Difficult to believe, perhaps, but wooden, one-note actor Sam Shepard is considered to be among the most influential playwrights of his era. The author of works such as The Tooth of Crime, Buried Child, Fool for Love, and True West, Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 and Obie awards in 1976 and 1982 for his dramas. Tonight his Simpatico has its Florida premiere at the Florida Shakespeare Theatre, adjacent to the Biltmore Hotel (1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables). A blend of film noir, revenge drama, and thriller, the rapidly paced play features a cast of characters who take part in various unsavory activities such as blackmail. Actor/director Darrel Larson and former Miami Vice cast member John Diehl star. The show runs through August 9. Performances take place at 8:00 p.m. tonight through Saturday and at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $10 to $26. Call 305-445-1119. (NK)
Miami has quite an appetite for Brazilian music. Recent performances by Egberto Gismonti, Joao Gilberto, and a tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim at Miami Beach's Van Dyke Cafe haven't been enough; more is on tap. At 10:00 tonight Bossa Nova: Celebrate 40 Years takes place at Club Tropigala in the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort and Spa (4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). The musicians include Leny Andrade, Wanda Sa, Miele, Os Cariocas, the Standard Jazz Orchestra, and Roberto Menescal, who will perform his own music as well as that of Jobim, Luis Bonfa, Carlos Lyra, and others. Tickets range from $25 to $35. Call 305-672-7649. (NK)
It's pretty easy to grow arrogantly nationalistic when celebrating one's independence, but organizers of the Colombian Independence Festival have avoided that pitfall, generously widening their spotlight to include food, performers, and exhibits from other Latin American countries. The eighth annual festival, taking place from noon to 11:00 p.m. today and tomorrow at Tamiami Park (Coral Way and SW 107th Avenue), offers sixteen musical acts. Today's lineup boasts Tulio Zuluaga and Las Hermanitas Calle, but the big guns are reserved for Sunday. They include Colombian Joe Arroyo, Puerto Rican salseros Tito Rojas and Franky Ruiz, and Alquimia, reportedly the big thing in Colombia. Dominican groups Kinito Mendez and Coco Band provide a shot of merengue. The Expo Center (of Youth Fair fame) will be crammed with business and craft exhibits. The ten-dollar admission price covers both days. Call 305-591-2229. (AD)
Who needs the Pips when you can have another Knight? As part of Alonzo Mourning's fundraising bonanza, Zo's Summer Groove, Gladys Knight and Brian McKnight get their silky pipes ready for an evening of R&B at the James L. Knight Center (400 SE Second Ave.) tonight starting at 7:30. Gladys Knight may be Pip-less these days, but that's not going to stop the fiftysomething songstress from belting out the hits she began charting in her late teens. Joining Gladys is Brian McKnight, a musical toddler by comparison but a very popular one; his latest release, Anytime, has held a position on the R&B charts for more than 40 weeks and counting. Tickets cost $36.50. Call 305-372-4634. (LB)
Today's LoveFest '98 consists of more than twenty venues hosting about 120 local bands, all in newly funky downtown Hollywood. We're there. (See "Music," page 81.) (NK)
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Just what the world needs -- another band in the Marilyn Manson mold. Okay, so Manhattan-based glam goth-ers Psychotica have yet to adopt the names of serial killers, but they still rival MM with their funky makeup and garb, the crazy things they do with their hair (lead singer Pat Briggs was sporting a silver mohawk for a while), and the occasional mention of Satan in their lyrics. A major difference between the trio, which also includes guitarist Ena Paul Kostabi and cellist Enrique Tiru Velez, and current king of goth Manson: The members of Psychotica don't seem to take themselves too seriously, a rare quality in their genre. Their humorously named ditty "Psychopharmacologist" incorporates bagpipes. Their dark, disco-ized remake of Jimmy Webb's epic "MacArthur Park" is a hoot as well. Briggs, whose vocals are reminiscent of Iggy Pop and Axl Rose, has also been known to make his entrance strapped to a giant cross. Sounds like fun! Hear them tonight at the Church at Groove Jet, 323 23rd St., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $12. Call 305-532-2002. (NK)
Les Standiford has never stared down the barrel of a gun, but he could have fooled the scads of readers who consider him the godfather of the South Florida crime thriller. Standiford says that most of his insight on the seamy side of local life comes from library research and pure imagination. Readers are intrigued by the protagonist/hero, Miami building contractor John Deal, an average guy who gets out of bad situations using only his wits. Presidential Deal, the fifth installment in the Deal series, finds our man and the first lady kidnapped and held hostage on a Caribbean island, while Deal's sidekick Vernon Driscoll tries to find a connection between the White House, Latin American terrorism, and Miami. Standiford, who also heads FIU's creative writing program, will read from and discuss Presidential Deal tonight at 8:00 at Books & Books (296 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables). Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408. (AD)
Doesn't matter if it is flowers or trees. Every time you try to grow something it dies. Brown thumb or not, you still dream of owning orchards bursting with fruit and tending expansive, flourishing gardens that would make the British jealous. It's okay to fantasize. Better yet, mingle with some authentic gardeners and maybe pick up a few useful tips during a Field Trip sponsored by the Fruit and Spice Park (24801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead). Today from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. park director/ naturalist Chris Rollins will guide you on a tour of Kerry's Bromeliads, a large commercial nursery. Then it's off to take a look at Brook's Tropicals, a packing house. There you'll see how fruits and veggies are commercially sorted and packed for shipping. You'll no doubt be inspired to dig into the dirt the moment you get home. The fee for the trip is $15. Space is limited, so call 305-247-5727 for reservations. (NK)
You may (wrongly) consider Bob Dylan a tired, irrelevant, raspy-voiced bore. But once upon a time Dylan was an angry, vital performer who turned the music world on its head, and filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop, The War Room) has the celluloid to prove it. His film Don't Look Back chronicles the scraggly folkster's spring 1965 tour of England. Pennebaker's innovative fly-on-the-wall technique, which set a new standard for documentaries, allows Dylan to do the talking. Watch him ridicule reporters, pal around with Joan Baez and Alan Price, and sing early songs such as "All I Really Want to Do" and "It's All Right, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)." This is Dylan originally unplugged. Catch Don't Look Back today and tomorrow at the Alliance Cinema (927 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach). Tickets cost six dollars for the evening shows, four for matinees. Call 305-531-8504 or see "Showtimes," page 52. (