Henry Rollins, best known as the buffed and tattooed Black Flag front man, has been performing spoken word for more than two decades. And, he says, it's his greatest challenge. "When I look at the tour dates, I always wonder if I'll be able to pull it off. I'd be lying if I told you it was easy. Enjoyable, yes, but not easy." Rollins recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, and he's drawn material from that experience for his current tour, "Shock and Awe My Ass." Some things that stuck out to him: "The overall ever-present risk-and-danger factor. And all the good humanitarian work by the coalition forces for the people of the country -- boosting local employment, building schools -- that you never really read about or see on CNN or Fox News."
Rollins was in Kabul when a bomb was dropped by mistake, killing many children. "For a moment, I forgot I was in Kabul, 'cause you're so used to watching Afghanistan and Iraq from your home on CNN. But then you say to yourself, 'Oh, that was all the noise I heard outside the window,' and you see these guys all running over to the tarmac. That was pretty intense." 7:30 p.m. Monday, January 19. Engine Room, 1515 Pease. For information, call 713-654-7846 or visit www.engineroomhouston.net. $20. -- Eric A.T. Dieckman
Coming to America
Rodgers and Hammerstein's adaptation of Flower Drum Song broke theatrical ground back in the day with the first all-Asian cast in Broadway history, yet the musical strayed far and wide from C.Y. Lee's novel of the same name. David Henry Wang has rewritten the script, creating what many critics are calling a "revisical" (huh?). His version retains some of the original elements from R&H's production while returning to the larger themes of Lee's novel. It tells the tale of Mei-Li, a young woman who flees from China in the '50s when the government starts persecuting her father. She winds up in a run-down San Francisco opera house, where she falls in love with Ta, an American-born upstart with dreams of converting the space into a hip nightclub. 8 p.m. Thursday, January 15, through February 1. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For a full schedule, call 713-558-TUTS or visit www.tuts.com. $25 to $68. -- Keith Plocek
Sean Curran started dancing Irish step as a child. He grew up to do a short stint on Broadway with the original cast of STOMP, and then a long stint with postmodern dance guru Bill T. Jones. In Houston in 2000, he got his feet wet as a choreographer with Chrysalis. "I am still considered an emerging artist," says Curran, who emerges this week onto the Society for the Performing Arts stage. Curran's work combines an edgy abstract folk dance quality, a love of percussion and a strong dose of raw physicality. And he loves his dancers. 8 p.m. Friday, January 16. Wortham Center's Cullen Theater. For information, call 713-632-4SPA or visit www.spahouston.org. $29 to $45. -- Nancy Galeota-Wozny
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In Ears We Trust
Contemporary music -- by composers, we mean, not the White Stripes -- makes some people nervous. Will it go over their heads? Will everyone else in the audience know something they don't? Before contemporary music ensemble Musiqa's concert "Music from Near and Far," Musiqa president Anthony Brandt will allay your fears. "I show people how to trust their ears," he says, "and be there in the moment and just enjoy the experience." 7 p.m. lecture; 8 p.m. performance. Friday, January 16. Zilkha Hall, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525. $5 to $15. -- Lisa Simon