Your September and October Arts Preview

By Jessica Steinhoff | Pictured: Madison Ballet, courtesy Overture Center


DOMi & JD Beck
Sept. 15, UW Memorial Union Play Circle

This pair of creative talents infuses jazz with a double dose of humor and youth, drawing inspiration from boom-bap hip-hop of the early ’90s, Pokémon soundtracks from the ’00s and artists of today they’ve collaborated with, including Thundercat and Ariana Grande.

Julian Lage
Sept. 16, High Noon Saloon

A guitarist who combines brains, technical skill and creativity in compelling ways, Lage has been known to improvise jazz and more to the rhythm of great speeches, especially those by author James Baldwin. You’re bound to float out of the venue, in a state of contemplation or even ecstasy.

S. Carey
Sept. 15, The Bur Oak

Though he’s the drummer in Bon Iver, the Madison Ballet band that made Eau Claire famous in the aughts, Carey is also well known for his vocal harmonies, which have been likened to those of “Smile”-era Brian Wilson. He’ll perform songs from a new solo album, “Break Me Open.”

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Sept. 16, 100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Equipped with saxophones, flutes and mad improvisational skills, Denson and his band can jam with the best of ’em, but they don’t just appeal to the jam-band crowd. Their intoxicating blend of funk and jazz will have even the wallflowers at Live on King Street dancing in the streets.

Chet Faker
Sept. 17, Majestic Theatre

The Aussie electronica artist who released soulful chart-climbers like 2014’s “Talk Is Cheap” back returns to the States with his latest material, an entrancing blend of moody vocals and trip-hop beats.

Omar Sosa Quarteto Americanos
Sept. 21, Overture Center

Sosa’s new ensemble weaves elements of electronic music and hip-hop into Afro- Caribbean jazz in ways that reflect the vibrancy of urban life and make sitting still virtually impossible.

Sept. 21, Majestic Theatre

Pitchfork recently likened this Chicago trio’s vibe to that feeling of “stepping outside on the first sunny day of the year.” Let the band’s punk-laced indie rock brighten your night as the autumn days get longer and darker.

Death Cab for Cutie
Sept. 22, The Sylvee

Ben Gibbard has expanded the lineup of his emo-tinged indie-rock project since releasing “Transatlanticism,” the 2003 album that turned him into a celebrity, but his sound is as recognizable as ever on 2022’s “Asphalt Meadows.” If you’re eager to tap into memories of side-swept bangs and that early internet meme of 12 dancing Badgers, this concert is one way to do it.

Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chorus’ “Infinite Joy”
Sept. 23-25, Overture Center

The symphony’s instrumentalists and singers team up to present Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, known for its ebullient finale “Ode to Joy.” Several special guests should take this performance to new heights, including soprano Laquita Mitchell, whose portrayal of Bess in San Francisco Opera’s “Porgy and Bess” earned rave reviews.

Marcus King
Sept. 24, The Sylvee

King was raised by a touring bluesman, but he isn’t your average blues-guitar virtuoso. Though his songs tend to chart in the blues world, they’re rich in R&B riffs, soulful vocals and Southern-rock sounds that show how much artists like James Brown, Otis Redding and Duane Allman have inspired and taught him. Translation: If you love music bursting with raw passion and vintage flourishes, this is your show.

Emerson String Quartet
Sept. 24, Memorial Union

It’s not every day that the staff of The Times, one of London’s most-read daily newspapers, remarks that a string quartet has restored their hope in humanity, but this ensemble managed to do it — in addition to receiving nine Grammys, the Avery Fisher Prize and many other accolades. Enjoy an all-Beethoven program at this performance.

Lucinda Williams
Sept. 24, Barrymore Theatre

“Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” the 1998 album that brought Williams commercial success, routinely appears on critics’ “best Americana ever” lists, but her most recent album, 2020’s “Good Souls Better Angels,” is giving it a run for its money. Expect its highlights to take center stage at this concert.

Old 97’s
Sept. 27, Majestic Theatre

This alt-country band has been rocking bars and concert halls for 30 years, but their tunes seem as timeless as ever, thanks to superb songcraft skills and frontman Rhett Miller’s must-see blend of charm and charisma.

Dinosaur Jr.
Sept. 28, Majestic Theatre

Extended guitar solos earned a berth in the world of indie rock thanks to this band and many acts that followed in their footsteps, including Built to Spill and Kurt Vile. Here’s your chance to see a living legend do their thing.

Grace Pettis
Sept. 28, The Bur Oak

This winner of NPR’s Mountain Stage NewSong Contest will give her Madison audience a taste of her stomping grounds — Austin, Texas — with her superb blend of country, folk and soul.

Manhattan Chamber Players
Sept. 29, Memorial Union

This gifted ensemble performs chamber music by classical greats of yore and contemporary composers of note. The program includes a Mozart clarinet quintet, a Schumann piano quintet and Andrea Casarrubios’ 2017 composition “La Libertad se Levantó Llorando,” which features a violin and cello alongside a voice reading part of a Pablo Neruda poem about the Spanish Civil War.

The Deslondes
Sept. 30, High Noon Saloon

Pulling sounds from early rock ’n’ roll, blues, zydeco and other musical traditions with strong ties to the South, this New Orleans act adds a transcendent dimension to their tunes when they incorporate psychedelic elements. Hit the High Noon to hear “Ways & Means,” their first album in five years.

The Head and the Heart
Oct. 3-4, The Sylvee

This indie folk band’s warm, acoustic sound has set the stage for emotional moments on “New Girl,” “New Amsterdam” and numerous other TV shows, and it can do the same in a concert venue. Their new album, “Every Shade of Blue,” is bound to move your heart as well as your body, so bring a pocket pack of tissues and the number of someone you want to thank for being awesome.

The Black Angels
Oct. 7, Majestic Theatre

Be among the first to hear these psych- rockers perform their new album, “Wilderness of Mirrors,” in its natural habitat: a concert hall with a top-notch sound system, a big stage and scores of sweaty, music-obsessed fans.

Oct. 8, Majestic Theatre

This lovable indie-pop collective met in New Zealand, live in the U.K . and are touring the U.S. in support of their sophomore album, “World Wide Pop,” a celebration of committee-style music-making that features guests such as Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and rap sensation Dylan Cartlidge.

The Airborne Toxic Event
Oct. 12, Majestic Theatre

Known for blending rock and electronic music in dramatic ways, often in collaboration with orchestras, this L.A. band knows a thing or two about creating a mood. “Hollywood Park,” the album this tour showcases, explores material from frontman Mikel Jollett’s bestselling memoir about growing up in the infamous Synanon cult.

King Princess
Oct. 14, The Sylvee

Calling this 23-year-old artist a rising star doesn’t quite capture the surge of success she’s experiencing. Pitchfork dubbed her a “burgeoning queer idol” back in 2019, the year she appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” and this year Rolling Stone described her as an “indie-pop visionary” before the release of her second album, “Hold On Baby.” Find your own descriptor at this show.

Lyle Lovett with John Hiatt
Oct. 14, Overture Center

Hiatt, a satire-loving troubadour who has penned songs for Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and other legends, joins Lovett, a master melder of Texan gospel, blues, country and swing, at this all-acoustic concert.

Joel Ross’ Good Vibes
Oct. 16, Memorial Union

The vibraphone is making a bid for America’s most exciting instrument thanks to this band’s namesake and leader, who uses it to conduct musical experiments that propel jazz into the future while paying homage to important people from his past.

The Knocks with Cannons
Oct. 22, The Sylvee

The Knocks holed up in their studio during the lockdown phase of the coronavirus pandemic and emerged ready to collaborate like crazy. Their efforts paid off when they were featured on “Fireworks,” Purple Disco Machine’s funky megahit from the summer of 2021. Cannons approach electronic music from a different angle, creating dreamy soundscapes and cinematic pop.

Sammy Rae & the Friends
Oct. 27, The Sylvee

With horn and rhythm sections, keyboards and plenty of backing singers, this funky yet folky band packs a punch that’ll take your breath away, especially when frontwoman Rae adds her vocal pyrotechnics to the mix.

Soccer Mommy
Oct. 29, Majestic Theatre

Though she’s most heavily influenced by fierce female artists like Mitski and Liz Phair, Soccer Mommy (aka Sophie Regina Allison) isn’t afraid to admit that she’s inspired by pop icons Taylor Swift and Natalie Imbruglia as well. See how these creative reference points shaped her new album, “Sometimes, Forever.”

George Winston
Oct. 30, Overture Center

New Orleans R&B piano is Winston’s bread and butter, but he’s also a huge fan of Vince Guaraldi, the jazz pianist famous for his Guaraldi, the jazz pianist famous for his soundtrack to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and other Peanuts TV specials. In other words, Winston might surprise the crowd with his latest interpretation of “Linus and Lucy.”


“Love’s Labour’s Lost”
Through Oct. 2, American Players Theatre, Spring Green

This early Shakespeare comedy concerns a king who forbids women from approaching his court while he and a trio of buddies attempt to focus on their studies. A French princess and her crew arrive shortly after this new rule is instituted, and hijinks ensue. Directed by APT Artistic Director Brenda DeVita, this outdoor production should put an exclamation point on the end of the 2021-22 season.

“The Moors”
Through Oct. 9, American Players Theatre, Spring Green

In Jen Silverman’s parody of the Brontë sisters’ oeuvre, a young governess arrives at a manor expecting to find a child to care for and a potential suitor, but what she finds does not meet this description. A quartet of beloved APT actors – Tracy Michelle Arnold, Kelsey Brannan, Jim DeVita and Colleen Madden – bring the major roles to life, filling the intimate Touchstone Theatre with nearly every variety of laughter.

Madison Contemporary Dance
Sept. 16, Garver Feed Mill

Breakdancing, rave culture, hip-hop dance and more inform this company’s approach to creative expression, which aims to connect people of different backgrounds through physical storytelling.

Madison Ballet “Next Steps”
Sept. 23-Oct. 2, Overture Center

World premieres abound in this program of fresh works by San Francisco choreographer Marika Brussel, Rehearsal Director Richard Walters and brand-new Artistic Director Ja’ Malik, a Cleveland Ballet alum who founded New York City’s Ballet Boy Productions, an initiative that helps young Black men excel in dance careers.

“The Mole Hill Stories”
Oct. 15-30, Madison Youth Arts Center

In this Children’s Theater of Madison production, Fox tells Mole her molehill needs to move, and Mole’s world is turned upside down. Together, Mole and her friends work together, explore new land and look up to the sky.

“Kanopy Redux: No Limits”
Oct. 20-23, Overture Center

This program of new works and old favorites is back on Overture Center’s schedule after COVID-19 forced it into hiatus back in April. The centerpiece is Pascal Rioult’s “Views of the Fleeting World,” which uses Hiroshige’s famous woodblock prints to explore musical themes by classical heavyweight J.S. Bach.


“Secret Walls”
Sept. 14, High Noon Saloon

Teams of Madison-area artists compete for bragging rights during this evening of high-energy design and illustration battles, complete with live music and a decibel meter that measures the audience’s cheer volume to help the judges choose the winners.

“Imprinted in Madison: Artists Making Their Mark”
Through Feb. 17, 2023, Madison Municipal Building

Madison’s rich history of printmaking, including work created at Tandem Press and UW-Madison’s top-ranked program, is the focus of this exhibition featuring works by 15 local talents.


Leanne Morgan
Sept. 15, Overture Center

Motherhood is a comedy goldmine for Morgan, who found her calling as a stand-up comedian by telling side- splitting stories about breastfeeding challenges, hemorrhoids from hell and other occupational hazards at jewelry- selling gatherings for moms in her native Tennessee. She’s come a long way since then, leaving audiences in stitches at the Montreal Comedy Festival and netting millions of views with her Dry Bar comedy special, “So Yummy.”

Andrea Gibson
Sept. 29, Barrymore Theatre

Poetry is both an art form and an activism tool for Gibson, whose spoken-word performances examine gender norms, the concept of love and the marginalization of LGBTQ+ people. This tour stop highlights their new book, “You Better Be Lightning,” a call for people to embrace their imperfections and be themselves unapologetically.

Gary Gulman
Oct. 14-15, Comedy on State

Gulman thrives at finding the absurd in the everyday, a skill that has taken him to the stage of nearly every major late-night TV program. Much of his recent work, including the much- lauded HBO special “The Great Depresh,” finds humor in unlikely places, such as the hospital where he sought treatment for anxiety and depression.

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