesdays through Saturdays until Oct. 26.

Fall Harvest Festival, Madison Children’s Museum
Saturday, Sept. 28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
A day’s worth of activities for kids related to fall harvesting is happening at the Madison Children’s Museum on Saturday. The Fall Harvest Festival will get kids carding wool, decorating gourds, making a mandala and cooking seasonal foods. The Suzuki Strings of Madison will perform at 1 p.m.


Lee Ann Womack, Stoughton Opera House
Thursday, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Country singer-songwriter Lee Ann Womack returns Thursday to the Stoughton Opera House where the acoustics suit her superb vocal abilities. While she has recorded several albums of traditional country music, her latest, 2018’s “The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone,” references other genres. Expect Womack to play “I Hope you Dance,” her big crossover hit of 2000.

The New Pornographers, Majestic Theatre
Friday, Sept. 27, 8:30 p.m.
Indie-rock band The New Pornographers will release a new album, “In the Morse Code of Break Lights,” on Friday — the same day the band plays the Majestic. So expect to hear a lot of the new material. And if it’s like any of The New Pornographers’ back catalog, it will be full of catchy, melodies and clever lyrics.

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, The Sylvee
Friday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m.
Ben Harper brings his guitar slinging and singing skills with his band, the Innocent Criminals, to The Sylvee Friday night. The three-time Grammy Award winner and international activist has released a dozen albums. The most recent, “No Mercy in This Land,” was recorded with renown blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite and released last year.

“Love, Lust & Redemption,” Madison Symphony Orchestra, Overture Hall, Overture Center for the Arts
Friday, Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 28. 8 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 29, 2:30 p.m.
“Love, Lust & Redemption” is the title of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s program this weekend, featuring its organist Greg Zelek in his first MSO concerto. Romantic music by classical composers Wagner, Debussy, Dvořák and Barber played by the full orchestra will produce a moving experience in the large concert hall.

TOTO, Orpheum Theater
Sunday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m.
TOTO, the progressive rock band that reached its commercial peak in the 1970s an ’80s, endures. The band marked its 40th anniversary in 2018 and it’s two-year tour “40 Trips Around The Sun” finds its way to Madison on Sunday. Known for its hits “Rosanna,” “Africa” and others, TOTO has sold more than 40 million copies of its 14 albums. A sing-along concert it will be at the Orpheum.


Savage Love Live, Barrymore Theatre
Friday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m.
Madison’s own Dan Savage brings his popular Savage Love sex advice podcast to the Barrymore Theatre. Get there early to submit in writing your sex and relationship questions and the man himself may answer them.


Comedy & Artistry Night
Thursday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m.
A deep pool of stand-up comics and hip-hop performers from Madison and Milwaukee are due to take the stage for Comedy and Artistry night Thursday at Art In. First up, the comedians (Bennett Brown, Jeff Spankowski, Mo. B, Big C, Will Isenberg and Sasha Rosse) followed by the rappers and MCs (K. SANKOFA, Shaun Vyse, J-Terror, Zayy, Yuung AB, Amyr and Hunchogang Jay).

Geoffrey Asmus, Comedy on State
Thursday-Friday, Sept. 26-27, 8 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 27, 10:30 p.m.
No one apparently doublechecked Geoffrey Asmus’ residency before he was awarded both “Funniest Person in Madison 2015” and “Funniest Person in Iowa 2015” titles. He’ll definitely be in Madison this weekend, however, performing three shows at Comedy on State.

Ismo Leikola, Barrymore Theatre
Saturday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m.
After writing and starring in his own sitcom in Finland, “ISMO,” Ismo Leikola made his way to America and his English-as-a-second language, foreigner-abroad schtick has earned him a praise from stand-up comedy fans and critics.

Joel Patenaude is associate editor of Madison Magazine.