Smooth & Easy

Free ice cream with the Compton Heights Concert Band

The high point and the nadir of last year's Compton Heights Concert Band series happened on the same night. The fabulous guest artists of the Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra were just beginning their second tune when the sky, which had been rapidly turning the color of a witch's asshole, opened up and the flood poured down.

The thundershower was so sudden and so fierce that people literally screamed as they ran for cover. The band was joined by dozens in the crowd of 200-plus who huddled with them under the already overcrowded band shell. It didn't matter -- in seconds, everyone was soaked to the skin as the winds blew the rain sideways under the shelter. Musicians hurried to wipe off their instruments and put them in cases, sheet music flew through Tower Grove Park and people actually hid in Johnny-on-the-Spots to escape nature's wrath.

Let's hope for just as much drama -- with less wetness -- at the next pair of free galas hosted by the Band, this Sunday and Monday (7:30 p.m. July 6, at Francis Park, Eichelberger Street at Donovan Avenue; and 7:30 p.m. July 7, at Tower Grove Park, Tower Grove at Magnolia avenues). The packed lineup features the CHCB joined by '50s-music cover-band Butch Wax and the Hollywoods, blues guitarist Billy Peek and the Bishop DuBourg High School Swing Dance Club. Don't forget the tribute to W.C. Handy and the free Blue Bunny ice cream (314-776-2227, www.chband.org). -- Byron Kerman

Actors & Other Aliens
Time for The Fourth Dimension

A dancing woman dressed as a giant lollipop is enough to make us smile, but when she dances into a psychiatric hospital, something special happens. There's plenty of comedy in The Fourth Dimension, the new drama from local producer/director/writer Robin Garrels. Laughter, however, is not the blood running through the veins of this two-act play -- that would be compassion. Garrels, the dramaturge behind the Tin Ceiling/ Parliament Cheez group, tries to spread the love this time with a play about schizophrenics who might be aliens, the selfish doctors who confine them and our heroes, a couple who may just have the keys to freedom. Dimension's humor, pathos, surprises and clever breaking of the fourth wall invade Fort Gondo (3151 Cherokee Street, $8, 314-351-6652, www.tinceiling.org) at 8 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, July 4-27. -- Byron Kerman

 
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