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A “music city” study and “Tokyo Godfathers”

Plus more events we recommend checking out in Madison, December 5 through 11 edition.
An illustration shows multi-colored images of a keyboard, a turntable, a microphone, speakers, a "play" button," and sliders and indicators from a soundboard, all arranged in a grid-like pattern.
Illustration by Shasya Sidebottom.

Plus more events we recommend checking out in Madison, December 5 through 11 edition.

We’re partnering with the wonderful independent email newsletter Madison Minutes to bring you event recommendations every week. Some of these write-ups will appear in Madison Minutes‘ weekly event email, and all of which will appear here.

A few notes: This events roundup is, as before, selective and not comprehensive. Each week, we’ll focus on a handful of things our editors and writers find compelling, and that’s it. We’ll write up a few of them, and just list a few more. It’ll take us a while to get back to full strength with this part of our coverage, because we’ve had so many other exciting, demanding things to work on lately. Please reach out to us with suggestions—and info about your event, as long as you’re able to get it to us a few weeks in advance—at [email protected].

DECEMBER 8

Greater Madison Music City Music Recovery Framework Release Party at Café Coda. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Greater Madison Music City (GMMC) project grew out of years-long efforts to address racial disparities in the local music community, especially the lack of resources and opportunities for hip-hop artists and musicians of color. Under the GMMC banner, Madison’s Urban Community Arts Network (UCAN) and the consulting firm Sound Diplomacy have collaborated over the past couple of years on a first-of-its-kind study of music in Madison and Dane County, with funding from the City of Madison and Dane Arts. More specifically, GMMC is focusing on the economics and policy landscape at play in local music. 

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GMMC’s first report, released in summer 2021, provided an overview of the economic impact of music in the area, and painted a stark picture of who benefits and who misses out. On December 8, GMMC will release its latest report, which makes a number of recommendations for improving the economic lot of musicians, building up music-driven tourism (arts funding and tourism are very intertwined in city government, for good or ill), and leveling the playing field for marginalized audiences and artists.

At this Café Coda event, GMMC will be presenting the report, and hopefully initiating a lot more conversation—and of course there will be music, from DJ M. White. The details of the report don’t become public until the start of the event, but its findings and recommendations will be worth grappling with. Look for more detailed coverage from Tone Madison once that’s out.

—Scott Gordon

DECEMBER 9

Tony Barba Blood Moon Quartet at North Street Cabaret. 8 p.m. $15.

Saxophonist Tony Barba’s 2020 album Blood Moon introduced a distinct new dimension in an already unpredictable career spanning many corners of jazz and electronic music. On the record, Chicago guitarist Matt Gold, Madison bassist John Christensen, and Milwaukee drummer Devin Drobka joined Barba to flesh out his original compositions, which leave plenty of room for non-jazz influences and plenty of room for color and mood. From the brisk title track to the bittersweet drift of “The Long Haul,” these pieces are remarkable showcases of each musician’s rich sonic palette. The Blood Moon quartet will continue to explore their expansive chemistry at this show, with at least a couple of new compositions in their repertoire.

—Scott Gordon

Tokyo Godfathers at Union South Marquee. 9 p.m. Free.

Satoshi Kon may be best known for his animated, surrealistic, psychological thrillers, so Tokyo Godfathers (2003) may stand out in writer-director-character designer’s oeuvre as a rollicking buddy adventure that just happens to be Christmas-themed. But it’s quite a natural follow-up to Kon’s postmodernist masterpiece Millennium Actress (2001), about a reclusive movie star modeled after the real-life Setsuko Hara (of Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Story).

Tokyo Godfathers boasts a restless pacing and zany energy contained in the dynamic between its trio of drifters—the gruff drunkard Gin (voiced by Tōru Emori), boisterous trans woman Hana (Yoshiaki Umegaki), and penitent teen runaway Miyuki (Aya Okamoto)—who find an abandoned newborn baby on Christmas Eve and collectively set out to locate her parents based on a mere photograph left at the scene. Through their rag-tag detective work, the trio uncover truths of their own characters and shortcomings in tragicomic fashion, realizing they may not be radically different from the struggling parents who saw themselves as incapable of caring for a child.

While something about the film’s developments may feel curbed in its concise 92-minute running time, Kon’s compellingly larger-than-life staging and beautifully diverse visual flourishes elevate its dramatic rushes through the snowy streets and alleys of Tokyo. Miyuki’s fantastical dream and Hana’s reflective haiku, in particular, both offer ruminative respites that showcase the miraculous depths of Kon’s talent that’s deeply missed today.

WUD Film will be screening the Japanese language version with English subtitles, and also on December 10 at 6:30 p.m. 

—Grant Phipps

Carroll/Artry/Ward at Arts + Literature Laboratory. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m. $15 advance, $20 doors.

Pretty From A Distance, Comingle at Bur Oak. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m. $12 advance, $15 doors.

Toni (1935) at UW Cinematheque. Doors at 6:30 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. Free.

DECEMBER 10

Eastside Winter Market at Garver Feed Mill. 11 a.m. Free.

The first day of the two-day Eastside Winter Market will feature a dozen sets of music, heavy on Madison- and Wisconsin-based acts, as sonic complement to the local artists and makers selling their wares. (Full disclosure: Tone Madison‘s partner organization, Communication Madison, organizes this event.) Things kick off at 11:05 a.m. with the return of queercore project Woke Up Crying, in the form of a solo set from singer-guitarist Doug Rowe. Flinty but wistful songs like “Sweater Weather,” from the 2020 EP 3:27 a.m., should translate well in a stripped-down setting. The lineup that recorded the EP has since split, but Rowe has been writing some new material and working on putting together another full-band incarnation of Woke Up Crying. 

The day’s music will conclude in different territory altogether, with a 4:55 p.m. set from electronic artist Hendrix Gullixson, who got his start in Madison under the name Syneva. Currently based in Minneapolis and performing under just his first name, Gullixson has gradually evolved his icy ambient vision into something more textured and flexible, embracing samples and abstraction on recent tracks like “Blue October.” Other highlights on the bill include jazz-inflected singer-songwriter Carisa (2 p.m.), a two-piece set from Benjamin Rose and Alex Nelson of mighty queer pop outfit Kat And The Hurricane (2:35 p.m.), and psychedelic voyager Def Sonic (3:45 p.m.).

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—Scott Gordon

Disq, Ratboys, Godly The Ruler at High Noon Saloon. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m. $15 advance, $17 doors.

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