Country & cold weather – Isthmus

The current Public Health Madison and Dane County face covering requirement is in effect through Feb. 1, and many venues and businesses continue to maintain individual requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test for entry. Also, the fast spread of the Omicron variant has resulted in events once again being canceled or postponed. Before heading out for any in-person event, it is recommended to confirm it is still taking place, and check for any attendance guidelines on the relevant business websites or social media accounts.

Postponed events during this week that are critics’ picks include Mean Girls (Jan. 11-16); Friction Quartet (Jan. 16); find more details in the calendar listings.

Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar 2022 reading, Thursday, Jan. 13, Crowdcast, 6 p.m.: Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets spreads the love of poetry with events throughout the state. One of its marquee projects is the annual Poets’ Calendar, full of state-centric verse. The 2022 calendar is officially sold out, though there may be some still available in bookstores, including Half Price Books, Mystery to Me and University Book Store in Madison (call ahead to check for sure). But you can hear some of the poems read by the poets themselves during a livestream hosted by Mystery to Me bookstore. Register for the Crowdcast link here.

Neal Francis, Thursday, Jan. 13, High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.: While Derek Trucks won’t be playing guitar in Neal Francis’ band Thursday night at the High Noon, his slide work on Francis’ new album, In Plain Sight, signals a whole new level of success for the group. Three years ago, the Chicago-based Francis played a late afternoon slot at the Marquette Waterfront Festival; recently he’s been on the road in support of My Morning Jacket. Francis is old school funk with a manic, Midwest sensibility. Opening is Dos Santos.

Dillon Francis, Thursday, Jan. 13, Liquid, 9 p.m.: The Dillon Francis x Yung Gravy concert at The Sylvee has long been sold out (check here in case any tickets are released), but Liquid comes to the rescue with this afterparty featuring a late night set by Francis — his fourth time at the music venue. The bass drops contrasted with goofy meme rap are guaranteed to fuel an already energetic party, and the giant LED video wall is guaranteed to keep your focus. Full lineup TBA. Tickets at

Wetland Coffee Break, Friday, Jan. 14, Zoom, 10:30 a.m.: They are sometimes hard to see in the city, but in Madison we live among wetlands. Get to know more about our unassuming but crucial neighbor through this virtual “coffee break” from the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. Today’s topic is habitat restoration and bird monitoring on the Oneida Nation reservation, which has since the early 2000s, restored nearly 3,000 acres of agricultural lands to native wetland, grassland, prairie, and forest. Learn more about how this provides important habitat for wildlife and reduces watershed runoff. The coffee break is once again on Zoom; register here.

The Last Glacier + Matthew Warren Lee, through Jan. 23, Overture Center-James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy: Todd Anderson, Bruce Crownover, and Ian van Coller — two printmakers and a photographer — have dubbed themselves “The Last Glacier” collective, and are using art to document the waning of earth’s remaining glaciers. Also in the gallery is The Book of Miracles, a collection of oil paintings of dominating landscapes by Matthew Warren Lee. In all cases, the art is realistic, but goes beyond realism. Friday’s reception features the artists. The gallery is open Thursdays through Saturdays from noon-6 p.m. and Sundays noon-5 p.m. and Overture currently requires all visitors to show proof of COVID vaccination or negative test.

Ice Fisheree Festival, Friday-Saturday, Jan. 14-15, Fireman’s Park, Marshall: The Marshall Lions Club sponsors its 20th annual winter fete, which includes a lot more activities than just the ice fishing contest. A rare opportunity to see January fireworks is at 8 p.m. Saturday; that evening also includes a DJ/dance (ages 21 & up only) starting at 6 p.m. Torch-lit ice skating starts at 4 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights. Admission to the park is free, and events take place both outdoors and in the heated park buildings. Find the full schedule at

Wisconsin Americana Fest, Friday, Jan. 14, Majestic Theatre, 7 p.m.: “Americana music” encompasses elements of country, roots rock, folk, bluegrass and blues, and the four bands showcased at Americana Fest perfectly represent the state of the genre in Wisconsin. Three of ’em are from Madison: WheelHouse is one of the city’s hardest-working groups in any genre, playing more than 200 shows per year and radiating goodness wherever they go; Pat Ferguson recently shared stages with Railroad Earth and Phil Lesh and is building a national reputation; and Gin Mill Hollow infuses its downhome sound with rock energy and jazz flourishes. High & Rising, meanwhile, hails from River Falls and calls its rollicking brand of music “groovy grass.” Bands like these are sure to keep you warm on a cold Wisconsin night.

Alabama, Friday, Jan. 14, Alliant Center-Coliseum, 7 p.m.: It’s been five decades since a band of Alabama cousins named Wild Country took their first shot at going pro. The trio of Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen had been playing music together for a few years before that; following some more years honing their songs as a regional band they would dominate the country music charts in the ’80s and ’90s — as Alabama. Their 50th anniversary tour’s Madison stop has also ended up requiring some patience, with three prior postponements due to the pandemic, but it looks like this time’s the charm. Full COVID vaccination, or a negative test, is required for admission. With an opening set by Jake Hoot, the Season 17 winner on The Voice.

Star Country Class of 2022, Friday, Jan. 14, Barrymore Theatre, 8 p.m.: This annual concert hosted by WMAD-FM (96.3) has a history of bringing future stars to town; the 2018 bill included future chart-topping stars Luke Combs, Jordan Davis and a pre-controversies Morgan Wallen. So it’s a good bet some of the performers hitting the stage at the Barrymore will soon be filling stadiums. Featuring Laci Kaye Booth (“Shuffle”), Ray Fulcher (“Girl in It”), Kameron Marlowe (“Giving You Up”), Drew Parker (“While You’re Gone”), and Frank Ray (“Country’d Look Good On You”).

Bald Eagle Watching Days, Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 15-16, downtown Prairie du Sac, 8 a.m.: Go to where the eagles hang out, along the Wisconsin River between Prairie du Sac and Sauk City. “The Overlook” on Water Street in Prairie du Sac will be staffed with volunteers if you need advice on good spotting spots from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 8 a.m.-noon on Jan. 16. There are also ground-level activities including presentations at the River Arts Center on Jan. 15; find a current schedule of events and download self-guided tours in advance at

Silversterchlausen, Saturday, Jan. 15, Swiss Center of North America, New Glarus, 1 p.m.: In the Appenzell region of Switzerland, a second new year’s celebration takes place on Jan. 13 featuring costumed yodelers roaming the area and bringing cheer. New Glarus introduces the tradition of Silvesterchlausen to the United States this weekend, with yodelers and cowbell players departing from the Swiss Center, 507 Durst Road, and proceeding through town to the Chalet Landhaus Inn, 801 Highway 69. It’s free and family-friendly; other events follow at various locations in New Glarus. Find info at

Candlelight snowshoe/hike, Saturday, Jan. 15, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona, 4:30-7:30 p.m.: One of the best remedies for cabin fever, or a more generalized feeling of the blahs, is to get out into nature. And a special way to see nature in winter is by candlelight, with a roaring bonfire at the journey’s end. Explore the connecting trails at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Edna Taylor Conservancy and Woodland Park with boots or snowshoes. Hot chocolate, popcorn and s’mores will be available for purchase. Parking and a shuttle bus will be available at Ahuska Park, 400 E. Broadway. If you can’t make this hike, a similar event will take place Jan. 22 at Cherokee Marsh-north unit, from 6-8 p.m.; for more info, see

Dream Ball, Saturday, Jan. 15, online, 6:30 p.m.: This annual event hosted by Women in Focus is a fundraiser for the all-volunteer organization’s scholarship fund, which has been helping Dane County students of color attend college since 1986. The virtual program for 2022 features speakers including former scholarship recipients Terrence Carey, Danielle Crim and Naman Siad, Madison schools Superintendent Carlton Jenkins, and emcees Portia Adney and Deana Wright, plus music by DJ Drew Masters. The livestream is free to watch, but donations are encouraged; funds are also raised via a silent auction. Find the program and online auction at

Wisconsin Metal Fest, Saturday, Jan. 15, High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.: The heaviest of the nine Wisconsin Fests scheduled this winter by FPC Live, Metal Fest will feature the stoner metal of Bongzilla, a trio that spent its pandemic-induced time off the road recording 2021’s Weedsconsin LP (featuring “Free the Weed” and “Gummies”). Also on the bill: the female-fronted, horror-infused death metal of Casket Robbery, whose latest singles include “Bone Mother” and “The Hidden…The Hideous,” and Tubal Cain, which makes “raw-school street metal for the people.” This won’t be for the weak of heart, but if you go, be prepared to witness chops from hell.

Madison/Dane County MLK Day Observance, Monday, Jan. 17, online, 6 p.m.: This holiday, which is normally about bringing together the community, is once again distanced this year — with the city-county Martin Luther King Jr. Day event taking place virtually. But the sentiment will be there, with the presentation of the MLK Humanitarian Award, Leotha Stanley leading the MLK Community Choir, and a keynote address by author and educator Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X. See for details about logging into the livestream, and other events honoring King including youth events and worship services. Note: The state observance will return in 2023.

Orion’s Hidden Treasures, Wednesday, Jan. 19, online, 6:30 p.m.: On a clear, starry night one of the more recognizable constellations is Orion, or more specifically, Orion’s belt, the three close stars that angle upwards in a straight line. But did you know that this constellation is “home to a vast array of beautiful astronomical objects: huge stars, and glowing clouds of gas and dust”? Learn more, including how to find Orion in the night sky, during a virtual event hosted by the Madison school district planetarium. The event is free, but register at

Not Homeless Enough, Thursday, Jan. 20, online, 6 p.m.: Diane Nilan is the founder of HEAR US Inc., an Illinois organization working to raise awareness of homelessness experienced by youth and families. One part of the group’s advocacy is through films made by Nilan; one of her latest, Not Homeless Enough, is a short film featuring four Dane County families. Madison Public Library and Doubled Up Workgroup host a screening of the film, followed by a discussion by Nilan with state Sen. Melissa Agard. Register here.

Fair Maps for All: Frontline Communities Speak Out, Thursday, Jan. 20, online, 6 p.m.: Gerrymandered electoral maps often target frontline communities, groups disproportionately affected by climate change, often made up of people of color. During this webinar sponsored by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, the Fair Maps Coalition, and partner organizations, speakers from around the state will participate in a panel discussion about how gerrymandering has affected their communities by creating obstacles to involvement in the political process. Find more information and registration here; registrants will also receive a link to screen the documentary Can You Hear Us Now? ahead of the discussion.

The Realistic Joneses, Jan. 20-29, Bartell Theatre: Madison Theatre Guild continues its 75th season with The Realistic Joneses. John and Pony Jones move in next door to Bob and Jennifer Jones, with whom they share the same last name but no relation. The four Joneses’ lives begin to entangle when they begin sharing truths in this wacky, honest and intimate play. By Will Eno, the play opened on Broadway in 2014. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 20-22 and 26-28; and 2 p.m., Jan. 23 and 29.

We hope it’s handy for you to find the Picks in a single weekly post. The individual Picks can still be found in the usual places online: collected here, and sprinkled throughout all the events.

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