The finest barbecue makers in the midwest gather this weekend in the far west suburbs for the annual Illinois State BBQ Championship, a competition sanctioned by and following guidelines from the respected Kansas City Barbecue Society. Competitors will vie in the categories of pork ribs, poultry, pork loin, beef brisket, and whole pig; entry fee is $35 for each category except whole pig, which is $100. Scholars will be interested in the action today, when the cooking teams come in, set up, and eye the competition; tomorrow is the actual contest, with judging starting at 11:30, music at 1, and things scheduled to roll until around 4. Plenty of barbecue from the competition will be available for eating. It's all at the King James' Barbeque, 1200 W. Hawthorne in West Chicago; admission is free. Call 708-231-6262 for more info.
The Old Town School of Folk Music is throwing a Woody Guthrie Birthday Celebration tonight, with host Mark Dvorak and guests Larry Penn, Ed Holstein, Marianne Mohrhusen, the Ad Hoc String Band, and others, who'll presumably riff on old Guthrie tunes all night. It's at 8:30 at the school, 909 W. Armitage; admission is $7. Details at 525-7793.
Those darn Those Darn Accordions! are back again, bringing their "12-piece, nearly all accordion" big band to the Lincoln Tap Room this weekend after an understandably exhausting National Accordion Awareness Month in June. The band plays tonight and tomorrow at 9:30 at the club, 3010 N. Lincoln. It's $7. Call 868-0060.
The Howard Brown Memorial Clinic has brought back native son Mr. Sleep, now a celebrated hip-hop DJ at New York's Sound Factory, for a benefit dance party and fashion show at the Vic tonight. Besides the tunes, designers Rosalyn De'Lores, Lee Do, and Ila Allen will show off some new threads (around 1 AM). Cover is $10. The Vic's at 3145 N. Sheffield; the party runs from 11 PM to 4 AM and all proceeds go to the clinic. Call 871-5777 ext. 350 or 472-0366 for details.
Hundreds of police-escorted motorcycles will be roaring through the suburbs this weekend as part of the fifth annual Ride for Kids, a huge motorcycle rally that raises money for the American Brain Tumor Association. The 50-mile-long trek starts at 9:30 at the Oakbrook Mall, Route 83 and 22nd Street, and wends its way past Fermilab and through Saint Charles before ending up way out at Waubonsee Community College, 4S783 Route 47 in Sugar Grove, at about noon. Alpha dog for the ride will be WGN's Bob Collins; Governor Edgar, who's ridden in the past, is expected this year as well. You have to have $35 in sponsorships to ride, but it's free to go watch the beginning or end. Call 286-5571 or 404-1219 for more info.
Several dozen gardens in lush, quiet Ravenswood Manor--some along the Chicago River--will be on display today at the Manor Garden Club's annual walk. Stop by the group's booth in tiny Manor Park, at Eastwood and Francisco, for a map anytime between 2 and 6. It's free. Call 267-3369.
The Sex Show features the work of 14 artists on the subject of sex, ranging from the sacred to the "downright nasty," say the folks at Oz 77 Gallery, 3153 N. Broadway, where the show runs through August 11. It opens tonight with performances by artists, members of the Annoyance Theatre, and special guests. It's free and runs 6 to 10; regular gallery hours are noon to 6 daily. Call 929-6200 for more.
"Who wrote it? Did I? Another? Probably," wrote Jean Cocteau of his gay fin-de-siecle bildungsroman Le livre blanc. "Are we not become others the moment we are done writing?" The White Paper, City Lit Theater Company's original adaptation of the novel, follows the young bisexual opium addict's journey through early-20th-century Paris, with a set that boasts reproductions of some of Cocteau's erotic drawings. It opens tonight at 7 in the Renaissance Court of the Chicago Cultural Center, at 78 E. Washington. Tickets are $12-$15. Call 271-1100.
Spanish dancer Luis Montero--who's worked with everyone from New York's Ballet Hispanico to Tokyo's Katori School of Dance--is giving two weeks of workshops sponsored by Teresa y Los Preferidos Spanish Dance Company starting tonight. The classes, for intermediate and advanced dance students, cost $7.50 an hour; they run from 7 to 10 weeknights and from 2 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday at the Ballet Arts Studio, 729 Lake in Wilmette. Call 708-256-6614 for details.
Manning Marable, poli-sci prof at the University of Colorado at Boulder, keynotes the 13th annual convention of the National Association of Black & White Men Together, the interracial gay activist group, at the Bismarck Hotel, 171 W. Randolph, this week. The convention opens tonight at 5 in the hotel's Walnut Room. Activities range from a screening of Paris Is Burning, the documentary on drag queens in New York City (at 11 tonight), to discussions on the status of gays in South Africa (10 AM Friday) to Marable's talk, which closes down the conference at a 6:30 PM banquet on Saturday. Registration is $150; you can also make arrangements to attend individual events by calling 907-0400 or 334-2012.
An artist's hike through the Sierras and a composer's reactions to her stories and drawings from the trip form the basis of a joint exhibit opening tonight at the Kopi cafe in Andersonville. Mary Palidofska will be showing her paintings, etchings, and trip diary, which visitors can read; Victor Sanders has put together an accompanying music-and-spoken-word "aural collage" called See Error: Die Array ("Sierra diary," get it?). The music will be performed tonight and the remaining Wednesdays in July at 8; the exhibit's up through July 31. Kopi is at 5317 N. Clark. More info at 561-7100.
Kevin L. Burrows is saving up dough to take The Pedicab Show, his one-man show about his experiences driving a bicycle rickshaw in Chicago, to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh this summer. Fringe Benefit II is a fund-raiser for him tonight at Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln. It starts at 8; scheduled is an excerpt from Burrows's new work, Re-Fried Beat Lingo, neo-vaudevillians Will Clinger and Jim FitzGerald, poets Cin Salach and Sheila Donahue reading E.E. Cummings, juggler Professor Elliot Cutler (whose specialty is toilet plungers), pyrotechnician Dr. Boom! (who blows up food), and more. It's $20, $15 in advance; call 871-3000 for more. You can also catch The Pedicab Show Saturdays at 7 at Second City E.T.C., 1608 N. Wells. Tickets are $10; call 348-7563.
The last time the Chicago Public Library did a study of its holdings, the most comprehensive general collection was found to be of telephone books. The crappy holdings and the short hours of most libraries in the system will probably be the focus of acting commish Karen Danczak Lyons's town hall meeting tonight. What's needed is heat on the politicians who control the library's purse strings; you can voice your opinion at Grace Episcopal Church, 637 S. Dearborn. You have to sign up to speak, starting at 6:30; Lyons will take testimony from 7 to 9. It's free. Call the sponsoring Chicago Public Library Advocates at 436-6150.
When she joined the Washington Post in 1986, radical journalist Jill Nelson had a lot of weight on her shoulders--she was the first black and the first woman on the staff of the paper's Sunday magazine. That's the subject of her just-out book, Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience. Says Newsweek's Ellis Cose: "[The book] is so unsparing that at points Nelson comes across as a vengeful, self-indulgent, sex-obsessed neurotic. Yet the same brutal honesty that allows her figuratively to strip herself naked also makes her credible." Nelson reads at Barbara's Bookstore at 3130 N. Broadway at 7:30 tonight. It's free; 477-0411.