Texas Music Festival Four weeks of feverish, yet fun, study by earnest young professionals and advanced students of music wraps up tonight with a gala concert for the public. The sixth annual Immanual and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival Orchestra closes with a free concert. Ned Battista conducts a program of Bizet, Elgar, Gershwin, Glinka, Katchaturian and Tiomkin. There's a midmorning show for out-of-school kids. 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 363-3300. Free.
A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet The eighth annual Shakespeare by the Book Festival presents two classic plays, one of them not exactly by the book. Though Kate Pogue has directed her Hamlet in the traditional manner -- adhering to the traditions of Shakespeare's day by making Hamlet a fast-paced story of murder and revenge and leaving all the long dark night of the Prince's soul stuff in the background -- John Corley has taken a different tack with A Midsummer Night's Dream, putting Oberon at a sock hop, with adult characters such as Theseus and Hippolyta as chaperoning gym teacher and principals. Why not? After all, as Corley says, "Midsummer is about puppy love, silly, obsessive, very innocent." The two plays alternate this weekend at HCCS and then move to the George Memorial Amphitheatre in Richmond, where they'll continue through July 16. Hamlet tonight and Saturday, 8 p.m.; Midsummer Friday, 8 p.m. HCCS, Heinen Theatre, 3517 Austin, 630-1138. $5; $3 students.
Dead Before It's probably worth the price of admission just to see an industrial band who did their eight-by-ten promo shots in a natural, woodsy setting. Although the five-member band crows about being likened to a cross between White Zombie and Helmet, the group doesn't seem to be overweeningly image conscious, and for that they deserves a listen. Catch the "industrial groove" tonight with additional acts Mudshow and Nesga. Show begins at 9 p.m. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, 862-3838. $5.
Free to Give A terrible milestone in many women's lives is finally weighing enough to give blood. Once you tip the scales at 110, it's time to line up for civic duty. Giving blood is quick (30 minutes) and easy (you won't feel a thing), and with another bloody highway holiday on the way, quality plasma is needed. All medically able bodies older than 17 and weighing more than 110 pounds are urged to come and give a pint. Be sure to eat at least four hours before donating blood and bring some I.D. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. KTRK/ Channel 13, 3310 Bissonnet. For more information, call the St. Luke's Blood Donor Center, 791-4483.
Butterflies are freed You don't see animal action like this every day -- 365 new butterflies will be loosed into the Cockrell Butterfly Center, to make their home amidst the many butterflies and four free-roaming tropical lizards of the glass cone. This is just one of the many events planned in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the tropical rain forest environment at the Museum of Natural Science. Kids can stop by the butterfly station and make an origami butterfly to take home, or learn about attracting butterflies with plants. Kids who prefer the large and obvious scales of reptiles to the soft and not-really-visible-to-the-naked-eye scales of lepidoptera can participate in a "Name the Iguana" contest. The creature in question is three-feet long. Butterflies flutter into their new home at 10 a.m. sharp; poison dart frogs on display all day. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive, Hermann Park, 639-4600. $3; $2 kids. (Educational exhibits in the Grand Hall free of charge.)
Treasure Island Thanks to industrious night-before digging by a KRBE/104 FM crew, Galveston has buried treasure. A volleyball tournament and the search for buried certificates, both co-sponsored by the radio station, will give Stewart Beach that extra touch of the festive needed for a holiday weekend. The Evian Beach Volleyball Open begins at 9 a.m.; digging commences at noon. Stewart Beach, Galveston. To have a chance at unburying treasure, call Clint Wright, 266-1000; to register for volleyball, call Spike Sports, 699-1990.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show John Howell, executive producer for Wild West Productions, has it sussed out thusly: "When visitors come to Texas, Houston in particular, they expect to see cowboys and Indians like in the movies. And many are disappointed when they don't. This show will give them a chance to see some of the Old West while visiting Houston." Moreover, "the show's engagement in Houston sprang from a need we recognized for great family entertainment of a historical nature during a family-oriented patriotic holiday." Annie Oakley will not appear, but the show does have thoroughly modern sharpshooters, trick riders, Native American dances and live buffalo. Showtimes for this "rip-roarin', whip-poppin', shoot-'em-up" are 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. today; 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Houston Farm and Ranch Club, on Highway 6 just north of I-10. For tickets, call Ticketmaster, 629-3700. Discount coupons are available at all Luther's Bar-B-Q stores. For more info, call Wild West Productions, 376-1343. $12; $7 children. (Plus Ticketmaster surcharge for phone sales.)
Star-Spangled Salute A Sunday music program with cannon fire! Free to all. Stephen Stein of the Houston Symphony conducts a lively program including Gould's American Salute, Scott Joplin's Pineapple Rag, Solace and Ragtime Dance and a Texas sing-along medley. The voices of singers-along can be compared to the trained voices of soprano Luvenia Garner and baritone Donnie Ray Albert, both of whom will step out for solos. And, for full-fledged Fourth of July fans, the program will include glorious Fourth classics such as Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture -- with real cannon blasts! Gates open at 6:30, concert at 8 p.m. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 363-3300. Free, but bring non-perishable food items for the Montgomery County Food Bank. Picnics are welcome, but no beverages are allowed in the gates. Buy what they sell or be parched.
Steve Ribnikar and the Flying Spurs Steve "the Chief" Ribnikar has no truck with country wannabes such as Billy Ray Cyrus. Steve is a roots guy, and he goes back, not just to George Jones but also to Norman Wade and Vernon Oxford -- and he does a few of his own tunes, too. Drugstore cowboys and phony line dancers are unwelcome (unless they're ready and willing to shun the ways of the Anti-Hank and accept the way, the truth and the light of the one true Hank, Hank Williams Sr.) This is, local music lovers are assured by the Chief, a rare opportunity to hear the absolutely real thing. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. The Shakespeare Pub, 14129 Memorial Drive, 497-4625. No cover charge.
George Ranch Historical Park The cowboy history park and working ranch invites families out for an authentic Victorian-era Texas Independence Day celebration. Expect costumed programs and old-fashioned fireworks. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 30 minutes from the Galleria. Take U.S. 59 south to Crabb River Road, go south and follow the signs. (713) 545-9212. $5.
Freedom of Expression Festival Food, fun and freedom of expression -- but wait! there's more! Art cars, too! Scrawl graffiti, paint, make loud sounds. Eat your barbecue from the Bad Taste Barbecue Grill -- a former Volkswagen converted to a cannibal meat wagon. Real, bona fide artists and nascent artists both are urged to attend. Those between the ages of one and 90 must be clothed, but bathing suits are okay, and they have hoses. This is the grand reopening of the Art Car Park and Museum and a celebration of our inalienable rights as Americans to make fools of ourselves. Noon-midnight. Travis at Pease. For more information, call 869-4656. Free.
The Freedom Festival After the Rockets parade, this might seem less exciting than it would otherwise, but we won't have another parade for a while, so this will just have to do. Yes, patriot pyromaniacs have to be satisfied with the biggest, loudest and most colorful display of fireworks technology in the whole state. That, and music from longtime touring acts such as Steppenwolf and Foghat. For the kids, there are moonwalks (one in the shape of a dragon, the other in the shape of a castle) and a safety-training, 40-foot obstacle course. Also, a clocked pitching booth to test their throwing arms. Food will be all over, with vendors selling everything from snow cones to jerk chicken. The festival site is Buffalo Bayou Park, but the fireworks will be visible all over downtown. Music starts at 4 p.m.; activities wind down around 10:30 p.m. For more information, call 961-2992. No admission charge. Alcoholic beverages, glass of any kind (except, we hope, in eyeglasses), grills, weapons, fireworks, pets, umbrellas and recording devices are strictly prohibited.
1995 Fresca Junior Cycling Championships Under the banner of the grapefruit flavored soda, the best and the brightest of America's junior cycling talent takes to the Alkek Velodrome. Almost 200 cyclists, ages ten to 18, will compete in sprints, time trials, points races and pursuits, and the very best and brightest of them will go on to compete again at the World Junior Cycling Championships in Italy. The championships run through July 9, and while the highly skilled are whizzing around the 330-meter track, ordinary kids, four to 14, can compete in three bike rodeos. (Kids need not bring their own bike; they will, though, need their own safety gear.) Toward the end of the week, there'll be Penny Farthing racing for weird, old-fashioned high-wheeled bikes. All the excitement will mean minor adjustments to the usual cycling and in-line skating schedules at the velodrome. For a complete schedule, call 578-0693. Alkek Velodrome, Cullen Park, between Barker Cypress and Saums Road, 578-0693. Free admission.
Celebrity shoe collection See the fabulous footwear of a dead president, a living Beatle and a dozen other pairs of shoes of the stars on display right now at Larry's Shoes. Yes, the tasteful Galleria purveyor of quality accouterments for your feet enables you to see what the other half walks in. Ringo Starr's contribution to the collection is a pair of paisley psychedelic high-tops -- silly shoes not nearly as impressive, or intriguing, as the Egyptian-motif sandals formerly worn by Vincent Price. Larry's Shoes president Elliot Goodwin was recently quoted in Inc. magazine explaining why his stores offer anyone who stops in for loafers a chance to gaze at shoes formerly worn by Cher, Joan Crawford or even Rod Stewart. He created the traveling shoe museum, he said, in response to customer demand. See it all summer long. Larry's Shoes, 1703 Post Oak Boulevard, 621-8696.