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.
Viklarbo: Violinist Maria Newman, a founding member and composer of the chamber music ensemble Viklarbo, was born with musical notes swimming among the corpuscles in her blood. Her father was the renowned film composer Alfred Newman, who won nine Academy Awards for his compositions (including The Robe and All About Eve). Maria identifies her father as a man crippled with self-doubt who dreamed of writing more than just film scores but lacked the courage to pursue it. Perhaps with this in mind, she formed Viklarbo (the name is a combo of "violin," "clarinet," and "oboe"), an ensemble that seeks to perform everything from their own and other 20th-century compositions to the classical European greats (with a few film scores thrown in). Their Dallas performance includes Brahms, Shostakovich, Bartok, and Maria Newman. The ensemble performs at 3 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free, but seating is limited. For more information, call 922-1200.
Pearlie Jones: Although Dallas renaissance-woman Pearlie Jones likes to describe herself as an "ordinary person," that bit of self-deprecation can't account for the enormous energy and drive it took for this mother and onetime office temp to become a video producer, stage actress, publisher, author, and historian. Jones is most proud of her book, Who Loves the Black Woman? It's Time to Come Out of Denial, a work she said began as an effort to understand her own enormous anger at being an invisible woman. Contemporary feminism has been fairly criticized as a white, middle-class preoccupation, but as Jones herself would admit, women in the African-American community haven't fared much better in the shadow of their male comrades. As part of North Lake College's "Black History Month," Jones addresses these and other issues in a presentation called "A History of Black Women." Her presentation kicks off at 11 a.m. in the Arena Theater of North Lake Community College. For more information, call 659-5230.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Before you catch the USA Film Festival's new print of Robert Aldrich's classic 1962 chiller Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, here's a reading assignment: Go to your nearest library and check out a copy of the nonfiction work, The Divine Feud, a deliciously dishy, hysterical history of the on- and off-screen rivalry between stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. An entire chapter is dedicated to the fractious Baby Jane shoot, which was one long endurance test for Aldrich and the rest of the crew. Special scenes to watch out for: Davis kicking the hell out of Crawford when Crawford tries to use the telephone (filming had to be stopped so the real-life bruises could be treated), and Davis a short time later hoisting an inert Crawford onto a bed (filming had to be stopped because Davis threw her back out--a vengeful Crawford had worn lead weights under her robe). The film is screened February 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway; and February 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Sundance 11, 304 Houston in Fort Worth. Tickets are $6.50.
Abortion Row: For the last decade, the religious right has been tossing around much rhetoric about how America's "rejection" of the Bible has led to violence and degeneracy, but it's important to remember that the sacred text can be, in a zealot's hands, a philosophical foundation for terrorism. The indispensable PBS documentary series "Frontline" examines the twisted mind of one young man whose staunch Catholicism fueled two murders in the name of "protecting innocent life." "Abortion Row" examines the life and crimes of 23-year-old John Salvi III, a former altar boy and occasional anti-abortion activist who took it upon himself to spray bullets across "Abortion Row"--a two-mile stretch of Boston clinics long targeted by pro-life activists. The death of two clinic workers ignited a nationwide firestorm of debate both inside and outside the pro-life movement and the Catholic Church about where to draw lines in the midst of a passionate crusade. The episode airs at 9 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. For more information, call (617) 783-3500.
Wolfgang Holzmair: You're inclined to take a man with a name like Wolfgang Holzmair seriously--the handle alone conjures up images of imposing, Teutonic talent. Holzmair was born in Austria and studied with the great vocal coach Hilde Rossel-Majdan (whose name is another horned-helmet-and-breastplates title, one that suggests you wouldn't want to meet the woman in a dark alley). What Holzmair developed was one of the most revered baritone voices currently working the world stage, an instrument that was initially applied to great compositions by Schumann and Haydn until Holzmair indicated his love for 20th-century compositions. Holzmair makes his North Texas debut with the Cliburn Concerts Series, performing a program that includes contemporary and classic songs. He performs at 8 p.m. in the Ed Landreth Auditorium of Fort Worth's Texas Christian University. Tickets are $10-$32. For more information, call (817) 335-9000.