Fun with Dr. Kevorkian Radio Music Theatre's first all-new show in a coon's age is more like a variety show than like the Fertle family stories. RMT stars (and radio and television commercial regulars) Steve and Vicki Farrell and their third banana Rich Mills have piled up a delightful mix of comedy sketches, bogus commercials and songs. The skits are vaguely linked by Dr. Kevorkian, who appears in, or is at least mentioned in, a goodly number of the vignettes. Fun with Dr. Kevorkian is a chance for hard-core RMT fans to see some of the short bits previously heard only on the troupe's syndicated radio service. Tonight is opening night; why not enjoy a bottle of champagne with the show? Early in RMT history, the thespians wanted to have champagne on the menu, so they went out and bought two bottles. They figured that anyone who would order a bottle of champagne would order a second. Now, as everyone knows, they're well-established and order everything by the case. Thu. & Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 8:30 & 10:50 p.m. Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 522-7722. Reservations required. $12.
Labor Day Funk Fest A more accurate title would be Pre-Party Funk Fest for the TSU vs. Prairie View A&M Labor Day Football Classic. Lacking in zing, don't you think? And, too, the funk and football elements are only part of the mix. You get live music from Big Mello, Jubilee, Groove U, Craig Mack and Brandy. You get players and support squads from both universities. And you get food, fair-booth festivities and fun and friends from 102 JAMZ. This is no little tailgate party
-- the promoters plan to see about 7,000 people. 4 p.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of Las Americas. $8.
Community Music Center Big Band Concert James Williams conducts the 18-piece All-Star Band in a tribute to Count Basie and that William Faulkner of the Swing Set -- you know, the big train on the track all the others have to move out of the way of -- Duke Ellington. Williams says, "There is a tremendous love for the big band sound and I think that the presentation of the works of Count Basie and Duke Ellington is an appropriate way to commemorate August as Jazz Month." Of course, August was last month, but jazz has always been comfortable with loose limits. Today and tomorrow, 8 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park. All seating is free, but tickets are required for seating under the pavilion. Call 520-3290 for details or information on handicapped seating.
Burt Bacharach The Houston Symphony-Exxon Pops are back and the season-opening concert is chart-topper Burt Bacharach. The 30-year show-biz vet will play the piano and conduct our symphony orchestra in a program that includes Oscar-winning tunes such as Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and Best That You Can Do. Bacharach is also the tunesmith behind notable ditties such as Alfie, Walk on By, Close to You and I Say a Little Prayer. 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15Ð$50.
George Ranch Labor Day Reunion Cowboys and ranch hands from all over South Texas will converge on the historical park and compete in cattle-working skills. The dust-raising festivities continue through Labor Day. Today's highlight is the chuck wagon cook-off. Cooks will be judged on their grub and the authenticity of their wagons, gear and cooking methods. Team roping, team penning and pasture doctoring events will be held on the weekend, and the exhibits and other attractions will be open. We personally like the steer mugging event. Will steer carjacking be introduced next year? (The New York Knicks had a company picnic at the ranch; no word as to whether or not they followed the park's no-alcohol rules.) 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 3, 4 & 5. George Ranch Historical Park, 30 minutes from the Galleria. Take U.S. 59 south to the Crabb River Road exit, go south and follow the signs. 545-9212. $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 3-12. Evening Rodeo free with park admission; or, pay a mere $3 for the rodeo only.
Jaroslav Belik: The Art of Time Perhaps driven half mad by the almost total success of evil digital timepieces, Czech-born artist Jaroslav Belik designed and built a collection of unconventional mechanical clocks. Belik is well-suited to the task of redefining how we define time -- he has a degree in mechanical engineering and a degree in fine arts. These marvels have never before been exhibited and, fittingly, they will be marking the minutes on the second level of the new Houston Museum of Natural Science wing near the Foucault Pendulum. Belik's timepieces will be ticking and whirring alongside a variety of sundials, water clocks, spring clocks and other artifacts of compulsive behavior. (This is also the last weekend for The World of Faberge: Russian Gems and Jewels. The more than 250 fabulous objets will be taken away, in many cases back to Russia, on Sept. 5. The Faberge exhibit has a special extra price of $5.) The Art of Time opens today and continues thru Dec. 31. Admission is included in regular museum admission. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., noon-6 p.m. Houston Museum of Natural Science, One Hermann Circle Drive, 639-4600. $3, $2 children under 12.
The Scarecrow and The Tale of the Fox The natural ancestors of Jack Skellington are the puppets of Polish animator Wladyslaw Starewicz. Don't talk to me about claymation -- this is magical. The element missing in claymation, and the element central to cinema magic, is spookiness. The Scarecrow is a silent movie from 1920. In the 14-minute film, Starewicz used 150 different masks for the scarecrow's expressions. A decade later, The Tale of the Fox was ready. Some scenes show as many as 100 puppets; one three-minute slice of celluloid required 273,000 different puppet scenes. The sloppy and quick-fix-seeking may ask why anyone would take so much time, take so much care, to make fantasies flicker across the cinema screen. This is not a perfect world, and godless, soulless little toadies are always asking idiot questions. Ignore them. Relish the sublime. 7:30 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $6, $5 members; single show $5, $4 members.
Magical Folktales of Africa This is family theater from Amandla Productions. A good trick is to take the kids through the zoo in the afternoon, to kind of wear them down, then stake out a good spot on the hill and have a picnic supper before the show begins. 7:30 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park. All seating is free but tickets are required for places under the pavilion. Call 520-3290 for details or information on handicapped seating.
Soulstice big band night With this and CMC's Friday event, you might think the '40s never ended. Where's Artie Shaw when you need him? This narrow downtown spot has done a brisk business since its opening last spring. Pretty pictures hang on the walls, poets perform and the club owner's stated goal was "filling a void in Houston; bringing people of all persuasions together to witness where jazz meets funk, reggae meets be-bop in a progressive art setting." Still, Soulstice has turned out to be a hang for grown ups. The ceilings are high, the lights are just right and old photos of early Houston can be seen downstairs for those who need to stroll around occasionally. Tonight, Soulstice presents a 16-piece jazz orchestra playing big band music and a blues set. 9 p.m. Soulstice, 910 Prairie, 224-3711. $5.
Jet Ski parade and rally Those who don't take to the waves can enjoy the Jet Ski trick show and live entertainment, and laugh at the mishaps of the Jet Ski rally racers. Or cheer for their favorites. Budweiser and Z-Rock are sponsoring this splashy Labor Day event, so don't expect it to be too serious. (Although proceeds will go to Texas Adaptive Aquatics, a Houston organization that teaches the disabled to enjoy the independence of water sports.) 10 a.m., Clear Lake Park, off NASA Road One. For more information call the hotline, 859-9015.
Labor Day Block Party The name is something of a misnomer. The party is not in a residential area, it's on the Richmond strip. Still, 104/KRBE wants you to meet your neighbors. Around 10,000 of your neighbors, if estimates from the good folks at 104 are accurate. (Ten thousand: that's only one-fourth of 1 percent of the Houston population, a downright cliquish crowd, from a certain perspective.) They've thought of everything. This parking-lot party has a rain room to keep you cool, a fun flush dunking both to keep you fun flushed and goofy sporting-type events such as sumo wrestling and boxer jocks boxing matches. Cause and Effect are the main band, but the all-day concert includes loud music from Anything Box, Dee-Lite, Liberty City, Collage and Red Red Groovy. Noon-8 p.m. Club Blue Planet, 6367 Richmond. Call the radio station for more information, 266-1000. $10.
The Ultimate Louie, Louie Contest Forget those little piddling Louie, Louie contests, because this is the Big Kahuna of Louie, Louie contests. Labor Day seems to bring out the best in radio stations. Oldies 94.5 invites you to "Gather up your kazoo, your trombone, your French horn, your harmonica or whatever "instrument" you play plus your best Louie, Louie voice and come on down ...." Don't get any sick ideas about the quotation marks around instrument. This is a serious contest. Some of the contestants will compete for prizes during the Channel 2 Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Some may even be on TV with Jerry's Kids. Prizes will be awarded (and they're being rather coy about the nature of these prizes) for the best, worst and most creative renditions of the kegger and frat-party classic. Prizes will also be awarded for "whatever we feel like giving away a prize for!" Those who wish to compete should call KLDE, 622-5533, before noon, Fri. Sept. 2. Those who wish to see Louie, Louie contestants cavort should be at Dave & Busters, Richmond at Fountainview, from noon-6 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah Dr. Herbert Levine, the Houston Reconstructionist Havurah's recently appointed spiritual leader, will conduct services in Hebrew and English and recite a gender-neutral liturgy. HRH emphasizes rabbis and lay persons sharing the responsibility for leadership. HRH also supplements its services with readings and prayers chosen for contemporary relevance. Talks and discussions are integral to the services, and music is an important part of the proceedings. All members of the greater Houston Jewish community are invited to attend these "friendly, small and open to all" services. A reception follows tonight's Rosh Hashanah service. Child care and special programs for children will be offered. The services will be held at the I. Weiner Jewish Secondary School, 12583 S. Gessner. To order tickets or for further information, call 728-5050.
Ronnie Po A day job took the former Rice student away from his college band to New York City. In Manhattan he did solo stuff in all the squalid dives along McDougal Street and other similar venues. Now he's back in town and playing pleasant pop tunes at the Duck. 8:30 p.m. McGonigel"s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $3.
Noumenal Intersections: Portraits & Post-History Lessons and Sound Emporium Kitty Singleton and Christen Miller are the artists for the first show. "Noumenal Intersections" is rather purist work, and the collection includes straightforward portraits. Novel, eh? Karen Martin and Paul Waltman are responsible for "Sound Emporium," a collaborative installation. This installation, upstairs in Gallery II of the HCCS Fine Arts Center, is more in keeping with what local gallery mavens are accustomed to. Opening reception 6-8 p.m. HCCS Central College. Call for hours. Fine Arts Center, Galleries I & II, 3517 Austin, 630-7264.
Denise Chavez The writer, actress, playwright and teacher will read from her debut novel, Face of an Angel. Chavez has previously published a collection of short stories, The Last of the Menu Girls, and tours with her one-woman show, Women in the State of Grace. She also recently appeared in Vanity Fair tarting it up like nobody's business. It would be a mistake to pigeonhole Chavez as a Latina talent. Or even a woman writer slash whatever else you want to list. She is large. She contains multitudes. 7:30 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701.