KNON Benefit: If you haven't checked out the western swing stylings of Cowboys and Indians, investigate the Dallas Observer Scene, Heard compilation of local artists (next time, we won't ask so nicely). You'll find a jaunty little ditty about a happy fat boy called "Roly Poly." It's as good an introduction to the boot-kickin'-in-the-ballroom, jazz-inflected assault of a group that deserves at least the same exposure as Tripping Daisy (and a hell of a lot more than anemic frat folkies Deep Blue Something). Cowboys and Indians headline a gig that will allow you to enjoy their unabashedly good-time sound and perform a noble deed as well--supplement the needy coffers of KNON-FM 89.3, still the only community radio source (even with all the format changes and sour grapes) in our fair city. Opening for Cowboys and Indians are The Calways, and giving a special midnight show are The Mutineers, a collection of local cow-punk greats who make it a habit of jamming together. The benefit kicks off at 9 p.m. at Trees, 2709 Elm in Deep Ellum. Donations are $5. Call 828-9500.
A Dallas Dance Gathering: Going free-lance in any business--whether it be journalism, commercial art, or dance choreography--is a tough road to hoe. Hence, free-lancers often rely on each other even more so than fellow employees in office settings. This is the reasoning behind "A Dallas Dance Gathering," which celebrates its 10th anniversary. Free-lance dancers and choreographers from around the city, state, nation, and world converge for three days of original performances in every conceivable genre--ballet, contemporary, dance, and various ethnic disciplines. The event happens January 18-20 at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theater at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, 2501 Flora. Tickets are $5-$8. Call 720-7313.
The Love Clinic: If you're not in the loop, you may not be aware of a new pop culture debate that will disappear as soon as the next controversy arises--namely, does the hit film version of Terry McMillan's best-seller Waiting to Exhale treat men badly? Is it possible (or even desirable) to have a film which focuses on issues prevalent to one gender without shortchanging the other? Homoerotic buddy pictures and action films have for decades hung the "No Girls Allowed" sign on their club door. It's interesting that all those men who for years snickered about ultrasensitive feminists have now developed their own shrill voice of complaint. KKDA radio personality Willis Johnson serves as the moderator in what will surely be a fractious discussion. The forum runs 7-9 p.m. at Jubilee Methodist Church, 301 Frank Keasler Blvd. in Duncanville. For information, call 283-2264.
DecaForms '96: Because the producers of the annual Moving Collaborations showcase, Peggy Lamb and Karen Bower, are dancers themselves, every artist who submitted a performance piece for consideration felt it had to incorporate choreography. The show used to be called "DecaDance," but Lamb and Bower decided to change it to the more elastic "DecaForms." They've made a deliberate attempt this year to edge away from a lot of dance. Still, the rules are the same for every performance; they've got to be less than 10 minutes long, for example. Lamb and Bower have resisted the temptation to act as jurors. The "open door" policy means opinions of each piece will probably differ dramatically, but then that's the fun of the evening. Performances happen January 19, 20, 26, and 27 at 8 p.m. at Teatro Dallas, 2204 Commerce. $5. For information, call 369-0090.
The Dangerous Kitchen: When Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer, most Americans thought they had only lost the producer-composer of the '80s novelty hit "Valley Girl." In point of fact, Zappa was one of those slightly reclusive, prickly masters whose work can (and probably never should) graduate from cult enthusiasm. Zappa was a conceptual artist, a collagist, and a clown, sometimes all in the same composition. What made much of his work so elusive was the way it relied on what might be called "the harmony of tension" between disparate musical styles. Throw in a tendency to skewer every sacred cow on the American farm, and you see why he wasn't everyone's bottle of beer. The Canadian electroacoustic group ACREQ (the Association for the Creation and Research of Electroacoustics) gives a live tribute to Zappa by performing compositions from throughout his 25-year career. The performance happens at 8 p.m. at McFarlin Auditorium, on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. For information, call 528-6112.
12th Annual Kidfilm: All the hand-wringing over the quality of children's entertainment is a convenient mask for a glaring fact: It's not what the kids are watching, but what the adults are watching that should offend our intelligence. Animated and live action movies and TV, kids' musicians, books, you name it--the quantity of quality pop culture for kids has never been better. Along comes the USA Film Festival's Kidfilm to officially recognize it. This year's program is lean on new stuff (the big event is the premiere of the new Muppet thriller, Muppet Treasure Island, with director Brian Henson discussing it afterward), but there's some choice retro excursions: a screening of the neglected Pee Wee's Big Adventure; a program of classic "Schoolhouse Rock" animated shorts with creators Tom Yohe, George Newall, and Bob Dorough in attendance; and the 1958 Ray Harryhausen spectacle, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. A full afternoon of programs begins at 12:30 p.m. January 20 and 21 at the AMC Glen Lakes, 9450 N. Central. Tickets are $3 per program. For more information, call 821-NEWS.