Press Picks

thursday
september 15
Rock Bottom Brewery Chapter Two, in which Houston gets another brewpub. This time from a Colorado company that has been in the brewing and pub-grubbing business for a while. Tasty ales and fine-ish dining are offered. They've stolen a chef, Michael Rakes, from Landry's. Learn all about grist hoppers, the mash tun and wort. Or, just hoist a glass with fresh foam and don't worry about how beer is brewed. Grand opening today, all day. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Rock Bottom Brewery, 6111 Richmond, 974-2739.

Blues Music Festival '94 Enjoy the blues in the air-conditioned comfort of the Arena Theater. B.B. King, Little Feat (minus, sadly, the late, great Lowell George) and Dr. John. Should be worth the price of admission just to watch B.B. make his way down the aisle to the circular stage. Hoo-doo and pitchman Dr. John never fails to entertain -- who among us does not remember his sterling performance in Polynesian Town? There will also be a tribute to Muddy Waters. We're promised five hours of undefiled blues entertainment in the round. 7 p.m. Arena Theater, 7326 Southwest Frwy, 988-1020. $40, $54 & $80.

Fiestas Patrias Also known as Diez y Seis, this holiday could be thought of as the eve of Grito de Dolores, the struggle for independence from Spain. (Said struggle ended a decade later when the Pacto de Iguala was signed.) Pico's Mex-Mex will have an authentic party and live coverage of the celebration in El Zocalo square in Mexico City. Watching (on television) the Mexican president ring the original Bell of Dolores in the Palacio Nacional will be like watching (on television) the ball drop in Times Square. Before and after this big-screen televised event, Pico's will have live entertainment from Walter Suhr and Mango Punch. Special holiday menu from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. The whole shindig runs from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Pico's Mex Mex, 4527 Lomitas, 942-9955. $10 cover.

friday
september 16
Balloons Over Alvin There is no rain date, and if the Fates do not cooperate, the Balloons Over Alvin will be a muddy field of sodden, pissed-off people standing around limp sacks of silk. However, if Clothos, Lachesis and Atropos bring clear weather, a glorious fleet of balloons will soar among the clouds. In 1993, 15,000 sightseers showed up in Alvin to gape heavenward as balloons wafted by. This year, the organizers expect more people and they have more stuff -- a "balloon glow," radio-controlled airplane demonstrations and a car show. September 16, 17 & 18. Daylight hours and then some. Alvin Community College, 3110 Mustang Road, Alvin, 388-4698.

Chris Rock Before he was known for Saturday Night Live, Rock was known in New York's comedy clubs, especially for his "I was born a suspect" bit. On stage, in clubs, at the tender age of 18 (and at 18, Rock looked, oh, 13, tops) he would do this bit: "I was born a suspect. Old ladies see me walk by, they dial 91 and then just wait for a reason to complete the call." Kind of set the tone for his angry, but not all belligerent, style. On SNL he was best known for "Nat X," a muddle-headed militant. The character effectively skewered his talk-show targets, and the type of talk-show host Nat X was supposed to be. Even during his success on the SNL, Rock did work in clubs, and not so he could hang out in the bar and be a big shot with all his comedy buddies. Lately, he's been a successful movie producer, too. Rock created, wrote and produced CB4. That non-mainstream comedy was number one at the box office the week it opened. Tonight at 8 & 10:30 p.m. and 7:15, 9:30 & 11:45 p.m. Saturday. Laff Spot, Behind TGI Friday's at FM 1960 and 249, 955-9200. $20.

saturday
september 17
Coastal Cleanup Hit the beach, and clean up. Summer's over, you've had your fun. Now, do right by the seashore. The day of civic duty is followed by Trash Bash parties up and down the beach. Today's the day. Call Texas Adopt-a-Beach for details, (800) 85-BEACH. Costs you nothing, earns you instant karma.

Growing Up in Africa Young Audiences of Houston present the first in the fall series of free, family programs. Storytelling, singing, dance and percussion from Convergence are all elements of this brisk, educational program. Convergence will play before the production Growing Up in Africa, a performance that chronicles an African child's life from birth through school graduation. Growing Up in Africa will be followed by a drawing sponsored by African Fashions and Imports. A Look-In, a behind the scenes tour of the technical tricks of theater, will be the final event of the morning. 11 a.m. Miller Outdoor Theater, 100 Concert Lane, Hermann Park. For more information, call 520-9267. Free.

Fiestas Patrias '94! The timing is a little off, but this celebration earns historical-accuracy points with a dramatic reading of the Grito de Dolores (Cry for Independence). This two-day festival will benefit Casa Juan Diego, a shelter providing food, housing, clothing, legal aid and job training to Hispanics in need. You don't have to think about the serious side, though. The festival has a petting zoo, a pony ride and pinatas for the kids. Magic Island magicians, an Elvis impersonator, mariachis, folkloric dancers and salsa, conjunto, country and Tejano music for adults. El Expreso Bus Co. will provide free shuttles from Gulfgate and Northline malls throughout the festival. 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. today and noon -6:30 p.m. Sunday. Knights of Columbus 13-acre facility, 607 E. Whitney. $5, $3 children under 15.

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