Do It This Labor Day Weekend: Florida's Largest Home Show, Look Tonight, Gecko Fest and much more

Have a few laughs and support the U.S. troops. How easy is that? Stand Ups for the Troops Comedy Show starring Rene Bray and others benefits Lawyers for Warriors Inc., a non-profit organization which provides pro bono legal services to deployed troops. At Snapper’s Grill and Comedy Club in Palm Harbor; admission is $10 in advance and for all military personnel (with ID) at the door and $15 at the door for everyone else. 8:30 on Friday, Sept. 3, and 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4. Call 407-286-5199 for reservations.

This animal encounter oughta be a hoot: Night Hunters, Owls of Brooker Creek Preserve. Learn to identify the birds of prey, recognize their calls and dissect a pellet to learn what they eat. So many hipster gals are into owls, one can’t help but wonder if the next animal encounter at Brooker Creek Preserve is going to look like an Urban Outfitters ad. Just don’t give them critters a lick off your Tootsie Pop. 10 a.m. at the Brooker Creek Preserve Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. Recommended for families with children ages 6 and older.

[image-1]The pretty li’l gulf-front hamlet of Gulfport is fairly laid back most of the time, but this Saturday, costumed merrymakers shake things and up and hit Beach Boulevard for the town’s 10th annual Gecko Fest. The audience-participation-friendly, free event has activities for grown-ups and kids — it's like an end-of-the-summer Mardi Gras meets a Renaissance festival. Depending on how high your hipster-snob knob is turned up, the tacky-tastic Gecko Fest should prove to be loads of fun. Street and stage performers – including the critically acclaimed world-beat band Hip Abduction – and artisans and vendors of all types show off their skills and goods, more than 200 of ’em. Some of the area’s most acclaimed metal and glass artists, including Frank Strunk III, Owen Pach and Victoria Wenners, whose mosaic gecko is pictured here, have added dazzling decoration to gecko statues which will be on display. Interactive hamster fun for the kids will be provided by Zhu-universe, with a setup of inflatable habitat trails, a human hamster wheel, a six-set obstacle course, Nintendo DS and Wii kiosks and photo opportunities with Zhu Zhu Pets. The Gecko Goddess and her court will cavort with other roving characters. Live entertainment will be provided on two main stages from noon to 10 p.m. Try out your artistic skills with sidewalk chalk art. Compete in a costume contest. Listen to a storyteller. Get a henna tattoo. Get your face painted. Learn some dance steps and loosen the junk in your trunk in a street dance party, or march in a wacky, noisy parade of costumed characters. You’ve done crazier things … maybe. Gecko Fest, Saturday, Sept. 4, noon-10 p.m., Beach Boulevard, Gulfport.

     The Central Florida Cactus and Succulent Society Labor Day Show and Sale is at 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; the prickly affair is held at University of South Florida Botanical Gardens, 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa. 813-910-3274,

Cheer on the tough and sassy ladies of our local roller derby league, the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins, as the Switchblade Sisters play the Black Widows, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the USA Skateplex, 5313 E. Busch Blvd., Tampa. $10. The TBDD will be collecting donations for the Metropolitan Ministries Backpacks of Hope Campaign. $2 off the price of a ticket when you donate any of the items listed on the Darlins Web site.

   The White Party feat. Tribal Style, Tampa’s best and busiest roots reggae band performs 7 p.m. at Blur Night Club/Kelly’s Chica Boom, 325 Main St.,?Dunedin. 727-736-0206.?

Get your Labor Day weekend crunked old-school-style at the Old Skool Party w/Naughty by Nature/Young MC/Barrey Carew at Shephard’s Beach Resort on Clearwater Beach. For its third annual Labor Day weekend celebration, Shephard’s Beach Resort presents “Old Skool 3,” a throwback party headlined by two legendary artists of old school hip-hop. Grammy-winning trio Naughty by Nature originally formed in '89, made it big with their first hit, “O.P.P.” (and created a pop culture axiom that’s still used today) in '91, then hit it big again with "Hip Hop Hooray" in '93. This December, the trio will debut Anthem Inc., their seventh release and first album of new material in eight years. They are joined by clever rhyming (not so) Young MC, who collabed with Tone-Loc on “Wild Thing” and the follow-up hit, “Funky Cold Medina,” but is best known for his 1989 dilemmas-of-dating single, "Bust a Move.” (Leilani Polk contributed to this report.)

[image-2]With his sly, debonair presence, keyboard player Tommy Thompson of the longtime-gigging Black Honkeys Soul Power Review commanded the stage whenever the feisty ensemble performed. So it came as sad news for Tampa Bay music scenesters to learn that the 71-year-old musician had died on July 17 from a head injury incurred in an accident on his way to a gig. The band will celebrate his life, loves and achievements by hosting a Tommy Thompson Memorial Party at Cuso's Cantina in Indian Rocks Beach this Sunday. Greg Billings will lead his traditional soul service in honor of Thompson  from 6-9 p.m. The Black Honkeys and Mr. Thompson’s son, Jude Johnson, will perform later in the evening. In his younger days, Mr. Thompson played with Bo Diddley, Anne Murray and the U.S. Air Force Band, and attended the Berklee College of Music. Proceeds from the event will go toward expenses as a result of the unexpected loss. Tommy Thompson, Memorial Party, Sunday, Sept. 5, 5 p.m., Cuso’s Cantina, 2405 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach. 727-596-5640.

If you’re not partying or shopping or watching a telethon on Labor Day and you have bored teens on your hands, take them to The Community Speaks: a Spoken Word Event. The Hillsborough Youth Collaborative, a civic-minded youth group sponsored by Community Tampa Bay and the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, presents guest poets and spoken word artists in an open mic format. The evening offers teens an opportunity to express their concerns, and the collaborative gives young people ages 14- 20 practice in leadership, advocacy skills and public decorum. 6 p.m.   Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), 4801 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. 813-987-6300.

  Top off the long weekend with Jayne Sings: My Tribute to Lena Horne, 7 p.m. Monday night. Jayne Trinette is a singer, actor and songwriter from Tampa seen on Broadway. American Stage, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $15 in advance or “pay what you can” at the door. 727-823-PLAY (7529).

When it comes to the depressing real estate market, you gotta think like Crosby, Stills and Nash: If you can’t live in the house you love, honey, love the house you’re in. Take some of that cash you’ve got socked away (people do still save money, we hear) or take out a loan if your credit is still intact and head over to the Tampa Convention Center for Florida’s Largest Home Show, where you can brainstorm about how you want to reinvent your little kingdom on earth. Whether you're building, remodeling, decorating, landscaping or just planning your next project, Florida's Largest Home Show offers opportunities to talk to experts one on one. Sept. 3-6, Tampa Convention Center; Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and Monday, 11 am-6 p.m. $8, $7 for senior citizens and children younger than 12 admitted free.

Fans of Papos’ Open Mic at Cafe NoLa, take note. Papos is now emceeing his show at a monthly Friday night event at Tre Amici @ The Bunker in Ybor City. The first one is this weekend.  He's expecting a packed house.

This weekend only at Studio@620 in downtown St. Pete, get a gander at Look Tonight, a dance/theater work exploring glamour and the roles that it plays in contemporary American culture. The performance combines spoken word with dance. 8 p.m. Sept. 3-4.  Tickets are $20, $15 for students or seniors 65 and older. [email protected].

Friday night at New World Brewery: Tampa-based foursome Guiltmaker is fresh off finishing a new five-song EP, Emerald Coast, which was recorded and mixed in Fort Walton Beach with producer/engineer Jeremy S.H. Griffith (Sunbears!, City of Ships). The album finds the band at their post-hardcore best, the keening guitar solos fighting for control against powerfully pained vocals. Slow Claw and Liquid Limbs support. $7.  (Leilani Polk contributed to this report.)


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