Splendor in the Grass Even stalwart urbanites are susceptible to that summer jones to run barefoot through a field or roll down verdant hills, letting the sticky, sun-warmed blades of grass tickle their skin and muss their hair. Suburban and rural kids grow up expecting field days to mark the end of their school years, but not so city kids, whose schools often lack the luxury of wide-open green space. Therefore, kids from all corners of the city are invited to participate in the Friends Field Day for Kids, an old-fashioned afternoon of arts and crafts, races, tossing and pitching contests, an obstacle course, and picnicking, beginning at 10 a.m. today in Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free; call 750-5442. Kids and their parents are also invited to design, decorate, and fly their own kites at the Multicultural Kite Festival, where a calypso band will play live and Caribbean food will be served. It begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields on the west end of Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free; call 750-5110. And while Golden Gate Park is the epicenter of the city park system, there are several other city parks, recreation areas, and green spaces with lots to offer, some of which are tucked away, unbeknownst even to longtime residents. Linda Fielding offers a history of these places on the Other Parks Tour, as a bus winds through various city neighborhoods. It begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at McLaren Lodge, Stanyan & Fell, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $25-30 and includes transportation and boxed lunches; call 750-5105.
Soaring Strings At his weakest, the Chamber Strings' Kevin Junior sounds like a moony Chris Robinson baring his '60s soul, but those moments are thankfully few and far between. At any other time on the band's debut album, Gospel Morning, the foppish singer, with his shag haircut and unnecessarily long scarves, summons early Ray Davies, post-Beatles John Lennon, or the perfect melancholy sweetness of Big Star-era Alex Chilton, crooning, "Drink up/ Soon we'll get another," and shaking actual sleigh bells in "Every Day Is Christmas." The Strings' charming, chiming mix of slide and acoustic guitars, lush harmonies, violins, organ, and the occasional brass owes some of its inspiration to latter-day practitioners of the form as well, including the Swell Maps' late singer Epic Soundtracks, who collaborated with Junior for three years before his brother Nikki Sudden joined the band. Junior's love of glam (and his less-than-secret lust for hook-laden pop) is sincere enough to win over most skeptics. Four-Hour Ramona, Skycycle, and Davy Vain play opening slots on the show, which begins at 8:30 p.m. at the Cocodrie, 1024 Kearny (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is $5; call 986-6678.
Work That Body Step aside, Soul Train and American Bandstand: "Body" is a new DJ dance party where club kids and aspiring fly boys and girls shake it up with professional dancers. The idea is to merge the area's dance and dance music tribes into what organizers hope will be a monthly party and performance showcase. The music is modern -- DJs like Julius Papp (OM Records), Harry Who (Solid Grooves), and Ms. Spank (Zebra Records) spin hip hop and house -- but the methodology is essentially old school. It begins as a free-for-all on the dance floor, but when the dance competition starts at 10:30 p.m., judges will be plucking people out of the crowd. The chosen few get to freestyle solo to whatever the DJ picks, and since dancers from studios all over town have already been invited to participate, the technical mix will include anything from jazz to breakin'. Winners take home CDs, clothing, and Rhythm & Motion studio passes. Culture Shock, a professional hip-hop company, performs at 10:15 and then freestyles throughout the night. The party begins at 9 p.m. at the Transmission Theater, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 621-1911.
S'Weenderful Persistent rumors about their Scotchgard-huffing habits aside, all you really need to know about Dean and Gene Ween is that they met in junior high. After that, their musical oeuvre makes perfect sense. Everything they've tried, from the scratchy cassette tape backup of their early years to the full Nashville music ensemble that supported their "12 Golden Country Greats" tour, sounds like the brainchild of two snickering stoner kids. "Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?" (with the agitated yelp, "He can't talk 'cause he's a pony ... I think it's his lungs!") is sophomoric and awful and very, very funny, emblematic of the recently released live album Paintin' the Town Brown, which features some of their silliest and most trying work to date. No "Push the Little Daisies" here, but you'd hardly miss it, considering everything else they have to offer, like the "Chariots of Fire" climax to the honky-tonk ditty "Japanese Cowboy," the bilingual lounge ballads and psychedelic sitars, or the exasperating half-hour jazz-drenched opus "Poopship Destroyer." Sometimes it's gross and sometimes it's endearing; in true adolescent fashion, it can be downright evil, too: Listen for "Mr. Richard Smoker/ You're a poopie poker/ Chardonnay and cocaine in the spa," set to bouncy pedal steel accompaniment. Let your inner child run amok for the evening, when Queens of the Stone Age open for Ween at 8 p.m. at the Warfield, 982 Market (at Sixth Street), S.F. Admission is $16.50; call 775-7722.