West, Texas is about an hour and a half away from Dallas (we can make the drive in a little under an hour, but why boast?), but it's worth the drive every Labor Day Weekend. That's when the tiny town of around 2,500 hosts Westfest, a three-day celebration of Czech food and culture. Every year, more than 40,000 people descend on West to dance the polka, drink pivo (beer), and eat kolaces (pastries filled with fruit or sausage). One of the main attractions at Westfest--besides the pivo--is the dancing. This year, to help people get out of their seats, the festival presents several fine polka bands, including the Jodie Mikula Orchestra (a regular at the Czech Club on Military Parkway), the Harvesters, Vrazels Polka Band, and Denton's own Brave Combo. Should be fun. The event starts with a preview party on Friday night featuring country singer Doug Stone, and continues until late Sunday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. To get to West, drive south on I-35 and exit on Exit 351. Admission is $2-$5. Call (254) 826-5058 for more information.
Deep Ellum hosts the second installment of the First Friday series, when five clubs--Trees, Club Dada, Club Clearview, the Curtain Club, and Galaxy Club--eliminate the cover charges and let people move around freely. Clubgoers can purchase a wristband at any participating club for $5, which grants them admission to all five venues for the rest of the night. It gives them a chance to see 18 bands for the price of a few, and it gives the clubs a chance to rack up some extra bar sales in return. Bands performing that night include Buck Jones, centro-matic, The Calways, 357 Lover, and many more. Call any participating club for details.
The Chi-Lites are hands-down the most underrated soul band ever. We don't care what anybody else says. Sure, the Chi-Lites aren't the best soul band ever (the Temptations), but the Chicago band has never really gotten enough credit. The band caused a minor stir in the early '70s with the hits "Oh Girl" and "Have You Seen Her," but both songs received more acclaim when they were covered by other artists: "Oh Girl" was a chart-topper for one-hit blunder Paul Young, and MC Hammer (!) took a rap version of "Have You Seen Her" back to the top as well. Now, the band is on the nostalgia circuit, rolling into town on Saturday for The Renaissance Cultural Center's Labor Day Old School Jam. Check them out and see for yourself. The show happens at Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15-$18. Comedian A.J. Jamal opens. Call (817) 335-9000
In the past four years, a 20-acre field in Bedford has become a mecca for blues lovers. That's because it is the site of the annual Bedford Blues Festival & Art Fair, a free, three-day series of performances by some of the best blues artists around. This year, the festival hosts Grammy Award winners such as Keb' Mo' and Jimmie Vaughan, as well as Texas favorites Joe Ely, Lou Ann Barton, and Stephen Bruton. The festival begins on Friday and continues through Sunday. Limited VIP seating is available for $10 a day, or $20 for a three-day pass. The festival site is adjacent to Harris Methodist HEB Hospital, located just east of Central Drive on the Airport Freeway service road. Call (817) 952-2222 for a complete schedule of show times.
President Clinton's extramarital activities are a hot-button issue lately. Which makes it a perfect time to re-examine the life of a president (and noted philanderer) who didn't get caught. That's right, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the man who made the presidency cool again. The Sixth Floor Museum has a permanent exhibit that examines the lifetime, legacy, and assassination of JFK, complete with film footage, interpretive displays, and more than 400 photos. Or, you can visit the Conspiracy Museum and find out exactly who the shooter was on the grassy knoll. Either way, you're in for a fascinating afternoon. The Sixth Floor Museum, located in Dallas County Administration Building at 411 Elm St., is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $2-$7. Call (214) 747-6660. The Conspiracy Museum is located at 110 S. Market Street, opposite the Kennedy Memorial, in the Katy Building. Admission is $3-$7. Call (214) 741-3040.
A decade ago, if someone would have told you that the Beastie Boys would eventually be one of the most active proponents of the "Free Tibet" movement, you would have laughed in their face and mumbled something about "fighting for your right to party." Back when they first came into the national consciousness in 1987, the Beastie Boys were known as a trio of hard-partying, rich-kid rappers who were more likely to tap a keg than do anything socially worthwhile. Now, the band is known as one of the most socially aware groups around. For the past three years, the band has sponsored the Tibetan Freedom Concert, one of the biggest benefit concerts since Live Aid. Last year, one-third of the trio--Adam Yauch, a practicing Buddhist--produced a feature-length documentary about the concert and the Tibetan freedom movement, Free Tibet. The film is more than just concert footage of the bands that played at the concert, including A Tribe Called Quest, Sonic Youth, Pavement, and Smashing Pumpkins. It also provides background information on the history of Tibet, the ideas behind Tibetan Buddhism, and the significance of the nonviolent struggle of the Tibetan people against oppression by the Chinese government. It's a powerful film, worth watching even if you aren't a supporter of its cause. Free Tibet screens on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Lakewood Theater, 1825 Abrams. Call (214) 827-LAKE.
After a recent trip to the West Coast, we realized that what Texans consider hot is definitely not the same as what Californians do. Proof positive is Chuy's 10th Annual Green Chile Festival. For the next few weeks, the legendary Mexican restaurant will be giving away free green chiles, as well as mixing the chiles into special menu items. Customers can also submit their favorite green-chile recipe for a chance to win $500. Chuy's has two locations in the metroplex: 4544 McKinney Ave. in Dallas, and 3951 S. Cooper in Arlington. The contest lasts until September 27. Call (214) 559-2489 or (817) 784-2489 for more information.