Hello, Dalai! In its long history, Tibet has been subject to a parade of invaders, from the Chinese to Hollywood. Now comes the technology revolution, which the monks of Tibet's 500-year-old Sera Je Monastery have turned to their advantage in their multimedia touring program, Wildlife, Tamed Mind: The Spirit of Tibet. Though the show has a distinctively modern edge, including digital imagery of Tibetan landscapes and a videotaped presentation on spirituality by the Dalai Lama, the monks also perform traditional masked dances that reflect Buddhist teachings, accompanied by chanting, drums, cymbals, and 12-foot mountain horns. The program concludes with "The Six Acts of Longevity," in which the monks bestow a blessing of health and happiness on the audience. Wildlife, Tamed Mind: The Spirit of Tibet is performed at 8 p.m. at King Junior High Auditorium, 1720 Rose, Berkeley. Admission is by donation; call 339-8002.
Dead Men Waiting With nearly 400 inmates and an execution rate of 10 or more prisoners per year, the Ellis I Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ranks as one of America's biggest and busiest death rows. Social documentary photographer Ken Light, whose previous subjects have included poverty and civil rights along the Mississippi Delta and illegal immigrant farm workers in California, delves into the socio-political issues surrounding the death penalty, and provides an unflinching look into the grim lives of the soon-to-be-dead. Light presents a slide lecture and discussion of the photos, which will be published in book form as Texas Death Row, at 7:30 p.m. at Project Artaud, 2800 Mariposa, S.F. Admission is by donation; call 648-3800.
Hepped-Up Kid To celebrate its 16th anniversary as a film collective, the Red Vic has collaborated with JC Hopkins and his Heptet on a swingin' sweet-16 party. The six-piece ensemble provides jazzy live punctuation to the Harold Lloyd silent film The Kid Brother, a comedy in which a sheriff's weakling son saves the day, asserts his manliness, and maybe (or maybe not) gets the girl in the process. This is the second original film score to be penned and performed by Hopkins, a former folk singer and frontman for the power-pop trio Flophouse. Pass the wheat germ, man. Screenings are held at 7:15 and 9:30 p.m. at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight, S.F. Admission is $7; call 668-8999.
Drama Verbatim Maintaining individuality in a society hostile to difference is the unifying theme at Word for Word's third-anniversary festival. This company's theatrical productions based on short works of classic and contemporary fiction remain faithful to the authors' visions by incorporating every word of the original text into the action and dialogue; it may be hard on the actors, but it can touch off a thrill of recognition among readers in the crowd. This year's event comprises two works: Langston Hughes' The Blues I'm Playing, the story of a young Harlem Renaissance-era pianist whose white sponsor disapproves of his preference for jazz over classical music; and Animal Dreams author Barbara Kingsolver's Rose-Johnny, in which a small-town girl becomes attached to an androgynous woman scorned and feared by the rest of the community. The festival opens at 8:30 p.m. (continuing through Aug. 4) at the Magic Theater, Fort Mason Center, S.F. Admission is "pay-what-you-can" on Thursdays, $15 all other days; call 543-9505.
Harmonic Convergence The soundtrack to dreams being realized, deals struck, cocktails swilled, and hopes dashed is provided by scores of local bands this weekend at the Gavin music convention SFO3. Industry types will gather at the Press Club for schmooze-ins and panel discussions addressing such topics as tour survival and niche markets; afterward, attendees will go tromping out into the night to catch band showcases in 35 clubs citywide. Hearing tests and demo-listening sessions are included in the package. SFO3 begins at noon at the San Francisco Press Club, 555 Post, S.F. Registration is $190; call 495-3200. See program this issue for a complete schedule of events.
Swing Thing Hey, what year is this? Britain's "Tartan Noise Boys" the Big Six recorded their debut CD, Ready to ... Rock! with vintage technology, which may partially explain the Gene Vincent echoes on their rockabilly-band mix. Then again, some of the members of the sextet played in the Big Town Playboys, who backed up Jeff Beck on his Vincent tribute album. Either way, the band produces a big, swinging sound with the classic works: stand-up bass, horns, and periodic whoops and hollers. If this doesn't make you shake your tail feather, maybe you should talk to a doctor. Big Six headlines an SFO3 rockabilly showcase with opening acts the Barnshakers and the Dave & Deke Combo at 10 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., S.F. Admission is $10; call 626-1409. Big Six also plays Friday at Max & Sam's Hi-Ball Lounge (9:45 p.m., $7); Saturday at the Deluxe (9:30 p.m., $6); and Sunday at Cafe Du Nord with Sloe Gin Joes and DJ Rev. Slimm Buick (9 p.m., $5).
On the Move After her trip last year to the Rajasthani desert region of India and the Nizver region of Oman, Bombay-born choreographer Yasmen Sorab Mehta created a piece about the spirit of nomadic desert dwellers and the beauty she found in desolate landscapes, taking the Hindi and Arabic word for a dry riverbed, wadi, as her title. Mehta, whose dance training includes Indian folk technique and Graham- and Limon-based modern, frequently blurs cultural lines in her work with the all-woman company the California Contemporary Dancers, who perform Wadi to a live score from composer Stephen Kent. A native of East Africa, Kent specializes in traditional music of India and the Middle East; he'll play the didgeridoo at the concert. Wadi premieres at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m.) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $12.50-16.50; call 621-7797.
Jazzed With the San Francisco Jazz and Wine Festival, you get cost-free access to 25 bands and 30,000 potential new friends. Such a deal, as they say. Jazz gets all kinds of representation here, from the Brazilian strains of the Claudia Villela Quartet to the South African jazz-flavored reggae of the Amandla Poets to David Hardiman's San Francisco All Star Big Band tribute to Count Basie. The San Francisco Wine B.R.A.T.S. (Benefiting Responsible Adults of Tomorrow's Society) will present wine seminars Saturday and Sunday afternoon, with the express purpose of making wine selection and discussion less intimidating; California wines will be sold by the glass. The jazz festival store features the exhibit "Images of Jazz: A Forty-Year Retrospective of the Photography of Lee Tanner" and tickets to the 14th annual San Francisco Jazz Festival in October. The Jazz and Wine fest begins at 5:30 p.m. (also on Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.) at 2, 3, and 4 Embarcadero Center, S.F. Admission is free; call 733-6318.
Bizarre? No, Bazaar Are you eating plenty of udon noodles and playing enough bingo? The 58th annual Ginza Bazaar is the place to catch up on both; it's also where, amid the sushi tables and carnival games, the kimono-clad Hanayagi and Fujima Rokushige dance groups will perform the annual bon odori, a Japanese Buddhist dance honoring the spirits of the dead. A tour of the temple's altar provides a spiritual component to this already jampacked festival, while the grand prize raffle centers on more worldly needs. The bazaar begins at noon (also Sunday) at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, 1881 Pine, S.F. Admission is free; call 776-3158.
Nosferatu's Worst Nightmare Garlic addicts know they can get the goods at North Beach's Stinking Rose restaurant or the Gilroy Garlic Festival, but Oakland is about to load up on the tasty bulb with its own festival, an expansive offshoot of the Garlic Feast, an annual dinner at the Oliveto restaurant. Attractions include dozens of garlic-spiked dishes to try, cooking demonstrations, information booths on the history and medicinal properties of garlic, even a bad garlic breath contest. Writer Chester Aaron will discuss his garlic farm and his book Garlic Is Life: A Memoir With Recipes, and Motor Dude Zydeco contributes to the festive, fragrant air with live Cajun dance tunes. The festival begins at noon at Market Hall, 5625 College, Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 655-7748.
Good Day Sunshine And for you early risers, there's the Maya New Year Ceremony, a lively party beginning at the break of day with drumming, marimba music, Mayan and Aztec ceremonial dance, and Guatemalan refreshments. Following the ceremony, organizers Grupo Maya Qusamej Junan will conduct workshops on Mayan languages, education, and costumes. The celebration, led by Guatemalan priest Maria del Carmen, begins at 6 a.m. at Mission Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th and 20th streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 824-2534.
The Second Coming The Mormons first arrived in the Bay Area in 1846, when 250 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led by Sam Brannan, left New York for the Pacific Settlement on the ship Brooklyn; they became the church's first settlers in the area and founded the town of Brooklyn, which later became part of Oakland. As part of the church's Festival of History Week events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Mormon landing, the 320-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir makes its first local appearance in 30 years, performing an American-themed program of works including Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei and a selection of spirituals and hymns. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs at 8 p.m. (also Tuesday) at Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $15-40; call 864-6000.
Miracle Workers The American Foundation for the Blind celebrates its 75th anniversary with the touring exhibit "Inspiration and Innovation: Helen Keller and the American Foundation for the Blind." Among the exhibit items are artifacts like letters and photos from the archives of Keller, who was the AFB's spokesperson for nearly half a century, and modern gizmos like a new product called the Reading Edge, a computerized device that scans and reads aloud a printed page. The exhibit, a salute to the accomplishments of blind and visually impaired Americans, coincides with blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer's climb of Yosemite peak El Capitan. The exhibit opens today and runs through Sept. 6 at 1 Market Plaza, 1 Market, S.F. Hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission is free; call 392-4845.
Unhappy Campers The Phantom of the Opera is still the city's official musical blockbuster, but the return of the Les Miserables Broadway touring company, which will park its trailers south of San Francisco, may provide at least a brief flurry of show-biz competition. Based on Victor Hugo's novel, Les Miserables is the story of three decades of upheaval in 19th-century France, during which time the fugitive Jean Valjean tries to elude capture from the cruel Inspector Javert. The set, costume, and lighting design team that gave Cats and Starlight Express their star power was put to work on this production as well. Les Miserables opens at 7:30 p.m. and runs through Aug. 11 at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden, San Jose. Admission is $15-49; call 776-1999.