Gil Mantera's Party Dream, Peanut Butter Wolf, V.A.G.I.N.A. Fest and more

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Thursday • 9

GIL MANTERA'S PARTY DREAM Although these Ohio boys would likely cringe at being called a comedy/ novelty/gimmick act, the fact remains that they're a whole hell of a lot funnier – and more fun – than a lot of other independent rock bands out there. While so many bands are concerned with hitting upon the precise ratio of hip influence-to-guilty pleasure that will make their music seem as "smart" and "daring" as it is "fun," Gil Mantera's Party Dream just sounds like a tipped-over garbage can of everything that's happened in music since the '70s. We hear as much Grand Funk Railroad as Kraftwerk here, and (at least when they're wearing their bikini briefs) we can't help but be reminded of Prince. Imagine if Grand Buffet thought they were a soul band and you'll be close to understanding how great they are. Aimed squarely at making your concertgoing experience more enjoyable, GMPD is the funky, retarded, unpremeditated good time you've been looking for. (with Cracker Jackson, Bleubird; 9 p.m. at Will's South; $7; 407-855-2005)

JASON STUART Openly gay stand-up comic Jason Stuart is on his third visit to Orlando in the span of six months, which either means that he's one funny individual or that us good country folks just cain't quit him (sorry, had to work in a Brokeback joke somewhere – it's like a law now). But whatever success Stuart's return engagement entails in terms of his career, it's an admission of defeat on the personal front: The perpetuation of his "Looking for Mr. Right Tour" means he's gotten nowhere in his stated quest to find a husband somewhere out on the great American touring road. OK, so that agenda is just a thematic excuse for Stuart to lampoon the hot-button topic of gay marriage. Still, this is the guy who played Dr. Thomas on My Wife and Kids, people. There's something seriously wrong with our gold-digging instincts if we're not throwing a ring at that. (7:30 p.m. at Improv Comedy Club and Restaurant; through Sunday; $15; 321-281-8000)

Friday • 10

GHOST WALK Here are three clues to this unprecedented spooky affair at Harry P. Leu Gardens (open to willing sleuths): First, the purpose is to solve "The Mystery of the Lost Children." Second, due to the "very scary content of the story," participation by kids under the age of 14 is verboten. Third, wearing comfortable shoes is REQUIRED. Those insights may narrow things down, but they are by no means a reason for an "A-ha!" quite yet. The hosting mystery-makers, Project Imagination, have much more planned for each group of 20 people who will be led through the shadows of the historic gardens – once the home grounds to citrus mogul Harry P. Leu and his rose-loving wife – to five staged stations, where more will be revealed toward determining the end. This is a free activity, sponsored by ArtsFest and Project Imagination, and reservations are required and limited, so best make a move right quick. (7 p.m. at Harry P. Leu Gardens; free; 407-246-2620)

THE ELIXIR OF LOVE We got a chance to check out the Orlando Opera's take on this Donizetti opera last year – before they took it on the road, and when they were still calling it L'Elisir d'Amore – and we totally loved it. They nailed the biting humor that suffuses the play without turning it into a farce. Now, with Valentine's Day upon us, they're putting on a full-production version with a slightly different cast. Anna Vikre has taken over the lead soprano role from departed Janette Zilioli, but all we really care about is the fact that Elizabeth Ariza is still the hysterical Giannetta. We feel a little dorky for playing into their diabolical marketing plans, but you could do a lot worse than taking your significant other to this opera for V-Day. Orlando Opera's presentations are notoriously un-stuffy affairs (look for cameos by the likes of Scott Maxwell and Tico Perez; sadly, they didn't ask us), and this particular opera is a hilarious one, not the sticky-sweet romance you might suspect from its title. (8 p.m. at Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre; through Tuesday; $25-$120; 407-426-1700)

V.A.G.I.N.A. FEST Don't get all tangled up in saying that "V" word; it's a good thing, for sure, nothing nasty about it. This rock & roll music fest is tied into the global V-Day movement dedicated to stopping violence against women and girls ( – nothing nasty about that, either. Locally, V.A.G.I.N.A. Fest (Violence Against Girls Is Not Acceptable) president and musician Mecca Nism and her Team V.A.G.I.N.A. (open to all genders) have worked hard to update the traditional V-Day celebration (a ho-hum reading of Vagina Monologues). For the second year, they're marking the no-violence message with music – sometimes raunchy music, but music nonetheless, spread over two nights at the AKA Lounge. On Friday hear Alien Lizzie,, Shannon Brady (poetry), Troubled Children, Dani O (poetry), Holly Riggs and Mecca Nism and her Rusty Tears. (We can't wait to see the planned parody of the Vagina Monologues called Pussy Talk.) Saturday's lineup holds Fakeout, Watch Me Disappear, DollhouseX, A Girl Named Chuck, Nunez, History, Lucid Fly and Divine Proportion. (7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at AKA Lounge; $10 at the door; $15 two-night pass available in advance at Park Ave CDs; 407-761-9869)

DETROIT COBRAS These guys totally pussed out of their Anti-Pop gig because of some irrational Midwestern fear of hurricanes. And we thought Detroiters were supposed to be tough! We'll forgive them because their scuzzy, gutbucket versions of rock and soul shoulda-been-classics make us smile every time. Not to be missed. (with The Reigning Sound; 9 p.m. at Will's Pub; $10-$12; 407-898-5070)

Saturday • 11

BAND MARINO/YIP-YIP/COUNTRY SLASHERS We're about to say something that's going to make a lot of people mad, but it must be said: If you want to get a grip on the best local music in Orlando, you need to be at this show. Not that these three bands are the best bands in town, but they're all in the top 10. (Hell, they might all be in the top five.) This isn't one of those toss-off gigs that some other local venues throw to (generally awful) local bands as a way to say they support the scene. This is a full-on, Saturday-night, buy-tickets-early exposition of some fine, fine tuneage. Band Marino's indie-centric porch-pop has now been officially endorsed by Orlando Weekly (we're sponsoring their South by Southwest showcase), which, of course, means they're going to break up in five minutes. If you haven't seen Yip-Yip, we're surprised – they've allowed themselves to become the requisite "weird" band that gets booked on every single bill where the headliner doesn't fit the standard indie-rock mode – but that doesn't diminish the hallucinogenic futuro-fury created by their grinding synthesizer duets. The Slashers? Only the most powerful, stage-demolishing, in-your-face punk combo in town. (By punk, we mean punk rock, which means they're not hardcore, they're not metalcore, they're not screamo; they rock.) So: bouncy pop-twang, keyboard players in masks and a Supersuckers-style ass-kicking, all in one night, all from superior local bands, at an all-ages show for less than 10 bucks? You'd be an idiot not to be there. We will be, and we'll be taking names, looking out for all those people who constantly moan about how "nobody supports the Orlando music scene" to see if, you know, they support the scene. After all, it doesn't get much better than this. (7 p.m. at Will's Pub; $7; 407-898-5070)

DEATHTRAP CABARET NIGHT This evening of melody, morsels and murder is a good deal more extensive than the usual Theatre Downtown fund-raiser. In addition to the traditional buffet meal and performance (in this case, of the stunt-packed mystery Deathtrap), there's a juicy preshow cabaret in the lobby, with a quartet of gifted vocalists belting out show tunes the way they oughta be. It's worth the ticket price just to witness the first-ever teaming of what we'll call the "two Natalies" – namely, Kurtizky and Cordone, each one a leading lady of local musical theater in her own right. When they apply their talented tonsils to a common cause, get ready: You'll be opening thank-you letters from your cilia for weeks. (6 p.m. at Theatre Downtown; $20, buffet and cabaret only; $37.50, buffet, cabaret and play; 407-841-0083)

Tuesday • 14

PEANUT BUTTER WOLF It's Phat 'n' Jazzy's 12th birthday, and excellent events like this (and Guru and ?uestlove and Jazzanova) are about the only thing that's kept it going. Although PBW's role as founder of the funked-up hip-hop label Stones Throw has provided a home for Madlib, Breakestra and others who share his vision of warped goodness, his breaks-friendly, soulful work as a producer and DJ is what's cemented his legacy. These days, he's behind the boards less and on the decks more, and since this is one cat (er, Wolf) who doesn't cotton well to boredom, expect plenty of freak-out surprises at both of his local performances tonight. (7 p.m. at Park Ave CDs on Corrine Drive; free; 407-629-5293; 10 p.m. at The Social; $10-$12; 407-246-1419)

Contributors: Jason Ferguson, Steve Schneider, Lindy T. Shepherd

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