"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture," Elvis Costello is rumored to have said. And writing about Costello is an equally daunting task. To begin to understand him, you first must ask yourself the question: How can an artist who did everything possible to commit musical hara-kiri for the past 25 years still be viable in the music industry? The answer is simple. Costello's influences are varied, his collaborators distinguished, his catalog strange, and his attitude toward music -- psychologically speaking, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder wrapped up in a not-so-neat bow -- markedly different from the plethora of '70s artists mounting yet another we're-only-in-it-for-the-money tour. He is the complete and total opposite of a sellout, as his not-so-stellar record sales attest.
Costello has managed to remain a creative force despite -- or maybe because of -- his confrontational and seemingly self-destructive nature. He landed his first major record deal with Columbia by getting arrested for busking in front of the CBS offices in London. In 1977, when appearing on Saturday Night Live, he cut his band off during the first few bars of "Less Than Zero" and performed the antimedia rocker "Radio, Radio," prompting a ban from the show until 1989. Add fights with Rolling Stone, MTV, and Warner Bros. Records, and Costello is lucky he was not blacklisted altogether. Costello has worked with legendary producer T-Bone Burnett and received his first commercial success with the Paul McCartney collaboration "Veronica" in 1989. He learned to read and write sheet music to record The Juliet Letters, an album of classical tunes with the acclaimed Brodsky Quartet. North, his latest album, is an attempt at quasi-jazz standards, divided between melancholy descriptions of the end of a love and optimistic hopes for a new one. Hear Costello sing songs from this and some of his 23 other albums at Mizner Park Amphitheatre (Federal Highway at NE Mizner Boulevard, Boca Raton) at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $43 to $55. Call 561-962-4109.
SUN 2/22 How much do you know about Latin music? And, no, Jon Secada and Menudo don't count. Fiesta Fort Lauderdale, the monthly Latin music celebration along the Las Olas Riverfront, spotlights Hispanic culture and music and has drawn thousands of people to the area as a result. But tonight is different, because Fiesta Fort Lauderdale is joining forces with Florida Atlantic University to kick off Celebrando La Musica, FAU's Latin music festival. The FAU Jazz Band starts it all off at 2 p.m., followed by guitarist Rich Hernandez and the Salsa Knights Dance Studio. And you might even learn something about Latin jazz, tangos, Spanish opera, mambos, and instruments like the ocarina (a clay flute), the charango (an Argentinean mandolin made from the body of an armadillo), the guitarron (a large, deep-bodied Mexican bass guitar usually played by the short guy in the Mariachi band), bongos, congas (like the ones Ricky Ricardo played in I Love Lucy), and maracas. This is all in preparation, of course, for next weekend's music festival at FAU campuses in Boca Raton and Davie, where you can use this knowledge to impress your friends. Call 561-297-2971, or visit www.fau.edu/musicfestival.
Lost Your Moja?
Find it at this Black History Month celebration
We've heard pop-rock, alt-country, and neo-punk, but hip-hop violin? The two pioneers of this genre, college students Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste, better known together as the act Black Violin, perform at the Kijiji Moja festival at Provident Park (1400 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Sponsored by the City of Fort Lauderdale in celebration of Black History Month, the cultural event also includes stilt walkers, storytellers, Ujima dancers, and a drum workshop led by Willie Stewart, who jammed with the Jamaican band Third World for 21 years. And for the kids, there are workshops for making African masks and totem poles. Kijiji Moja means "one village" in Swahili, and the festival was created in part to bring together diverse parts of the Broward community. Bring some sugar... you may really like these neighbors. The Kijiji Moja festival starts at 1 p.m. and is free. Call 954-828-8945.
When you think of Indian dance, do you immediately envision the opening scene of Ghost World, in which Enid and Rebecca are watching the 1965 Bollywood movie Gumnaam, which features a hilarious scene with Indian dancers in sparkly suits and go-go boots shakin' it to "Jaan Pehechaan Ho," the catchy mid-1960s Indian rock 'n' roll hit by Mohammed Rafi? Of course you do! But there are other forms of Indian dance that don't involve rock 'n' roll. The Association of Performing Arts of India presents a concert featuring Indian folk dances and classical music. The first half of the concert consists of classical Indian vocal music with tabla and mridangam (percussion). The second half is all about the dances, which are actually quite involved and symbolic, incorporating various hand gestures, instruments, and emotions (there are mainly nine types of emotions portrayed in Indian dance -- happiness, anger, disgust, fear, sorrow, courage, compassion, wonder, and serenity). Just don't expect a hand jive or the twist. The concert starts at 7 p.m. and costs $10 to $20. Call 954-885-1466.