They'll be giving out big bills to the fishermen who reel in the heaviest catches at the Miami Billfish Tournament. The competition gets under way this evening with registration and a captain's meeting. Then anglers hit the high seas from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Sunday. Sixty awards will be doled out, and a silent auction and raffle for a motorboat will be part of a barbecue banquet starting at 2:00 p.m. Sunday. If the animal lover in you wouldn't be caught dead catching fish, console yourself with the fact that the tournament donates all proceeds to area marine-enhancement conservation programs. The action takes place in and around the Miami Beach Marina, 300 Alton Rd., Miami Beach. Admission for spectators is free. Call 305-598-2525.
Like some tunes, grub, and booze with your doldrums? Get to Blues Fest '99 going on from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. today, noon to 11:00 p.m. tomorrow, and noon to 10:00 p.m. Sunday in front of the Mozart Stube Restaurant (325 Alcazar Ave., Coral Gables). Fifteen bands including Iko-Iko, Jumpstreet 88s, and the Regulators, will perform (see "Concerts," page 105, for details) alongside the giant beer tent, wine bar, and international food court. Admission is free. Call 305-446-1600.
Foxy Australian singer/actor David Campbell is the Great White Way's newest sensation. Recently nominated for a MAC Award (an honor given by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs), the studly celebrity has just wrapped up a leading role in the musical Babes in Arms and is set to star in the Broadway-bound musical Don Juan De Marco. Be one of the first to see him perform in South Florida as he closes out the Manhattan Nights in Miami concert series. Campbell takes the stage at 8:30 tonight and tomorrow at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; Tickets cost $35. 305-573-1121.
Finally something constructive to do with all those oversize oil drums you've been hoarding! The Historical Museum of Southern Florida's (101 W. Flagler St.) Miami: Gateway to the Americas lecture series explores the topic "Steel Drums for the Twentieth Century" at 3:00 p.m. Steel pan master-craftsman Michael Kernahan will give a drum-making demonstration and then steel drum player extraordinaire Othello Molineaux and his jazz quartet will perform. Leave the blowtorch at home, but bring pen and paper so you can take copious notes. Admission is free. Call 305-375-1492.
Those who never have time to get to the theater but can somehow fit going to the library into their schedules will be thrilled to know that beginning today and running through June 12, the Miami-Dade Public Library System is presenting a series of live Theatrical Performances at nineteen different libraries. The whole idea is to expose people to culture. (Oh, as if books aren't enough?) Bridge Theater, M Ensemble, GableStage, City Theater, and Teatro Avante will stage the hourlong, full-costume productions. Informal question-and-answer periods will follow. Today at the Northeast Branch Library (2930 Aventura Blvd., Aventura) M Ensemble performs Samm-Art Williams's Home, about a black man journeying from the rural South to a big metropolis. City Theatre presents Short Cuts, a series of five brief plays, at the Allapattah Branch Library (1799 NW 35th St.). And at the Homestead Branch Library (700 N. Homestead Blvd) Teatro Avante performs (in Spanish with English subtitles) Hector Santiago's La Peregrina, a drama about Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, one of the Romantic period's great Latin American poets. Curtain rises at 2:00 p.m. for all shows. Admission is free. Call 305-375-5180.
Okay, we'll spare you the lame jokes with the word "orange" as their punchline, but we just had to let you know that today from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. the Wolfsonian-FIU (1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) is presenting Florida's Favorite Fruit: A Taste of the Cult of the Orange, a juicy symposium examining the role the orange has had in Florida's creation and development. Art historian and former Miami Herald art critic Helen Kohen will moderate four presentations on the tangy citrus fruit, covering the history of how the orange came to our state; how Floridians marketed their state and its favorite fruit at world's fairs; the fruit's impact on architecture, especially on packing and processing plants; and the extensive collection of one orangeophile's orange-iana. Admission is free. Call 305-535-2632.
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Why does it feel so good to watch movies about people self-destructing? Well, you have to admit they make your miserable existence seem less depressing, even downright cheery. Here's one that will have all the gals out there feeling pretty good. Cinema Vortex screens Smash Up: The Story of a Woman, a 1947 flick directed by Stuart Heisler, which stars Susan Hayward as a successful singer who gives up her job for her man and slowly descends into alcoholism, divorce, and a mean custody battle with her hubby over her kid. John Howard Lawson wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Dorothy Parker, a woman who was known to be quite partial to the sauce herself. The uplifting drama unspools at noon at the Alliance Cinema (927 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach). Admission is four dollars. Call 305-531-8504.
Big-time jazz pianist/songwriter Mose Allison settles in at the cozy Van Dyke Cafe (846 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) for a series of gigs tonight and tomorrow at 9:00, 10:30 p.m., and midnight. The 72-year-old Allison is a musical legend known for his intriguing tunes, which fuse blues and jazz and are leavened by his witty lyrics. Bassist Don Wilner and drummer James Martin join him. Cover charge is four dollars. Call 305-534-3600.
The Italian Renaissance-style villa Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Ave.) hosts a concert by contemporary Russian musicians when the acclaimed St. Petersburg String Quartet performs tonight at 7:30. On the bill: Haydn's Quartet in C Major; Borodin's Quartet no. 2 in D Major; and Glazunov's Quartet no. 5 in D Minor. Tickets cost $20; students who flash ID can get in for a mere $5. Not only do concertgoers get to hang out in a lovely mansion and hear great music, but they'll also be able to frolic in the gardens at a postconcert reception. Seating is limited, so call 305-858-0126 for reservations.
Don't let anyone tell you different: There's no justice in the world of opera. Take Gioconda, the main character in Ponchielli's opera La Gioconda. The pretty Venetian street singer doesn't just save the life of Laura, the woman she is competing against to win the love of a dude named Enzo. She helps Laura and Enzo escape the Inquisition. What thanks does fate hand Gioconda for her courageous acts? She gets to pick between marrying a man she utterly despises and committing suicide. Get Dr. Kevorkian on the case; this woman needs some serious help! British soprano Susan Stacey makes her American operatic debut this evening as the Florida Grand Opera stages Ponchielli's gripping tale. Showtime is 8:00 p.m. at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St. Tickets range from $19 to $133 Call 305-854-7890.