Les Filles de Illighadad at the Madison World Music Festival, a trash-tastic Four Star Video benefit, and more events of note in Madison this week.
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.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
This year’s Madison World Music Festival brings together nine acts from across four different continents, split between a Friday stage at the Memorial Union Terrace, a Saturday stage at the Willy Street Fair (in the lot next to Prism Dance Club), and back over to the Terrace for a headlining performance from Angolan singer Vivalda Dula. The festival always has an intriguing mix of sounds and a lot of excuses to dance, but this year (at a time when getting visas for international artists can only be getting harder) has some particularly exciting catches. One is Los Wembler’s de Iquitos (Friday, 7 p.m., Terrace), a Peruvian band that formed in 1968 and began melding the rhythms of cumbia music with the electrified glimmer of psychedelic rock. The band’s bio explains that the members picked up on a host of influences from across Latin America and around the world early on via the radio, but the music still proudly captures a very specific sense of place. Its hometown of Iquitos is a large but isolated city in the Peruvian Amazon, and the mix of dense urbanity and dense forest is palpable—at times you’ll hear imitations of jungle-bird calls over the band’s trippy, humid grooves. Los Wembler’s still write new material and released a new album, Vision del Ayahuasca, earlier this year.
Hailing from central Niger, Les Filles de Illighadad (Saturday, 6:15 p.m., Willy Street) are another standout at this year’s festival, challenging the way audiences think about the Tuareg music that groups like the wonderful Tinariwen have popularized in the West. The band’s music combines exuberance with austerity, using both acoustic and electric guitars, loping rhythms from handclaps and the tendé drum, and vocal parts that swirl around each other in sinuous, overlapping melodies. The band is also blending together different practices from within Tuareg music and upending some gender conventions in the process—members Fatou Seidi Ghali and Fatimata Ahmadelher are apparently among the first Tuareg women to take up the guitar. Of course, “all-female” or “female-fronted” or whatever are not genres, but in taking up the guitar and forming a band, they’ve given us an incredibly spacious and powerful way to experience these sounds. Be sure to browse the full World Music Fest lineup. —Scott Gordon
Like most avant-garde film, the structuralist Larry Gottheim’s work rarely gets a prominent public screenings. Aside from the fact that experimental films themselves are, generally, often thought to only appeal to niche audiences (though this writer would disagree with that), the physical focus of structural films means that they can be difficult to find and not usually recommended to watch digitally. Thankfully, the gracious folks at UW Cinematheque are here to clear both hurdles with their screening of several key films from Gottheim, and the filmmaker himself will be in town for a post-screening discussion.
The Cinematheque’s selection of Gottheim’s films play as a sort of greatest hits retrospective, each of which highlights his inquisitive relationship with the medium. Earlier, minimalist works like Fog Line (1970), Harmonica (1971), and Doorway (1971) are the work of a prescient eye, content to let the camera roll and capture natural magic. His more mid-period works Sorry/Hear Us (1986) and Mnemosyne, Mother Of Muses (1987), on the other hand, are far more complex collages of image and sound, exploring community, collaboration, and the constructive nature of memory. Gottheim’s most recent film, Knot/Not (2019), will round out the screening, providing an update on his predilection for exploring memory through disparate collections of material.
The main draw for this event in particular, though, is Gottheim’s own attendance at the screening. For no other genre of film is the input of the filmmaker more important for contextualizing and understanding. Even for seasoned viewers, a chance to discuss directly with one of the American avant-garde’s unheralded heroes should not be passed up. For the more casual viewer, hearing the director speak about his work can be like a personal set of cinematic footnotes, expanding horizons for future viewing. —Maxwell Courtright
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
This year’s Willy Street Fair is the 42nd edition of an event that usually forms a pretty good bookend for Madison’s season of free outdoor shows and festivals. (Hopefully we can still get in at least a few more Terrace shows with a bit of crispness in the air, but anyway.) It’s a gradually but surely evolving mix of near-east-side traditions and new elements. As always there’s the annual parade on Sunday at 11 a.m., and plenty of local and regional standbys like folk duo Lou And Peter Berryman (Saturday, Folk Stage, 3:30 p.m.), the combined efforts of blues bands The Jimmys and The Cash Box Kings (Sunday, Main Stage, 5:45 p.m.), and a stage that represents roughly half of the Madison World Music Festival (previewed separately in this week’s Tone Madison calendar). But there’s also a place here for more raucous and unpredictable sounds. For instance, Sunday’s WORT Stage features the ever-expanding noise-punk vision of Madison trio Solid Freex (noon), the gregariously unhinged rock of Tippy (2:20 p.m.), and the sweet but punchy power-pop of fellow Madisonians Proud Parents (4:40 p.m.).
The fair’s Willy Street Beats stage is back this year on Saturday, with a lineup organized by the same local team that books the annual Musique Electronique event. Veteran Detroit-via-NYC DJ and producer Mike Servito headlines the stage at 8:30 p.m. with a deep and gritty grasp of techno, and heads over to the High Noon to play a ticketed late show with Minneapolis’ Ian Lehman. The Willy Street Beats stage also features Lauren Flax (6:30 p.m.), Amy Pickett (5 p.m.), and DJ Amos (4 p.m.). On both days of the fair, Tone Madison and Half-Stack Sessions are teaming up to present a new stage on Paterson Street with an almost all-Madison lineup, with highlights including dreamy rock outfit Dash Hounds (Saturday, 5:30 p.m.), hip-hop collective Down 2 Hearse (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.), the hip-hop-meets-jazz improvisations of KASE (Saturday, 3 p.m.), and newer bands like 90sdreamboy (Sunday, 12:30 p.m.) and Telechrome (Sunday, 3 p.m.), with a Sunday headlining set from Minneapolis band Teenage Moods (5:30 p.m.). —Scott Gordon
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
Longtime Madison resident Bill C. Malone is one of the living authorities on country music and its historical context, having co-authored the 1968 book Country Music USA, which was republished last year in an updated 50th-anniversary edition. Along with his wife Bobbie Malone—who is also an accomplished historian—he hosts WORT’s long-running show Back To The Country, and the two perform music together, Bobbie on mandolin and vocals and Bill on guitar and vocals. This event at the Stoughton Opera House coincides with the launch of Ken Burns’ latest multi-part documentary series, Country Music. The Malones served as consultants on the 16-hour series, and no doubt helped he of the enduring graphite bowl cut put a narrative frame around the music itself.
Country Music‘s first episode will air on public television stations on Sunday night and will screen at the Opera House at the conclusion of this event. Before that, though, the Malones will discuss their work on the film with a live audience, and hopefully perform a bit themselves. The night includes more live music from eminent Madison honky-tonk band The Dirty Shirts and one-of-a-kind Tex-Mex-country outfit Cris Plata And Extra Hot. Those two groups alone should offer a few different windows into the varying sounds of the country music world, as the Malones enrich our historical understanding of one of America’s most vital artistic traditions. The event will also benefit WORT. —Scott Gordon
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
Four Star Video Heaven’s massive film library contains some real treasures for fans of trash cinema, and the long-running store will be screening two of their more infamous cult selections at Robinia Courtyard, to help raise funds for an upcoming move. Filled to the brim with non-stop excessive gore, outlandish characters, ludicrous dubbing, and every prison-movie trope known to humankind, Ngai Choi Lam’s 1991 film Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky has achieved legendary status as a high water mark of bad taste. Based on a Japanese manga series, Ricki-Oh is set in the future of 2001, where all prisons have been privatized. The mysteriously powerful Riki/Ricky infiltrates a cartoonishly corrupt prison to avenge the death of his girlfriend, and the gratuitous violence commences. The film never slows down as Ricky (literally) punches his way through prison gangs, guards, and finally the monstrous warden.
The second feature Four Star has selected for this benefit event is H. Tjut Djalil’s 1989 feature Lady Terminator, a low-budget Indonesian rip-off that makes up for its total lack of coherence with the incredible tagline “First She Mates… Then She Terminates!” Plundering indiscriminately from a certain film by James Cameron, Lady Terminator is a hot mess of explosions, car chases, big guns, and unconvincing mullets. Anthropologist Tania (Barbara Anne Constable, in her sole acting credit) goes for a swim in the ocean and returns to shore possessed by the evil South Sea Queen. She’s quickly off on a murderous rampage, armed with an AK-47 and a penis-devouring serpent. A deliriously incomprehensible fusion of Indonesian black-magic horror and 1980s American shoot-‘em-up, Lady Terminator has enjoyed a rediscovery in the last few years as a campy “bad” movie classic.
While you can certainly rent Ricki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky and Lady Terminator from Four Star Video any time, there’s nothing quite like the social experience of watching trash cinema in a large group with alcohol readily available. Those who can’t attend can still head to Four Star’s relocation IndieGoGo campaign, which still has quite a way to go. —Ian Adcock
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