Caroline Aiken: There are musical legends that you see on MTV and Grammy Awards broadcasts, and then there are musical legends you have to be turned on to by friends. Veteran singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Caroline Aiken falls into the latter category. She has performed her brand of smooth, supple, acoustic blues and folk for 20 years now, springing from the Atlanta music scene onto the national club circuit. Consider the more famous folks who have asked Aiken to collaborate--Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Arlo Guthrie, the Indigo Girls (they were early, diehard fans), and the late Muddy Waters, among others. Aiken isn't a gut-bucket blues chanteuse, nor is she one of those guitar-strumming sob sisters who set bad poetry to anemic, folky melodies. The pain in her songs is as measured and articulate as the joy. Aiken is touring to support her latest CD, Live Bait, which is getting national airplay on folk-acoustic shows like "Acoustic Cafe" that have suddenly become more difficult to find on local radio. Her daughter, Sarah Page, makes her debut on the CD. If you love great voices, Aiken's will send chills down your spine. She performs at 8 p.m. at Poor David's Pub, 1924 Greenville. Tickets are $5. Call 821-9891.
Miss Julie: The major criticism of the legendary Swedish playwright August Strindberg was that he hated women. In many ways his plays can be seen as psychological torture sessions for his characters, as Strindberg examines issues of control and evolution in relationships. It's true that some of his female creations reflect a strange paranoia, but Strindberg, like most great artists, was able to transform his own prejudices into a lesson on human nature. Miss Julie is arguably his most famous play, a towering work of modern character exploration in which a bitchy aristocrat and her shallow servant develop a mutual obsession. Kitchen Dog Theatre gives performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through February 4 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney. Tickets are $6-$12. Call 871-ARTS.
Ann Cushing Gantz: You may not have ever heard of Ann Cushing Gantz, but rest assured, in Texas artistic circles, she is something of a matriarch--a woman who for the last 40 years has amassed awards and impressive showings for her enormous output as a painter. Her paintings, while often showing the influence of French impressionists, are deceptively "light"--the brush-strokes are assured, the colors vibrant--but faces stare out of a Cushing painting with a haunted expression. Most of the paintings for the retrospective exhibition, 1956-1996, have been donated by friends and students. An opening reception happens 8-9:30 p.m. The show runs through February 16 at Dallas Visual Art Center, 2917 Swiss Avenue. Call 821-2522.
ScubaFest '96: Scuba diving is one of those exotic sports that fascinate the uninitiated, but most of us don't ever expect we'll actually wear a snorkel someday. If you're dying to explore the universe underwater, check out ScubaFest '96, an afternoon and evening of seminars, workshops, demonstrations, and a swap meet at which seasoned divers can sell or trade old equipment. The more exotic events--at the bottom of an Olympic-sized, indoor, heated pool--include an obstacle course and a dance. Bring your own swimsuit and snorkel gear if you actually plan on getting wet. Hours are 1-8 p.m. in the Northlake College Aquatic Center, 5001 N. MacArthur Blvd in Irving. Call 891-3446.
Beyond Communion with Whitley Streiber: The enormous success of Whitley Streiber's 1985 non-fiction book Communion has earned the man something of a cult. Previous to that title's publication, Streiber was most famous as a writer of entertaining supernatural potboilers (he penned Wolfen and The Hunger), but no one expected what Communion would say--that the author had in fact been in direct contact with extraterrestrial creatures (in retrospect, Streiber's confessional predated the wacky talk-show culture). He speaks before the Eclectic Viewpoint about information he's never published before--claims about the steady increase over the last 25 years of UFO activity around the world. The show opens at 7:30 p.m. at the Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane. Admission is $15. Call 601-7687.
Beyond Race: Over the last couple of years, there's been a subtle but definite change in the ongoing debate over race in America. Because of a number of factors--the rise of the controversial Louis Farrakhan as a national spokesman, the O.J. Simpson verdict, troubles that riddled the venerable NAACP, a general national shift toward the right--Anglos and African-Americans have been more honest with each other than at any other time about issues of status. Actually, whites have finally been roused to confess their own mixed feelings about issues that black activists have been raising for decades. KRLD NewsRadio 1080 begins a program that attempts to provide an honest forum for people of all different races to attempt, if possible, to reach a consensus. Beyond Race is hosted by former civil-rights activist Peter Johnson, a man who knew both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and has distinguished himself for his decidedly non-inflammatory take on emotional issues. Johnson assures listeners that "every opinion will be valuable," but you have to wonder if he's ready for the nut cases and reactionaries who tend to make up the talk-radio audience. Beyond Race airs from 7 to 9 p.m. on KRLD NewsRadio 1080. For more information, call 445-6234.
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