The 27th annual Houston International Festival might be called Six Banners Over the Bayou; it features a sextet of "entertainment zones" -- Caribbean, African, Latin, American, Texas and Kids -- and more big-name entertainment than you can shake a dreadlock at. Free lunchtime concerts are scheduled today and Friday. Dallas-born hepkitten Lisa Loeb and Austin's Sister 7 perform at Friday evening's Planet Bud Party, scheduled for 5:30 to 10 ($10). The final weekend of the fest proper includes "Jamaica Jamboree Day" and "Puerto Rico Day" celebrations and concerts by Burning Spear (see page 79), Sally Nyolo and Ricardo Lemvo (see page 95), Jimmie Vaughan, Manny Oquendo and Libre, Sister Carol, La Diferenzia and Butch Hancock. Also on the agenda: the International Dancin' in the Streets Parade, an appearance by world checkers champ Ronald "Suki" King and thematic fun at the Pirates Cove and the Caribbean Village. Various downtown sites. Info: (800) 541-2099, 654-8808; www.hif.org. Weekend admission: $6; free for kids under ten.
Sean Curran, formerly with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and currently banging pots, pans and other found objects in the off-Broadway percussion/movement phenomenon Stomp, is the special guest in "Center the Heart," the 15th-anniversary celebration by Houston's Chrysalis Dance Company. The program includes solo works by Curran, Doug Elkins's "Center My Heart," Chris Lidvall's Robert Rauschenberg-inspired "Collage with Yellow Chair" and Linda Phenix's "Picasso's Women." 8 tonight through Sunday. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. More info: 228-0914, 661-9855. $7 to $15.
An art-film drive-in? Only in Houston. Actually, it's an art-video drive-in called "Cinemati Go Go," and it's open for viewing and necking the last Friday of each month. On this month's marquee: the Art Car Drive-In Festival, featuring the Seemen. The program starts with flicks about art cars and by art-car artists, including Andy Mann, David Krzysik and Tom Kennedy. The shank of the evening features industrial performance art by Kal Spelletich's extreme-technology collective the Seemen and its band of merry, self-mutilating robots (Night & Day, April 16). 8 p.m. TemplO, 5217 Feagan, 802-1828. $5 per car; $2 for art cars; $3 for walk-ins.
Edward Albee is a three-time Pulitzer winner for A Delicate Balance, Seascape and Three Tall Women and a theater professor at the University of Houston. In the Edward Albee Workshops, the playwright/prof oversees the production of new works by local writers. This year's cycle opens with performances of Joe Okankwa's The Adventures of That Brotherman and Jacob Juntunen's Screwscotch at 8 tonight and 4 p.m. Saturday and Michael Whitley's Dominique and Glenna Bell's Terrible Believer at 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. The workshops continue through May 3. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway, 52-STAGES. Free.
Tessa Blake of River Oaks spent her trust fund to profile her father, 87-year-old Houston mover/shaker/playboy Thomas Walter Blake Jr. (a.k.a. "Blakey"), in Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me (Night & Day, March 19). Though the movie premiered last month at Austin's South by Southwest Film Festival, it hasn't played here 'til now. The documentary takes a local bow at 1:30 p.m. in conjunction with Worldfest-Houston. General Cinema Meyerland, 100 Meyerland Plaza, 666-0735. $4. (For more info about Worldfest, see page 49 or call 965-9960.)
Anyone who's ever intentionally visited West, Texas -- we're talking about the little community between Waco and Hillsboro, not the arid left half of the Lone Star State -- knows that the quaint Czech village nestled 'neath an I-35 overpass offers more than gas and clean restrooms. High on its list of attributes: traditional European-style pastries, sublimely fatty sausage that can kill you where you sit, the marvelous West Fest in the fall and the kind of small-town ethnic charm Texas is famous for (at least in Texas). While it's not quite up to the standard set by the West Fest, Houston's own Sts. Cyril & Methodius Slavic Heritage Festival -- sponsored by the Croation, Czech, Polish, Slovenian and Ukrainian Greater Houston Ethnic Societies -- boasts its own brand of ethnic charm, big-city-style. High on its list of attributes: the food (of course), traditional folk dances like the zboniki (the "mountaineers" dance) and the krakowiak, the presentation of ethnic princes and princesses and the singing of the national anthems of the five aforementioned regions. What's not to like? 1 to 7 p.m. Jerabeck Center at the University of St. Thomas, 4001 Mt. Vernon. Info: 529-1616. $3; free for kids under 12.
Between 20,000 and 30,000 locals are expected to hit the road to raise funds for the March of Dimes at WalkAmerica 1998. 9 a.m. Start/finish line: Robertson Stadium, Scott and Holman on the University of Houston campus. Info: 623-2020.
Texas architectural photographer Richard Payne and Mexican author Elena Poniatowska joined forces for Guerrero Viejo, the inaugural release by Houston's Anchorage Press. The book is a symbolic collaboration about the border town on the lower Rio Grande; the once-thriving outpost is itself symbolic -- of the passage of time and the high price of progress.
A font of classical Spanish-colonial architecture, the village was all but destroyed in 1953 by a freak overflow of the Falcon Dam, a joint project of the U.S. and Mexico. Payne, with his hushed black-and-white portraits, and Poniatowska, with her spare prose, each speak eloquently about its lovely, ravaged remains. Payne's previous works include Landmarks of Texas Architecture and Historic Galveston; he signs copies of Guerrero Viejo from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701.