Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Keeping it Hot

If you’re bemoaning the fact that it’s August and summer is winding down, I don’t want to hear it! August in Madison is fantastic and absolutely summery thanks in part to two events held annually this month—and only this month.

Both Jazz at Five and Dane Dances are free weekly events open to the public. And both kick off this week, Jazz at Five today and Dane Dances on Friday.

Now in its sixteenth season, Jazz at Five is held, as you might expect, at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays on the 100 block of State Street, right where it meets the Capitol Square. The event offers two sets of live jazz music ranging in style and featuring local, regional and national performers.

Some listeners set up picnics at reserved tables, some bring or rent chairs and others simply stand and take in the music. Jazz at Five sets up a beer tent and other food and beverage vendors are on hand, too.

In case of rain, the concert takes place in Overture lobby, which is quite a nice setting as well. Decisions are made by 2 p.m.—call 310.4462 or tune in to WORT if the weather is questionable.

This season brings about:

The Francesca Johnson Quartet
This young Wisconsin jazz singer, who returned to Madison last year, has a voice that evokes the jazz tradition of the 1950s.
August 5, 5 p.m.

Mike Frost Project
Says Frost of his Chicago-based group, “We play straight-ahead jazz … Essentially we perform a modern-day version of an earlier style but in our own way.”
August 5, 6:30 p.m.

Tim Whalen Nonet
Innovative and unique, Whalen’s hard-swinging group plays with the intricacy of a big band but maintains the freedom of one much smaller.
August 12, 5 p.m.

Leo Sidran, Ben Sidran, Richard Davis, Joy Dragland and Louka Patenaude
This concert marks the first time these five Madison jazz legends, treasures and protégés perform together.
August 12, 6:30 p.m.

Seven Steps to Havana
This septet of international talent with musicians from Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia and America offers music combining salsa and jazz.
August 19, 5 p.m.

Jan Wheaton Quintet
Madison’s beloved jazz vocalist Wheaton credits Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday and Roberta Flack among her influences.
August 26, 5 p.m.

Richie Cole
A master of the sax, Cole also has more than three thousand compositions and arrangements to his credit today.
August 26, 6:30 p.m.

For more information, call 310.4462 or visit

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Dane Dances is held Fridays at 5:30 p.m. on the rooftop of Monona Terrace. Here, all members of the community are invited to get together and boogie down to sounds spun by DJ Laurie Mlatawou and well-known bands.

Ethnic food vendors offer snacks and cocktails and the Lake Vista Café has a special menu for the event each week.

In the case of inclement weather, call 261.4000 after 2 p.m. for an alternative location (either inside Monona Terrace or the Alliant Energy Center).

Here’s what to expect this season:

Christopher’s Project
This rhythm and blues and contemporary jazz group has opened for such legendary acts as The Temptations and The Supremes.
August 7, 6 p.m.

Grupo Candela
This twelve-member band offers up dance-worthy music styles ranging from salsa to merengue to bachata.
August 7, 8 p.m.

Altered Five
Made up of five southern Wisconsin music veterans, this group performs an exciting brand of “rockin’ rhythm ‘n’ blues.”
August 14, 6 p.m.

In Black ‘N White
This popular group has gotten crowds up and dancing throughout the Midwest, including at Milwaukee’s Summerfest.
August 14, 6 p.m.

Primitive Culture
This local band offers a unique blend of funk, blues and tropical rhythms.
August 21, 6 p.m.

A versatile group from Illinois, BBI plays everything from Motown to R&B to classic rock and dance hits.
August 21, 8 p.m.

Que Flavor
Traditional Afro-Cuban dance grooves and other Latin music styles categorize this Madison favorite.
August 28, 6 p.m.

Eddie Butts
This longtime Milwaukee-based band mixes jazz, pop and R&B.
August 28, 8 p.m.

For more information, call 358.5894 or visit

Photos courtesy of Mark Barrett of the Steinway Piano Gallery and Dane Dances.

1 comment:

otehlia cassidy said...

I'm pretty sure those folks on the rooftop were caught doing the "Cha Cha Slide!' I love it:) Dane Dances is such a great Madison event.