Faun Fables, UW Cinematheque’s summer finale, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Chris Lay, Scott Gordon, Joel Shanahan
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.
608-242-2000 | @unioncabcoop
THURSDAY JULY 28
“The Little Foxes.” Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
The UW Cinematheques quartet of screenings centered around “The Rhapsodes: How 1940s Critics Changed American Film Culture,” the new book by UW-Madison film professor David Bordwell, will wrap up tonight with William Wyler’s southern fried turn-of-the-century melodrama “The Little Foxes.” With a screenplay written by Lillian Hellman, based on her hit Broadway play of the same name, the film follows Regina Hubbard Giddens (Bette Davis) through some elegantly orchestrated soap opera plot-beat gymnastics. The film landed a boat load of Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and the anachronistically specific “Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White,” but sadly it didn’t win any categories. —Chris Lay
Diana Ross. Overture Hall, 7:30 p.m.
With her crystalline voice and an arsenal of immaculate hooks, Motown legend, actress and all-around survivor Diana Ross has built an unparalleled legacy as one of the most successful and respected pop artists of all time. Also, a capsule preview doesn’t allow a fraction of the infinite space needed to capture Ross’ (and The Supremes’) importance to the Civil Rights Movement, women’s rights, or the LGBT community, but much of this can certainly be felt in her music (also, for further reading, check out her 1993 memoir “Secrets Of A Sparrow”). From her insane catalog of vocal-pop perfection with The Supremes throughout the 60s, to when she broke off as a solo artist in the 70s and journeyed through R’n’B and disco, and all the way to her immaculate, Chic-produced full-length in 1980’s “Diana,” the scope of Ross’ influence is unquantifiable. —Joel Shanahan
The Minotaurs, Come Holy Spirit, Kazmir. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
On this year’s long-player “Grand Island,” Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Come Holy Spirit blend raw, post-punk intensity with a jammy looseness, which allows the album to traverse equally visceral and heady territories. Album-opener “Size Of The Dog” sets a moody tone from the jump with sloping, technical percussion and jangly, meandering guitar riffs, and the confrontational wailing of bassist-vocalist Gina Favano. Another highlight, Metabolic,” rides on a hammering, polyrhythmic feel, as hypnotic vocals soar over droning strums. With “Crone,” the band restrains the typically the busy drumwork to unify and lock in fully to its ominous stomp, before the tempo is gradually jacked up and sends the tune flying into sonic chaos. —JS
John Roy. Comedy Club on State, through July 30, see link for all showtimes.
The list of comedians I insist on seeing every time they come through town is relatively short, but right there towards the top is John Roy, who happens to be recording his new album this weekend at the Comedy Club On State (and I interviewed a short while back), so my personal expectations are even higher than usual. Roy’s shows tend to move pretty fast, thanks to his visible enthusiasm for his story-oriented material which is loaded with punchlines, resulting in what I described as a “locked groove of laughs.” Robert Jenkins features and Jake Snell hosts. —CL
Central Park Sessions: Marcia Ball, Nikki Hill, Beth Kille. Central Park, 5 p.m. (free)
Louisiana-raised pianist and singer Marcia Ball has spent more than 40 years as a contemporary blues staple. Despite playing an occasional R&B ballad like “Find Another Fool,” Ball has mostly pursued a blend of stomping, shuffling Texas blues and rollicking, exuberant piano melodies inspired by New Orleans greats like Professor Longhair. On the surface it might seem corny to listeners who aren’t in the core roots-music-obsessed audience for a series like the Central Park Sessions, but Ball is a badass pianist with a deep understanding of the different musical traditions she’s braiding together. —Scott Gordon
FRIDAY JULY 29
Rockstar Gomeroke: Bye For Now. High Noon Saloon, 5:30 p.m.
Madison band The Gomers, who marked their 30th anniversary last year, are primarily known for two things: Crafting comedically warped, sonically-all-over-the-place original recordings with a strong whiff of parody, and their wildly popular weekly live-band-karaoke residency at the High Noon. This has been a tough year for the band: Bass player Gordon Ranney died in February, guitarist Stephen Burke is planning to live abroad for a while, and multi-instrumentalist Biff Blumfumgagnge works as a touring guitar tech for King Crimson and Robert Fripp. Hence this epic edition of Gomeroke—running from 5:30 to midnight—marks the start of a hiatus, though maybe it won’t be permanent. Even if you’re not one of the devoted folks who come out every week to sing something from the band’s 1,500-plus-title song list, there’s no denying what The Gomers have contributed to local musicians and fans over the years. They’re a staggeringly gifted bunch of musicians who’ve played in a bunch of different bands and projects over the years, from psych-punk outfit Cement Pond to the whimsical Balkan ensemble Reptile Palace Orchestra. And using all that skill to give amateur singers a chance to perform with a really solid band rather than a canned backing track? It’s a job, sure, but there’s something beautiful and generous about it too. —SG
The King Of Comedy. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Martin Scorsese started the 1980s with “Raging Bull” and ended them with “Goodfellas” in 1990. Between those two pop cultural touchstones are some of his most interesting but lesser works including “After Hours,” “The Last Temptation Of Christ,” and “The Color of Money.” All of these are ripe for reevaluation, but arguably the best of the bunch is 1983’s madcap King Of Comedy, starring Robert DeNiro, Jerry Lewis, and Sandra Bernhard (in her first breakout role), which will wrap up the UW Cinematheque’s grab bag Summer Specials lineup. DeNiro plays Rupert Pupkin whose only dream is to get a shot at performing comedy on the late night show hosted by Jerry Langford (Lewis). The only problem is that Pupkin (easily one of the most perfectly named characters in the history of cinema) can’t write a decent joke to save his life. He teams up with a Langford stalker (Bernhard), and hatches the extremely flawed plan to kidnap the talk show host as a means of getting his big break and, as expected, all hell breaks loose. Scorsese is well known for his more bro-ey fare, but here we get to see his twisted sense of (pitch black) humor take center stage. Don’t miss your shot at seeing this underrated eighties gem with an audience. —CL
Sinking Suns, The Square Bombs, Roboman. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
Madison trio Sinking Suns unceremoniously released their first proper full-length album, Death Songs, last week, and it expands on the harsh, invigorating post-punk they’ve been playing since 2007. Songs like “Firewater,” “Headstones,” and “Skeleton Man” offer all the warmth and comfort of being swaddled in rusty chicken wire, but still pull a variety of styles into the band’s austere orbit, from sludgy doom to barbed surf-rock. This resourceful yet no-frills approach works particularly well live. Sinking Suns members Dennis Ponozzo, Scott Udee, and Gabe Johnson discussed the record with us on the latest Tone Madison podcast. —SG
SATURDAY JULY 30
Colvin & Earle. Capitol Theater, 8 p.m.
Whenever I catch wind of some slickly produced, late-stage collaborations between folkies or rockstars, it’s hard not to think of it like the very anticlimactic arrival of a spacecraft—waiting patiently to abduct NPR addicts and members of the Barnes & Noble rewards program into the hype. That said this year’s “Colvin & Earle,” a collaboration between folk-pop overlord Shawn Colvin and storied lefty troubadour Steve Earle, is actually pretty solid. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Colvin noted an effortlessness in harmonizing with Earle, and when jamming through a tune like “You’re Right (I’m Wrong),” that chemistry is tough to ignore. Stompy acoustic strumming rolls out under a fuzzy coat of guitar accents, while Colvin and Earle’s moody vocals intertwine in harmony with gritty perfection. —JS
Disco Brunch. Robinia Courtyard, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Continuing the longtime pop-up DJ residency shared by Madisonian vinyl prince Zukas and veteran deck-shredder Vilas Park Sniper, this latest installment of the sporadic Disco Brunch series goes down at the Robinia Courtyard. It will serve as a launch party for Konga Buzz IPA, a local collaboration between Great Dane Brewery and Kin-Kin Coffee. While an event with a name like Disco Brunch may feel gimmicky, both DJs are deep selectors and fully capable of conjuring a vibe to help shake that Sunday grog out of your skull. —JS
Post Social, Midnight Reruns, Cedarwell, Dash Hounds. High Noon Saloon, 9:30 p.m.
The members of jangly guitar-pop outfit Post Social have been playing music together since they met elementary school on Madison’s east side, and were still just going on 18 when they released their self-titled debut album in 2014. At this show they celebrate the release of their third album, Casablanca. It follows the April release of an endearingly quirky single “Guac Bomb”/”Poster Boy,” and the band recently posted a set of demos from the making of the new album. —SG
Disability Pride Festival: Gaelynn Lea, Jonny T-Bird And The MPs, Tani Diakite And The Afrofunkstars. Brittingham Park, noon (free)
Duluth-based violinist and singer Gaelynn Lea crafts rich and atmospheric solo recordings that draw on harmonic elements from classical music and American and Celtic folk traditions. Her 2015 album All The Roads That Lead Us Home uses a loop pedal to stack her violin phrases into tasteful but never over-crowded arrangements, and her duo with Low guitarist Alan Sparhawk, The Murder Of Crows, released a starkly gorgeous album in 2012’s Imperfecta. Lea has been in the news this year after winning NPR’s Tiny Desk contest, but she’s also been playing music for 20 years, learning violin as a childhood and collaborating with a variety of other Duluth-area musicians as she grew up. Lea, who was born with a congenital disability known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also has worked for years as an outspoken advocate for other people with disabilities, and she plays here as headliner of the annual Disability Pride Festival. —SG
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 3
Faun Fables, Tar Pet, Negative Example. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
The northern California duo Faun Fables takes a theatrical but deep-reaching approach to folk music—lest anyone lump them in with trendily whimsical art-folk acts, remember that the project has been around since 1997 and has a discography of stately, conceptually rich recordings that explore subjects ranging from urban life (2006’s “The Transit Rider”) to domestic rituals (2008’s “A Table Forgotten EP”). The new Born Of The Sun is their first album in six years, and while it’s not as cohesive or emotionally stirring as 2010’s Light Of A Vaster Dark, highlights like “Ydun,” “Ta Nasza Mlodosc,” “Goodbye,” and “O My Stars” still craft grand little worlds from multi-instrumentalist/singers Dawn McCarthy and Nils Frykdahl’s ever-shifting arrangements. —SG