There aren't too many musicians out there who would turn down a record deal to perform on the street. But then, Grammy-nominated guitarist Stanley Jordan has always done things his way. As a kid, he played the piano, but when his family moved into a smaller apartment, there was no room for it, and he picked up the guitar. Frustrated with his new instrument's limitations, he started playing it like a piano -- a style that would make him famous. Other guitarists, such as Lenny Breau, Eddie Van Halen and Emmett Chapman, also used piano-inspired "hammer-ons" and "pull-offs." But Jordan developed his "touch" or "tapping" technique on his own, and it lets him create the sound of two, even three, instruments at the same time. Today he is considered the first "touch virtuoso."
After earning a music degree from Princeton in the early '80s, Jordan rejected an offer from jazz label Elektra because he felt he wasn't ready for the big time. He played on the streets of New York, Philadelphia and other towns for a year and a half before finally signing with Blue Note (the zenith of jazz labels) in 1985.
His popularity, like that of most jazz musicians, peaked in the '80s (he even made a cameo in the film Blind Date, starring Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger). During the next decade, the guitarist quit touring and pursued a degree in music therapy at the University of Arizona. Now, refreshed from his break, Jordan is back on the road. He appears at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at the Engine Room, 1515 Pease. For tickets, call 713-654-7846. For more information visit www.stanley jordan.com. $15. -- Eric A.T. Dieckman
How deliciously postmodern: Each of Luis Recoder's films can be seen only once. That's because the filmmaker creates not movies but "film performances." During his shows, Recoder treats 16-millimeter film with indirect light exposures, fogging and light flares, sometimes using multiple screens. Recoder has performed (and been fawned over) at the New York Film Festival, the Rotterdam Film Festival and the 2002 Whitney Biennial. This weekend, he performs Liminal Lumen at the Aurora Picture Show; the work is sure to delight anyone who's ever described something as "meta." 8 p.m. Saturday, May 24; and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 25. 800 Aurora. For more information, call 713-868-2101 or visit www.aurorapictureshow.org. $5. -- Melissa Nurczynski
Theater World--New Delhi's Lushin Dubey has an intriguing take on Euripides' Medea, the play about a woman who, in reaction to her husband's adultery, embarks on a killing spree. The India-based performer portrays Medea's characters using hand puppets, one of which weirdly resembles Sesame Street's Bert. Besides recounting the ancient tragedy, Dubey's work, which isn't titled, also weaves in a modern-day story about the exploitation of women by the Taliban. Sounds provocative, but a Muppet Medea? That's just plain twisted. 5 p.m. Sunday, May 25. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood. For tickets, call 713-774-6100. $15 to $25. -- Troy Schulze
Forget the '50s
A young woman fantasizes about Donna Reed-style domestic bliss, but her boyfriend isn't so eager to start picking out china patterns. Anyone familiar with that scenario will relate to BalKing, local playwright Tera Harsin's one-act play starring Sarah Petries and Troy Cormier. The comedy follows its plucky heroine as she realizes that the cardboard perfection of Nick at Nite isn't within her reach -- and that she doesn't want it anyway. Opening acts for the play include readings by local writers. 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays from May 22 to May 31. Helios, 411 Westheimer. For more information, call 713-526-4648. $5; $10 on Fridays. -- Melissa Nurczynski