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Listen to the music of the night

Whether you like rock, swing or Broadway, you'll enjoy facing the music at concerts throughout the metro-east tonight through Saturday.

BELLEVILLE: Who let the dogs out? The Belleville Heritage Society, that's who, for a free night of classic rock with the Stray Dogs from 6 to 9 p.m. today at Ever & Anon Park at East Main Street and Mascoutah Avenue.

GRANITE CITY: Lawd almighty, you'll feel your temperature rising when Steve Brandes and the Easy Street Band take the stage for another Elvis tribute at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Granite City Moose Lodge, 2521 Maryville Road. Tickets are $15, and food will be available starting at 6 p.m. For information, call 876-6010.

HIGHLAND: A players-choice concert will bring down the curtain on the Highland Muny Band's summer season at 8 p.m. Friday. Bring your chairs to the downtown square for a free night of favorites, including "Broadway in the '90s," "American Civil War Fantasy" and "Strike Up the Band."

TROY: By popular demand, Tri-Township Park in Troy will bring in the Granite City Swing Band for a free night of big-band classics at 7 p.m. Friday under the gazebo.

Musical benefit

Trying to ease a double tragedy will be on the minds of family and friends during a memorial benefit for Tony Byrd Saturday at the Bull Pen Tavern in New Athens.

The son of Jimmy and Mari Jo Byrd, of Coulterville, Tony was killed in a car accident June 1. Just a year before, Tony's brother Nick died in an ATV accident.

"The deaths of these two young men so close together have created tremendous hardship for the parents," said Lilly Helfrich, grandmother of the two boys and leader of Lil's Gone Country Band, which will perform at the benefit. "We hope this benefit will help some."

The benefit, from 5 to 11 p.m., also will include plate dinners, silent auctions and attendance prizes. For more information, call 475-4662.

Movie madness

It's already been 10 years since Mike Nelson and his merry robots last cracked wise as they watched history's cheesiest movies on "Mystery Science Theater 3000."

Now, get ready for their most diabolical plot ever. Next Thursday, Nelson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot will unleash their zany zingers on arguably the worst movie ever made -- Ed Wood's "Plan 9 from Outer Space" -- during a live reunion show from Nashville, Tenn.

The program will be broadcast at 7 p.m. CDT to 430 movie theaters around the country, including four in the St. Louis area: the Edwardsville Stadium 12, the Esquire 7, The St. Louis Mills 18 and the Chesterfield 14. Tickets are $12.50 each and can be ordered in advance ($1 service charge) through

For those too young to remember, Nelson developed the idea for MST3K from watching "Silent Running," a science-fiction classic about an astronaut forced to spend years alone in space preserving Earth's surviving forests.

Nelson turned this idea on its ear. On MST3K, a mad scientist shoots Nelson into space and tortures him with a steady diet of cinematic bombs in hopes of finding the movie that will drive the human race insane.

But instead of going crazy, Nelson builds himself several robots and, for 11 years, they kept audiences on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel roaring with their hilarious repartee through more than 200 of the worst movies ever filmed.

Now, after offering so-called "rifftrax" online to such blockbusters as "Star Trek" and "Stars Wars: Episode 1," Nelson is looking forward to cutting up what may be the absolute worst combination of bad acting and amateurish special effects in "Plan 9."

"We love doing live shows -- the humor is so infectious, it just multiplies the fun," said Nelson, who wrote the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning MST3K. "So to be able to bring this experience to so many people is very exciting."

Rodeo for charity

They call themselves the Free Spirits, but the area motorcycle club will be deeply focused on helping Jerry's kids Saturday during its annual rodeo to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

So, whether you are a chopper fanatic or have never even sat on a 50cc scooter, you're invited to come to the Dupo Quarterback Club at 1625 Bluffview for a day of barbecue, games, raffles and more starting at 2 p.m.

Registration is $10 per person or $15 per couple. For 22 years now, the Free Spirits has used its rodeo to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the MDA.

Back-to-school bash

Splash City in Collinsville wants to help students dive back into classes with a back-to-school party Friday night.

From 7 to 10 p.m., the family waterpark will offer music, prizes and more for a special low admission of $5 per person for all ages.

Threshing show

Those golden fields of wheat are taking on a deeper meaning this week in Pinckneyville as the American Thresherman Association celebrates the 50th anniversary of its annual Steam, Gas & Threshing Show.

This year, the show is shining the spotlight on Chapter 32 of the IH Collectors as they show off International Harvester gas engines. Also on tap are daily demonstrations and displays of steam engines, wheat threshing, tractors of all makes, sawmilling, plowing and a miniature steam train for rides around the park.

Today, the show will boast a parade through Pinckneyville at 5 followed by an antique tractor pull at 7 at the Pinckneyville Fairgrounds. The weekend will wrap up with ITPA-sanctioned tractor pulls at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and an antique auto show and swap meet on Sunday.

Admission is $5, and food and drink will be available. For complete details, go to