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VALLEY WEEKEND | BEST BETS

July 11, 1996

SUNDAY: Still Singin'

Donald Mills, the last surviving member of the Mills Brothers, recently celebrated his 81st birthday and his 71st year in show business. Mills, who is performing at the Alex Theatre on Sunday, knows why he's lasted so long.

"I do what I do and I don't do what I'm not supposed to do," Mills says. "It's been my philosophy my whole life."

The Mills Brothers started their career in the mid-1920s at WLW Radio in Cincinnati. In 1929, the group moved to CBS and New York City. The group went on to become one of the first African-American vocal groups to achieve mainstream pop acceptance in the 1930s. Their hits included "Lazy River," "Paper Doll," "You Always Hurt the One You Love" and "Till Then."

For the last decade, Mills has toured with his son John, performing the classic Mills Brothers repertoire. He says the arrangements are faithful to the Mills Brothers sound, even though there are fewer voices singing the numbers.

Mills says he has no problem keeping his performances fresh because he's doing something he loves. "I enjoy traveling and the people," he says. "It's a real pleasure to walk onstage, getting applause for what you're doing."

Mills says he'll never retire, but he knows when he'll stop.

"I'll quit when they put me 6 feet under," he says cheerfully.

* "Hooked on Swing" starring Donald and John Mills of the Mills Brothers, plus Connie Haines and Larry Elgart and His Orchestra, at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Alex Theatre, 234 Brand Blvd., Glendale. Tickets are $22.50-$27.50. Call (800) 233-3123.

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Free Music

Make sure you arrive early at Warner Park on Sunday for the free concert by New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band. This traditional jazz ensemble from the Big Easy has drawn some of the biggest crowds to the Woodland Hills park over the last two summers.

The band, one of three road groups that tour under the Preservation Hall banner, draws from a huge repertoire of 1920s and '30s New Orleans jazz tunes that includes both the well-known and the esoteric. Songs like "Hindustan" and "Shake It and Break It" as well as the classic "When the Saints Go Marching In."

Don't forget a lawn chair or a blanket.

* The Preservation Hall Jazz Band plus Darlene Bonaparte and the Napoleon Complex at 4 p.m. Sunday at Warner Park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. Free. Call (818) 704-1587.

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Almost Free

The Kingston Trio, consisting of original members Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds, along with newcomer George Grove (only 23 years with the group), appears at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank on Sunday.

Although many critics dismiss them as the Pat Boones of folk music, The Kingston Trio introduced the musical genre to a generation of portable-radio-toting Americans and paved the way into the commercial record market for many folk-oriented singers.

Formed in 1957, the trio had its first hit, "Tom Dooley," in late 1958. Other hits, including "MTA," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Scotch and Soda," followed.

* The Kingston Trio plays at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Starlight Bowl, 1246 Lockheed View Drive, Burbank. Admission is $1. Call (818) 238-5300.

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Not Quite Free

The fifth annual Sin Fronteras (Without Borders) Latino Music Festival gets underway at noon Sunday in Lakeview Terrace. But you'd better get there early, because the promoters expect a huge crowd.

The benefit show for Jeopardy, a gang intervention program for at-risk youth, will star some leading Latino music performers, including Jose Feliciano, Pepe Aguilar, Marcos Llunas, Calo, El Mariachi Nacional de Mexico, Lucia Mendez and others.

* Sin Fronteras Latino Music Festival begins at noon Sunday at Hansen Dam Sports Complex, 11770 Foothill Blvd., Lakeview Terrace. Gates open at 11 a.m. $5 admission. Call (818) 837-1167.

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