The Radiators They worked their way up from playing Louisiana high-school proms a decade ago to being praised by music writers all over the country. In Florida, the Orlando Weekly called them a "scorching fish-head feast"; the L.A. Reader said that the Radiators "get into a space few other groups approach." Their music combines African rhythms with western melody and New Orleans spice and comes up with something lots of folks just love. See them tonight, especially if they played at your prom, and see how far they've come. 9 p.m. Rockefeller's, 3620 Washington Ave., 869-5483. $22.50.
Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller's tragedy traces Willie Loman's descent into despair and madness as the American dream eludes him. Loman, truly a low man, is one of American literature's saddest and most compelling characters. Through him, Miller personifies everything he believes wrong with an American moral system that values the dollar above all else. Ralph Waite, most famous for playing John Boy's dad on The Waltons, plays Willie in this production -- a must-see for theater lovers. 7:30 p.m. (See Thrills, Theater for other dates and times.) Alley Theatre, 615 Texas, 228-8421. $31-$46.
Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival Conroe, that little town just outside of Houston where everyone still talks with a twang, holds one of its biggest festivals of the year this weekend. At it, find food such as funnel cake, fried alligator, Cajun "burriteaux" and ostrich on a stick. More than the peculiar food, the music -- both Cajun and otherwise -- ought to get you up and out of Inner Loopdom. This evening, Ezra Charles, Johnny Reno, Waylon Thibodeaux, Joe Douglas and Billy Joe Shaver are all playing. Tomorrow's highlights include Miss Molly, Trish Murphy, Jack Ingram, Chubby Carrier and accordion-playing Hunter Hayes, a young Cajun who's shared the stage with the likes of Hank Williams Jr. Also on Saturday, songwriter Guy Clark ("L.A. Freeway," "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train") plays at 6:30 p.m. at the Crighton Theatre (234 North Main Street, (409) 756-1226; tickets for his performance are $15, and if purchased in advance, include admission to the festival. The festival runs 6 p.m.-midnight tonight; 11 a.m.-midnight Oct. 11.; noon-6 p.m. Oct. 13. Corner of Highway 105 East and North Thompson (park at the old Doctor's Hospital at 3205 West Davis and shuttle to the festival). For information, call (800) 324-2604. Festival tickets, $6; $2, kids 12 and under; free, seniors and kids under six.
Ballet Folklorico de Mexico The New York Times called them "Joyous! Exhilarating!" That's what folk dance at its best can make you feel as you laugh, clap your hands and burn to get up and dance. Ballet Folklorico was founded in 1952 by Amalia Hernandez, and has since become the premier Mexican folkloric dance company. One hundred and fifty performers bring more than ten dances and ballets to the stage. See stories of beautiful women and dashing cowboys, not to mention the devil. Plus the Yaqui people, untouched by Spanish influence, bring their "Deer Dance" to the stage. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11; 2 p.m. Oct. 12. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, (800) 828-ARTS. $12$40.
Dracula This weekend, yet another theater group is putting up its shingle or swinging wide its doors or hanging curtains -- whatever it is that theaters do to signify that they're opening. Atomic Cafe opens with a Halloween-timed Dracula. This musical production promises to be "spooky, scary, silly, sexy" -- and Tod Waters and Meat Unit will show "horror art" in the gallery. Don't bring the kids; the show contains "adult themes." 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat, thru Nov. 1. Atomic Cafe, 1320 Nance, 222-ATOM. $8.
Mediterranean Festival For 16 years, the Mediterranean Festival has served your favorite foods from Middle Eastern and Slavic countries. Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Italy -- they're all represented in the stuffed grape leaves, pizza, falafel and baklava being served at this festival. The festival includes the requisite petting zoo, and kids can also ride Habebee the Camel. In St. George Orthodox Church, hear lectures on the Orthodox faith or just tromp around spending your nickels on all the little festival doodads for sale, some of them imported. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11; noon-6 p.m. Oct. 12. St. George Orthodox Church, 3505 Bissonnet, 665-5252. $2 donation or two canned goods for the Houston Food Bank.
Children's Festival Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion presents this festival for the third year in a row. Hear music and storytelling, play games and sports or try your hand at crafts all for the little people among us. Among the goings-on, there will be sign language set to music, Chinese tales and theatrical performances of historical events; see the Hastey Pudding Puppet Co., and Cello Man. 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, (281) 363-3300. $4.
Arena Dancing Farrell Dyde has been bringing new ideas to Houston dance for quite a few years. Tonight's performance promises to be just as offbeat and risky as those of the past. The "experimental" dance will take place in an informal setting with seating in the round and no special lighting. But don't worry that it'll be a highbrow confounding spectacle of folks moving strangely about the stage. Dyde has put together what he calls a "postmodern vaudeville show," a compilation from many dance companies and choreographers, all selected in the name of defining dance. Among the participants: the male urban dance group Fly, the all-female group Weave, "Tag Team dancing," "Kids Only" dancing and even "Dancers over Forty." 8 p.m. Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, 1202 Calumet, 942-9553. $12.
Camino Real Infernal Bridegroom Productions opens its 1997-98 season with a "site-specific" production of Tennessee Williams's Camino Real. Director Jason Nodler has chosen to set the play in the courtyard of the dilapidated Westbury Square. The old candle shop, ice cream parlor and pizza place are long gone, and in their place stand '60s-era gutted buildings with sad faux-European facades -- an environment as sad as the play's characters, tattered literary icons such as Casanova, Don Quixote and Lord Byron. It's a risky choice, weird and potentially really fun. Starts "just prior to sunset," Oct. 1126, Sat. and Sun. Corner of West Bellfort and Burdine, 802-0250. Reservations recommended. $9.99.
The Museum of Fine Arts Family Day Your offspring whine that they don't want to stare grimly at masterpieces? Today the Museum of Fine Arts offers a bit of entertainment to make the art go down easier. Storyteller Jeannine Pasini Beekman presents "Lasting Impression: Ageless Art Reflected in Timeless Tales." The Angelus Harp Ensemble will play as you stroll through the rooms of art. And best of all, your kids can create their own masterpieces based on the artwork in the MFA's collection. 12:15-4 p.m. The Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7589. $3, adults; $1.50, seniors and children.
End Hunger Network There are a lot of hungry people in the world, and many of them are right here in Houston: A Columbia University study found that in the U.S., Houston ranks second only to Detroit in child poverty. In recognition of the upcoming World Hunger Day, on October 16, the End Hunger NetworkHouston is today manning a hundred area grocery stores with volunteers from shelters and the Girl Scouts. They'll accept your donations of nonperishable foods and provide information about donating food throughout the year. Noon-4 p.m. at area Kroger, Randalls, Fiesta, Rice and Gerland grocery stores.
Halloween Mask Workshop Your little trick-or-treater is probably driving you crazy with her indecision. Will she be a dead cowgirl or a dead alien? A circus performer or an astronaut? Today is the day to pin her down and make her decide. Take her (or him) to the Orange Show, where she can happily make her very own Halloween mask. Artist Sharon Kopriva, an original member of the Orange Show, conducts this workshop. Wear casual clothes and bring your scariest ideas. 1-4 p.m. The Orange Show, 2402 Munger, 926-6368. $1; free, children.
Literary Luncheons Because happy stories are usually boring stories, it stands to reason that one way to become an interesting writer is to have something very, very bad happen to you. Terry Waite, former Beirut hostage, is one such writer. After spending four years in solitary confinement in a Beirut prison, he was freed and came home with a great story to tell. Meet him and hear what he has to say about his new book, Footfalls in Memory, over lunch at the Four Seasons. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar, 652-6210 for reservations. $25 for lunch, discussion, book-signing and valet parking.
Reframing the Affirmative Action Debate In light of the controversial Hopwood decision at the UT law school, affirmative action has once again become a very hot topic. Who better to discuss the controversial issue than the controversial Lani Guinier, who gained national attention when Clinton withdrew her nomination to head the Department of Justice? The University of Pennsylvania law professor and author of The Tyranny of the Majority will be in Houston tonight to explain what she believes to be wrong with affirmative action, as well as traditional admission standards in higher education. 7 p.m. University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun, Krost Hall Auditorium, entrance no. 19, 743-2812. Free.
Margarett Root Brown Reading Series Pulitzer Prize-winning Philip Levine, one of the most significant American poets of his generation, will read tonight at the Museum of Fine Arts. His poems, often about working-class America, are both deeply felt and philosophically complicated -- and the opportunity to hear him read won't come again in Houston for quite some time. In a kind of poetic double feature, C.K. Williams, winner of the Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize nominee, will also read. His powerful poems are constructed with strange long lines that run to the end of a page and keep his readers rushing through his mesmerizing world. 8 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet, Brown Auditorium, 743-3014. $5 donation.
State Fair Though faded TV star John Davidson may be relegated to a sad little box on Hollywood Squares, he is still very much alive and kicking, and this week he performs here in a traveling show. Returning to the musical comedy form that started his career, Davidson stars in State Fair, a large-scale Broadway musical, with chorus-line dancing and wide-smiling acting. This Rodgers and Hammerstein show opened last year on Broadway; now it comes to us, complete with its original star, costumes and set. 8 p.m. (See Thrills, Theater for other dates and times.) Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 629-3700. $39.50-$45.50.
Madame Delicieuse The Brownstone restaurant is hosting a whole new kind of theater in Houston: "dessert theater," a distillation of the dinner theater that used to be popular in the '60s and early '70s. Tonight's one-act by Diana Howie tells the story of Clairelise (Maud Ella Lindsley), who resides in the French Quarter of old New Orleans. Come early and have a creole dinner; then retire to the upstairs and nosh on dessert, sip a coffee and witness Maud Ella's late-evening performance. 9:30 p.m. Wed.-Fri. thru Nov. 7. The Brownstone, 2736 Virginia, 784-1750. $22.50 includes dessert, coffee, gratuity and the play.
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