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Show: Bela Fleck: The Africa Project Banjo master Bela Fleck performs with several collaborators from his album and documentary Throw Down Your Heart—among them Malian ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate; guitarist John Kitime and thumb-piano player Anania Ngoglia, both from Tanzania; and Nashville-based fiddler Casey Driessen. Kouyate is also bringing his killer band, Ngoni Ba, which recently released the excellent I Speak Fula on Sub Pop's new Next Ambiance imprint.
5 and 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000, $45, $43 members, $41 seniors and children.
Dinner: Spacca Napoli To build his oven, which owner Jonathan Goldsmith matter-of-factly says is "probably the best in America," he packed a shipping container in Naples with three types of sand, three types of brick, and a slab of volcanic stone—13,000 pounds total—then flew three third- and fourth-generation Neapolitan oven builders over to put it together (it took them ten days). The result, which stands in the corner, tiled and shimmering with heat, turns out true Neapolitan pizza.
1769 W. Sunnyside Ave., 773-878-2420
Show: Merle Haggard & Kris Kristofferson "If you've got any sort of appreciation for country music, you owe it to yourself to see Hag—his lung-cancer surgery in late 2008 was a success, but it was also a reminder that he's not gonna be touring forever. At this show, billed as an "acoustic evening," he'll be sharing the stage with Kris Kristofferson, and the banter promises to be so good you might forget you're not in somebody's living room," writes Miles Raymer. PS: Visit Daytrotter for a remarkable Kristofferson session.
7 PM, Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont, 847-671-5100 or 312-559-1212, $35-$65.
Dinner: Mitsuwa Marketplace A visit to Mitsuwa Marketplace provides the sort of sensory overload and culture shock untraveled Occidentals have been trained to expect from the frenzy of modern Japan. The local branch of this Japanese superstore houses a cosmetic counter, bookstore, china shop, travel agent, bakery, and a liquor store with an addling array of sakes. "The food court presents a singular opportunity to experience the varieties of Japanese fast food locally. The sushi counter, with its plethora of prepackaged rolls, reflects the populist origins of raw fish and rice as fast food for travelers rather than the rarefied restaurant meal we’ve come to pay dearly for," writes Mike Sula.
100 E. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights, 847-956-6699
Show: Mars "Have you ever listened to gangsta rap and thought, 'Well, the violence is great, but this stuff is just too darn socially conscious and tasteful?' Then horrorcore rapper Mars is for you," writes Monica Kendrick. ABK headlines; Mars, Trackula, the DRP, Critical Bill, Lil Sicc, Mission 16, UGV, Skitzofranix, and Talk-Sic open.
6 PM, Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State, 312-949-0121 or 866-468-3401, $15, 18+.
Dinner: Shui Wah It's tiny, and before 3 PM all you can get is dim sum, but in my book Shui Wah serves the best in town: made to order and consistently flawless. In late afternoon dim sum ceases and the restaurant owners cede Shui Wah to Tom Tong, who rents the space each evening. The odd arrangement works: Tong turns out reliable, plentiful, and often elegant renditions of Hong Kong standards.
2162 S. Archer Ave., 312-225-8811
Show: Ajami Jewish filmmaker Yaron Shani and Palestinian filmmaker Scandar Copti collaborated on this gritty Israeli drama, which circles around chronologically in Pulp Fiction fashion to tell the interlocking stories of three families.
4:40pm, 7:10pm, 9:40pm, Music Box, 3733 N. Southport Ave., 773-871-6604
Dinner: Mixteco Grill "Based on the name and the looks of the place, you might take Mixteco Grill for a nicer-than-normal diner, acceptable if unambitious. Don’t be fooled: this is a restaurant set on greatness," writes David Hammond. "The menu is pan-Mexican, featuring Oaxacan moles, Pueblan salsas, Guerrerense meats, and other regional specialties."
1601 W. Montrose Ave., 773-868-1601
Show: The Lady With the Dog Josif Heifits's 1959 Soviet drama may be the best Chekhov adaptation on film: subtle, exquisite, a perfect miniature.
3pm, Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., 312-846-2600
Dinner: Bijan's Bistro This reincarnation of the venerable late-night hangout Bijan is amazingly unsullied by tourists. Regulars crowd around the gleaming mahogany bar, and Ralf, the courtly host, seems to know half the tables in the joint.
663 N. State St., 312-202-1904
Show: Lunatic(a)s The first incarnation of this show—a collection of short pieces about the drive-you-crazy vicissitudes of being young and Latina in the city—was a hit for Teatro Luna in 2007.
$12-$25, 6pm, Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., 312-633-0630
Dinner: Branch 27 Owners Howard Natinsky (Fat Cat, Five Star Bar) and Cary Michael (ex-Rockit Bar & Grill) executed a shrewd play in hiring John Manion, who’s been a ronin chef since his terrific Wicker Park nuevo Latino restaurant Mas closed in 2007.
1371 W. Chicago Ave., 312-850-2700
Show: Dummy "The characters in this collection of improvised two-person scenes simply sit side by side and open up to each other. But Colleen Doyle and Jason Shotts invest their interactions with the excitement of discovery," writes Steve Heisler.
8pm, Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1420 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-865-7731
Dinner: TAC Quick "Aroonrasameruang pushes some excellent things on his specials boards too, including a tender grilled pork neck that approaches the narcotic succulence of the best barbecue. He also does a wild-boar curry with green Thai eggplant and meaty chunks of swine rimmed with thick rinds of gorgeous fat. It would take a good week of dedicated eating to work through all the interesting things on the menu," writes Mike Sula.
3930 N. Sheridan Rd., 773-327-5253
3930 N. She773-327-5253