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BEST BETS: Thursday 2/18

10pm: Latin Jazz

February 18, 1999

Since it opened last year, the Conga Room has enlivened the city's music scene with the best in Latin dance and jazz bands. To celebrate its first anniversary, the Conga brings in timbale maestro Tito Puente, the ageless mambo king, for two nights of salsa, cha-cha and other spirited sounds.

* Tito Puente, Conga Room, 5364 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. $35 to $100. Also Friday. (323) 938-1696. also Sunday with Grammy all-American High school Band at the Jazz Bakery, 3233 ZHelms Ave., Culver City. (310) 271-9039.

8pm: Theater

Loretta Devine and Vickilyn Reynolds reprise their New York roles in L.A. Theatre Works' live radio theater production of George C. Wolfe's comic take on race in America, "The Colored Museum." Charlie Robinson also performs.

* "The Colored Museum," Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Also Friday, 8 p.m. Sunday at 4 and 7:30 p.m. $28 to $32. "Kids' Week at the Theatre" offer: two free tickets for children under age 18 with purchase of one adult ticket for both Sunday shows. (310) 827-0889.

9pm: Pop Music

Growing up in Harlem, 19-year-old Shemekia Copeland was musically out of sync with her peers, favoring classic blues and soul over hip-hop. The result? A singer who's being hailed as the next blues superstar. The daughter of the late Texas blues man Johnny Clyde Copeland backs up her debut album, "Turn the Heat Up," with shows at the Mint and the Coach House.

* Shemekia Copeland at the Mint, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., 9 p.m. $10. (323) 954-9630. Also Saturday at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, 8 p.m. $8. (949) 496-8927.

Freebie: "Twentieth Century," a 1934 screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Barrymore and Carole Lombard, screens at 7 p.m. Chapman University, Argyros Forum, Room 208, 333 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 997-6765.

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