A Tribute to El Vaquero and El Ranchero Casa Ramirez presents its annual rodeo show -- photographs celebrating the dusty history of vaqueros who roped and rode and wrangled and gave us the word rodeo. These original cowboys from Mexico and Spanish Texas also gave us the words bronco, lariat, lasso, ranch, palomino and buckaroo -- which is a corruption of vaquero. Pictures of working cowboys taken during the first half of the century will be on display along with original art by Hispanic schoolchildren. Through March 10. Casa Ramirez FolkArt Gallery, 239 West 19th Street, 880-2420.
Houston Aeros Rope a Monkee on Ice In perhaps the most bizarre announcement ever sent, our hockey team says, "Now that it's safe to don your tight jeans, chaps, hat and Garth Brooks look-a-like shirt, bring your significant 'monkey' and sing out loud." Davy Jones is the feature attraction at this game. Yes, Davy Jones the Monkee. He will sing the pre-game National Anthem and then, during intermissions, the former Tiger Beat cover boy will sign your treasured posters and albums (his pen-scratches significantly increasing the value of such collectibles). The Aeros are sure this game and will have fans screaming "I'm a Believer." 7 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 627-AERO. $6-$35.
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo It begins again.
Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein The average one-person show has a single individual up on-stage, maybe wearing a funny hat or a false nose, rambling on and on. Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein is not like that. Instead, it's a hair's breadth away from being interactive. Set in the intimate Little Room Downstairs theater, the show enables the audience to feel as though they're visiting Gertrude Stein. The room is decorated with Cubist art and other Steinian artifacts to replicate Stein's onetime salon at 27 Rue de Fleurs. The star, Cheryl Croix, moves about the room and even pours tea for members of the audience. The dialogue contains Stein's wit and wisdom, and some dish on the artists she knew. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Through March 2. The Little Room Downstairs, 1108 Peden, 523-0791. Reservations a must. $10.
Vienna Choir Boys Not the Osmonds, not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; this is the real thing. The Vienna Choir Boys was founded by the imperial decree of Austria's Emperor Maximilian I in 1498, and the great thing about this ensemble, according to those in the know, is that the talented boys bring their own childhood innocence to the music and yet present it with mature artistic mastery. Obviously, the choir's got something going for it; otherwise, it wouldn't have been in demand for 500 years. Works by Franz Schubert (himself a onetime Vienna choirboy), Johann Strauss, Felix Mendelssohn and Aaron Copland are part of the program. The don't-be-afraid-of-classical-music entry on the bill is a one-act comic opera, By Royal Command. Informative curtain talk, 7; concert, 7:30 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $10-$32.
St. Mary's Mardi Gras Run While others go to Galveston to wreck their health with Mardi Gras merriment, a select group visits the island to show their stuff in 5K and 15K runs. Last year, 5,415 folks laced up their running shoes to celebrate Mardi Gras in a more-than-healthy manner. The 12th annual pre-Fat Tuesday race is set for 8:30 a.m. Run/walk in the morning, and then party with the Momus Night Parade in the evening. St. Mary's Mardi Gras run has a 5K family walk, a Kids-K run, and 5K and 15K runs. The race begins and ends at St. Mary's Hospital, 404 St. Mary's Boulevard, Galveston. For more information or registration forms, call the hot line, (800) 754-0347.
National Black College Expo Black History Month is primarily devoted, of course, to the past accomplishments of African-Americans, but this event focuses on the future. Colleges and companies targeting African-American youth will be represented at the expo. And since you can't plan your future all day, the expo will also feature a fun run, fashion show and gospel concert. Main events, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. today; gospel concert, 3 p.m. Sunday. Westin Galleria Hotel, 5060 West Alabama. For more information, call 488-2946. $3; $2 with donation of canned goods.
Memorable Mardi Gras trip Why run, or fight traffic, when you can ride? The Houston Restaurant Association has a package trip -- one price covers train trips to and from Galveston and a ticket to not only Mardi Gras, but also good bleacher seating for the Momus parade. Mardi Gras has live entertainment; the train has a cash bar. Departing 1 p.m. from Eureka train station, 567 T.C. Jester (just north of I-10), and arriving from Galveston around midnight. To purchase tickets, call 802-1200. $75. Cash bar on the Texas Limited.
African-American Music Gala The talented and scholarly members of the Houston Ebony Opera Guild offer a concert of spirituals for solo voices and mixed chorus. Works by Hall Johnson, a Harlem Renaissance composer, and contemporary composer Adolphus Hailstork are the heart of the program. Nathan Carter, who has a chair at the Morgan State University fine arts department, is guest conductor for this gala program. After the two-hour concert, there will a reception and art exhibit. 4 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas. For more information, call 432-1900.
Magna Graecia: The Greeks in Italy The life and times of Greek colonists in southern Italy and Sicily -- or at least what we know of it from archaeological records -- is the topic of Ingrid Edlun-Berry's lecture. The University of Texas professor will discuss her thoughts on why and how this scarcely populated corner of Italy became one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the western Mediterranean. A reception follows. 8 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Jones Hall, 3900 Yoakum, 525-3116. Free.
JDP Trio Mary Jane's presents "another concert of strange music." The JDP Trio, whose drummer not only hits but also throws things to make them percuss, will be joined by both the Austin band Drums and Tuba and Richard Ramirez. Ramirez makes noise, "extreme noise," without the aid of conventional instruments. When performing, Ramirez is said to resemble a mad scientist in a laboratory. 8 p.m. Mary Jane's, 4216 Washington, 869-5263. "The price of admission will be very cheap."
Republic of Texas In actual fact, Texas was a whole 'nother country for less than a decade. Still, we like to think of ourselves as different and separate from the other 49 states. (Yes, when Texas joined the Union it did retain all public lands and exemption from foreclosure of private homesteads, but no, Texas did not retain the right to secede at will -- that's just one of those mistruths passed around on playgrounds.) The Heritage Society will celebrate the end of Texas' state as a nation with a ceremony. Dr. Anson Jones, last president of the Republic, and Sam Houston, first U.S. Senator from Texas, will be present for this sesquicentennial commemoration of the switch from being a Republic to being part of a republic. Because a ceremony is not always the most thrilling sight, the Heritage Society will open the 1823 Old Place, a building from the period commemorated, and sell buffalo chili and jalapeo cornbread at Melange. Grub on sale, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; ceremony, noon. The Heritage Society, Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby, 655-1912. Free.
Time Present, Time Past Unlike a fellow New Jersey native, Bill Bradley has not been a prophet, a poet, a pawn and a king, but his resume is equally impressive. Bradley (D-New Jersey) served a decade with the New York Knicks before his three terms in the U.S. Senate. He was also a basketball All-American at Princeton, a Rhodes scholar and an Olympic gold medalist. Also, he writes books. The most recent, Time Present, Time Past, is a political memoir in which Bradley not only reflects on his own career, but also talks about power, his heroes and, yes, why he is leaving the Senate. Bradley will discuss and sign copies of his books, 7:30 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. Free.
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Get your big break at Billy Blues Local vocals are being showcased Monday nights in February as part of Billy Blues' blues contest. Benny Valerio will back up singers singing blues, jazz or rock. "While raw talent," Billy Blues management reports, "may be an element in selecting a winner, nerves of steel may work as well. Finalists will be selected by the volume of audience participation, so a good cheering section of friends will help as much as a good voice -- probably more." That may mean that this is basically a popularity contest, but what the hey -- the weekly prize is $50. In March, finalists compete for $300 and a "gig" with Benny. Sign-up, 8; singing starts, 8:30 p.m. Billy Blues Bar and Grill, 6025 Richmond, 266-9294.
Velvis Paul Driscoll does a comedy magic show that does not make sense -- the specter of Elvis appears in a velvet painting, and so does the specter of Michael Jackson (who could be dead -- look at him! -- and frozen more successfully than Walt Disney). Frequently, Driscoll does his magic in Vegas, but at the moment, he's back home and confounding crowds with "Velvis." He's also passing around a photograph allegedly showing Velvis shaking hands with Richard M. Nixon and being made a special agent of the DEA. Through March 16. Call for showtimes, which vary from day to day and from week to week. (They frequently have a Sunday brunch show.) Magic Island, 2215 Southwest Freeway, 526-2442. Package deal for dinner and show.
Sharon Pratt Kelly Sharon Pratt Kelly was elected mayor of Washington, D.C., in 1990, the first African-American woman elected to such a post. She continues to be involved in political issues, speaking regularly on topics such as "The Growing Misogyny in American Politics" and "Race: the Defining Issue in America." This morning, she gives a refreshing, frank talk at TSU. Part of what she says is that "Citizens shouldn't look to the government for justice, based on its poor history of bucking the status quo -- we've got to be self-reliant. We've got to be the business owners and be the players who provide jobs." 11 a.m. Texas Southern University auditorium, 3100 Cleburne, 527-7456. Free.
Shark attack with Eugenie Clark Known as the "shark lady," and loved both by fans of animal snuff documentaries such as Fangs! and by her colleagues in the marine biology business, Clark makes her living playing around with sharks. She's written three books and worked on more than 20 TV shows, and now she's giving a lecture on her toothy friends at the zoo. While Eugenie holds forth for adults, kids six to ten can enjoy a hands-on workshop on sharks and other sea creatures. 7 p.m. Houston Zoo, Brown Education Center (gate 5), 1513 North MacGregor, Hermann Park, 529-2632. $8, lecture tickets; $6, kids' workshop tickets.