Often dismissed as the tuba of the string section, the double bass is not without its enthusiasts--or its virtuosos. Italian performer end conductor Franco Petracchi, thought by many to be this century's premier bassist, will demonstrate the instrument's range and timbre tonight at 6 in Northwestern University's Regenstein Hall, 1965 Campus Drive South in Evanston. The program includes works by several Italian composers written specifically for the big fiddle, plus an appearance by Northwestern double bass professor Jeff Bradetich. Tickets are $7, $5 for seniors, $2.50 for students. Call 708-491-5441 for more.
Buddy Guy will drive people stone damn crazy tonight in a free, city-sponsored concert at the Bismarck Hotel, 171 W. Randolph. Sharing the bill will be New Orleans's Dirty Dozen Brass Band and country singer Johnny Paycheck. Doors open at 7; in lieu of a cover charge, two nonperishable food items for distribution to hungry Chicagoans are requested. Call 744-3315.
WBEZ outcast Stuart Rosenberg will bring back his recently defunct radio show "The Earth Club" in the form of a live concert this afternoon at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. In the spirit of the broadcast version, The Earth Club Live! will feature a wide range of musical styles performed by 14 locally based acts, including West African dance band Ghanatta, gifted Irish flutist and former Drover Kathleen Keane, folkies Jim Post and Art Thieme, South American ensemble Raices del Ande, and purveyors of eclecticism themselves Maestro Subgum and the Whole. The show runs from 2 to 5 in Preston Bradley Hall. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so come early. Call 509-8036.
If ballroom dancing is your cup of tea, you may want to stop by the Dance Connection Ballroom, 3047 N. Lincoln, tonight. Instructor Dale Pizzitola is hosting an evening of tangos, waltzes, and cha-cha's starting at 8. The $10 cover charge includes refreshments and a dance lesson (because no one wants to look like Herman Munster out there under the spinning ball). Singles and couples are welcome. For reservations call 404-7698.
In 1992 James Ridgeway and Kevin Rafferty followed up Blood in the Face, their documentary on white supremacists, with an examination of the presidential campaign. They followed Clinton, Bush, Buchanan, Tsongas, and others as they plugged and posed their way through the primaries, ending up with a humorously disturbing look at the campaign process and the greater political culture. In honor of Presidents' Day, the Chicago Historical Society is screening Feed this afternoon at 2 in the Arthur Rubloff Auditorium. Admission to the Historical Society, at Clark and North, is $3, $2 for students and seniors, $1 for kids. Call 642-4600.
Korea is unique among East Asian countries in that its indigenous shamanism--similar to that practiced in arctic regions--is still a strong part of the religious experience of its rural people, holding its own in the face of centuries of incursions by Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity. Today at 2 in the Field Museum's James Simpson Theater, Korean dancers and musicians will perform Sikkim Kut, a funeral dance from the island of Chindo in which a shaman sings and acts out ritual movements designed to cleanse the dead person's spirit. Admission is $15, $12 for museum members, students, and seniors. The museum is at Roosevelt Road and Lake Shore Drive. Call 332-8859 for more.
Ten years before his book Schindler's List was made into a Steven Spielberg movie, Thomas Keneally served as a consultant for a British TV documentary on the life of Oskar Schindler. Schindler, which includes interviews with some of the people he saved, will be shown tonight following a monthly meeting of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, 4255 W. Main in Skokie. The meeting, promised to be brief, starts at 7:30; refreshments and discussion follow. Call 708-677-4640 for more.
Gals with a bent toward four-part harmony will want to check out the free singing lessons offered by the Edge O'Town chapter of Sweet Adeline's International starting tonight. Instructor Debra Morgan teaches the six-week course each Monday at 7:30 at Mayfair United Methodist Church, 4600 N. Kilpatrick. For information call 935-9685.
Husband and wife Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons grow 800 rare species of edible and medicinal plants, vegetables, and herbs on their farm in New Mexico. Their reason? Americans rely mainly on 9 out of 80,000 edible plants and vegetables, and we now grow only 5 percent of the varieties of crops we grew at the beginning of the century. On top of that, every species of plant that disappears affects up to 40 species of animals. Ausubel and Simons are the founders of Seeds of Change, an organic seed company, and the authors of a book by the same name. They'll be in town tonight to sign copies of their book and tell backyard gardeners about nearly extinct goodies like Black Aztec Sweet Corn and Brandywine Tomatoes. Things run from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Urban Gardener, 2131 N. Southport. Admission is free. Call 477-2070 for more information.
David Greenberger began publishing The Duplex Planet, his collection of the off-the-wall remarks of nursing home residents, in 1979, when he was activities director at Boston's all-male Duplex Nursing Home. Over the years the magazine's mix of odd, funny, and often poignant material--"Sometimes my little bit of insanity gets the best of me and I have to go take a nap," "If you are an old man, and you go into a bar in pajamas, people will buy you drinks"--has won it a devoted following that includes Lou Reed, Penn and Teller, Jonathan Demme, and R.E.M. Now Greenberger has turned the material into a book called Duplex Planet: Everybody's Asking Who I Was. He'll read from it tonight at 6 at Waterstone's Booksellers, 840 N. Michigan (587-8080), and Saturday, February 26, from 3 to 5 at Quimby's Bookstore, 1328 N. Damen (342-0910).
Dolores Huerta, the 60-year-old grandmother Cesar Chavez called "totally fearless, both mentally and physically," is probably the best known Latina labor activist in the country. Angered by the hunger and suffering she saw among farm workers' children back in the 50s, she quit her job as a schoolteacher and spent 40 years picketing, organizing, and lobbying on behalf of farm workers, founding the United Farm Workers with Chavez and enduring a savage police beating for leafleting outside a 1988 Bush campaign stop. Huerta will speak tonight at a benefit dinner for the social-service agency Mujeres Latinas En Accion. The event begins at 6 in the Grand Ballroom of the Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe. Tickets are $100. Call 226-1544 for details.
As South Africa approaches the scheduled date for its first free, national elections, repression and violence by forces opposed to multiracial democracy continue on a daily basis, raising questions about how those forces will act after what will almost certainly be an electoral victory for the African National Congress. The coming South African can elections will be addressed in a lecture by Harold Rogers, midwest ANC representative and chairman of African American studies at Olive-Harvey College, tonight at 7:30 at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake in Oak Park. Admission is free. Call 708-383-8200.
Ronnie Reporto, deaf performance artist Peter Cook, and bands Sex With God and Horseshow axe on the bill for A Post-Mortem Valentine's Ball, organized by the Thunder Road Ensemble and the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company. And don't forget to visit Fisto the Clown at the kissing/insult booth. It gets under way at 8 at Sweet Alice, 1056 N. Damen. A buffet dinner is included in the $6 ticket price. Call 871-0442.