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The Five Best Things to Do in Chicago This Week

Bette, Live at the Continental Baths, Festival Cubano, Ginza Holiday Festival, Mbongwana Star, and Rules, Tools, and Fools

BAD BETTE Caitlin Jackson in Hell in a Handbag’s Bette, Live at the Continental Baths.   Photo: Rick Aguilar Studios

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, August 10 through August 16, 2016

1 Bette, Live at the Continental Baths

Theater: Consider Bette Midler impersonator Caitlin Jackson the next best thing to the real Divine Miss M. In this re-creation of Midler’s cabaret act at New York’s Continental Baths—which also launched the career of young accompanist Barry Manilow—Jackson nails the singer’s sassy, brassy persona. Jeremy Ramey plays Manilow, right down to the towel.
8/12–9/10. $26–$28. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. stage773.com

2 Festival Cubano

Festival:This three-day toast to Cuban culture has grown into a massive celebration over the past seven years. Play dominoes, ride in a classic car, eat a Cubano sandwich, and, if you’re so inclined, smoke a cigar—rolled by hand, of course.
8/12–14. $5–$60. Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton. thecubanfestival.com

3 Ginza Holiday Festival

Festival:Guests enter this street fest, named for a famous market district in Tokyo, through a towering torii. Inside, browse bonsai and ikebana flower arrangement demonstrations, martial arts displays, and family-recipe teriyaki from the Midwest Buddhist Temple. Don’t miss the Japanese market, featuring pottery and carvings from the Waza, a federation of Japanese artisans dedicated to reproducing Edo-period crafts.
8/12–14. $7–$15. Midwest Buddhist Temple, 435 W. Menomonee. ginzaholiday.com

4 Mbongwana Star

World Music:This Congolese band’s debut, From Kinshasa, blew critics away and for good reason. Long, oscillating tunes sound born out of the group’s African home but also influenced by modern music’s propensity for genre-bending.
8/11 at 6:30. Free. Millennium Park. cityofchicago.org

5 Rules, Tools, and Fools

Art:The Whole Earth Catalog was a groundbreaking magazine in America’s 1960s counterculture, featuring off-the-grid lifestyle equipment, such as DIY chicken coops and gardening tools, at the dawn of the information age. This exhibit brings together a dozen artists’ responses to the ’zine’s theme of grassroots eco-consciousness.
8/12–9/24. Free. Spudnik Press Cooperative, 1821 W. Hubbard. spudnikpress.org

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Armando Perez
Armando Perez Photo: Carolina Sánchez

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals: Armando Perez, guitarist, vocalist, and producer of ¡Esso! Afrojam Funkbeat, a Latin fusion band playing Festival Cubano on Friday, August 12.

“We’re really excited to be playing the festival. The band started as a group of friends, all in different bands, who wanted to just jam together and play with the genres we all like. I don’t want to call us a supergroup or anything like that, but we’ve played a lot of music in Chicago, and we’re proud to rep the city’s diversity.

“We play all over town, from Old Town School of Folk Music to Double Door, but we formed with the festival circuit in mind. The Festival Cubano lineup is really stacked! I’m especially happy to see headlining acts like Elvis Crespo, who’s just legendary, and the Orishas reunion. Cubans take their music really seriously, and a lot of these acts have influenced us.

“I’ve been to the fest before—just not as a performer—so I’m going to spend Friday checking out some of the stalls from last year. I’m definitely going to pick up some fried plantains, but I’ll have to be careful: I’m a foodie, and all that food can get a little dangerous for a guy like me. ¡Esso! goes on at 6:15, and we’ll be jamming out for almost an hour.

“We’re actually leaving this weekend to go on our first national tour, but typically, you can find me at De Noche Mexicana’s lowkey coffee counter, Café Con Leche. It’s one of my go-tos on Milwaukee—the perfect neighborhood spot to get lunch or just hang out for an afternoon. In the evenings, I like to go Bar Takito on Morgan for cocktails with friends. If it’s a special occasion, Lalo’s on Maxwell has great food and a great DJ, so it’s perfect for dinner and dancing. For something a little more intimate, I love La Taberna Tapas on Halsted.” —As told to John Hardberger

Freebie of the Week

Bud Billiken Parade

Celebration:Presented by the Chicago Defender’s charity arm, this massive event celebrates the black experience in Chicago. Expect the usual floats, bands, and dance crews, plus a healthy dose of local celebrities and politicians (previous guests include Muhammad Ali, Roy Rogers, and Barack Obama).
8/13 at 9 a.m. Free. King and Oakwood. budbillikenparade.org

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