Fourth of July: The phrase "contact high" is taken to a new stratosphere every year at Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic in Luckenbach, Texas. Sitting in the July sun, Willie's fans will be baked in every sense of the word, but Nelson, Merle Haggard, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Ray Price, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kimmie Rhodes, and Loose Diamonds are all on the bill. Willie's Fourth of July Picnic runs from noon till 10 p.m. Tickets are $24.50. Call 1-800-966-SHOW. The Dallas Wind Symphony celebrates the life of John Philip Sousa. No wacky tobacky is necessary to see visions of Sousa, Uncle Sam, Thomas Edison, and other legendary Americans; actors will be playing the parts between Symphony numbers. "A StarSpangled Spectacular" happens 1-4 p.m. at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora. Tickets are $7-$27. Call (214) 528-5576. If you'd really rather mix with folks who like to insert metal in various fleshy protuberances, Club Clearview's "Red, Light, and Blue" features ten Deep Ellum bands engaged in music and a watermelon-spitting contest. The show happens at 8 p.m. at Club Clearview, 2803 Main St. Admission is $6-$8, and those 18 and up are welcome. Call (214) 939-0077. WRR 101.1 FM, the only 24-hour commercial classical music station in North Texas, invites you to sit in your underwear by the AC window unit with a brewsky in hand and listen to their "July Fourth Radio Spectacular." WRR broadcasts conductor Erich Kunzel's 30th anniversary bash with the Cincinnati Pops by playing a long series of America-themed favorites like Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" and Rodgers' "Victory at Sea." The show begins at noon on WRR Classical 101.1 FM Radio. Call (214) 670-8888.
A Night of Chickens and Monks: How do you get the best out of two troupes of attention-starved actors? Pit their egos against each other in naked competition for audience approval. This is the formula for Pocket Sandwich Theater's "A Night of Chickens and Monks" improvisational extravaganza. Take Rubber Chicken, Dallas' all-improv comedy troupe; add Monks' Night Out, Austin's critically acclaimed improv comedy troupe; mix and heat thoroughly with footlights; and you've got...well, either a lot of laughter or a houseful of very irritable ticket buyers. Two shows (Rubber and Monks perform each one together) happen at 8 and 11 p.m. at the Pocket Sandwich Theater, 5400 E. Mockingbird. Tickets are $8-$10. Call (214) 821-1860.
Garland's Star-Spangled 4th: While KC and the Sunshine Band might seem an unlikely labelmate for Coolio and Naughty by Nature, Tommy Boy Records indeed wanted us to get down for many nights to come when they signed KC. But will his upcoming album of new material jibe with the "trash disco" revival that reincarnated his career? KC headlines at the Garland Star-Spangled 4th Celebration, which, considering how liquored-up Garlandites love their '70s hits, presumably won't be a good place to debut the upcoming single. Oh yeah, the Star-Spangled 4th also includes midway carnival rides, food stands, magicians, and fireworks each evening. Events happen July 3-5, culminating in the July 5 performance at Performing Arts Center, Fifth and Austin St. It's free. Call (972) 205-2749.
Common Threads: America at the End of the 20th Century: Folk music took a detour with the likes of early Joni Mitchell and the late Phil Ochs--away from defining common experience and toward confessionalism and agenda. Common Threads: America at the End of the 20th Century is a national photographic exhibit, curated by Collin County Community College professor and photographer Patricia D. Richards. It attempts to capture the Guthrie-esque spirit of folk as a shared experience through the regional images she's tapped from Dallas, San Francisco, New York, Alabama, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Florida. National recording artists Betty Elders, Carol Elliott, and Eliza Gilkyson combine their silvery vocals in a concert to celebrate the opening of the show. Common Threads kicks off with a reception July 5, 6-8 p.m., and is followed by the concert with Elders, Elliott, and Gilkyson. The ArtCentre of Plano is located at 1039 E. 15th St., historic downtown Plano. Call (972) 423-7809.
Internet STAR Sundays: It's true that the Internet represents the most overrated method of communication and information retrieval to come along since that crummy, unreliable little device known as the fax machine. But it's only fair that you discover for yourself how inane, junk-filled, and mind-numbing chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards are--no bitching is more satisfying than the kind that's earned. Every Sunday throughout the month of July, the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library hosts free classes called "Internet STAR Sundays" where instructors will teach basic functions and resources to people who know nothing about the Internet. The first program is at 2 p.m. in the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young. You must call to register at (214) 670-1400 before you show up.