Heart Monitors As a trauma patient with two broken legs and a broken pelvis, Tom Brennan not only lived through a series of painful procedures, including the amputation of his right foot, he went on to create a theatrical work exploring the whole life-altering process. Scenes from Brennan's theater installation Puppet Hospital play at "Open Heart Night," an evening of experimental video and performance about events that touched its artists. The first half of the show is devoted to video: art and poetry videos from Brennan and Jakub Kalousek (whose artwork is hanging in ODC's gallery), movement video by Paul Benney and Jessica Lutes of Onsite Dance Company and choreographer Stephanie Forster, theatrical video by Seattle filmmaker Karry Fefer, and movement-theater video by Ken Goodrich. The second half of the show features two acts from Puppet Hospital, an installation created on screens around the room, tied together with the narrative thread of Brennan's early hospitalization. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through Sunday) at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 863-9834.
Mambo Combo After a few listens to their cha-cha version of "Hey, Jude," as yodeled by their late collaborator Tiny Tim, it's easier to sense where Austin's mostly instrumental sextet Brave Combo is coming from. It's a profoundly silly place, where "Hava Nagila" is a twist, "Satisfaction" is a cha-cha, "Stairway to Heaven" is a swing tune, and the "Hokey Pokey," conversely, is a Zeppelin-style barnburner. Their most recent CD, Group Dance Epidemic, even comes with step-by-step dance instructions for each number. Someone will always accuse Brave Combo of being a gimmick band, but their musicianship is solid, and if the gimmick causes huge crowds of people to cheerfully channel their inner dorks on the dance floor without involving a wedding, what's so wrong with that? Those Darn Accordions, the high-flying multigenerational squeeze-box ensemble whose octogenarian frontman finesses Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?," open the show at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $11; call 885-5075.
Strong Spirits The discussions and events accompanying the group show "Cocktail Hour: New Imagery in the AIDS Era" are indicative of the new mood pervading AIDS-related art. The panel discussion "Representing AIDS in a New Decade" (July 8) explores changes wrought by time and science, while "From the Neighborhood" (July 12) and "From the Streets" (July 15) combine performances from Pieces of the Quilt with swinging live sets by the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and the Dixieland Dykes. Cautious optimism, and a resistance to treating its subjects as victims, emerges in the exhibit as well, in Jerome Caja's sex-positive images, Louise Roach's survivor testaments, and Al Winn's work, which finds parallels in the rituals of drug regimens and Judaism. The show opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (and runs through Aug. 8) at S.F. Camerawork, 115 Natoma (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 764-1001.
Hot Stuff When Beth Henley's comic drama The Miss Firecracker Contest opened at the Manhattan Theater Club 14 years ago, Holly Hunter was cast as Carnelle Scott, a small-town girl who hopes to salvage her tarnished reputation by winning the Miss Firecracker pageant and parlaying the title into her ticket out of Brookhaven, Miss. It's easy to picture Hunter as the spunky Southern Scott, nicknamed "Miss Hot Tamale" by the local good ol' boys. The show opens in Scott's living room as she rehearses one of the most god-awful talent show acts ever crafted for the American stage, a tap dance number set to "The Star-Spangled Banner," involving somersaults, rifle-twirling, and a sparkler between the teeth. This Southern Gothic comedy of horrors runs on the manic energy of very desperate people, much like Henley's previous work, Crimes of the Heart. Pipedream Productions, whose local presentation of the musical comedy Co-Ed Prison Sluts is now in its second year, stages the show, which previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through Aug. 31) at the Cable Car Theater, 430 Mason (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $20-25; call 956-TIXS.
Freedom Rings Abe Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, but slaves in Texas didn't find out about it until two years later, on June 19, 1865. There are various theories regarding the holdup; according to some accounts, Texan farmers withheld the news until after harvest season, while others posit that the announcement was delivered by slow-moving Union troops or a lone man traveling by mule. At any rate, dozens of cities across the U.S. have begun to celebrate Juneteenth, also known as National Freedom Day, a holiday originally observed by African-American Texans. The 30th annual San Francisco festival opens today with a parade, and includes performances by R&B star Angela Bofill, jazz bandleader John Handy, and the Juneteenth Choir. Sunday highlights include a Father's Day tribute and a gospel concert at the Fillmore with Sons of the Soul Revivers, Steps of Faith, Robin Hodge Williams, and the Robert Henry Johnson Dance Troupe, among others. Jugglers, clowns, and martial artists entertain the kids all weekend, and picnickers are welcome, although local eateries will be setting up stands. The festival begins at 11 a.m. (noon Sunday) at Kimball Park, Steiner & Geary, S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8223.
Ragin' Cajun Jambalaya, red beans and rice, Cajun crawdads, beignets, and barbecued gator tails will be served at New Orleans by the Bay, a two-day festival steeped in French Quarter atmosphere, sans voodoo (and with any luck, drunk frat rats). The musical lineup is massive: "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" singer Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Queen Ida & Her Zydeco Band, pianist Charles Brown, Cuba's Cubanismo! and Los Van Van, and David Lindley headline today's show; the stage will be open to a handful of local performers as well, including stilt-walking troupe Women Walking Tall and Rosa Montoya Bailes Flamencos. Sunday begins with a gospel concert by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and segues into performances by Buckwheat Zydeco, the Radiators (still celebrating the recent release of their album Live at the Great American Music Hall), Maria Muldaur, Dr. Loco, and the Zydeco Flames. Mardi Gras enjoys an encore as parasol parades weave through the amphitheater and crowds are showered with festival beads. The festival opens at noon (11 a.m. Sunday) at the Shoreline Amphitheater, 1 Amphitheater Pkwy. (at Rangstorff), Mountain View. Admission is free-$20; call (510) 762-2277.
Pop Life You wouldn't catch Texas (or Arkansas, or even the rest of California) celebrating Father's Day with a "Father's Day Gun Bake," but this is San Francisco, where gender roles are less rigid, and the traditional giving-of-power-tools is strictly for the creativity impaired. After blacksmiths melt down assault rifles in a forge and pound them into sculpture, dads and kids can use them in the creation of an anti-gun violence community mural (that is, when they're not participating in the drum jam). The event begins at 1 p.m. in Washington Square Park, Columbus & Union, S.F. Admission is free; call 821-2309. Dads and kids can also collaborate on music and painting projects at the MOMA's "Family Day," where the Lorraine Hansberry Theater stages Forever Free: The Life and Times of Sargent Johnson, a family show about the artist. The day begins at 11:30 a.m. (with the play at 3 p.m.) at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$2; call 357-4097. Dads don't have to do anything but sit and eat at "Joyful Voices: A Father's Day Celebration," a concert featuring the San Francisco Boys and Girls Choruses. The show begins at 2 p.m. in Stern Grove, 19th Avenue & Sloat, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-6252. And dads don't even have to be around for "Family Memories Weekend," as photographer Corwin Hankins transforms color or black-and-white slides with pictures of Dad into image transfers with Vivitar printers and watercolor paper, a nice alternative for city dwellers whose fathers live elsewhere. The event begins at noon at the Exploratorium, Bay & Lyon, S.F. Admission is free-$9; call 563-7337.
Letting It All Hang Out Three weeks after This American Life host Ira Glass interviewed him onstage at Center for the Arts, author and NPR commentator David Sedaris crops up elsewhere in the city to read from his best-selling autobiography Naked. Sedaris introduced himself to the American reading and radio-listening public with his short story "SantaLand Diaries," an unrelentingly wicked account of his mostly humiliating, frequently absurd experiences as a Macy's Christmas elf; the tale was broadcast on Morning Edition and printed in Barrel Fever, a collection of droll essays that gave American pop culture some well-deserved prodding and poking. Sedaris offers a little bit more of himself and his extended family in his memoir Naked, wherein he finds the sublime in the ridiculousness that surrounds him. Sedaris spares no one, least of all himself, as he recalls a compulsive childhood spent licking light switches, and adult adventures like his two-week stay at a nudist camp and a one-time job sorting the fancy from the extra-fancy at a fruit-packing company. The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness (at Turk), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670.
This One's for the Ladies Me'Shell Ndegeocello has replaced Sheryl Crow, and Missy Elliott will not be performing; that's the latest bulletin from the local edition of the Lilith Fair, now in its second year. In other local news, singer Noelle Hampton and spoken-word artist Beth Lisick represent San Francisco on the fair's Village Stage, which is looking from here like the liveliest spot on the bill. People told Lilith organizer Sarah McLachlan at the outset that it couldn't be done, but McLachlan was having none of it, and box office receipts backed up the bankability of an all-woman folkie-acoustic tour featuring artists on heavy VH1 rotation. McLachlan, who has recently launched her own catalog of Lilith merchandise, shares the main stage with Erykah Badu, the Indigo Girls, Ndegeocello, and Natalie Merchant, all good news for fans of gentle melodic pluckiness and sisterly goodwill. (It's a good place, too, for sufficiently persuasive sincere boys to meet lots of girls.) Angry feminists who want to rock can start their own fair. K's Choice, Billie Meyers, and Lhasa play the second stage. The show begins at 3:30 p.m. (also Wednesday) at the Shoreline Amphitheater, 1 Amphitheater Pkwy. (at Rangstorff), Mountain View. Admission is $28-53; call (510) 762-2277.