Just as winter starts to wind down, talk turns to NCAA college basketball brackets.
But sports fans don't have a monopoly on March Madness. In fact, it's a great month for local music lovers.
Green Day kicks off a major tour in Rosemont. Rihanna rocks the United Center. Branford Marsalis plays a jazz concert in Naperville. And some of the greatest musical theater treats light up stages from Aurora to Lincolnshire.
So we've rounded up our own Sweet Sixteen, a mix of concerts and theater productions sure to score points with admirers of great music.
Reddy or not: Suburban shows
Will there be much overlap between fans of "I Am Woman" and lovers of "American Idiot?" We think not. But we've got suburban shows catering to all sorts of musical interests.
• Branford Marsalis, 8 p.m. Friday, March 1, at North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville -- The saxophonist and three-time Grammy Award winner performs with his jazz quartet in "An Evening with Branford Marsalis." Tickets $50-$60; northcentralcollege.edu/showtix.
• Helen Reddy, 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at Arcada Theatre in St. Charles -- The Australian-born Grammy winner's hits made her the "Queen of '70s pop." Hear her roar in a show sure to feature old favorites. Tickets $29-$79; oshows.com.
• Green Day, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Allstate Arena in Rosemont -- Singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong's substance abuse problems pushed off the start of the punk band's 2013 tour. But they're kicking it off this month in Rosemont. Tickets $27.50-$52; ticketmaster.com.
• Local H, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at the Montrose Room at the InterContinental Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont -- Lake County natives Scott Lucas and Brian St. Clair are known to put on a great show. And, unlike some bands with local ties, the guys behind the melodic hard rock band haven't forgotten their suburban roots. Tickets $15; montroseroom.com.
Big names/big city
Allstate drew Green Day, but for other really big names in music you might want to check out the few seats still left for Rihanna and others in Chicago this month.
• Muse, 7 p.m. Monday, March 4, at the United Center in Chicago -- The British trio Muse has been together almost 20 years now. Their most recent album "The 2nd Law" went up against The Black Keys and Bruce Springsteen in the Grammy's best rock album category. Tickets $35-$59.50; ticketmaster.com.
• Pink, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at the United Center in Chicago -- MTV's James Montgomery once hailed her as a "fabulously fearless pop artist" in a story headlined "The World's Most Underrated Superstar." See for yourself when her Truth About Love Tour hits Chicago. Tickets $29.50-$99.50; ticketmaster.com.
• Leonard Cohen, 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at the Chicago Theatre -- He's the oldest singer-songwriter in this bracket by far, but the 78-year-old's influence and continuing popularity are undeniable. Tickets $29.50-$253; chicagotheatre.com.
• Rihanna, 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 22, at the United Center in Chicago -- Rihanna's resume includes seven Grammy Awards and the title of top-selling digital artist of all time. A hot ticket indeed. Tickets $35-$150; ticketmaster.com.
'Tradition!' Great musical theater
Musical theater lovers know some of the best is belted out on suburban stages, and this month is no exception.
• "Fiddler on the Roof," March 6 through March 24 at Paramount Theatre in Aurora -- The song list includes some of the all-time great tunes in musical theater -- from the rousing "Tradition!" to the poignant "Sunrise, Sunset." And the story's pretty good too. Tickets $34.90-$46.90; paramountaurora.com.
• "Now & Forever: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber," now through March 17 at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire -- This world premiere tribute features songs from the British composer's greatest works including "Phantom of the Opera," "Evita" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." The dancing is wonderful as well. Tickets $40-$48; marriotttheatre.com.
• "Sunset Boulevard," through March 24 at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace -- Need more Andrew Lloyd Webber? Then see his musical based on Billy Wilder's 1950 film about an aging screen star and her relationship with a struggling screenwriter. Tickets $35-$46; drurylaneoakbrook.com.
• "Sweet Charity," through March 31 at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe -- The 1960s musical gets an intimate revival that puts more emphasis on the characters and less on the spectacle in this tale of a dance hall hostess with disastrous taste in men. Tickets $35-$75; writerstheatre.org.
'Elvis Lives,' sorta: Timely tributes
There's nothing quite like the real deal. But for fans of long-gone artists and bands who've parted ways, tribute shows are the next best thing.
• Think Floyd, 9 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Montrose Room at the InterContinental Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont -- The Chicago-based tribute band celebrates the music of Pink Floyd and marks the 40th anniversary of "Dark Side of the Moon." Tickets $20; montroseroom.com.
• "Take Me Home: The Music of John Denver," 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights -- John Denver more your style? Jim Curry pays tribute to the late singer/songwriter with such favorites as "Rocky Mountain High," "Sunshine" and "Annie's Song." Tickets $30-$35; metropolisarts.com.
• "One Night of Queen," 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, at Akoo Theatre in Rosemont and 6 p.m. Sunday, March 10, in North Central College's Pfeiffer Hall in Naperville -- Gary Mullen and The Works take on such Queen hits as "We Will Rock You," "We Are the Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." Expect special effects and lighting as befitting the British rock band. Tickets $30-$45; rosemontheatre.com and northcentralcollege.edu/showtix.
• "Elvis Lives," 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at Akoo Theatre in Rosemont -- Celebrate the King through a multimedia musical show featuring finalists from the annual worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. $24.50-$69.50; rosemontheatre.com.