Press Picks

february 3
Houston Rockets vs. L.A. Lakers As if Los Angeles doesn't have enough problems -- now it has not one but two lousy basketball teams. The once-proud purple and gold are definitely reeling, currently tied for last place in the Pacific Division. Word out of the fabulous Forum is that all celebs save Jack Nicholson have abandoned ship. But Lakers general manager Jerry West did steal Nick Van Exel in the second round of last year's draft. With explosive guards Anthony Peeler and Doug Christie, and fast-aging forward James Worthy, the Lakers have enough talent to win. But usually they don't. 7:30 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $10-$150. (Alex Hecht)

february 4
They Came Before Columbus: The African presence in ancient America This book's author, Ivan Van Sertima, a linguist, anthropologist and Nobel candidate in literature, has been invited to speak by TSU's Lyceum and Cultural Arts Committee.

Van Sertima is professor of African Studies, Rutgers University; visiting professor at Princeton; and editor of the Journal of African Civilizations. This TSU lecture is a wonderful opportunity to hear and talk with an expert on the cultural heritage of Africa, and unlike what might pass for dialogue on Oprah, this is deep. 11 a.m. TSU Auditorium, 3100 Cleburn, 527-7456. Free.

The Count and the Duke Da Camera's Crossover Series presents a concert featuring Beethoven and Duke Ellington. The Muir String Quartet and trumpeter Clark Terry will be joined by Kenny Barron on keyboards, Ray Drummond on bass, "Slide" Hampton on trombone, Jimmy Heath on tenor sax and Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums. Barron is currently teaching at Rutgers University, recently formed his own record label (Joba Records) and played with Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy Rich. Heath once had a big band with John Coltrane, Benny Golson and Johnny Coles. Advance tickets available through Da Camera, 524-5050. 8 p.m. Wortham Center, Cullen Theater, 500 Texas Avenue. $13Ð$27.50, half-price tickets available for seniors & students.

february 5
Fishbone Way back in the good old days, Fishbone was a ska band. Well, no more. I first noticed around the time of last year's (or was that two years ago?) Fishbone gig at the Vatican, and further at Lollapalooza this summer, that Fishbone has transformed itself into what sounds an awful lot like a heavy metal band. A good, jamming, P-Funk-style heavy metal band, mind you, with horns and a wonderful lack of metal posturing, but nowhere near ska. So far from ska, in fact, that Fishbone can now afford to take a ska-oriented opening band on the road with them. That'd be Boston's Mighty Mighty Bosstones, whose horn-heavy records sound like they'll be two and a half hoots live, but you never can tell. Go early. Stay late. 7 p.m. Bayou City Theater, 6400 Richmond, 629-3700. $15 (all ages, general admission). (Brad Tyer)

Jazz and Poetry for Children Bubba Thomas and Thomas Meloncon will perform in the children's room of the main library. The show will be entertaining for kids -- the prediction is that their responses will vary from too-excited squealing to rapt attention. However, as long as they're in the library... and while kids are looking at books, parents can pick up a schedule for the library's Black History Month program, which includes other performances, art exhibits and lectures at branch libraries in every neighborhood. 11 a.m. Houston Public Library, 500 McKinney, 247-1660.

february 6
Houston Ebony Opera Guild Annual African-American Music Gala This Houston company is devoted to providing for minority participation in opera enjoyment and to exposing diverse audiences to music they might not otherwise hear. Tonight's concert features Siegmeister's I Have a Dream and a choral setting of The Creation, one of the sermonic poems from James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones. The rich and exciting program also includes art songs by African-American composers and traditional spirituals.

Houston Symphony conductor-in-residence Stephen Stein will conduct the symphony musicians and guild vocalists. The guild's singers are professionals, trained in outstanding musical schools such as Juilliard, who have sung nationally and internationally. This concert will be recorded by K-Arts classical radio for rebroadcast on Saturday, February 19, but that's no excuse for missing the gala. Advance tickets are available from Nia Gallery and Bookshop, 7721 Bellfort, near Fondren, 729-8400; and Pages of Hope Bookstore, 9251 South Main at Murworth, 662-2178. African-American Music Gala 3 p.m., Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Avenue. For info 432-1900. $10.

february 7
I Remember: Images of the Civil Rights Movement 1963-1993 An art exhibit organized to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the speech, this collection is made up of works in various media by African-American artists of several generations. This exhibition at the Blaffer Gallery is the first venue for the national tour of this powerful collection of art. The works in this show focus on heroic figures such as Dr. King, Richard Allen, Frederick Douglass and key organizations in the movement -- Congress of Racial Equality, NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Urban League. I Remember is noteworthy not only for the range of artists displayed, but also for the essays in the catalog. Lengthy essays like "Art, Politics and the Struggle for Justice" by Ronald W. Walters, who comments: "Perhaps there is no ready answer except the struggle, but whatever the final answer, art will reflect it or be the cause of it, it will educate, sensitize, express our hopes and our possibilities...." Thru March 26. Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 1-5 p.m. University of Houston, Blaffer Gallery, Fine Arts Bldg., entrance 16 off Cullen, 743-9530. Free.

february 8
When I Grow Up Jim Henson is dead, long live the Muppets! Our felt friends are alive and electrifying in the latest Sesame Street Live musical. This new show is Prairie Dawn's latest back-yard pageant and stars old favorites like Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the Count.

This is the 14th season of Sesame Street Live shows -- expect Children's Television Workshop quality and to see the stage debut of two brand new characters, Rosita and Roxy Marie. Opens Tue., Feb. 8, announced daily (you might want to call and confirm this), 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Thru Feb. 13. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza, 629-3700. $10-$12.

february 9
African Tales A show for children by Texas Mime Theater -- they're not just mimes! The troupe uses traditional mime, pantomime (mime in costumes), dance and simple spoken acting. TMT has presented more than 30 productions -- including such diverse works as Frankenstein and Opus Mime. African Tales is based on two traditional morality tales in which crafty animals try to outsmart each other and teach valuable lessons. Call early to find out about special group rates. 10:30 a.m. (also Feb. 10 & 11), Heinen Theater, 3517 Austin, 665-7145. $4.

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Alex Hecht
Brad Tyer