This week, Patrick Rapa took a trip to the Mutter Museum to see what overlooked specimens play a supporting role to top-billed attractions like the Soap Lady, the mega colon, and Einstein’s brain; James Jackson interviewed African American magician Ran’D Shine, who has several upcoming area shows; and gardening consultant Tina Sottolano-Cain told us how to successfully grow an indoor herb garden (begin by picking the best herbs for your house’s natural light).
There are many ways to shake off your mid-March malaise this week: Help paint a mural in the Northeast, drink beer at a spelling bee, listen to Bach while waiting for the Broad Street Line, or put that binge-watching to good use and play Game of Thrones-themed quizzo at Boot & Saddle.
— Jenn Ladd (@jrladd, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Interested in pursuing a career in the arts? Head to Artistacon, where 40-plus professional artists from across the nation will gather to chat about topics ranging from how to create a contract to finding a mentor. Beyond panel discussions, the three-day conference also includes a free drink-and-draw plus meet-and-greet event at the Philadelphia Sketch Club (Friday) and an exhibition featuring dozens of artists inside Dinosaur Hall at the Academy of Natural Sciences (Saturday). — Grace Dickinson
7:30 p.m., Friday, Philadelphia Sketch Club, 235 S. Camac St.; 8 a.m., Saturday and Sunday, Moore College of Art and Design, 1916 Race St., cost varies per event, artistacon.net
Head to the Northeast to partake in Mural Arts’ latest project, a mural by Philadelphia native David Guinn. The design at Mayfair Community Center is already outlined on large panels of parachute cloth, so the crowd will help fill in the spaces — paint-by-numbers style. The neighborhood-wide painting party will go on rain or shine. — Jenn Ladd
Noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, Mayfair Community Center, 2990 St. Vincent St., free, muralarts.org
Calling all spellers: Huntingdon Valley’s Naked Brewing Co. challenges you to partake in its first annual spelling bee. Registration includes a flight of all 12 of the brewery’s draft beers and entry into the contest. Food truck Bad Mother Shuckers will offer eats to keep you fueled. Hopefully the flight doesn’t become an obstacle to remembering the correct spelling of onomatopoeia. — G.D.
7:30 to 10:30 p.m., Friday, Naked Brewing Co., 51 Buck Rd., Huntingdon Valley, $25, nakedbrewingcompany.com
Trestle Inn, Callowhill’s time-honored whiskey and go-go bar, hosts this annual cocktail competition to raise funds for the PSPCA. Bartenders from the Ranstead Room, R&D, Irwins, and the Trestle Inn itself will mix drinks with Woodford Reserve. A ticket includes four cocktails, some free food, and a built-in $25 donation that’ll go to helping area animals. We’re hard-pressed to name a more compelling reason to drink. — J.L.
6 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Trestle Inn, 339 N. 11th St., $35, thetrestleinn.com
Heading into its second week, the nearly monthlong Israeli Film Festival seeks to bring insight into Israeli culture through a full lineup of documentary and feature films. Over the next few days, three different documentaries — focused on topics including terrorism, family identity, and immigration — will screen at various area venues, including the Ritz East and the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. Tickets for each event can be purchased online. — G.D.
Through April 7 (select dates), locations and prices vary per screening, iffphila.com
Head to Franky Bradley’s on Sunday for a special burlesque show featuring an all-Latinx cast dressed to impress. Find Jewelissa, Mistress Lilith, Queen Yareli, and other lovely ladies on the Midtown Village venue’s stage for a variety show sure to beat another Sunday night on the couch. — G.D.
8 p.m., Sunday, Franky Bradley’s, 1320 Chancellor St., $10 in advance, $13 at the door, shows.frankybradleys.com
Less than a month from the release of Game of Thrones final season, it’s time to refresh yourself with the histories of families Lannister, Stark, Greyjoy, and Targaryen. Revisit a few episodes from earlier seasons, and then head to Boot & Saddle on Wednesday for a special adults-only GoT quizzo night. — G.D.
8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., free, bootandsaddlephilly.com
Nickelodeon’s Double Dare is headed to the Merriam Theater for two nights of slime-filled family fun. Popular TV host Marc Summers will emcee a live version of the show, featuring an array of physical- and trivia-based challenges. Do you think you have what it takes to run through the Double Dare obstacle course? A few lucky audience members will be invited onstage to participate. — G.D.
7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 28; also Friday, March 29, Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St., $39 and up, kimmelcenter.org
Wayne’s perennial “pleasure garden” reopens the gates to its 35-acre grounds this Wednesday. There will be far fewer peanuts and Cracker Jacks than at the Phillies’ Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park, but you can count on more serenity and less spilled beer. — J.L.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Chanticleer Garden, 786 Church Rd., Wayne, $10, free for garden professionals and children 12 and under, chanticleergarden.org
Beloved British mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly crosses the pond for a recital appearance at the Kimmel Center. This may be the ideal time to catch Dame Sarah: Now in her mid-50s, the always-intelligent singer brings her accumulated wisdom to a program that, by itself, is enough to attract the art-song crowd, with selections by Brahms, Roussel, and Debussy, and from Wolf’s Italian Songbook, among others. Plus, to judge from Connolly’s website, you won’t hear this anyplace else in the U.S. anytime soon. Philadelphia Chamber Music Society is the presenter. — David Patrick Stearns
7:30 p.m. Friday, Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St., $30, 215-569-8080, pcmsconcerts.org
If you’re taking public transit this weekend, consider timing your commute to this lineup of free concerts. The annual Bach in the Subways event sees talented local musicians performing live in select SEPTA, PATCO, and Amtrak Stations. Find oboists, flute players, cellists, violists, and more serenading travelers with Bach’s masterpieces. Check the website for performance times and locations. — G.D.
March 21 to 24, select SEPTA, PATCO, and Amtrak stations, free, bachinthesubways.org/philadelphia
Lloyd Cole’s casual, inviting vocals have softened his sly, cutting wit from his start with the Commotions, when he asked, “Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?” on 1984’s classic Rattlesnakes. (Years later, Tracey Campbell and Camera Obscura responded yes, “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken,” a rare case of an answer song equaling the original.) His early solo records veered satisfyingly from crunchy power-pop to orchestrated countrypolitan to swaggering rock. He’s continued to release worthy guitar-centered albums — 2006’s Antidepressant and 2013’s Standards are highlights — and has recently explored electronic instrumental pieces. Friday’s show in Manayunk is titled “From Rattlesnakes to Guesswork.” It’s a retrospective and a preview — Guesswork won’t arrive until July. — Steve Klinge
8 p.m., Friday, the Locks at Sona, 4417 Main St., $25 to $32, 484-273-0481, thelocksmusic.com
Last year, Bon Iver toured to celebrate the 10th anniversary of For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon’s hushed debut, recorded in an isolated Wisconsin cabin. The two subsequent Bon Iver albums varied greatly: 2011’s Bon Iver, Bon Iver was expansive and layered; 2016’s 22, A Million was obscured and heavily Auto-Tuned. Two dates at the Met kick off a short nine-day U.S. tour, so we’ll get a first glimpse at how Vernon will meld the breadth of his succinct catalog of emotionally complex, haunted, and haunting songs. — S.K.
Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m., the Met Philadelphia, 858 N. Broad St., $60 and up, 800-653-8000, themetphilly.com
In the long line of topflight storytelling troubadours from Texas — from Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt to Steve Earle — Robert Earl Keen doesn’t always get the credit he’s due. Maybe that’s because he’s not always deathly serious: Along with “The Road Goes on Forever,” his indelible Bonnie and Clyde outlaw saga that’s been covered by Joe Ely and The Highwayman, his best loved song is “Merry Christmas from the Family,” a universal tale of holiday dysfunction that displays his trademark wit and flair for quickly drawn character sketches. The empathetic, discursive Keen has been fabulous on recent duo tours with his more fastidious buddy Lyle Lovett, but he’s even better with a full band. He’ll have his in tow in West Philly this weekend. — Dan DeLuca
8 p.m., Sunday, World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., $32 to $40, 215-222-1400, worldcafelive.com
On the day that Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court last October, Amirtha Kidambi took the stage at FringeArts, offering a cathartic set that alternated between transcendent drones and howls of anguish. From Untruth, the upcoming album by her group Elder Ones, focuses Kidambi’s malleable vocals — from wordless abstraction to pointed commentary, melding free-jazz ferocity with the hypnotic spirituality of Indian classical music. Over a mesmerizing harmonium whorl on “Dance of the Subaltern,” she intones “We will rise” and “We will drown,” capturing the determination and hopelessness that divide many spirits these days. — Shaun Brady
6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St., free (advance registration suggested), firemuseumpresents.com
Who knew that the next Great American Novel, as it were, would come from a soulful Kenya-born acoustic musician and lyricist who moved to Minneapolis in 2013 to soak in the vibes of his hero Bob Dylan? That’s who J.S. Ondara is and what his debut album, Tales of America, blossomed into — a rich, U.S.-grade bit of outsider brilliance whose travels are vividly detailed on the likes of “Saying Goodbye” and “Torch Song.” — A.D. Amorosi