Speaking of naughty and nice, the Slugs' Christmas Pageant has quickly become a Chicago rock scene tradition, providing both the finest in rock 'n' roll and all the trimmings of the season: drumming, mirth, joy--even family squabbling. A few years back, the pageant was marred by a spat between brothers Dag and Greg Juhlin and ended rather undecorously with Dag staring drunkenly out at the audience, asking, "Why are you staring at me?" It's not clear what's on the bill this year; expect lots of tuneful songs and lots more humor. A band from Boston called Tribe opens. The music starts after 10 at Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln. It's $6. Call 525-6620 for details.
Phoebe Legere plays accordion, piano, and cello, reputedly has a vocal range of four-plus octaves, does jazz, blues, rock tunes, and serial composition, and wears very short miniskirts with fishnet stockings (and has been known to forego the latter). The musician/performance artist/diva plays tonight in the cabaret room of Ka-Boom!, 747 N. Green, at 11:30 PM and 1 AM. Admission to the club is $10. Call 243-8600 for details.
Matthew Owens--sculptor, puppeteer, and connoisseur of death, gore, and corpses--is in the midst of another performance piece. RM 1348 limns the gory thought-dreams of a hospital patient (he's in room 1348) between operations. "Jumping from narrative to shadow puppetry," say the folks at Club Lower Links, "from musical interludes to intrusive medical treatment, from philosophizing to inarticulate babbling, the piece is intended to convey the relationship (real or perceived) of modern medicine and state-sanctioned torture as well as that of the renegade hypochondriac and the very real consequences of disease and malady." The show continues tonight and next Saturday at 9; admission is $7. Lower Links is at 954 W. Newport. Call 248-5238.
The frame drum, or def, say Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang, is one of the oldest drums in the world--there are carved depictions of it dating back to 2,000 B.C. (played, no doubt, by a Mesopotamian Gene Krupa). Drake and Zerang's Winter Solstice Percussion Concert, today at 3 on the second floor of Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, will include their work on the def as well as on a slew of other Middle Eastern, African, and East Indian percussion variants. Tix are $6, $4 for students and seniors. Call 281-0824 for details.
The "absurd but fascinating Christmas exploitation film" (in the words of Psychotronic Film Society czar Michael Flores) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians stars Pia Zadora and plays tonight at Crash Palace, 2771 N. Lincoln, courtesy of PFS. Shorts start at 6:30, film at 7; admission is $3. Call 738-0985.
In My Mother's House, a memoir and history about 1930s labor organizer Rose Chernin by her daughter, Kim Chernin, is considered by some to be a classic on mother-daughter relationships. A staged adaptation by Arnold Aprill opens tonight for a five-week run. The National Jewish Theater production stars Barbara Faye Wallace as Kim and Marge Kotlisky as Rose; performances are tonight at 7:30, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30, Saturdays at 8:15, and Sundays at 2 and 7:30. Tickets are $17-$24. It's at the Mayer Kaplan Jewish Community Center, 5050 W. Church in Skokie; call 708-675-5070 for details.
"The 'Lost Tribe' has never been so lost on this night--for years in the past they could only be found huddling in vacant movie theaters, where at least there was no line for tickets," write the organizers of the Oy Vay Alternative to Christmas Eve, one of two alternative celebrations tonight. Oy Vay, at Excalibur, will include music from Danny Lerman and his band, stand-up comedy, a fashion show from North Beach Leather, complimentary noshes, dancing, and more. Things get under way at 8 PM; it's $9. Excalibur is at 632 N. Dearborn; call 935-6969 for more. There's also the Matzo Ball, a Young Jewish Professionals scene-making event that's grown from humble beginnings in Boston five years ago into a five-city-wide Christmas Eve tradition. It rocks Shelter, 564 W. Fulton, tonight starting at 7:30. Tickets are $20 at the door or $15 in advance; call 800-370-7957.
More Xmas alternatives: the Yiddish Arts Ensemble and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band are presenting an original musical, Ish Kabibble, the story of a young boy who tells his brother to "go to the devil" and just about gets what he wanted. The resulting journey, however, occasions the retelling of a variety of old Yiddish folktales. There are three performances today--at 11, 1, and 3--at the Spertus Museum, 618 S. Michigan. Tickets are $3, $2 for kids. Call 922-9012 for details.
Kwanzaa--the African holiday celebrating the yam harvest--is being feted this week at the Kohl Children's Center, 165 Green Bay in Wilmette. Today at 10:30 and 2:30, there's story telling; tomorrow, same times, there's necklace and bracelet making. Saturday, kids will be making Kwanzaa decorations, and Sunday at 1:30 there's an appearance by noted storyteller Shanta, who dresses up in traditional African garb and spices up her words with music on the mbira, the balafon, and the toa. Admission to Kohl is $3; call 708-256-6056 for details.
December 27 through January 2
The Reader's on vacation next week, so here are some pursuits to fill the empty hours:
We don't know much about Primary Visions--an exhibit of sculpture by Gyaeyoung Song, paintings by Ken Dubin, and paintings, drawings, and monoprints by Richard Lange--but we do know that one of the materials Song uses is coffee. The three artists organized it themselves, "independent of any gallery or affiliation"; it runs through December 28 in the basement of 233 W. Huron (below the Leather Center). Hours are 11 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday, 11 to 7 Thursday; call 226-3574.
On display through January 5 is an exhibit of a more sartorial sort: some of the costumes worn by Chicago dance pioneer Ruth Page--including two designed by abstract sculptor Isami Noguchi--can be seen in the costume alcoves of the Chicago Historical Society, Clark and North, Monday through Saturday 9:30 to 4:30 or Sunday noon to 5. Admission is $3, $2 for students and seniors, $1 for those under 18, and free on Mondays; 642-4600.
The Red Mill, Victor Herbert's 1906 musical and vehicle for the vaudeville team of Montgomery and Stone, was a big hit in its original run and then again when it was revived in 1945. But after that its antiquated plot structure kept it languishing in library archives--until recently, when Herbert expert Frederick Roffman took on the task of reworking it. Light Opera Works presents the midwest premiere of Roffman's version this week at Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University, 600 Emerson in Evanston; show times are 2 PM Monday, December 30, and Sunday, January 5; and 8 PM Tuesday, December 31, and Friday and Saturday, January 3 and 4. Tickets are $14-$35; call 708-869-6300.