Perspectives: A Concert of Electroacoustic Music: When Jerry Garcia died last year, critics across the country who had never said a kind word about the musical narcotic he and the Grateful Dead created struggled to be kind, or at least respectful. Usually, the memorials emphasized his worldwide range of musical tastes, influences that weren't always apparent to the casual listener of long Dead jams. Dr. Martin Sweidel, director of electronic music at Southern Methodist University, has put together a tribute to Garcia not unlike the Frank Zappa retrospective that came through town two weeks ago. Perspectives: A Concert of Electroacoustic Music features a performance of tapes and videos in which recorded Grateful Dead performances are mixed with sonic techniques pioneered by the European avant-garde 40 years ago. The performance also includes the Dead-inspired electronic sound and video composition Bypassing Peoria, written by Sweidel and fellow faculty member Don Pasquel. "Entering a different reality, a rich pallet of images and sounds drift into momentary focus creating fragments of coherence," Sweidel says. The free show kicks off at 8 p.m. in the O'Donnell Recital Hall on the grounds of SMU. For more information, call 768-3510.
Bronco Bowl's Grand Opening: Those of us who haunted the Bronco Bowl during the '80s have no end of warm and wacky musical memories--Annie Lennox in leopard-skin pillbox hat devastating the crowd with one dramatic sideways glance after another; lesbian folk singer Phranc leading the crowd with a singalong about Martina Navratilova at the Smiths' only Dallas concert; the pre-sappy ballad in which Red Hot Chili Peppers speculated about shooting rubber bands at Edie Brickell's vagina, a crude pun on the New Bohemians' hit album. And then, of course, there was the bowling alley that most of us only saw on our way to the stage. Garland developers Danny and Tony Gibbs have already unofficially inaugurated the new Bronco Bowl with last week's Springsteen show, but today kicks off a weekend full of festivities including live music, a Mardi Gras party, prize giveaways, and more. Bronco Bowl, 2600 Fort Worth Ave. For more information, call 943-1777.
The Capitol Steps: The problem with so-called "political humor" is that it's almost impossible for a performer to be any funnier than the boneheads we elect to national office every four years. Perhaps this is why the nationally renowned comedy troupe Capitol Steps bills itself as "the only group in America that attempts to be funnier than the Congress." The troupe has been performing over 300 shows a year for the past dozen years now, with over 14 comedy albums under their collective belt (the last two, Lord of the Fries and The Joy of Sax, were dedicated to Clinton). When they come to Dallas for their latest performance, expect more than a few stabs at government shutdown and the silly, sordid ways current presidential aspirants are bringing the campaign trail onto Capitol Hill. The show happens at 8 p.m. in the Performance Hall of Brookhaven College, 3939 Valley View in Farmers Branch. Tickets are $7-$15. For more information, call 620-4118.
Split Ends: Actress-writer-singer Dea Vise dubs her latest round of performances "The World Tour" with tongue in cheek--it's really more like "The Tri-state Area Tour." Still, everywhere she performs, Vise is getting rave reviews for her one-woman show Split Ends. It's a musical comedy--with music and lyrics provided by Dallas cabaret fave Michael Got--in which Vise transforms herself into five different characters. We've seen them all before--the chatty hairdresser, the martini-swilling society bitch, etc.--but the accomplishment here, at least according to the stellar reviews, is the seamlessness that marks Vise's transformation from one person to another. Don't come expecting fresh material, but be prepared for one hellacious, Tracey Ullmanish chameleon's act. The show happens at 8 p.m. in Kurth Hall in the Sammons Center for the Arts, 3630 Harry Hines at Oak Lawn. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 748-7303.
Nexus: The tragic side of multiculturalism has been the emphasis on the differences between cultures when, in fact, religions and art forms the world over share a huge, commonly ignored commonality. TITAS (The International Theatrical Arts Society) imports one of the most critically acclaimed performance ensembles in the world, Nexus--five Canadian percussionists with a collective musical scholarship that could compete with Juilliard's library. Nexus is celebrating its 25th year of bringing sounds from all places and eras. In case you're wondering what the connection is between American ragtime tunes and ancient Eastern spirituals, Nexus has one word for you: percussion. The ensemble weaves this and many other musical forms together into an evening of hip-shaking showmanship. The group performs at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. For more information, call 528-5576
A Woman Called Truth: Though her accomplishments are far more diverse than one speech, the spirit of Sojourner Truth's 19th-century crusades for the rights of women and African-Americans will always be symbolized by her heartbreaking speech, "Ain't I a Woman?" It was a blast of pure anger and sorrow from an individual who took it in the teeth as both a woman and a black American, detailing one woman's effort to understand how her gender and her skin intersected in a way that made so many treat her as less than human. The Dallas Children's Theater presents a staging of Sandra Fenichel Asher's A Woman Called Truth, which details the activist's life and philosophies. Let's hope a true original isn't reduced to a historical totem. Performances are Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. through February 18 at the Crescent Theater, 2215 Cedar Springs across from the Hotel Crescent Court. Tickets are $9-$11. For more information, call 978-0110.