A Canticle of Christmas: Say you can't stand yet another mention of Santa Claus, reindeer, or holiday shopping? "A Canticle of Christmas" is a musical/narrative presentation designed to return audiences to a time when self-reflection wasn't crowded out by mall lines and office parties. Evanston, Illinois resident and national vocal treasure Pilar Noelle Kuhn wraps her muscular soprano around traditional European carols and Anglo art songs. She weaves in historical perspective and prose recitation in narrating the Biblical story of the birth of Christ. Performances happen December 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Matthew's Episcopal Cathedral on Ross Avenue. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 1-800-654-9545.
Robert Earl Keen: A veteran of the Texas music scene who's just now finishing his major label debut for Arista/Austin down in Athens, Georgia, Robert Earl Keen has received national attention for a raggedy, soulful tune that best expresses this singer-songwriter's unique mixture of caustic and poignant. You may have heard "Merry Christmas From the Family" on KERA 90.1-FM, either in its 1995 studio version or this year's live recording. The song very neatly summarizes what might be called the manners and mores of a white trash Christmas, complete with a convenience store shopping list that includes "Some ice and an extension cord/A can of beandip and some Diet-Rite/A box of tampons and some Marlboro Lights." Keen will be performing that gem and a host of other originals, with Fred Eaglesmith opening. The show starts at 8 p.m. in the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm. Tickets are $16.50-$22.50. For ticket info call (214) 747-7422.
4th Annual Winter SolstiCelebration '96: Every time a press release describes another one of Amy Martin's seasonal observances, the vision of angry figures holding a wet, beating heart comes to mind--the heart is mine, and the angry folks aren't pagans, but Amy and her fellow organizers who caught some flak from ultra-sensitive participants because I described her solstice festivals as containing "pagan rituals." As it happens, the 4th Annual Winter SolstiCelebration does not offer virgin sacrifices to Pan, but rings in the season by making people more aware of the great natural cycles that rule their lives. There'll be Native American-style heartbeat drumming; Tibetan singing bowls; worldwide winter solstice lore; lectures and meditations; and a lineup of local poets including C.J. Critt, Jeff Davis, and Clebo Rainey. The astrological celebration begins at 10 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, 4015 Normandy at Preston. It's free. Call (214) 528-3990.
Ike Morgan and African-American Quilts: The Webb Gallery in Waxahachie has established a national reputation for exhibiting the works of artists who would be considered eccentric even by the most generous standards society is willing to apply to "creative minds." Psychiatry has already passed judgment on the mind of Ike E. Morgan, a 38-year-old native of Rockdale, Texas. Diagnosed a chronic schizophrenic, he has been incarcerated in the Austin State Hospital since the age of 19. What modern medicine cannot explain away is his prolific and powerful artwork, drawings, and paintings in every conceivable media and some heretofore unconceived combinations as well. Webb Gallery mounts a one-man show of some of his work alongside a separate exhibition of quilts made by African-American women. Both shows run through January 26 at Webb Gallery, 209-211 West Franklin, Waxahachie. (972) 938-8085.
A Christmas Carol: Here's our ultimatum: If one more theater company attempts to retell Dickens' far-fetched story about how it sucks to be rich, we're gonna send a care package to an S&L felon in retaliation. But we have to admit Performance, Unlimited! offers a noteworthy twist to the Dickens chestnut, especially for those who can't resist the sight of a cherub face reciting grownup lines. Performance, Unlimited! has distinguished itself in North Texas for presenting children as the leads in plays, but for artistic director Michael Wehrli's new adaptation of the story, the company presents an all-child cast and a female Ebenezer Scrooge. The ghosts appear Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at The Corner Theater of the DeSoto Town Center, on Pleasant Road and Hampton Road in DeSoto. Tickets are $5-$10. For more information call (972) 230-7475.
Stars of Bethlehem: The planetarium at Richland Community College hosts year-round telescope viewings and planetarium shows for free or a nominal admission fee. As 1996 winds down and takes us through the holiday season, the Richland Planetarium hosts a special star show that will remind participants some things haven't changed since Christ's birth. "The Stars of Bethlehem" recreates those glowing gaseous balls from yesteryear (B.C., to be precise) and explores the astronomical changes that the centuries have wrought. The "Stars of Bethlehem" show happens at 2 p.m., the regular Richland Skies at 3 p.m. Both happen at the Planetarium on the campus of Richland College, 12800 Abrams Rd. It's free. Call (972) 238-6013.
Holiday Guitar Magic: The Dallas Classic Guitar Society presents a fundraiser that combines children, adults, and guitars in an afternoon of international holiday tunes. The adults are some of the best, most-sought after guitar teachers in the North Texas area, including Robert Guthrie from Southern Methodist University; Robert Harding from Collin County Community College; Kendall Jones, a private teacher and frequent concert soloist; Polly Maynard, director of the Childbloom Guitar program in Denton; and Jan Ryberg, who teaches just about anywhere she can find a podium, to judge from her credits in the press material. Those folks will be performing seasonal favorites with some hand-picked students at 3 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, 4015 Normandy at Preston. Donation is $10. Call (214) 528-3733.
A Conversation With Jim Wright: The press material for "A Conversation With Jim Wright" makes it clear that this half-hour interview with the Texas native and former Speaker of the House is "designed to inspire viewers with the life stories of people who rose to the top of their fields," a la other KDTN-TV Channel 2 "A Conversation With..." specials featuring Arthur Miller, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Carlos Fuentes. Wright's accomplishments are undeniably significant, but will he hold forth on the scandal that brought him down and the role that Newt Gingrich played in bringing it to the public? A listener could learn as much from an honest assessment by Wright of his failures as from a celebration of his achievements. The interview is broadcast at 9 p.m. on KDTN-TV Channel 2. Call (214) 871-1390.
Starlight Flight: There's a way to get high this holiday season that's not only perfectly legal, but should delight even the most seasoned ozone-surfer. Starlight Flights offer their annual DFW Christmas light tours. Forget the horse-drawn carriages, these tours are in chartered planes. The pilots are flight instructors certified by the Federal Aviation Administration who will take you over a variety of scenic spots, including downtown Dallas or your neighborhood (no, you will not be allowed to drop objects on the homes of unsuspecting neighbors). They'll provide snack food like cheese and crackers and chocolates; you provide that special adventurous someone. Thirty- and 60-minute departures happen nightly 6 p.m.-1 a.m. from Addison Airport in Addison. For info call (817) 588-1817.
Fort Worth and Dallas TubaChristmas: The Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association (T.U.B.A.) sounds like the kind of society that attracts chubby guys with secret handshakes who order the elimination of members who rat to outsiders about any of their arcane tubular rituals. In point of fact, TUBAns are a very benign, local chapter of tuba musicians who are held together by the general public's ignorance and ridicule of their beloved brass instrument. Tubists, sousaphonists, and players of the euphonium and baritone horn are all invited to perform at the Fort Worth and Dallas TubaChristmas concerts, which feature holiday tunes in commemoration of the 94th birthday of the late William J. Bell, dean of tuba players around the world. The Fort Worth TubaChristmas happens December 23 at noon at General Worth Square, adjacent to Radisson Plaza Hotel, in downtown Fort Worth. The Dallas TubaChristmas happens December 24 at noon in Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas. Call (214) 826-0306.
Traditional Christmas Brunch: Brunch is a concept that's lost on most Americans, mostly because, as a nation, we've conditioned ourselves to eat till we're full or beyond every time someone puts a dinner plate before us. The idea of a light mid-morning meal just doesn't compute with most of us. The Doubletree Hotel at Lincoln Centre offers a Traditional Christmas Brunch that's really just a holiday meal for anyone who doesn't want to cook for a bunch of people--or just for themselves. Salads, turkey, dessert, seafood, red meat, hot vegetables, and an equally tummy-busting breakfast spread. Price is $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $16 for children, with everyone under five eating free. The Doubletree's Traditional Christmas Brunch happens from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Doubletree at Lincoln Centre, North Dallas Tollway and LBJ Freeway. (214) 934-8400.