Touched by twang
by: ©2007 ALBERT SANCHEZ, Along with national players such as Rhonda Vincent (top), Misty River and other 
regional bluegrass acts convene for a weekend of pickin’ and grinnin’ at the Oregon Convention Center.

The RiverCity Bluegrass Festival returns for a third year of acoustic-based music and plenty of opportunities to jam with like-minded musicians in a family-friendly environment.

This year's festival features such notable acts as the Flatlanders (featuring Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock), the

Del McCoury Band, Marty Stuart and Rhonda Vincent, in addition to regional favorites such as Misty River, Jackstraw and Tony Furtado.

Besides being a prime opportunity to catch a wide spectrum of bluegrass and Americana music, the three-day event also raises money for the nonprofit Ethos Music Center.

- Barbara Mitchell

4 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4-6, Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 503-224-0368,, day tickets $35-$55, $80-$120 family (two adults, two children), $12 ages 12 to 18, free age 11 and under; three-day pass $125, $250 family, $30 ages 12 to 18, all ages


'Shining City'

Third Rail Repertory became the most exciting theater company in town by never resting on the laurels that accompanied its very first production three seasons ago, consistently wrapping its considerable talent around provocative programming.

The company may be on its best run ever, closing last season with a searing Athol Fugard drama and opening this one with a pitch-perfect production of Craig Wright's 'Grace.'

'They're really clear about how they work,' says Drammy-winning actor Chris Harder, who makes his Third Rail debut in the Conor McPherson drama. Yet at the same time, Harder says, 'the process just feels really open. We're figuring it out together.'

Bruce Burkhartsmeier, Michael O'Connell and Val Landrum also star in McPherson's haunting story, which earned a Tony Award nomination in 2006.

- Eric Bartels

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Thursday, through Feb. 2, Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, 5340 N. Interstate Ave., 503-235-1101, , $16-$25


'24-Hour Plays'

At 10 o'clock Friday night, 30 actors and four writers will be penned up inside Coho Theater. They'll be divided into caffeine-fueled groups and work around the clock to produce four one-act plays from scratch.

'You get people having epiphanies and having breakdowns and bonding,' says operations manager Faith Verrill Chandler of CoHo Productions. 'It's like a theater orgasm.'

And theatergoers love it. 'The last two times we've done it, it's to a completely sold-out house,' Verrill Chandler says.

- EB

8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, CoHo Theatre, 2257 N.W. Raleigh St., 503-220-2646,, $20

'Grease' singalong (PG)

Before 'Hairspray,' and 'High School Musical' set kids singing and dancing in the halls, gyms and detention rooms of their respective American educational institutions, the randy boys and girls of 'Grease' shoo-bopped shoo-bopped all over Rydell High and the surrounding suburbs.

The '50s-inspired musical cemented the hoofing abilities of John Travolta (see 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Hairspray' for career updates), produced several pop hits, and proved that a crimping iron and black spandex were all anyone really needed for a great makeover.

For the next week, crowds will be belting through the soundtrack and working their own sock-hoppy moves at Cinema 21 during the singalong, taking place to mark the 30th anniversary of the film's release.

The highly interactive show includes a costume contest. So what'll it be: Rizzo, Danny, or good or naughty (and crimped) Sandy?

- Lee Williams

7:30 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through Jan. 10, Cinema 21, 616 N.W. 21st Ave., 503-223-4515,


Y2K8 Run

One of the largest running clubs on the West Coast, the Oregon Road Runners Club, hosts a run to celebrate the eighth year of the second millennium. There's no excuse not to try it out: The morning includes a 20K run, a 10K run or walk, and two-mile untimed walk. The routes start and end at Tom McCall Upper Elementary School.

- LW

9:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, Tom McCall Upper Elementary School, 1341 Pacific Ave., Forest Grove, 503-357-3533,, $20-$40

The Portland Boat Show

It may be cold outside, but it's not too soon to think about taking to the water this summer in style. This is the 48th year for the largest boat and watercraft show west of the mighty Mississippi River.

Yachts, sailboats and powerboats will be on display, and kids can create their own miniature vessels at the Schooner Creek Boat Works table.

- LW

11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 5-13, Portland Expo Center, 2060 N. Marine Drive, 503-736-5200,, $8, age 12 and under free

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