Press Picks

january 27
Sophia The New Music of the Houston Composers Alliance presents this one-hour, ten-movement liturgical meditation on wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen. Other women participating are Patty Spain, soprano; Priscilla Nathan-Murphy, dancer; Teresa Hrachovy-Grawunder, flutist; and Lovie Smith-Schenck, percussionist. Both tonight and Friday, 8 p.m., St. Martin's Lutheran Church, 9550 Bellaire Blvd. For info 774-2777. Pay what you wish.

The Kinkster Cometh, Again Last summer Kinky Friedman was in town promoting his latest book. This time, pun-master and original Texas Jewboy brings his music and borderline stand-up comedy routine to the Laff Stop. In the early and middle 1970s the Kinkster toured with his band, the Texas Jewboys, either offending or amusing audiences with songs like "Asshole From El Paso," "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore," "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed" and "The Ballad of Charles Joseph Whitman" (he of the UT Tower mass-murder fame).

As for the publishing business, Friedman's latest novel, Elvis, Jesus and Coca-Cola, was pushed heavily by Simon and Schuster. Like his other works, it dealt with a former country-and-western singer turned amateur private detective named Kinky Friedman who is forced against his will and better judgment to solve murders in New York City. He is also planning an independent production of his book, A Case of Lone Star, in which he hopes to star as well as perform a duet with Willie Nelson, singing the country standard "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other." If you think the ticket price is too high, remind Kinky that he recently claimed that money just doesn't matter to him anymore. 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm., The Laff Stop, 1952A West Gray, 524-2333, $12. (Pick by Steve McVicker.)

january 28
HSPVA and HSO One day the lights went out, the legend goes, while the symphony orchestra at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts was rehearsing -- and no one stopped playing. Houston's own version of Fame, for more than two decades HSPVA has been providing an alternative public high school for the city's balmier, black- and rainbow-wearing students, who also happen to throw themselves frenetically into their art, dance, theater, media, writing or musical pursuits (and get out of gym). Billing the evening as "two orchestras for two bucks," the HSPVA orchestra will play a joint concert with the Houston Symphony. The HSPVA group will open with Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream; Vela will perform Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the HSO; then the combined orchestra will play excerpts from Copland's Rodeo and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet. 7:30 p.m., Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $2. (Pick by Ann Walton Sieber, HSPVA class of '79.)

january 29
Kodo Drum Ensemble "Kodo," we're told, translates to "children of the drum," but to see and hear what this 14-member Japanese touring group -- based on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan -- does with its array of double-headed talko drums, cymbals, gongs and bells, you'd be tempted to think of them as the collective mother of all rhythm. Kodo's members spend their time practicing what sounds like the musical equivalent of boot camp, with a grueling regime of mental and physical exercises not for the faint of heart. But it translates into a stage presence and a rhythmic precision that's simply not to be heard anywhere else. The group has recently released a Tristar album, The Best of Kodo, that gives a good hint of a typical performance (and tests the dynamic range of the old hi-fi), but the live performance is, by all accounts, transforming. Let Crash Worship set the fires -- this ensemble has no need of embellishment. Highly recommended. 8 p.m., Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS, $8-$38. (Pick by Brad Tyer.)

january 30
An Evening of Laughter AIDS Benefit Comic relief with funny boys Tom Hester, Scott Kennedy and Kevin May. Organizer James P. Davenport will be selling signed copies of his book I've Got To Be Me: everything you wanted to know about the gay lifestyle but were afraid to ask. The book costs `$12 -- unless, in a donating sort of spirit, you want to offer more. The Briarpatch club, a sponsor of the event, will be serving drinks, too. All proceeds from this event will go to the AIDS Foundation of Houston, which is rather serious, but this evening will be completely silly. Come on out and show your support and pride. 7 p.m., the Briarpatch, 2294 W. Holcombe. No admission charge.

january 31
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center Groundbreaking Buildings, of course, are not the main attraction of this botanical forest. Nonetheless, the nonprofit group is understandably excited about renovating the nature center and building new facilities for kids' classes, reptile swap meets and the plethora of fascinating programs hosted by the sanctuary. The Arboretum's 155 pristine green acres (inside the Loop!) are a special part of Houston. Over 200,000 of us enjoy the trails, programs and Discovery Room activities every year, and the planned improvements should only make the Arboretum better. The renovation plans are designed to maintain the architectural integrity of the unobtrusive glass building already there. Natural light is emphasized, and the improvements and new structure will blend into the landscape. The project is set to be completed in September 1994, but genuine nature-lovers should be on hand for the ground-breaking celebration at 11:30 a.m. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway, 681-8433. Free.

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