By the time big-band swing hit its stride in the '30s, Fort Lauderdale's historic Stranahan House was hitting middle age, having served as town trading post, the residence of pioneer Frank Stranahan, a rooming house, and a series of restaurants. Now the popular revival of the big-band sound will help the ongoing revival of the 97-year-old house. Admission fees from tonight's New River by Night outdoor concert will be turned over to Stranahan House Inc., which operates the restored structure as a museum. Steve Gryb and His Big Band will play swing standards from the '30s and '40s, such as "Take the 'A' Train," "In the Mood," and "Chattanooga Choo-Choo." The band will also perform jazz tunes from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Stranahan House is located on Las Olas Boulevard at SE Sixth Avenue. The concert will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. tonight, and food and beverage concessions will be available. Admission is $3. For more information call 954-524-4736.
He turned 50 just last year, and already Freddick Bratcher is being called the "granddaddy" of Miami choreographers. But middle age has done nothing to dull his cutting-edge sensibilities. He continues to dance and sets his steps to everything from Bach to James Brown. "His choreography style is whimsical and upbeat," says Jolie Cummings, president of the Freddick Bratcher and Company dance troupe. Bratcher picked up some of his moves while dancing with the prestigious Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham companies. In 1976 he arrived in Miami to take over as artistic director of Fusion Dance Company. Four years later he founded his own company, now comprised of ten dancers representing a South Florida-style multiethnic mix. Bratcher will join his troupe for tonight's 8 p.m. performance, which includes the premiere of guest choreographer Gerard Ebitz's Reunion, set to traditional Celtic music. Also on the dance card: Suite James, featuring a medley of James Brown tunes; What You Fittna to Done Did, set to the postbop jazz of Bobby McFerrin; and Any Which Way You Can, accompanied by a Willie Dixon blues score. The company will perform at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center, 1770 Monroe St., Hollywood. Tickets cost $10 and $18.50. Call 954-924-8175.
A talent search for the sun-'n'-skin TV series Baywatch? We thought it sounded like an oxymoron, too, but by the end of the month, one woman (presumably bikini-friendly) and one man (a beach stud type, no doubt) from South Florida will be on their way to Los Angeles for a Baywatch shoot. And one local band (rock 'n' roll, preferably) will win a shot at getting a song recorded for the next Baywatch soundtrack. All three spots are up for grabs during the Chili Pepper Baywatch Club Search Tour, taking place every Sunday this month and leading up to a final showdown May 31. Contestants sashay down the runway in the latest fashions during the clubwear round and strip down to nearly nothing for the swimsuit round. Bands, meanwhile, battle on the outdoor stage, pumping out sets of their best originals. The male and female finalists will travel to L.A. and appear as extras in an upcoming episode of Baywatch, then audition for permanent roles. The winning South Florida band gets to submit an original song for possible inclusion on the soundtrack. Each event takes place from 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at the Chili Pepper, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $5. Call 954-525-5996.
If you're into water-skiing, you can forget the hassle of towing a boat to the lake, paying for gas, and finding a driver. Back in the '60s, German engineer Bruno Rixen did away with the need for a boat by designing Ski-Rixen, an ingenious ski-tow system. The water-skier grabs hold of a rope attached to an overhead cable, which is supported by a series of towers and pulled at variable speeds by an electric motor. The system can accommodate up to eight people -- on water skis, wakeboards, or kneeboards -- simultaneously. To give cable-skiing a shot, head to Quiet Waters Park (6601 N. Powerline Rd., Deerfield Beach), where the 35-acre man-made lake lives up to the park's name: There are no noisy motorboats, just the soft hum of electric motors. Cost is $14 per hour or $25 for the entire day, including equipment. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Call 954-360-1315 or 954-429-0215 for more information.