Winter Solstice Celebration: When Dallas Observer ran an item about the Summer Solstice drum celebration, we received angry calls from organizers because the term "pagan rituals" was used. Maybe we should have said "pagan-influenced," or "paganish in a nice way" instead. Now the Winter Solstice Celebration is upon us, and we want to hasten to reassure everybody that there will be no cannibalism, blood orgies, or animal sacrifices performed (in other words, it's suitable for the whole family). There will be a Solstice Service with a candle-lighting ceremony, a yule-log burning, and several dance performances as well as open drumming, dancing, and music making. Bring an instrument. The event is free and kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Dallas Horticultural Center in Fair Park. For information, call 320-3851.
Tchkung!: Any ensemble of musicians who'd rather think of themselves as a "collective" instead of a "band" clearly approach their music with a whole lot of ideas about performance. The Seattle-based Tchkung! has won rave reviews for the niche they've carved in that city's musical scene, not unlike Denton's Brave Combo. Their songs combine industrial and African music with an improvisatory bent that encompasses the audience. It's not unusual for the group to hand out percussion instruments and invite the audience to join in. They also incorporate visual art and theatrical conventions into the show. Tchkung! appears at 8 p.m. at the Major Theatre, 2830 Samuell Blvd across from Tenison-Grand Park. For information, call 821-3456.
Texas Baroque Ensemble: Although you're probably familiar with several sections of J.S. Bach's Weinachts-Oratorium (it's easily the most popular of the composer's Christmas works), the whole piece is rarely performed. The last Dallas performance of the oratorium was 20 years ago. The Texas Baroque Ensemble opts to put the pieces back together in a performance with instruments created using the designs of the day (1734). The Ensemble performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, 14115 Hillcrest. Admission is $10-$15. For information, call 871-ARTS.
Joseph Vincelli: Jazz hornist Joseph Vincelli might be persuaded to throw in a Christmas tune or two, but the real reason to watch Vincelli and his friends give this free concert is to escape the cacophony of ho-ho-ho's and fa-la-la-la-la's at this time of year. Vincelli performs at 8 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther. Admission is free, but seating is limited and Bath House shows are popular, so you might show up early. For information, call 670-8749.
The 18th Annual Dallas TubaChristmas: For many people, the TubaChristmas concert at Thanks-Giving Square is one of those events that lets you know the holidays are just around the corner. What started off as a tribute to William Bell, "the dean of tuba players throughout the world" (Bell was born on Christmas day in 1902), has become a treat for folks who have never even heard of the guy. Organizers expect over 200 horn players to start honking and, as usual, the concert is open to anyone who plays the tuba, sousaphone, euphonium, or baritone horn. Registration for interested players is at 9 a.m. (there is a $5 fee), with a rehearsal at 9:45 a.m. The show kicks off at noon at Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas. It's free. For information, call 826-0306.
African Drum Workshop: The Detroit-based Kefentse Chike is a veteran of African music with over 13 years of teaching to his credit as well as world tours and performances with some of the top names in African and world music. He comes to Dallas to offer a three-hour lecture and drum workshop that will address basic artistic tenets of the African diaspora. Although the subject of dance won't be addressed, dance students are welcome to attend and try out their moves with the music. Bring your own drums, sekeres, or whatever percussive instruments float your boat. The workshop kicks off at 11 a.m. in the Ngoma Mkristo School, 606 N. Edgefield in Oak Cliff. The fee is $15. For more information, call 669-9230.
Lou Ann Barton: So many people talk about supporting the "local music scene" (see Robert Wilonsky's end-of-the-year wrap-up in the "Music" section), yet the irony is most of the bands people are talking about are trying as hard as they can to go national. Someone like Austin-based Lou Ann Barton has a national rep, to be sure, and has even flirted with major-label representation (her superb debut LP, Old Enough, was released under a Warner Brothers subsidiary), but for the most part she is a Texas gal to the bone. She has toured the world, but the Southwest is her favorite stomping ground, performing as she does in clubs and concert halls all over the region. Only Barton can testify how satisfied she is with being a local legend and a national cult-fave, but if you really want to support "the local music scene," check out the always excellent Barton, whose voice, as she slides into middle age, has acquired a provocative hoarseness that's the aural equivalent of the kick that goes along with smooth bourbon. She performs with her band at 8 pm at Poor David's Pub, 1924 Greenville. 821-9891.
Santa's Cruise: Today's the last day to take an Italian-inspired spin with Santa on the Mandalay Canal. Before you rush to beat the deadline, remember that the Jolly Old Man doesn't do much exercise, so distribute the weight on the water sleigh with care (or bring your life preserver along). This is a nice change of pace from the overworked mall Santas, and this one offers his services to adults as well as children. You and your sweetheart can set sail December 21-23 between noon and 5 p.m. at the Mandalay Canal in Irving. The water-sleigh station is situated next to the Texas Bar & Grill. For more information, call 556-0625.
A Christmas Carol: For many Dallasites, the Dallas Theater Center's annual performance of A Christmas Carol has become a Christmas Eve ritual, even when, as in 1995, Randy Moore isn't playing Scrooge. Although we're tempted to roll our eyes at anyone's umpteenth production of this Dickens chestnut, we count our blessings when we consider all the horrendous "reinterpretations" that might be undertaken to freshen the material. The final performance takes place in the Arts District Theater, 2401 Flora. For time and ticket information, call 522-TIXX.
Woman Addressing the Public: She's 12 feet tall, weighs about 6,000 pounds, and is just waiting for some idiot frat-boys to try and remove her. She's Woman Addressing the Public: Project for a Monument, a 1981 bronze sculpture by the modern Spanish master Joan Miro, and she's just been installed at the east entrance of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. She's half bird and half woman, with arms open to either give you a big hug or crush the life out of you, depending on your point of view at the moment. The Kimbell Art Museum is located at 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd in Fort Worth. For more information, call (817) 877-1264.
Annual Christmas Dinner: If you're reading this newspaper and you have a place to sleep and food in the fridge, close your eyes and say a silent prayer of thanks. If you're not exactly sure where today's meal is gonna come from, hightail it to the Granada Movie Grill for their annual Christmas Dinner. It's a service the Granada provides every year for those who are less fortunate, and will this year include a free screening of the Bill Murray comedy Scrooged. The organizers hope to be able to provide gently used clothes, coats, and toys for families who are really needy. Dinner is served noon-5 p.m., and the film begins around 1:30 p.m. The Granada is located at 3524 Greenville. For information, call 826-0730.
Romanticism to Fauvism: Selections From the Permanent Collection: The Dallas Museum of Art has decided to dig into its permanent collection for an exhibition to inaugurate a series focusing on works on paper. Romanticism to Fauvism: Selections From the Permanent Collection features a host of dead, white Europeans who are the reason most of us go to the museum and gallery. Cezanne, Van Gogh, Pissarro, Degas, Renoir, Manet, Delacroix, Jean-Franois Millet, and Theodore Rousseau are all included in the exhibit, which also features ten satirical lithographs by Honore Daumier. Romanticism to Fauvism runs through January 15 at 1717 N. Harwood. For more information, call 922-1200.
Kujichagulia: The South Dallas Cultural Center plans a special African celebration to mark the Kwanzaa ideal of kujichagulia, or "self-determination." A group of individuals who have decided to reclaim their African heritage by renaming themselves are honored with a ceremony that includes the lighting of the kujichagulia candle. Following this will be a lecture by Drs. George and Yvonne Abatso, who are themselves preparing to move to George's birthplace of Ghana. The South Dallas Cultural Center is located at 3400 Fitzhugh. Admission is free. For information, call 670-0314.