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Thursday, February 03, 2005
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Edited by Carly Carioli
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The avant-garde musician Mitch Ahern has been constructing whimsical instruments out of spare parts for more than 20 years, and he's likely the only person you'll find playing a 1930s washing-machine lid with a violin bow. An incurable trash picker, he'll attempt to rehabilitate an icon of fallen grace in "Martha Stewart in the Underworld," an evening of Ahern's "interpretive monologues" that, in drawing on Martha's published writings, "unmask Ms. Stewart's status as the focus of a syncretic religion." He'll accompany himself with a motley homemade musical arsenal that'll include something called the ElectroluxoPipeO'Phone. That's at 7 p.m. at Zeitgeist Gallery, 1353 Cambridge Street in Inman Square. Donation is $5; call (617) 876-6060.


THURSDAY THROUGH SUNDAY: World Music's four-day, two-production "Flamenco Festival 2005" marathon kicks off Thursday at 7 p.m. and continues Friday at 8 p.m. with choreographer Ramón Oller's The Four Elements, which has Carmen Cortés as Fire, Alejandro Granados as Earth, Carlos Rodríguez as Water, and Rocío Molina as Air and the music of Gerardo Núñez. On Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., the fiery flamenco singer Mayte Martín brings a five-piece band, and the dancer Belén Maya, for the local premiere of Flamenco de cámara. All performances take place at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street in the Theater District, and tickets are $35 to $50; call (617) 876-4275.


A bit pricier than a totebag, yes, but also tastier than a telethon: WGBH's annual fundraising "Wine and Food Weekend" includes a five-course Vintner's Dinner ($200), with wines from Napa's Robert Mondavi Winery, tonight at 7 p.m. Tomorrow at 7 p.m., there's a "Come Pour the Wine" sampling ($100) of some 100 wines from around the world. A day of master classes ($50 per class) and a wine auction (admission $50) follows on Saturday, and then a jazz brunch ($75) on Sunday. All events take place at the Seaport Hotel, 1 Seaport Lane (along the waterfront, near the World Trade Center) in Boston. Call (617) 300-3999.


Not your typical "all-Brahms" program, the BSO's line-up for this weekend has the choral works Nänie, Gesang der Parzen, and Schicksalslied before intermission and the First Symphony after. Spanish guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos will be on the podium, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will be doing the singing tonight at 8 p.m., tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., and Saturday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. Tickets are $27 to $105; call (617) 266-1200. On the other hand, tonight's your only chance to hear Charles Ansbacher and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, with Russian pianist Victoria Korchinskaya-Kogan, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 and the Overture to Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri. That's at 8 p.m. at Harvard's Sanders Theatre, in Memorial Hall, between the Yard and the Law School Yard in Harvard Square. Admission is free but reservations are recommended; call (617) 520-2202, or e-mail


Boston baritone Sanford Sylvan kicks off his new career as director of the Boston Conservatory Opera with Philip Glass's 1984 opera Akhnaten, which Boston Lyric Opera staged as part of its "Egyptian" season back in 2000, with the short-lived title pharaoh attempting to bring monotheism and monogamy to Egypt. Beatrice Affron will conduct. That's tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Boston Conservatory Theater, 31 Hemenway Street in Boston. Tickets are $16, $14 for seniors, $5 for students; call (617) 912-9222.


Gail Greenwood, rock chick to the core, has always been one of those bass players you notice: in Belly, she and Tanya Donelly looked like a comedian's version of a rabid/demure odd couple. And when filling in for a latter-day L7 line-up, she was the healthy-looking one, an enthusiastic jock-metal queen amid sickly Seattle grunge mavens. A few years back, she finally started her own group, Benny Sizzler (their hard-rocking party tunes match the goofy name), and they're up from Providence on a bill with the Slaves and Rattle Battle at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Avenue in Allston; call (617) 734-4502.

In other news: the Arcade Fire show at the Roxy (279 Tremont Street in the Theater District; 617-338-ROXY) - the last stop on their post-CMJ victory lap of a tour - is still wicked sold out. So unless you sold shoes with Win Butler when he lived here back in the day, you're screwed.

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One way or another, most movies are about facing up to the Boogeyman. In this horror film from director Stephen T. Kay (Static), it's the literal one that lives under the beds of frightened children, one of whom grows up and returns to confront his fears. Barry Watson and Emily Deschanel star. In the romantic comedy The Wedding Date, the boogeyman is spinsterhood as a young woman rents a date to attend her sister's wedding so she can show up her ex-fiancé. Clare Kilner (How To Deal) directs; Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney star. In Brother to Brother, the boogeyman is homophobia as a gay black writer seeks liberation in the Harlem Renaissance movement; a first feature from Rodney Evans starring Anthony Mackie and Roger Robinson, it won the 2004 Special Jury Prize at Sundance. And in first-time director Avi Lewis's documentary The Take (2004), the boogeyman is ruthless capitalism as unemployed Argentine auto workers try to take charge of their fate by seizing an idle factory. It screens all week at the Brattle Theatre.


When Sam Beckett wrote his short play/radio drama Cascando, he integrated a character called "Music" whose lines - a series of ellipses scattered throughout the script - are left open to interpretation. Devaughan Theatre, which is staging Cascando along with Krapp's Last Tape and Ohio Impromptu under the catch-all title "Voices in the Dark: 3 Plays by Samuel Beckett," asked founding Bauhaus/Love and Rockets vamp David J to fill in the blanks; in addition to his score for Cascando, J also composed incidental music for the other two pieces. (Autograph hounds beware: he's not performing the score in person.) There's also another David J involved - director David J. Dowling, who previously helmed a well-received production of Beckett's Endgame at the Theatre Cooperative. "Voices" opens tonight at 8 and runs through February 20 at the Piano Factory, 791 Tremont Street in the South End. Tickets are $15 to $19; call (617) 247-9777.


Three lost souls - an English Jew, a murderous Irishman, and a nondenominational waif - occupy a church for a night. Sound like a set-up for an ethnic joke? Actually, acclaimed Irish playwright Tom Murphy's The Sanctuary Lamp is serious business, and the Irish didn't think the play, which questions religious faith, funny at all when it debuted in 1975 at the famed Abbey Theatre, provoking the most "vocal disturbance" since The Plough and the Stars. Now, New England gets its first look at the work, courtesy of Súgán Theatre Company, specialist in all things Celtic. Fielding a cast that includes Aidan Parkinson and Stacy Fischer, Elliot Norton Award winner Carmel O'Reilly directs the production, which continues through February 26 at the Roberts Studio Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in the South End. Tickets are $15 to $38; call (617) 933-8600.

Canadian playwright/director/designer/performer Robert Lepage may be earthbound, but his artistic ventures are free-floating. A master at fusing cutting-edge technology and stagecraft with elegantly quirky narratives, he's worked in performance genres from Shakespeare to opera to rock shows. This month, his much-acclaimed one-man multimedia theater piece the far side of the moon, with a score by Laurie Anderson, comes to the American Repertory Theatre. Starring Yves Jacques (The Aviator) in the dual role Lepage created for himself, moon begins with a riff on the '50s space race and becomes a poetic meditation on philosophy, science, and family dynamics. It runs through February 27 at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street in Harvard Square; call (617) 547-8300.


If an old national-geographic stalwart like the Discovery Channel can reinvent itself as the patron saint of custom-motorcycle enthusiasts, we see no reason the 3rd Annual Bikexpo Boston oughtn't to be sponsored by the four-wheeler folks Hummer. Nothing makes sense anymore, and not least the centerpiece of this show, the Spirit of Liberty Bike - a motorcycle plated in copper recycled from the Statue of Liberty. The team from Discovery's Great Biker Build-Off will also be around for the Bikexpo, which runs through Sunday at the Seaport World Trade Center, 1 Seaport Lane in Boston. Admission is $15; call (877) BIKEXPO.


The Museum of Science's 40-foot-tall Van de Graaff generator is an imposing one-trick pony - if you've seen one five-million-volt spark, you've about seen 'em all - but now a young composer is going to make it sing. Brown grad student Christine Southworth has written an hour-long piece called Zap! that calls for a chamber/rock set-up (keyboards, flute, guitar, bass, voice, percussion), "robotic instruments" programmed by a team of MIT/RISD engineers, and one mammoth sparking machine. Both the generator and Southworth are MIT alums: the composer studied with Evan Ziporyn and describes her work as Steve Reich-influenced, post-minimalist acoustic electronica; the museum's Van de Graaff (the world's largest air-insulated model) was built at MIT in the 1940s and is said to be fond of the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat. Zap! gets its premiere tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of Science, at Science Park in Boston, and it's free with museum admission, which is $14, $11 for children. Call (617) 723-2500.


The upstart Opera unMet touts its concert production of Aida as being for those "fascinated by Middle East affairs (of the heart) - or any affairs of the heart." The qualification is important, because Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece won't teach you a heck of a lot about Egypt. But it will teach you a lot about Italian grand opera - massed choruses, heart-stopping melodrama (forbidden love!), and one great tune after another. UnMet's abridged version, with English translation and piano accompaniment, will feature soprano Cynthia Miles Gray as the Ethiopian princess Aida; tenor Marshall Hughes as her lover, the Egyptian commander Radames; Mauri Wheeler as the jealous Amneris; and Eric Sosman as the high priest Ramfis. That's at Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street in Boston, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, or $10 for students; call (617) 585-1260.


Lhasa de Sela absorbed the music of El Norte and Mexico during an itinerant childhood spent criss-crossing the Americas in her parents' converted school bus. In her teens, she became a chanteuse in Montreal, and after a widely acclaimed debut - a song cycle based on 15th-century Spanish poetry - she ran away to France to join her sisters in the circus. Her well-traveled tunes are unlike anything else: singing in Spanish, she brings Billie Holiday's bruised torch-song elegance to songs of Mediterranean passion; her chansons combine Gypsy mysticism and the frank, world-weary resignation of vérité; and she sings the blues (in English) with a modernist magic-junkyard realism that recalls PJ Harvey and Tom Waits. She does all of the above on her all-world album The Living Road (Nettwerk), and her tour behind it is making a stop at Johnny D's, 17 Holland Street in Davis Square; call (617) 776-2004.


Another week, another dance night for skinny indie-rock kids decides it's relocating to Great Scott. Ho-hum, right? Except this one's "The Pill" - the long-running Britpop night that nearly started it all - and, yes, it's holding down Fridays from now on. To celebrate, the Great Scott folks are bringing in the Casual Lean, smarmy, self-confident, handsome mod-punk kids from New Bedford (which, as we've noted, is the new Allston Rock City) whose Kurt Ballou-recorded demo is so damn brilliant, we're sure everybody already hates them. That's at 1222 Commonwealth Avenue in Allston; call (617) 734-4502.

Also tonight: Mary Lou Lord kicks off a tour - with Emergency Music as her backing/opening band - at the Paradise Lounge (969 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; 617-562-8814); and the Dents kick off a two-night stand at the Abbey Lounge (3 Beacon Street in Inman Square; 617-441-9631) celebrating the release of their new Time for Biting.


Although we hate to recommend yet another jazz guitarist, the New York-based Michael Musillami solos in the free-bop manner over original tunes with a refreshing unpredictability, and with trio mates Joe Fonda on bass and George Schuller on drums, he creates a warm, supple ensemble sound as well. They play tiny Zeitgeist Gallery, 1353 Cambridge Street in Inman Square, at 9:30 p.m.; call (617) 876-6060.

Two of the savviest jazz singers in town, grande dame Carol Sloane and South Shore hipster Donna Byrne, have put together a "Divas & Tenors" program with saxophonists Mike Monaghan, Ted Casher, and Arnie Krakowski at Scullers in the DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road at the Mass Pike. Shows are at 8 and 10:30 p.m. and tickets are $22; call (617) 562-4111.

And at Emmanuel Church, the always adventuresome Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra presents another program of all-new music by Darrell Katz, David Harris, Ken Schaphorst, Warren Senders, and Hans Indigo Spencer with an all-star 18-piece band. That's at 8 p.m. at 15 Newbury Street in Boston. Tickets are $12, or $8 for students; call (781) 899-3130.


Before he died in December 2003, at the age of 46, Johnny Cunningham had a reputation as being not only a great musician but a great guy - unfailingly generous to other musicians with his ear, heart, and head, and of course with his great Celtic fiddle playing. The Scottish-born Cunningham founded the acoustic-electric band Silly Wizard and played with any number of bands and solo artists, from the Raindogs to Susan McKeown and Bill Morrissey. Johnny's brother, accordionist Phil Cunningham, convenes with McKeown, fiddler Kevin Burke, multi-instrumentalist Seamus Eagan, and guitarist Aidan Brennan for "A Tribute to Johnny Cunningham," in a World Music concert at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 and $45; call (617) 876-4275.

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Last month, the Emerson String Quartet released an ambitious four-disc set of the complete Mendelssohn string quartets. Now it plays the first three - Opus 12, Opus 13, and Opus 44 No. 1 - at Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street in Boston, in a Bank of America Celebrity Series recital. The remainder will be performed in a second concert at Jordan Hall on April 8. (David Weininger's interview with the Emersons appears on page 30.) Tickets are $43 to $53; call (617) 482-6661.


In retrospect, it's a measure of how boring the mid '90s became that Low were able to make a career simply by being the tortoise in an overcrowded underground full of hares. Still, they were - and occasionally are - the most exquisite minimalists in indie rock. Dave Fridmann, the producer most often associated with the Flaming Lips, helped the trio come out of their shell on The Great Destroyer (Sub Pop), on which they prove they can play loud, (relatively) fast, and balls-out (not so surprising, since frontman Alan Sparhawk has done all of that in his side project the Black-Eyed Snakes) without losing the focus, the excruciating clarity, and the finely calibrated intensity that have been their hallmark. At 8 p.m., they're at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square in Somerville, with Pedro the Lion. It's an all-ages show, and tickets are $14.50; call (617) 931-2000.


Anyone waiting for the next Sonic Youth album shouldn't hold his or her breath, since we're guessing the band have the month off. Thurston Moore was spotted hosting a To Live and Shave in LA gig in DC during the inaugural weekend, and now he's at Massachusetts College of Art's Tower Auditorium headlining an all-star noise bill. What he's doing is anybody's guess - trust us, though, it won't be anything like Psychic Hearts. Also on the bill are Lowell legend Emil Beaulieau (the self-described "America's greatest living noise artist," proving turntables don't need records to make noise), cut-and-paste blenderphonic attack dog John Wiese (of Bastard Noise, who records solo as Sissy Spacek), and Boston darling Jessica Rylan, who's releasing a new disc (with melody and lyrics, even!) on Beaulieau's RRRecords imprint. That's at 621 Huntington Avenue in Boston, it's a 7 p.m. all-ages show, and admission is $5; call (617) 879-7355.


Right about the time people were wearing out their copies of Chutes Too Narrow, Sub Pop came to the rescue with the debut from Rogue Wave, whose Out of the Shadow nails the pastoral '60s folk-rock, blissed-out harmonies and California-summer-at-sunset vibe that the Shins had on lockdown. "Postage Stamp World" has been on constant repeat on our iPod ever since: anyone can pretend he's Elliott Smith pretending he's Gram Parsons, but "You can all get in line/And lick my behind" is damn near rock-and-roll perfection. Boy genius Zach Rogue appears to have pared the band down to a trio these days, and they're back for a trip to the Plan, at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Avenue in Allston; call (617) 734-4502.

Some of rock city's best and brightest turn out to benefit Staci Fick, Cracktorch's original bassist and a gallivanting gal about town until she was cut down in a hit-and-run accident that shattered a leg. Two surgeries and a couple of metal plates later, she's "permanently disabled" and way in debt. Cracktorch, Jake Brennan, Lost City Angels, Antler, Bury the Needle, and Codetta help pay her medical bills downstairs at the Middle East, 480 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square. It's an 8 p.m. show, and tickets are $12; call (617) 864-EAST.

Also tonight: Brooklyn's Andy Friedman tours his drawings as if he were a bluesman - he narrates a slide show of his work with the accompaniment of a band. He's at the Lizard Lounge (1667 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge; 617-547-0759). And not to be confused with the woman who came through last week with Ralph Nader, Patty Smythe had the good sense to reunite with her '80s backing band Scandal for a show that everyone at VH1 is probably creaming his pants over. She's at the Paradise (967 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; 617-562-8800).


Ask Providence's one-man electropop science project San Serac what he's up to and he'll mention Midnight Star, Kraftwerk, Prince, and Momus. "We call it Futuremusic. Or Weird Wave. Or Paranoid Soul," he writes on his Web site, waxing glib on how recent technology allows "any slob (like me) to create the sort of ultra-glossy Chaka Khan-style productions that required the finest facilities and fancy-pants producers just a few years before. This process is both symbolically striking (illustrating Buckminster Fuller's idea of accelerated ephemeralization) and funny." Don't be put off by the lecture, though - San's tracks are as hot as Fannypack's and Chromeo's. And he's at P.A.'s Lounge, 345 Somerville Avenue in Somerville, for Dan Shea's monthly Number Six dance party; call (617) 776-1557.


For a dozen winters now, Gato Malo guitarist Shaun Wortis and accordionist Suzie Lee have been bringing the South up North with their Annual Mardi Gras Ball - a night of boozin', cruisin', and dancin' New Orleans style. This year, the event makes its debut at T.T. the Bear's Place with short sets by Shaun and Suzi's All-Star Voodoo Crew, Thru the Keyhole Burlesque, Tanya Donelly, Bo Barringer (of the Collisions), Bleu, Jordan Valentine (of the World's Greatest Sinners), Andy Galdins (of Rocket Science), Leah Callahan, and more. In the N'awlins tradition, costumes and a spare liver are suggested. And a part of the proceeds will benefit the New Orleans musicians' medical fund. That's at 10 Brookline Street in Central Square; call (617) 492-BEAR.


Pianist Randy Weston's sound is so elemental that it seems rooted to the earth's axis. Weston began his career as a hard-bop devotee of Monk, and he wrote the standards "Hi-Fly" and "Little Niles." But it was his many trips to Africa over the years that both opened his sound and deepened it. In a program called "Randy Weston: African Rhythms with Andrea E. Woods/Souloworks," he'll perform with dancer/choreographer Woods, a former member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. That's at 7:30 p.m. in the MFA's Remis Auditorium, 465 Huntington Avenue in Boston. Tickets are $24, or $20 for members, students, and seniors; call (617) 369-3306.

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There are few refuges from the local team of destiny today. Sports bars (see our guide-to-watching-the-game supplement in this issue) aren't the only ones succumbing to Pats fever: rockers hoping to retreat to joints like the Paradise Lounge and the All Asia Café will find it's all football, all day. And the Tinseltown offerings at the local cineplex are no big help either. But as Hollywood sags into its saddest month of the year, the Harvard Film Archive offers as an alternative films from one of the world's most vibrant industries. The HFA's "Korean Cinema" series kicks off with two efforts by rising star Kim Hong-Jun. Jungle Story (1996), starring real-life rocker Do-Hyun Yun, tells the story of a mythical underground rock band trying to beat the system. It screens at 7 p.m. The premise of La vie en rose (1994) sounds like the beginning of a joke: what happens when a crook, a political activist, and a writer find refuge from the law in a comic-book shop owned by a beautiful woman named "Madam?" Find out when it follows Jungle Story as part of a double bill. What's more, the director will be on hand if any further explanation is needed. The HFA is in the Carpenter Center, 24 Quincy Street in Harvard Square, and tickets are $12 for this special event; call (617) 495-4700.


Most booking agents have had February 6 circled on their calendars for months. It's not that they're all big football fans so much as that the past few years have made them experts in the repercussions of a local sports team's making it to the Big Game. The Red Sox' pennant run nearly shut down the town for a couple of weeks last year; the Patriots' 2001 Super Bowl run almost sank an annual rap battle at the Middle East. We're pretty sure, however, that Jolie Holland's audience isn't the typical gridiron crowd: with its earthy evocations of dusty back-porch torch songs recalling Billie Holiday at her most lost and loneliest, Holland's 2004 album Escondida (Anti-) marked its maker as a major find. She'll try to keep people's attention from wandering to the big-screen TV when she hits T.T. the Bear's Place, 10 Brookline Street in Central Square; call (617) 492-BEAR.

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Well, if the BSO can serve up Richard Strauss with a side of puppets (see "Talk to the Hand," below), then we suppose we can't fault Boston Musica Viva for serving up Francis Poulenc's Babar the Elephant with guest narration from Bob McGrath, the bell-toned singing neighbor from Sesame Street. Bob will also narrate the world premiere of local composer Michael Gandolfi's The Piper's Tale, which is based on the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. That's at BU's Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $22; call (617) 354-6910.


Whether he's revealing the chasms of difference that hang in the nuance between "choking" and panicking or elaborating a theory of trends as social "viruses," the New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell has a knack for boiling down big, complex analyses into portable, condensed-soup cubes: his prose is dotted with "Eureka!' moments where he allows you to feel as if you'd solved some cryptic problem all on your own. He's become one of those writers who seems able to explain just about anything, and tonight at 6:30 p.m. he's at the First Unitarian Church, 3 Church Street in Harvard Square, to discuss his new Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Brown, Little). The reading is free; call the Harvard Book Store at (617) 661-1515.


After 25 years, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band show no signs of running out of steam. They began by taking New Orleans brass-band music into bebop and free jazz. But on last year's Funeral for Friend (ropeadope), they went back to the earliest roots of their second-line sound, the Crescent City funeral parades. They're at Harpers Ferry, 158 Brighton Avenue in Allston; call (617) 254-9743.


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away - okay, it was at Axis sometime in the '90s - we stumbled on a band who were far, far ahead of their time. They played ridiculous hardcore punk songs with guitars and '80s synthesizers and had elaborate costumes and monitors blasting weird collages of Atari video games and war footage and occasionally covered Run-DMC. They might have invented electropunk-as-nostalgia-fetish-gone-to-art-school. They called themselves Institute of Technology, and they disappeared long before the rise of Le Tigre, Adult, and Tracy + the Plastics. But lo, their frontman Josh Randall - still calling himself Robotkid - has re-emerged! He's guest-DJing at Enormous Room's "Beat Research" residency, spinning a set of "Video Music"; not to be confused with music video, it's stuff by folks like EBN and Coldcut who appropriate film sources to create sound collages. Afterward, Randall turns avant-VJ and drags out some of the old IT footage (Atari, breakdancing, video games) while resident DJ Flack spins. That's at 9 p.m., and Enormous Room is at 567 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square; call (617) 491-5550.

Joe Shepard is a member of the Somerville modern-dance ensemble Hoi Polloi, a back-up dancer for the NYC electro-pop siren Heloise, and a member of Ryan Landry's queer-theater troupe the Gold Dust Orphans. He's also, it seems, totally psycho. At least that's what you'd guess from "Grim Fabrications," an exhibit of his gnarly, folk-artsy fabric collages that opens at ZuZu this week. In Wendigo, New England's answer to Bigfoot terrorizes small children; in Attack Kyoto, a half-woman/half-octopus threatens the structural integrity of a Japanese megalopolis. On a pillow! Tonight's reception is going to be nuts too: Heloise & the Savoire-Faire Dancers (think '80s Madonna, on a DIY budget) with the Boston underground lap-top-rap crew Big Digits and Plunge into Death, who transport Miami bass to Transylvania. That's at 474 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square; call (617) 864-3278.

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Simply one of the most austere and beautiful films ever made, Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love (2000) is all about absence and inaction, a play of lush surfaces that throb with longing. In a meticulously re-created 1960s Hong Kong, a man and a woman suspect their spouses of having an affair. They decide to act out the affair's possible beginning in order to convince themselves that it really did happen. Superb performances by Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung and Wong's impeccable direction make this a challenging must-see. It screens at 7 p.m. on three consecutive Tuesdays, starting tonight, at the Harvard Film Archive, in the Carpenter Center, 24 Quincy Street in Harvard Square; call (617) 495-4700.


If ever a talk defined itself by its title, this is it. Award-winning playwright and noted drag performer Charles Busch delivers "The Funny, Touching, Inspirational Story of My Very Eccentric Career," which is brought to us by the Office for the Arts at Harvard. Learn the most delicious secrets of the author and star of Psycho Beach Party, whose recent, more-classical outings have included turns as Auntie Mame and Dolly Levi. Busch starts blabbing at 7 p.m. at the Harvard University Science Center, Hall D, Kirkland and Oxford Streets, in Cambridge. The program is free and open to the public; call (617) 495-8676.


Edward Droste, the singer-songwriter behind the Brooklyn trio Grizzly Bear, grew up in Boston, and he returns to New England this week. The Grizzlies' debut, Horn of Plenty (Kanine), is of a piece with recent developments in psych-folkery, with Droste's flinty acoustic strumming and croaky tenor shrouded in clouds of radio-static interference, Elephant 6-like kiddie orchestrations, and snippets of ambient field recordings. It's experimental, then, but not freakish: if their 77-second ode to pet alligators suggests they've done some hibernating with an Animal Collective disc, the coruscating '60s folk pop of "Deep Sea Diver" and "Don't Ask" sounds like "Pennyroyal Tea" next to your average Dungen ditty. Come to think of it, the Droste kid sounds quite a bit like Stephen Brodsky in solo mode. Grizzly Bear play the Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square, on a bill with the LCD, Valerie Allen, and Boston singer/pianist Casey Dienel; call (617) 864-EAST.


Michael Wolff is former musical director for Arsenio Hall, and the debut album by his band Impure Thoughts is on the rock-and-roots label Artemis, but don't hold either of those things against him: he's a dynamic jazz pianist with a band who emphasize rhythm in a big way. The album, Dangerous Vision, includes, along with Wolff's dynamic originals, Nat Adderley's "Work Song," Sonny Rollins's "St. Thomas," Dizzy Gillespie's "Soul Sauce," and a section from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" - all of them reconceived and updated with contemporary funk and Wolff's fancy chops. Wolff and Impure Thoughts - bassist John B. Williams, drummer Mike Clark, and percussionist Mino Cinelu - come to Scullers, in the DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road at the Mass Pike, for shows at 8 and 10 p.m.; call (617) 562-4111.

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In what amounts to a loosely fictionalized muck-raking autobiography, Karen Quinn's The Ivy Chronicles follows a Machiavellian mother of two who after getting the heave-ho from her wealthy husband makes a living advising well-to-do New York parents on how best to manipulate the admissions processes of elite private pre-schools - in the process exposing the torrid underbelly of rich-kid kindergartens and the crazy-ass famous people who send their rug rats to them. Quinn reads from the book at 7 p.m. at Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard Avenue in Coolidge Corner; call (617) 566-6660.

As the author of Salt and Cod, Mark Kurlansky was one of the first of recent authors to take the "biography of an idea" idea (or biography of a thing) and run with it. Now, instead of making a little thing big, he's taken a big thing and packed it into a 400-page book: 1968: The Year That Rocked the World (Random House), which includes everything from Ché Guevara and Eugene McCarthy to Janis Joplin and John Updike. Kurlansky waxes on all things '60s at Borders Books & Music, 10-24 School Street in Boston, at 12:30 p.m. (617-557-7188), then moves on to the Borders at 300 Boylston Street on Route 9 in Chestnut Hill at 7 p.m. (617-630-1120).


At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, whose founder left strict instructions with her heirs not to let anybody touch anything, curating exhibits of new work is an art unto itself. And yet the Gardner keeps coming up with inspired new twists. Come see how much portrait photographer Dayanita Singh, furniture historian Fausto Calderai, designer Andrea Anastasio, art educator Carla Hartman, and filmmaker Michael Sheridan can do with Isabella's collection of "Chairs" in an exhibit that runs through May 9. That's at 280 the Fenway in Boston; call (617) 566-1401.


When it comes to rock and roll, producer, songwriter, and pianist Leon Russell has seen it all, played on damn near everything, and written or produced a good chunk himself - from Jerry Lee and Ronnie Hawkins to the Stones and Dylan, from Ike & Tina and the Byrds to Sam Cooke and Willie Nelson. He visits Johnny D's with a line-up that includes his daughters Tina Rose and Sugaree Noel on vocals. That's at 17 Holland Street in Davis Square; call (617) 776-776-2004.

Also tonight: a rare homecoming gig by Willard Grant Conspiracy at T.T. the Bear's Place (10 Brookline Street in Central Square) with Thalia Zedek, Lovers, and Seekonk opening; see "New England Product," on page 6. And the Information play a CD-release party at the Paradise (967 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; 617-562-8800).


It wasn't long after he left Boston - where he was a mainstay with the Either/Orchestra and the Charlie Kohlhase Quartet - that Matt Wilson became an in-demand drummer for jazz's, uh, left wing in New York: Dewey Redman, Andrew Hill, Sex Mob, Cecil McBee and, lately, Lee Konitz and Charlie Haden. Wilson is also an outstanding bandleader, with a fine-tuned ensemble sound and several albums on Palmetto. He brings one of his working bands, Arts & Crafts, to Scullers: trumpeter Terell Stafford, keyboardist Larry Goldings, and bassist Dennis Irwin. That's in the DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road at the Mass Pike; call (617) 562-4111.

Meanwhile, over at the Regattabar, home-town-hero pianist Laszlo Gardony is joined by the other brother, trumpeter Randy Brecker. That's at 7:30 p.m. in the Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett Street in Harvard Square, and tickets are $15; call (617) 395-7757.

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Talk about your unusual programs - for his second week with the BSO, Spanish guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos has scheduled two works inspired by Miguel de Cervantes: Manuel de Falla's El retablo de Maese Pedro ("Master Peter's Puppet Show") and Richard Strauss's Don Quixote. The first, completed in the early 1920s, is a puppet-theater work inspired by the episode in part two of Don Quixote where Don Gayferos saves Melisendra from the Moors in a puppet show staged for the benefit of our hero and the faithful Sancho Panza. Tenor Jean-Paul Fourchécourt will sing Maese Pedro, baritone Jonathan Lemalu will sing Don Quixote, and the Bob Brown Puppets will hold forth. The Strauss piece is his more conventional 1896 concerto for viola and cello; Steven Ansell and Steven Isserlis will be the soloists. Performances are tonight at 8 p.m., tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, and tickets are $27 to $105; call (617) 266-1200.

Across the river tonight, the BSO is going with Richard Strauss's 1896 Don Quixote. Close to the Strauss in date but a universe away in sensibility is Anton Bruckner's titanic Eighth Symphony, at the end of which the themes from all four movements converge. Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic will have a go at it tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at Sanders Theatre, in Harvard University's Memorial Hall, between Harvard Yard and the Law School Yard in Harvard Square, and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street in Boston. Zander's traditional pre-concert talk will directly precede the Thursday concert, starting at 7:30; it will start at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday and at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 to $69; call (617) 236-0999 extension 20.


It's not as if any of the bands in this town needed an excuse to rip off Ric Ocasek. But a few are convening to celebrate the release of a long-overdue tribute disc, Substitution Mass Confusion (Not Lame Recording Company), which includes Cars classics rendered by superproducer Butch Walker, Damone, buzz kids the Bravery, and the Gigolo Aunts. The bill includes sets by contributors Bleu ("You Might Think"), Spiraling ("Bye Bye Love"), the Argument ("Hello Again"), and the Cautions ("Nightspots"). That's at T.T. the Bear's, 10 Brookline Street in Central Square; call (617) 492-BEAR.


Wendy Liebman is the queen of the one-liners - that quick jabbing style of humor perfected by the late Rodney Dangerfield and tempered with her own gently absurdist sensibility. After many stints on Letterman and her own HBO special, she's returning to New England, where she honed her chops in the early 1980s, to play the Comedy Connection circuit. Tonight, she's at the East Providence Connection (39 Warren Avenue; 401-438-8383); Friday and Saturday, she's in the Boston room at Faneuil Hall (617-248-9700); Sunday, it's Chicopee (in the Hu Ke Lau, 705 Memorial Drive; 413-593-5222): and Monday, she's back at Faneuil Hall.

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