FRIDAY, January 4

The First Fridays music and discussion series, brought to you by the “we got hip when you weren’t looking” folks at the Natural History Museum, returns with Conscious Minds and the Minds of Others. After a curator-led tour of the exhibit “Treasures From the Vault,” Dr. Antonio Damasio delivers the goods on how the human brain does all that stuff. Feeling smarter and more in tune with their cerebellum, everybody gathers to do the “medulla oblongata” to the music of Sea Wolf and Afternoons, plus DJs Allen and Hoseh. Natural History Museum, 900 Exposition Blvd., Exposition Park; Fri., Jan. 4, 5-10 p.m.; free with museum admission (on a “first-come, first-served” basis): $9, $6.50 children. (213) 763-DINO.

SATURDAY, January 5

As a fledgling young blurbist in the early ’80s at UCLA, I had the undeserving opportunity to interview upcoming film director John Sayles. During the interview, he turned the tables on me and asked, “What are your hopes and dreams?” LOOK AT ME NOW, JOHN SAYLES! DON’T YOU WISH YOU HAD MY JOB? I GET PRESS RELEASES FROM PUBLICISTS WHO ACT LIKE THEY’RE MY FRIENDS! The acclaimed director will talk about his films between screenings of City of Hope and Baby It’s You. Ask him what his hopes and dreams are. Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-FILM.

SUNDAY, January 6

Did you know that Melora Hardin, who plays Jan on The Office, is also a singer and songwriter? Me neither. From a quote found “on the line” (as my mom puts it), here’s how she descibes her show: “Well, they’ll get to know me a little bit. I’ll talk a little bit and I’ll be singing a lot. I’ll sing four or five of my original songs and I’ll sing songs that they might potentially recognize and it’s going to be a really fun night. I think it will be really beautiful music and a little bit of talking and good food and I think a good time. The stuff that I write is stuff that sounds kind of old, kind of like ’50s stuff, that sounds a little bit like Doris Day, Julie London, that kind of vibe. But it’s all original stuff. And so, it will have that and there will probably be some other recognizable things, maybe something from Broadway or a couple of things from Broadway, maybe a couple of things from the pop world. So, sort of a little milieu of things.” Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 4-5, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m.; $25. (323) 466-2210.

MONDAY, January 7

The ambitious two-week multidisciplinary Concrete Frequency series is under way, “probing exploration and celebration of the elements that define a city and how they are affected by, and reflected in, music. Tomorrow’s big Songs of the City showcase of such singer-songwriters as John Doe, Inara George, Sondre Lerche, Steve Jackson, Bob Mould and Zach Rogue should be a humdinger of a convergence of urgent and poetic songwriting. Today you can see Metropolis, followed by a Q&A with Daily Variety contributor Jon Burlingame. As for me, I will be listening to some old Jim Carroll while watching Blade Runner without the sound. ArcLight Cinemas, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Mon., Jan. 7, 8 p.m.; $11; See much-better-informed and articulate Music feature by John Payne on page 80.

TUESDAY, January 8

What’s stiff and excites women? If you said “Elvis,” you may proceed to the Henry Fonda Theater for Art Fein’s Elvis Presley Birthday Bash. The mayhem and tears will be provided by the Blasters, Glen Glenn, Groovy Rednecks, I See Hawks in L.A., Ray Campi, Surfaris and loads more. Here’s a bonus joke: What was Elvis’ last great hit? The bathroom floor! Henry Fonda Theater, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues., Jan. 8, 7:30 p.m.; (323) 464-0808.

WEDNESDAY, January 9

Tonight begins a monthly residency by The Hollywood Hot Shots. On the second Wednesday of the month, the Steve Allen Theater is the place for “upstairs hot jazz” with guitarist John Reynolds, brother Ralf Reynolds on washboard (they’re the grandsons of ZaSu Pitts!) and special guests Seth MacFarlane — yep, he sings — and the Ditty Bops. Steve Allen Theater, Center for Inquiry–West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd.; Wed., Jan. 9, 8 p.m.; $10. 1-800-595-4TIX or

THURSDAY, January 10

Disappointment of the Week: I’ve been looking forward to the Skirball’s new exhibit opening today — except that it turns out it’s called The Inflatable Crown, not The Inflatable Clown. Oh well, it still sounds fun. The exhibit features photos of people around the world wearing balloon hats created by Addi Somekh, “the world’s undisputed leader in high-end balloon headdresses.” Later in the month, Mr. Somekh will demonstrate his technique. Skirball Cultural Center, Ruby Gallery, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.; Jan. 10-April 6; Globalloonacy workshop Sun., Jan. 27; $15, $12 seniors & students, $10 children 2-12. (310) 440-4500.

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