This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Week of October 15, 2003

Wednesday, October 15Just when you thought the City Museum was as dangerous as could be, they go ahead and up the ante with a new attraction: Fire Performers. Every Wednesday at 8 p.m., those brave souls who are drawn to the flame dazzle and amaze by putting on a free show of fire twirling, fire juggling and the standard harbinger of an impending Gene Simmons bass solo, fire breathing. Honestly, when handled properly by people who have minimized the risks, fire breathing is no more dangerous than drunken lawn mowing, and your old man does that every weekend. So grab the kids, bring some marshmallows, and get to the City Museum (701 North 15th Street, 314-231-CITY) tonight for a roaring good time. Still, go a little easy on the Aqua Net, just to be safe. The show is free with the usual $7.50 City Museum admission fee.

Thursday, October 16As of today, we are just five months and one day away from St. Patrick's Day, and the Irish are giddy with anticipation. If you're already brewing green beer in preparation for St. Paddy's happy day, you'll want to get to the Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Avenue) tonight for the Echoes of Erin Traditional Irish Concert. This is the real deal here, none of that pop-cultured-up "Riverdance" crap. A host of musicians and dancers, all of them so Irish they list their county of origin on the press sheet, present the deliriously happy/ dolorously sad music of the Emerald Isle for everyone's amusement (except for the English). They're even packing a storyteller, Jim Barry of County Cork, along, because what's an evening without a few tales? Tickets are $25 (314-534-1111), and this fundraiser for St. Louis Irish Arts begins at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, October 17Dark of the Moon is a play that's best described as a gothic take on Hee Haw. Seriously. The drama concerns the residents of a small town in North Carolina's Appalachia country -- the simple, barefoot folk and the witches that zoom through the night sky while they sleep. This oddity was created in 1941, when Howard Richardson decided to turn a seventeenth-century Scottish song, "The Ballad of Barbara Allen," into a drama. He imagined a town of hicks with accents so thick they're practically speaking another language and a shadow world peopled by spirit-creatures, whispered about fearfully by the townspeople. The vampy "Barb'ry" is desired by many, but especially by the smitten "witch boy" John. He needs to be made human so's he can live with his honey, and that's where all the trouble starts. Let's hope that the kids of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville take care, ya hear, because productions of this occultist play are supposedly cursed. Tiptoe into the school's Katherine Dunham Hall Theatre, near the intersection of Hwy. 157 & Hwy. 270, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday or 2 p.m. Sunday ($5-$8, 618-650-2774).

John the Witch Boy (Timothy Baker) dreams of a better tomorrow with his Barb'ry (Kelly Maier) while Preacher Hagler (Phil C. Levelling) furtively observes them by the Dark of the Moon
SIUE Photos
John the Witch Boy (Timothy Baker) dreams of a better tomorrow with his Barb'ry (Kelly Maier) while Preacher Hagler (Phil C. Levelling) furtively observes them by the Dark of the Moon

Saturday, October 18 Gorge Trio is an amalgam of brainy musicians who, at various times in the past, present and future, have played or will play with Deerhoof, Colossamite and Sicbay. Confused? Don't be. The only thing about them you really need to understand is that the Gorge Trio sometimes sound like all of those bands, but most of the time they sound like a be-bop jazz combo who decided to play post-punk pop. And not that twitchy, scary post-punk pop, either; it's more a dreamy, psychedelic post-punk. But hometown bass-monster Darin Gray is playing with them, so who knows what will happen once the lights go out and the show starts? Gorge Trio and Mr. Gray perform tonight at the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center (3301 Lemp Avenue, 314-771-1096 or www.lemp-arts.org). There's a $5 cover charge, and doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 19At the last B'nai Amoona Cemetery Tour, a mix of Jews and Gentiles were fascinated by Linda McFessel Koenig's explanations of various symbols and customs. For instance, the local historian directed the folks on the tour to peer into a mausoleum, an oddity in a Jewish graveyard. The structure appeared to be empty -- where were the vaults? Jewish custom forbids the interment of bodies above earth, she said. The coffins were actually beneath the stone floor. Koenig also explained the presence of a symbol reminiscent of a gang sign that adorns many of the headstones (it's a representation of an ancient priestly hand gesture), translated some Hebrew and described why many Jews with the last name "Cohen" are, even to this day, not allowed onto the grounds of cemeteries. The next tour departs at 2 p.m. today, at the B'nai Amoona gates near the intersection of North & South Road and Blackberry Avenue in University City. The Green Center (314-725-8314) sponsors the event, which costs $10 (and an additional $2.50 for each extra family member).

Monday, October 20Fans of the Food Network show All-American Festivals have become familiar with onion-eating and oyster-shucking contests and also the strange world of cookoffs. Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America is food writer Amy Sutherland's chronicle of the fanatics who rule the cookoff circuit. The author traveled to national competitions for dishes with garlic, chicken and beef; high-stakes chili and jambalaya cookoffs; and the annual million-dollar Pillsbury Bake-off. The minor dramas she discovered are captivating and often hilarious, including the techniques of cookoff cheaters and run-ins with animal-rights protesters at the National Beef Cookoff. Meet the author and hear her read from the new book at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue, 314-367-6731, free).

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