Adult-contemporary rock laced with saccharine lyrics usually isn't our thing, but Bruce Hornsby's piano-playing is so beautiful we can almost forgive him. Remember the lilting piano runs of "The Way It Is," the title track from the 1986 debut album by Bruce Hornsby and the Range? The Grammy committee loved it, awarding the band the Best New Artist Award that year. More piano-driven, supersweet hits followed, including "The Valley Road" from Scenes From the Southside (1988). Hornsby's most notable work since Scenes has been achieved behind the scenes. He produced Don Henley's End of the Innocence and played on the title track; sat in with the Grateful Dead following the death of Brent Mydland; and added piano, accordion, and vocals to albums by performers as disparate as Squeeze and Bonnie Raitt. Unfortunately on his latest solo effort, The Spirit Trail, he was so busy playing the virtuoso and arranger, he forgot to write the same kind of simple songs that once scored him hits. But he'll undoubtedly perform some old tunes during tonight's 8 p.m. show at Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, 1801 NE Sixth St., Pompano Beach. Tickets cost $15, $21, and $25. Call 954-946-2402.
The First Annual Freak Fest! couldn't come at a worse time for the gothic community, what with the Trench Coat Mafia giving the movement a black eye. But compared to the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, the antics of headliners Electric Witchdance seem downright civil. After all, the West Palm Beach goth-industrial band only engages in scarification, blood-drinking, spit-drinking, and vomiting on stage. If you do choose to go and you're faint of heart (and stomach), it may be best to keep in mind this line from Marilyn Manson's "Rock Is Dead": "The shock is all in your head." Witchdance will be joined by locals the Livid Kittens, who have been nominated for Best Gothic-Industrial Band by the Florida Jammy Awards committee. And a costume contest is sure to turn some heads. The festival begins at 7 p.m. at the Button South, 100 Ansin Blvd., Hallandale. Admission is $7. Call 954-454-3301.
In 1991 Florida State University film students John Maass and Reb Braddock made Curdled, a 30-minute dark comedy about a Miami woman whose curiosity about gruesome crime scenes leads her into the path of a serial killer. The aspiring filmmakers took the movie to film festivals, hoping a potential benefactor would like it and fund a longer version. At an Italian festival, they came across a then-relatively-unknown Quentin Tarantino, who was showing Reservoir Dogs. He saw Curdled, loved it, and helped Maass and Braddock line up investors and a contract with Miramax. Tarantino executive-produced, Braddock directed, Maass co-produced, and the film was released in 1996. Reviewers panned it, saying it was too bloody and dark. (No wonder Tarantino loved it.) Maass will recount the saga of Curdled on May 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Respectable Street (518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach) as part of the West Palm Beach Independent Film Festival. The festival kicks off tonight with a party at 8 p.m. at the Lounge (517 Clematis St.). Workshops on acting and film technology take place next week, and films will be screened May 28-30. See "Events" listings or call 561-802-3029 for details.
At today's Reptile and Amphibian Fair, slithery and scaly critters raised by members of the Sawgrass Herpetological Society will be on display and available for purchase. Lectures and exhibits will teach visitors how to breed snakes, lizards, and frogs. Titillating frogs into tadpole-producing mode is actually pretty easy; frogs'll try to mate anything that moves and isn't small enough to eat. When he finds one of his own, the male frog climbs onto the female's back and wraps his front legs around her body in an embrace referred to as the "amplexus position." (How sweet.) The pressure on her abdomen prompts the female to lay eggs. The male then fertilizes the eggs. Pet products, drinks, and food (no frogs' legs, we're told) are also for sale at the fair, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fern Forest Nature Center, 201 Lyons Rd S., Pompano Beach. Admission is $2. Call 954-970-0150 or 954-564-1434.
When Walt Disney Pictures asked its top animator, Glen Keane, to draw the animation cells for Tarzan (set for release on June 18), he created a new version of the Lord of the Jungle using two completely unrelated sources: Edgar Rice Burroughs' book Tarzan of the Apes (1914) and a kid's TV-watching habits. "My son was into watching extreme sports," says Keane. He combined traits of Burroughs' hero -- who "could spring 20 feet across space at the dizzy height of the forest top" -- with the physiques and agility of snowboarders and surfers. Keane's drawings were turned into models from which artists made refined drawings, which were then put in motion using Disney's new 3-D computer graphics program, "Deep Canvas." The end result allows viewers to swing through the jungle with Tarzan as if he had a camera on his shoulder. Original sketches and models from the film are on view in "Tarzan: From Burroughs to Disney," an exhibition that runs through September 19 at the International Museum of Cartoon Art (201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton). The show also features comic books, comic strips, movie posters, and vintage Tarzan toys and games and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the first Tarzan of the Apes comic strip adaptation of Burroughs' book. The tie-in to the movie's release is no coincidence: Disney folks sit on the museum's board of directors. Admission is $3 to $6. Call 561-391-2200 for details.
Dolls are simply toys to folks in most of the Western Hemisphere, but in Japan they're an art form. The Japanese take dolls so seriously that doll makers are included in the list of artisans recognized as Living National Treasures. The doll makers are serious too, investing their dolls with intricate facial expressions that convey a range of emotions from humor to pathos. Fifty dolls made by the members of an award-winning Japanese doll association are on view at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach) in "Cultural Tales: The Art of Japanese Handmade Dolls by Group Kaze," which runs through September 26. Admission prices are $2 for kids, $3.75 for seniors, and $4.25 for adults. Call 561-495-0233 for more information.
There were quite a few complaints about the recent Renoir exhibition at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. It seems some patrons didn't appreciate shelling out $9 in order to see only eight minor works by the painter. Still, some 26,000 art enthusiasts attended, and the museum made $103,000 in profits above the $250,000 it cost to present the show. Arts patrons also profited over the long term: In preparation for the show, the City of Boca Raton Beautification Committee paid to upgrade the museum's sculpture garden, where 25 statues dot the shady landscape. Plants, flowers, and grass were added, and a few picnic benches were placed near the patio area, where bands play classical, blues, and jazz one Wednesday every month at the free Sounds of Music Noontime Concert Series. But most folks kick back in lawn chairs or on blankets, enjoying the music and their lunches while children climb on the sturdy sculptures. (Believe it or not, the museum actually encourages this.) Ray Ray Jazz Mix performs jazz standards at the final series concert today. After the show, admission is free to the museum (801 W. Palmetto Park Rd.), but kids have to knock off the horseplay inside. Call 561-392-2500.