Arts and Culture

9 events this weekend, including the last three summer festivals

Enjoy festivals on Monroe and Willy streets

Not to drum up west side versus east side animosity, but the Monroe Street Festival and Willy Street Fair are both happening this weekend. While the Monroe Street event on Saturday will have animals on hand courtesy of the nearby Henry Vilas Zoo, the second of the two days of the Willy Street Fair doubles as the Madison World Music Festival. 

Just saying. Both are gold-standard, late summer, family-oriented events.

Music is served elsewhere, too. Read on for more.


"Catch Him if You Can: A Night with Frank Abagnale," Overture Hall, Overture Center for the Arts
Thursday, Sept. 12, 6 p.m.
For several years as a young man, Frank Abagnale posed as an airline pilot, doctor and attorney. He also forged checks worth millions of dollars — until he was caught and sent to prison (escaping from one federal penitentiary) and ultimately served five years. For the past 40 years, Abagnale has worked as a security consultant, including for the FBI — the same agency that chased him decades ago. His memoir "Catch Me If You Can" became a movie in 2002 with Abagnale played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Abagnale gives a free talk at Overture Hall having joined forces with the AARP Fraud Watch Network to advise people on how to avoid identity theft. And who would know better?

Monroe Street Festival, Monroe Street
Saturday, Sept. 14, 9:30 a.m.-5: p.m.
With street sales, children's activities and live entertainment, the Monroe Street Fair is the perfect way to spend a weekend. For kids, there will be face painting, glitter tattoos, a sidewalk art contest, animals from the Henry Vilas Zoo, a bouncy castle and more. On a music stage near Trader Joe's several bands will perform, including the Forward! Marching Band, Mad City Funk and Panchromatic Steel.

Willy Street Fair, Williamson Street
Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 14-15
The Willy Street Fair, now in its 42nd year, can be counted on to offer excellent food and great live music. In addition to many vendors and local restaurant offerings, four music stages dedicated to world music, hip-hop, folk and more will be jumping all weekend. Saturday's lineup includes the Madison-based Brazilian band Samba Novistas, Dash Hounds, Lou & Peter Berryman and Twin Cities DJ Amy Pickett among others. And Sunday you can catch Madison rocker Kelsey Miles, indie Proud Parents and the Yid Vicious Klezmer Ensemble. 


Morgan Heritage, High Noon Saloon
Thursday, Sept. 12, 8 p.m.
Two-time Grammy Award-winning reggae band Morgan Heritage comes to the High Noon Saloon. Madison. The family band — initially comprised almost entirely of the children reggae artist Denroy Martin — won the Best Reggae Album Grammy for "Strictly Roots" and "Avrakedabra" in 2016 and 2019. Your chance to see the internationally touring band is Thursday night. 

Prof, Live on King Street
Friday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m.
Minneapolis-based rapper and singer Prof headlines the last free concert in the 2019 Live on King Street series. He will be preceded by Twin Cities rappers Cashinova, Taylor J Takeover, CRASHprez (formerly of Madison) and Willie Wonka.

Madison World Music Festival, Memorial Union & Willy Street Fair
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 13-14
The Memorial Union Terrace will host the Friday performances of the two-day Madison World Music Festival. Musicians and dancer from Italy, Cape Verde, Peru and Chad will bring their art and culture to the terrace from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Then on Saturday, the performance stage moves to the Willy Street Fair, featuring artists from Brazil, Madagascar, Niger and Honduras. The final Saturday night performance is back at the terrace: Angolan singer and dancer Vivalda Dula. 

Capital Land Music Festival, Sun Prairie Performing Arts Center, Sun Prairie
Saturday, Sept. 14, 6 p.m.
Soul, funk and R&B will reverberate from the Sun Prairie Performing Arts Center on host Saturday as it hosts the Capital Land Music Fest. The long-running SOS Band, pop-dance music diva Bobbi Storm, the self-explanatory James Brown Dance Party and the salsa-and-soul combo Orquesta Salsoul Del Mad are all set to keep the dance party going.

The Head and the Heart, The Sylvee
Sunday-Monday, Sept. 15-16, 8 p.m.
Indie-folk standard-bearers The Head and the Heart sold out their Sunday night show at The Sylvee so a second show on Monday night was added. American indie folk music to new heights. The band is touring in support of their fourth album, "Living Mirage," which was released in May.


Nick Offerman, Orpheum Theater
Friday, Sept. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Far more than Ron Swanson, the character he inhabited on the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation," Nick Offermen is also a comedian, author, boat builder and woodworker. See what more the renaissance man can do when his All Rise Tour stops Friday night at the Orpheum.

Joel Patenaude is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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