5 can’t-miss Madison music events this month

Wilco at Breese Stevens Field, Central Park...
5 can’t-miss Madison music events this month

Aug. 19

Head to Breese Stevens Field for what’s sure to be one of the can’t-miss concerts of the summer. Wilco is touring the Midwest, playing its hometown of Chicago as well as Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Madison. Jeff Tweedy and crew have been hitting the road to support their most recent album, “Star Wars,” which garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album this year. “I belong to the stars in the sky,” Tweedy sings on “Random Name Generator.” And for one night, he and his fellow rockers belong to the Mad City.

Central Park Sessions
July 28; Aug. 4, 11, 12 and 18; Sept. 8

This popular-from-the-start outdoor music series brings focused “sessions” to Central Park on the near-east side. With themes ranging from Honky Tonk (July 28) to Portlander (Sept. 8), the emphasis is on great, eclectic music in a chill setting. The Small World Session (Aug. 4) combines Gypsy swing/flamenco, New Orleans jazz and eclectic Ukrainian influences, while the following week’s Irish Eyes Session highlights bands from Madison and Ireland. A special Friday event, the Saharan Session (Aug. 12), leads into Africa Fest, and La Sesión Espectacular (Aug. 18) brings together a local Latin jazz group and two bands from Colombia.

Dane Dances
Aug. 5-26

For the past 17 years, Dane Dances has run with a singular focus: Use music and dance to create community. The free Friday-night concert series held on the Monona Terrace rooftop draws thousands of people eager to get down to the sounds of local bands and DJs. This year, in addition to Primitive Culture, MadiSalsa, Davis Family, VO5, Kinfolk and Grupo Candela, the event brings in BBI and Shining Star from Chicago for an enhanced opening night. But what president Al Cooper likes best is seeing kids, older folks and people from all corners of the Madison area out on the dance floor. “It’s the coming together of the whole community,” he says.

Africa Fest
Aug. 13

Since 1998, this summertime staple has used food, music, crafts and more to celebrate the varied cultures of Africa. Organized by the African Association of Madison, the festival features performances, demonstrations and programming that showcases international guest artists. This year, enjoy a percussive performance from Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca of Congo.

Token Creek Chamber Music Festival
Aug. 27-Sept. 4

Even in a city blessed with classical music events big and small, this annual festival is undoubtedly special. Every summer since 1989, John and Rose Mary Harbison have invited music lovers to their airy barn in rural DeForest where they host concerts, lectures, forums and other chamber music treats. Renowned as much for its creative programming as its intimate environment, the festival this year welcomes musicians from Boston, Chicago and New York paired with local artists to play works by Schubert, Bach and Byrd.