Zora Neale Hurston is one of Florida's most important and least recognized writers. A dry and quizzical critic of a segregated America, Hurston was among the vanguard of the Harlem Renaissance before she wound up sadly working as a maid in Miami Beach hotels. North Miami's M Ensemble Company brings Hurston's work to life with Spunk, a musical adaptation of three of her stories by George C. Wolfe. The show takes audiences into lusty and bawdy pre-WWII Harlem with tales that are at once dark and humorous. The theater troupe serves it up with a heavy dose of blues and dance at its M Ensemble Actors Studio (12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami). Curtain time is 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and 3:00 p.m. Sunday. The play runs through Sunday, May 18. Tickets cost $20. This evening's opening costs $25 and includes a reception with the cast. Call 305-895-8955.
Following up their self-titled EP released last year, South Florida's kings of the New Old Sound, the Heatseekers, unleash their full-length CD In Praise Of on local label Ohev Records during Revolver at Soho Lounge (175-193 NE 36th St.). Formed in 2001, the garage/punk quartet with the mod flair consists of drummer Chuck Loose (formerly of the Crumbs), guitarist/singer Owen McLean, bassist Terra Marie, and guitarist Ryan Weinstein (ex-Cavity). They have graced the stage of almost every local rock club. Look for them to go nationwide soon. Sharp-dressed rock band Billy Boloby opens. Doors open at 11:00 p.m.. Admission is seven dollars. Call 305-576-1988.
Around the same time, upstairs at Slak Lounge (2826 N. Miami Ave.) DJ Le Spam and the Spam Allstars will premiere their long-awaited video for the song "Descarga Gusano." Shot in Wynwood and Little Havana and showcasing the talents of artist Lebo, the Ground Zero and Deadly Venoms dance crews, a comic who goes by the name Wildman Steve, and maybe even you, this sucker -- directed by Suzanne Barr and edited by Hayley K. Downs -- has been ten months in the making. Expect a performance by the Allstars and live video mixing by David Navas. Admission is five dollars. Call 305-438-0810.
In 1988 Miami-based folk singer Grant Livingston released an eleven-track cassette called Florida Rain. Containing smooth swingy tunes about Miami pioneers such as Julia Tuttle and Henry Flagler, tributes to indigenous pests such as the Maleluca tree as well as the "Armadillo Song," which detailed the animal's dangerous existence on local roads, the popular album earned him the title of Miami's historian in song. But the compendium never made its way onto CD -- until now, fifteen years later! Don't get us wrong, Livingston has produced albums in the interim, but at 8:00 tonight at the Main Street Cafe (128 N. Krome Ave., Homestead) he'll release Florida Rain on CD with three bonus tracks: "Escambia," "Voices of the River," and the scathing anti-airport screed "Homestead." Admission is ten dollars. Call 305-245-7575.
The classical series Close Encounters with Music brings you really close to Mother Russia. It will end its season of concerts with a program titled "A La Russe," featuring music by those passionate Russian composers Prokofiev, Stravinsky, and Rachmaninoff. The modern, romantic, and folkloric works will be played by cellist and artistic director Yehuda Hanani and special guest James Tocco, the famed Italian-American pianist. The music begins at 2:00 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Tickets cost $25. Call 800-843-0778. (NK)
To practitioners of the Egyptian stick dance Taktib, the stick, like a samurai sword, represents the soul. Taktib master Yousry Sharif has made a career of expressing his soul unlike any other Taktib dancer. The renowned expert has garnered praise from dance publications and the New York Times. This week he comes to Miami to conduct a series of all-day master classes in Middle Eastern and belly dance. Sharif, a native of Cairo who lives in New York City, will lead modern and folklore technique as well as choreography workshops at the Miami Shores Recreation Complex, 9617 Park Dr. The fun begins at 9:30 a.m. One-day passes cost $90. Call 305-754-0258.
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Discussing sexual organs with Gore Vidal, watching your wife smoke hashish with Paul Bowles in Tangiers, mistaking Carlos Fuentes for a handyman, and having Graham Greene annotate and correct an article you wrote about him and then threaten to sell the revised piece for a pile of money. Isn't it fun to be friends with famous writers? Well, yes, especially when it gives you plenty of fodder for a memoir about the many renowned scribes you cozied up to. Author of nine novels (his latest is Shelter from the Storm) and five books of nonfiction, Michael Mewshaw has gathered up his encounters with the aforementioned bunch and added run-ins with Anthony Burgess, William Gaddis, Mary McCarthy, Harold Robbins, Eleanor Clark, and Robert Penn Warren into the fun, gossipy book, Do I Owe You Something: A Memoir of the Literary Life. The part-time Key West resident will read from his work at 6:30 p.m. at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408.
It's not like they're redecorating, but the owners of the Forge (432 41st St., Miami Beach) are removing some of their extensive art treasures and hanging canvases by Cuban masters in their place. In recent years the famous eatery has been transforming itself from a staid and serious restaurant to a hip and sexy hangout. According to its management, this is the first time the Forge has taken down its paintings, part of a collection valued at $20 million. (And you thought the contents of the wine cellar was the only thing worth big bucks.) It is not doing this on a whim, though. The exhibit is intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cuban Republic. A reception begins at 9:00 p.m. Admission is free. For reservations call 305-538-8533.