Leslie Gail Brooks: Leslie Gail Brooks is one of those country-blues mamas who's too busy helping out every good cause that comes her way to develop the shark instincts necessary for national stardom. Not that the Kentucky-born, Texas-based musician hasn't already amassed an impressive catalogue of published songs. She came to Dallas, because, whether you know it or not, our fair city is a mecca for producers of commercial jingles. Soon, however, Brooks discovered that North Texas country-blues clubs were hip to her raw edge. Her latest project is a benefit concert for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children called "Banding Together to Protect Our Children." Brooks performs with her band, Thunder, alongside Frankly Scarlett and Barton, Blake, and Sweeney. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. at The Plaza Theater, 1115 Fourth Ave. in Carrollton. Tickets are $10-$12. Call 343-8663.
Texas Bound: This week sees the close of Dallas' esteemed 1996 Arts & Letters Live season, which has for five years struggled to remind TV and movie fanatics that there is one irreplaceable cog in both those functions--the writer. Arts & Letters Live seeks to reunite live audiences with live performers and the magical written word, especially as it's recorded in Texas. The "Texas Bound" series features Lone Star actors reading Lone Star authors, as Octavio Solis reads Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler; Nick Stahl reads Charlie McMurtry, Larry's brother; Lisa Lee Schmidt reads Violette Newton; and Raphael Parry reads Jan Epton Seale. Performances happen 6:30 & 8:30 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Tickets are $10-$12. On Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at Club Dada, 2720 Elm, A&LL's "Literary Cafe" offers a free evening for "Adults Only" on the subject of romance. Local actors Tina Parker and Katherine Owens join Texas writers Tom Doyal, C.W. Smith, and Barbara Renaud Gonzalez for an evening of racy observations. For information, call 922-1200.
Winnie Mandela: The long, strange saga of Winnie Mandela is instructive of how we choose political heroes at our own peril. Married to Nelson Mandela at the start of his 26-year imprisonment for sedition in the South African state, Winnie began her public tenure as a Jackie Kennedy-Pat Nixon kind of mystery woman. She pined for her husband and the collapse of apartheid in moving public ceremonies. Soon after, she was courted by the radical wing of the African National Congress and recast herself into an image more like the government-persecuted African-American activist Angela Davis. But unlike Davis, whose early teachings walked a fine line between hostility and persuasion, Winnie Mandela was directly linked with (and later absolved from) a series of brutal execution-style political murders. Husband Nelson Mandela was instrumental in dismissing her from leadership in the South African government. She appears at 7:30 p.m. in Texas Hall at the University of Texas at Arlington. Tickets are $8-$12. Call (817) 273-2755.
Juanita Miller: The last decade has seen theater, dance, and live music venues drop from the radar of Dallas audience support--unless, of course, you happen to be the Dallas Theatre Center, the Dallas Opera, or the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, a trio of venerable (and internationally celebrated) institutions which have enjoyed the support of bidnessmen and their blue-haired wives and mothers for decades. Juanita Miller is a veteran Dallas bidness blue-hair who has, for 40 years, stood beside the Opera, Symphony, and Theatre Center when they existed--once upon a very long time ago--as struggling arts institutions. She'll discuss her role in saving them, but can she explain why so many rich, enthusiastic Dallas families fail to support riskier fare? The talk kicks off at noon at Dallas Country Club, 4100 Beverly Dr. For ticket information, call 520-0206.
The Best Little Homo in the World: Paul J. Williams survived a marketing degree from Baylor to become what he is now--a tragically underpaid adult, but also one of Texas' most famous gay comedic talents. He sold out Dallas theaters and toured behind national headliners with his two buddies in Less Miserable, a trio which specialized in song parodies and character monologues with a refreshing, nonpreachy political edge. Williams emerges with his first post-Miserable one-man show, The Best Little Homo in Texas, which contains a slew of new characters and a few old ones, including the beloved Nelda Pickens, an East Texas real-estate agent with an attitude even bigger than her cigarette-induced emphysema. Williams performs his show April 17 at 8 p.m. and April 19-20 at 11:15 p.m. at the Pocket Sandwich Theater, 5400 E. Mockingbird. Tickets are $7. Call 821-1860.
Punch and Judy: The J. Erik Jonsson Central Library downtown has opened a free exhibit of the Dallas Theater Center Archive, which traces the company's decades-long development as one of the top regional theaters of the Southwest. To mark the exhibit, the downtown library also introduces a series of free short performances. The debut is a presentation of the classic, slightly scary duo Punch and Judy (Sandra McLean and Karl Perkins). In case you forgot, Punch and Judy were a sadomasochistic married couple--sort of the Bundys before Fox. The performance happens at 12:15 p.m. in the third-floor lounge of the Humanities Division of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St. Call 670-7838.