Food for Thought A good meal can be tastier still when it's consumed for a good cause, without the hot-stove slavery and dishwashing parts. "Dining Out for Life" enlists the participation of dozens of local restaurants for a citywide eat-a-thon to benefit Visual Aid, a nonprofit that provides programs and services for artists living with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. Diners may also register to win a pair of round-trip airline tickets to London. "Dining Out for Life" is held today only, based on restaurant hours. To receive a fax of participating restaurants, call (800) 903-5242; for more information, call 777-8242.
Dances With Cows Dr. Seuss shakes hands with dadaists in Mobius Music's surreal theatrical journey Exit Vacaville. The Mobius Operandi ensemble performs live on Oliver DiCicco's original instruments as audience members walk through this mix of drama and dance, a meditation on "offramps on the road not taken." The narrative traces the life of Penelope, a waitress trapped in Vacaville, from the present back to her childhood, lingering on the divisions between her dreams and her slightly less pleasant real life (including her stint as a "cow-whacker"). Exit Vacaville opens at 9 p.m. (and continues through June 29) at the SOMAR Theater, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is $12; call 285-7836.
Stoked for Folk What began as a concert series in 1963 turned into a one-day event at Golden Gate Park's Hall of Flowers in 1976 and ultimately evolved, in the spirit of the '90s, as an inclusive, weekend-long cultural event. Musicians from around the world and around town will gather at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival to perform new acoustic, blues, folk, international, and traditional music and dance in continuous sets. Workshops like "Shape Note Singing" and activities organized around storytelling, craft-making, and dancing let adults and kids experiment with the form. This is a noncommercial festival, although there will be food available and musicians will be selling recordings and other related merchandise. The fest begins at 7:30 p.m. (continuing Friday and Saturday at noon) at Roosevelt Middle School, 460 Arguello, S.F. Admission is free; call (408) 370-7549.
Indigo Gals Denise Perrier, Ledisi, and Lavay Smith pool their talent for solo and group performances in the musical evening "Ladies Sing the Blues." Pickup quintet the Fat Note Band provides a backbeat as the singers, hot local properties all, belt out blues and classic jazz running the gamut from Ella Fitzgerald to Aretha Franklin. Perrier, an alto, has played Dinah Washington and Bessie Smith onstage, and is inclined to their repertoire in clubs; Beach Blanket Babylon cast member Ledisi founded R&B/acid jazz group Anibade, while Smith helped spark the swing revival with her band the Red Hot Skillet Lickers. The show is designed to evoke the bittersweet glamour of the good old days, when wearing impractical, elegant clothing, eating calorie-packed snacks, and smoking and drinking immoderately were just fine. "Ladies Sing the Blues" plays at 9 p.m. at Julie Ring's Heart and Soul, 1695 Polk, S.F. Admission is $8; call 673-7100.
Artist Among Us The Women's Philharmonic, the men's choral ensemble Chanticleer, and the Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company build on the visions of composer and artist-in-residence Chen Yi in "Myths and Poems of China: The Music of Chen Yi." The concert, a first-time collaboration among the three groups, presents the world premiere of Yi's Chinese Myths Cantata, which is performed as three sections: "Pan Gu Creates Heaven and Earth," "NY Wa Creates Human Beings," and "Weaving Maid and Cowherd"; the program also includes A Set of Chinese Folk Songs, Tang Poems, Antiphony (Ge Xu), and Symphony No. 2. The concert is held at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 8 p.m, Sunday at 7 p.m.) at Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, S.F. Admission is $19-26; call 392-4400.
Hit the Beach Protect Fluffy from bad juju at the Blessing of the Animals, an entertainment highlight at the North Beach Festival, a convergence of the beatnik, house pet, and tourist communities. In honor of the Beat movement that once flourished in the city's Italianate pocket, the festival offers publisher and bookseller stalls along with a spoken-word stage, "Sounding the Beat," at which poets will read to jazz accompaniment. Festival standards -- food booths, arts and crafts, live music stages -- are open alongside arte di gesso, or traditional Italian street painting, and the prize-drawing booth Lotteria North Beach. The festival begins at 10 a.m. (also on Sunday) on the 1200-1500 blocks of Grant, the 500 block of Green, and in Washington Square Park, S.F. Admission is free; call 403-0666.
Cuckoo for Comix Discover what thousands of rock 'n' rollers have already embraced at "Temporary Insanity II," a group exhibit of underground comic and poster art by majors like Frank Kozik, Mats!?, Coop, and Psychic Sparkplug. The San Francisco and New York Museums of Modern Art have begun to acknowledge the form, characterized by garish graphics and often confrontational subject matter. "Temporary Insanity II," complete with artist appearances, begins at noon (also on Sunday) at Off the Wall, 1669 Haight, S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8170.
From Disaster, a Dance-a-Thon World-beat DJs across the city will get together for the "World Music Dance-a-Thon," a benefit for the JoJo White Youth Fund. White, a 23-year-old San Francisco native and activist, was recently killed in an act of random street violence; in his memory, his parents established a scholarship fund through Global Exchange for "Reality Tours," to help send local youth on work-study trips to other countries, like the one White had gone on to Cuba. Cheb i Sabbah, Corey Mason, Mongrel, Doug Wendt, and Bob-a-Loup are among the DJs who will spin at the event, held from 4 p.m. until midnight in the County Fair Building, Lincoln & Ninth Ave., S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 255-7296 for information or pledge forms.