All-Star Christmas Invitational: We dedicate this Christmas edition of "Calendar" to you, the friendless orphan who's faced with wandering the cold streets alone instead of being cooped up with family and friends you stopped liking long ago. In our minds, Christmas, more than any other holiday, is synonymous with self-pity, so an all-star round-up of great national blues guitarists seems like just the perfect musical accompaniment. Mason Ruffner, Kenny Traylor, Edd Lively, BIll Hamm, Bobby Gilmore, and C.B. Scott are all in the house at Fort Worth's J & J Blues Bar for an "All-Star Christmas Invitational." The show kicks off at 8 p.m. at J & J Blues Bar, 937 Woodward, Fort Worth. For admission call (817) 870-2337.
Kwanzaa Parade and Umoja Rally: So you think the pressure to have a good time is over just because Jesus' designated birthday has passed? Don't relax those smile muscles just yet--there's a weekend of holiday hell to go--but take a detour into Afro-political sensibility with the Third Eye's Kwanzaa Parade and Umoja Rally. Kwanzaa is the African celebration that marks the importance of villagehood and the seven core principles (or nguzo saba) for successful community. For 13 years now, Third Eye has maintained a weeklong celebration with a different event on each day. The first is a Kwanzaa Parade and Umoja Rally at 2 p.m. at Lincoln High School, 2826 Hatcher St. The crowd will proceed down Malcolm X Boulevard to Martin Luther King Recreation Center, 2901 Pennsylvania Ave. Lest you think this is some wussy grade-school Afrocentric celebration, take note of the parade's theme: "Racism, Reparations, and Repatriation." The Third Eye is, by its own admission, on the left end of the multicultural spectrum, so things could get interesting. They plan a different event at various Dallas locations through December 31. For a complete list, call (214) 428-1040.
Not a Creature Was Stirring: Another little-mentioned, but nationally acclaimed theatrical treasure that Dallas houses is the Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts, 24 years old and unique in the Southwest for its extensive puppetry holdings and education programs. They've joined forces with the Dallas Children's Theatre, likewise of national repute but currently in desperate need of a home, to present a script by B. Wolf whose human contributions are solely behind the curtain. Not a Creature Was Stirring features hand puppets, black-theater rod puppets, and marionettes to tell its tale of a grumpy old man whose heart is warmed, quite unlike real life, by a precious family of mice. Performances happen 7:30 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday; and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Dallas Children's Theater, 2215 Cedar Springs. Tickets are $10-$12. Call (214) 978-0110.
A Joyful Noise: It's not surprising that so many in the late-20th-century African-American community have turned away from the blues and spirituals, synonymous as these forms are in many blacks' minds with enslavement and persecution. It's one of those "Is the glass half full or half empty?" cases though, because the forms' very power lies in their tales of transcendence and redemption. Fort Worth's Jubilee Theatre makes a strong case for slave spirituals telling us a lot during the holiday season. A Joyful Noise is their collaboration with the Dallas-based diva sextet known as New Arts Six. Negro spirituals are interwoven with the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, a writer whose short life was greatly influenced by these songs. Performances happen 8:15 p.m. Friday; 3:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Saturday; and 3:15 p.m. Sunday through January 4 at 506 Main St., downtown Fort Worth. Tickets are $10-$16. Call (817) 338-4411.
A Folk Culture Fantasy (carvings, blues and paintings): This triad of shows at Fair Park's African-American Museum presents a different perspective of American history employing four different media: sculpture, music, photography, and painting. First I Look at the Wood! is an exhibition of the animal carvings of Isaac Smith, an artist who had a peculiar mixture of sensibilities: He carved his creatures with such detail, you can almost see their rib cages expand and contract in breath, and then turned around and painted them in wildly ornate primary colors. Meeting the Blues: The Rise of Texas Sound is an exhibit of blues nightclubs from Texas, New York, and California organized by local historian Alan Govenar. And finally, An Awareness of Our Roots: Walter F. Cotton 1892-1978 is a retrospective of the late Cotton, the son of a slave and WWI veteran who began to paint religious images in Mexia, Texas, and made a national name for himself from that place. The shows run through March 1 at the African-American Museum in Fair Park. Call (214) 565-9026.
Holiday Lights at Fair Park: Now that you've cashed in all your gift certificates and watched your cat choke down the last bit of cold turkey, there's an empty feeling inside you that no Zen master could fill. The 1997 winter bacchanal isn't over, with more compulsory merriment waiting just ahead at New Year's. Since instant nostalgia seems to the order of pre-millennial America (culture vultures insist that '80s kitsch is already giving way to early-'90s kitsch), why not fondly relive the highlights of your 1997 Yuletide season by taking the jalopy on a spin through Holiday Lights at Fair Park? The lights will remain on until January 4, for the benefit of all those who just can't let the season go. The show is open nightly 5:30-11 p.m. until January 4 at Fair Park (the entrance will be at Starplex's gate). Tickets are $8 per car. If your group is so large it requires a bus or van to move, you'll be charged a "nominal" additional fee. Call (214) 741-4848.