Alice in Slumberland Alice, the local radio station whose slogan might as well be "No worries!," continues its Alice on Stage concert promotion with Florida's Sister Hazel. Like other bands in the Alice orbit (Blues Traveler, Counting Crows, Spin Doctors, Hootie, et al.), Sister Hazel don't rock, but are just too dull to provoke any really strenuous objections. Pointing to James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac as influences, the band delivers clean-scrubbed melodies and a crystalline, folky blend of slide and acoustic guitars, layered with an earnest homespun wisdom that typically involves the innocence of children and the poignancy of old men. On their album ... Somewhere More Familiar, Sister Hazel take us out for walks on the beach and confide in us: "I've seen a lot of sad people," laments singer Ken Block. "I've seen a lot of strange things/ I've seen a lot of bad people/ Do a lot of bad things." We feel your pain, bra. Behan Johnson opens the show at 9 p.m. at Bimbo's, 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), S.F. Admission is $12; call 474-0365.
Fly Boys Actor Peter Callender, who played great-great-grandfather T.J. in ACT's recent production of Insurrection: Holding History, offers a slice of neglected history as the director of Black Eagles, a staged reading of Leslie Lee's drama about the Tuskegee Airmen. Presented in conjunction with the Legion of Honor's "Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance" exhibit, Lee's play tells the story of the 99th Squadron, the first black pilots allowed to fly U.S. military aircraft in World War II, where they escorted bombers on missions over Europe. The pilots entered the war in Italy in 1944 before then-President Harry Truman desegregated the troops, and apparently received little to no recognition for their work when they returned home. Callender and Lee hope to amend the oversight slightly with this show, which begins at 8 p.m. at ODC Performance Gallery, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Black Eagles also plays Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Florence Gould Theater, Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, Clement & 34th Avenue, S.F. Admission to both shows is by donation; call 243-9899.
Nightlife Jitters "David Lee Roth makes quite a picture as he stands in front of his dressing-room mirror at Detroit's Cobo Arena. Arching his hips lewdly and tugging at the waistband of his ruby-red spandex tights until the elastic crotch bulges like a gaudy Christmas stocking crammed with apples and bananas, Van Halen's lead singer preens and postures like a bestial champion of autoeroticism." So begins "Van Halen: The Endless Party," a chapter taken from Mikal Gilmore's Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock & Roll, which culls several years' worth of Gilmore's interviews, reviews, essays, and articles from the L.A. Herald Examiner and Rolling Stone. Gilmore hands us the backstage pass we never had with some of these pieces, and skirts the bright lights with others: A week after Kurt Cobain's death, Gilmore wandered around the singer's hometown of Aberdeen, holing up in a tavern with Nirvana's first drummer, Aaron Burckhard, who was fired over his drinking problem. Like rock, Gilmore's chronicle is by turns lucid, hilarious, aggravating, exhilarating, and weird, and like his subjects, Gilmore has seen his share of personal highs and lows; he wrote his first book, Shot in the Heart, about his older brother Gary, a death-row convict executed by firing squad. Gilmore reads at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 2352 Shattuck (at Durant), Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 644-0861. He'll also read Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688.