Sinking Suns, Tony Barba, BingBong, a Draw-In, and more events of note in the final days of 2017. | By Ian Adcock, Emili Earhart, Scott Gordon, Reid Kurkerewicz, and Chris Lay
Sponsor message: The weekly Tone Madison calendar is made possible with support from Union Cab of Madison, a worker-owned cooperative providing safe and professional taxi services.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 21
Bad Cinema: The Long Kiss Goodnight. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
While the Madison Public Library’s Bad Cinema series has mostly focused on bottom-of-the-barrel trash filmmaking from the 1980s, it’s nice to see that its curators haven’t forgotten the world of 1990s overblown Hollywood bombs. The Long Kiss Goodnight, released in 1996, is maybe not so much a bad movie as it is a completely out-of-control one, with a sprawling storyline weighing down performances from two of the era’s most charismatic actors. Despite the film’s multi-million dollar budget, the plot isn’t much different from those of a million B-movies before it: Geena Davis is an amnesiac schoolteacher who gradually remembers she’s a highly-trained assassin, and Samuel L. Jackson is (of course) the wise-cracking low-rent detective who helps her discover her past. Screenwriter Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) delivered a script overflowing with memorable asides and one-liners, while director Renny Harlin came into it with some experience helming action movies, including Die Hard 2 (and some notorious turkeys, such as Cutthroat Island, starring his then-wife Davis). Despite their combined experience, Harlin and Black seem to have forgotten the maxim that an action movie is only as good as its villains, and the villains of The Long Kiss Goodnight aren’t especially memorable. Ultimately the big-budget explosive showdown finale isn’t nearly as interesting as the developing friendship of odd couple Davis and Jackson. Still, The Long Kiss Goodnight is worth watching just for Davis’ incredible performance as a person two battling identities in the same body. —Ian Adcock
Draw-In. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7 p.m. (free)
Art students and those interested in #fineart have probably heard about relational aesthetics. According to the progenitor of the term, French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud, relational aesthetics are “artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations… rather than an independent and private space.” A bit obtuse, but it’s actually a good way to approach Arts + Literature Laboratory’s monthly Draw-In event. Think about the drawings you produce as in relation to everyone else’s productions, and recognize how your hands are being manipulated by the other hands and bodies in the room. Think about the professional illustrators hosting the event, Rachal Duggan (a Tone Madison contributor) and Tommy Washbush, as curators of a community-art experience whose power is decentralized through the participants. Participants are asked to bring your own supplies, and objects for people to draw as still-lifes. Consider the artistic pressure these objects will exert that, ideally leading to the production of pleasing or interesting drawings. During this two-hour event, held on the third Thursday of every month, one can also consider how the linear flow of time is being managed to draw artists together into a singular space. —Reid Kurkerewicz
FRIDAY DECEMBER 22
Matthew Coley. First Unitarian Society of Madison, 7 p.m.
Iowa-based musician and composer Matthew Coley has had a presence in Madison over the past couple of years as a member of the percussion-centered new-music ensemble Clocks In Motion. While the marimba is his main instrument—and he directs the multi-faceted Heartland Marimba Festival—Coley’s virtuosity also extends to hammered dulcimers, which has made quite a treat for anyone who’s caught CIM lately. He plays here on a holiday tour that focuses on a mix of Bach and Christmas carols, all performed on solo marimba. He has promised “athletic arrangements” of “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Frosty The Snowman,” among other holiday tunes. The Bach selections will draw from book II of the composer’s Well-Tempered Clavier collection, kicking off a longer-term project in which Coley plans to play all the compositions from that book across a number of performances around the country. —Scott Gordon
Nate Craig. Brink Lounge, 8 p.m.
It’s been almost a year since Nate Craig headlined What A Joke, the anti-Trump comedy fest at the Majestic, which means the Madison native has had ample time to build up even more pointedly political material. Every year Craig’s been baking a show and a charity event into his holiday travels home to Madison from LA and this year will be no different. You can catch his immensely entertaining act, equal parts head of the class and class clown, at the Brink Lounge this Friday and then the next day he’ll be handling MC duties at Alt’n Bach’s for Townie Fest 9. That Saturday event will center on a raffle that benefits the Aaron Myers Foundation, a local organization that provides housing options and activity opportunities for college students in substance abuse recovery. Craig brings some extra good tidings with him for 2018, according to the Cap Times, in the form of a recently announced role in the upcoming Netflix show Maniacs, which wrapped last month. —Chris Lay
Lungwrecker, The Flavor That Kills, Novagolde. Frequency, 8 p.m.
Before he moved to Chicago a few years back, Dave Labedz left his imprint on Madison as both a comedian and a musician. His impishly clever, often brutal, stand-up made him a highlight at Madison’s assorted open mics, and he was the lead vocalist for a solid death-metal band called Buried Future. He visits here as bassist and vocalist for a Chicago trio called Lungwrecker, which plays a grimey mix of country, blues, and punk. Sharing the bill are R&B-infused Madison band The Flavor That Kills and psych-rock trio Novagolde. —Scott Gordon
Ben Ferris Octet Holiday Party. North Street Cabaret, 8 p.m.
Bassist Ben Ferris has played in a number of ensembles around town since studying at UW-Madison under Richard Davis. In addition to his quintet, which released its debut album last year, and the adventurously twisted quartet Mr. Chair, Ferris plays with an almost entirely different crop of local musicians here in celebration of the holidays. His octet—consisting of brass players Paul Dietrich and Darren Sterud, keyboardist Dave Stoler, saxophonists Nicholas Bartell, Jon Hoel, and Luke Busch, and percussionist Michael Koszewski—are joined by vocalist Rose Heckenkamp-Busch for this performance. These musicians are aware that not everyone in attendance prefers Christmas music. So, they leave it up to the audience to decide what’s on the program. Audience members are encouraged to come prepared to vote via the classic dual-tip-jar technique: Christmas tunes or not. Whatever the audience decides, the Ben Ferris Octet will undoubtedly provide thoughtful, energetic, and tight interpretations of jazz standard favorites. —Emili Earhart
THURSDAY DECEMBER 28
Matt Joyce, Straka & Sphynx, Sinking Suns. Crystal Corner Bar, 8 p.m.
Madison band Sinking Suns has been around in one form or another for 10 years now, developing a sparse, cutting strain of noise-rock with a backdrop of eerie atmosphere. The trio’s one full-length album so far, 2016’s Death Songs, also captures the surprising variety of this approach, from the whirling, stormy rhythms of “Skeleton Man” to the Rocket From The Crypt-like surf infusion of “Headstones.” This past year, Sinking Suns contributed a track to an Unsane tribute compilation and have been gradually recording a new album planned for release at some point in 2018. Sinking Suns will mostly focus on new material as they play a set at this benefit for WORT-FM, sharing the bill with Midwest Beat singer guitarist Matt Joyce and Madison rock outfit Straka & Sphynx. —Scott Gordon
FRIDAY DECEMBER 29
Tony Barba Quartet. North Street Cabaret, 8 p.m.
Saxophonist Tony Barba operates in several different circles in and out of the Madison jazz scene. In addition to his own solo explorations with looped, effect-heavy sax, Barba plays in afro-Peruvian jazz ensemble Golpe Tierra, the Youngblood Brass band, and the Johannes Wallmann Quartet, among others. For this quartet appearance, Barba collaborates with three heavily involved musicians from Madison and Milwaukee. Trumpeter Jamie Breiwick can be heard shredding in Milwaukee’s Lesser Lakes Trio and leads his own quartet, which includes Barba. Two local performers and educators—bassist Nick Moran (The New Breed, Sinister Resonance, Golpe Tierra) and percussionist Matt Endres (Old Style Sextet)—play here as well, performing originals and standards in the quartet. —Emili Earhart
SATURDAY DECEMBER 30
The Square Bombs, BingBong, Cindy Set My Hair On Fire. High Noon Saloon, 7 p.m.
The name BingBong doesn’t really give you a lot of clues as to what a band is offering, but the Madison quartet’s amiable, unpretentious hooks connect. Pam Barrett and Danny Hicks’ largely clean-toned guitars give the songs a jangly feel, with a little bit of overdriven power-pop kick reinforced by bassist Julie Kiland and drummer Brian Bentley. Barrett’s lead vocals achieve a similar balance of well-crafted, unforced melody and bite. (Barrett’s previous band, The Motor Primitives, was often compared to the Pretenders, and BingBong also acknowledge their music has an “early ’80s vibe.”) The band recently released two singles, “Tangled” and “It’s Complicated.” Both are from their debut album, Pop Restoration, due out in February on vinyl and CD. —Scott Gordon