The two must've never met, but dream it anyway: Pops (just "Jim" then) Farrar, at sea around the world with the Merchant Marine, storing up songs without even trying to, a folkways-sponge who'd eventually return home to southern Illinois and sire a bunch of musical sons. And the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh, for whom "parochial" was no pejorative term, who could name beauty in any rough, overlooked thing. Brethren, kindred spirits.
Hoobellatoo (it's a West African word meaning "beautiful people") is a St. Louis multimedia arts collective that honors the tumblin'-dice legacy of folkways hounds such as Pops Farrar, the recently departed Hunter Brumfield III (equally alight with music and words) and Memphis R&B legend Rosco Gordon with "Hoobellatoo: Crossing America" at Mad Art Gallery (2727 South 12th Street; 314-771-8230 www.madartgallery.com).
"Crossing America" is also the title of an epic hitchhiking poem by the Maine folk poet Leo Connellan; this long work will be read by K. Curtis Lyle and David Clewell, no slouches at the versifying themselves, with a "poetry score" by a galaxy of musicians -- Dave Stone, Victoria Gough and Geoffrey Seitz, among many others. Three of the gallery's holding cells (it used to be a cop shop, remember) house tributes to the night's honorees: Pops, hosted by his eldest son, John D. Farrar; Gordon, hosted by Bernie Hayes; and Brumfield, manned by his close buddy Fred Friction. Archival materials such as a pair of Gordon's gig shoes and some of Farrar Sr.'s driftwood sculptures are displayed within.
Festivities start at 7 p.m. with a photo essay by St. Louis artist Andrea Day. Fifteen bucks at the door gets you two free drinks, snacks are gratis while they last, and there's a cash bar to wash it all down. Visit www.hoobellatoo.org for more information. And as prep, if you will, listen to "Dent County" from Jay Farrar's Terroir Blues album. It's a love song from son to departed father, spare, understated and unforgettable -- just like filial feeling. -- Alex Weir
Train of Thought
Train of fun!
With rising gas prices, pollution, increasingly insulting bumper stickers (and increasingly insulting driving, for that matter), you really should take the train to work. To ease into this way of life, you should take a train to work today -- a model train, that is. As you may have guessed, today is the official "Take a Model Train to Work Day" (www.greatesthobby.com), and people across the nation are packing their trains along with their lunches to show off their hobby to coworkers and the rest of the world. Imagine how excited you'll be when you learn of another hobbyist in your Tower of Power (a.k.a. "the office"). Imagine how much fun it will be to set up a Twilight Zone-style circular train track and a tiny town that you can rule over at work (especially since you've got no other real powers while you're there). -- Alison Sieloff
Ms. Day falls in love quite easily -- but fortunately, she has a lot of love in her heart. One thing that will send her into Romance City is a man who can sing. Wow, will he make her weak in the knees! Another couple of things she love-love-loves? Having a full belly and a heady red-wine buzz -- just thinking about both gets her flushed! So imagine Ms. Day's near-passing-out heart-happiness when she saw that none other than "The Crown Prince of New York Cabaret," Steve Ross, is appearing at the almost perfect Chez Leon! This CWE sublime supper spot (at 4580 Laclede Avenue; www.chezleon.com) offers much red wine and dinner before Mr. Ross' most-economical late shows ($35 with a $12 minimum), which begin at 10:15 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, November 4 and 5. Call 314-361-1589 for reservations. -- Ms. Day
Musician and sometime professional basketball player Brian McKnight adds stage performer to his list of credits with a starring turn in Cheaters, the theatrical adaptation of Eric Jerome Dickey's novel about men, women, infidelity and what it takes to make it all work. Recovering from a recent divorce himself, McKnight dives into the subject matter, perhaps at his therapist's behest. McKnight is joined onstage by James Avery ("Uncle Phil" from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Michael Jai White (from Spawn) and Wendy Raquel Robinson (from The Steve Harvey Show). Cheaters does the dirty deed at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1111 or www.fabulousfox.com) at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, with 3 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday (November 3 through 6). Tickets are $27.50 to $45. Say you were there. -- Jedidiah Ayres