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This week's Culture Vultures recommend:

The Old Town School's Open House Friday, Jackson Park's Osaka Garden, and "Morbid Curiosity" at the Cultural Center



Betsy Odom, artist whose work was recently on display at Women Made Gallery, is attending:

Open House Friday On the first Friday of every month, I indulge in a secret Chicago pleasure: I go by myself to the Open House Friday at the Old Town School of Folk Music. During Open House the school invites the public to participate in a sampling of jam sessions, song circles, square dancing (that's right, square dancing), and mini performances. If you play instruments (I pick banjo) it's a great way to get some practice, but honestly, I go there for one main reason: to get over myself and just sing some good old songs with strangers.

Open House is rich with the sincere, the communal, and the bizarre. I have found myself jamming out to "This Land Is Your Land" with musicians who are all younger than eight. I have joined a song circle where I crooned inaccurate harmonies to "Hey Jude," a song surprisingly conducive to banjo. During the December Open House, I actually performed a pretty nice ad-lib to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Regardless of whether or not you play an instrument or sing well, Open House is an amazing thing. Just don't expect there to be a drop of "coolness" in the place: its beauty lies in its wholesome and earnest reminders of our own roots.

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