Flashback to when social outings were contingent upon drink specials, and local music was a religion with mass almost every night. Back then, a quiet, unassuming band called Course of Empire played lighthearted romps with acoustic instruments and one snare. Well, not exactly. Try two drummers and a club vibrating with sound. Fevered fans and fiery riffs. Synchronized drums, like Grohl and Hawkins. With COE long dead and its members moved on to other projects, COE guitarist Mike Graff pulls a live collection and DVD out of his bags of tricks. Those who remember the Empire, its music and the people who loved it can come celebrate at the Course of Empire Pre-Release Listening and DVD Screening. Graff will have limited copies available and will also take orders. And, chances are, after everyone takes a memory-lane listen, Phone Calls from the Dead and the HISS DVD will both need repressing. Graff and his former bandmates Michael Jerome, Paul Semrad and Chad Lovell should be on hand for high fives and "Man, you guys rocked!" moments at Liquid Lounge, 2800 Main St., on Thursday beginning at 9:15 p.m. Tripp Fontaine will play at 10 p.m., offering a little live action in between COE premieres. Call 214-742-2336.
Friday, March 12
In 1954, N. Richard Nash wrote a romantic comedy for the stage titled The Rainmaker. In 1956, the play was put to screen in a movie starring the manly Burt Lancaster and the manly Katherine Hepburn. (No offense, Kate; we frequently wear pants, too.) Then in 1997 came a lackluster film starring Matt Damon and Danny DeVito as lawyers, also called The Rainmaker, or rather, John Grisham's The Rainmaker. But alas, that really has nothing to do with our subject, Act One Productions' opening night of The Rainmaker, which is Nash's hit as opposed to Damon's flop. Act One kicks off the story of the Curry family's life and love with a performance at 8 p.m. followed by a catered reception. 2001 Leon Rabin Award winner Elizabeth Ware directs and, while Lancaster, Hepburn and DeVito don't star, Ben Bryant, Ben Casey, Dona Safran and others do. The show runs through March 28 at DeSoto Corner Theatre, 211 E. Pleasant Run Road, with performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 and $12. Call 972-223-0139.
Saturday, March 13
Gramps taught us always to wave as the train rolled by. He was always out, camera in hand, shooting motion pictures and still detail shots of Santa Fe engines, Union Pacific cars and everything else to do with the railroad. He said it was a lonely job at either end of the train, and a wave from us could make a conductor's day. And you better believe we still do it. On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., kids (real ones in addition to those of us who refuse to grow up) can see the magic of the enormous transporters up close in the form of a dining car, a 1910 first-class sleeping car and the world's largest steam engine, Big Boy. They can check out a Santa Fe caboose and board a 3600-horsepower Santa Fe Diesel locomotive that traveled the Chicago-Los Angeles route from 1967 to 1971. The Age of Steam Railroad Museum, 1105 Washington St. in Fair Park, may call it the Kids' Train Festival, but we wish Gramps were still around to go with us...and tell us about those photos of his that remain on the very same museum's walls. Admission is $3 and $6, and the festival continues on Sunday. Call 214-428-0101.
Sunday, March 14
Four decades ago, the verdict was guilty. Jack Ruby was convicted on television for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and, once again, Dallas was in a certain funereal spotlight. On Sunday, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza offers The Jack Ruby Trial: 40 Years Later from 2:30 to 4 p.m. to commemorate the anniversary of the judgment. Former ABC reporter Murphy Martin, who covered the events and was responsible for the airing of the trial, moderates the program and shares his new book Front Row Seat: A Veteran Reporter Relives the Four Decades That Reshaped America. Also participating on the panel are Judge Joe B. Brown Jr. (son of the trial's presiding judge), juror J. Waymon Rose and others closely connected to the trial. The special presentation features video clips from the museum and concludes with the reversal of the verdict and Ruby's death. Admission is $25 and includes a copy of Martin's book, which he will sign following the program. Seating is limited and reservations are available at 214-747-6660, extension 6626.
Monday, March 15
We've noticed a trend: Escape in a fantastical story, and you can bet you're headed through a dangerous and sinister forest full of dangerous and sinister character-eating bad guys. Take The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Princess Bride and Hansel and Gretel as evidence to prove our theory. Babes in Toyland, a musical comedy for children, also offers a woodsy freak-out for its characters Mistress Mary Quite Contrary and Alan (how come he doesn't get a cool title?) as they get the heck out of Dodge, or Mother Goose Land, rather, via the Spider's Forest. It's a risk, but it's for love...and to get away from a cruel bastard named Uncle Barnaby. Cheer Mary and Alan on Monday at 8 p.m. as Starlight Performing Arts presents the final Babes performance. The theater is located at 201 S. Ector Drive in Euless. Tickets range from $5 to $10. Reservations are recommended to ensure seating. Call 817-508-9101.
Tuesday, March 16
Michael O'Brien is a photographer with an extensive résumé, having worked for national magazines such as National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Life, TIME and others. In 25 years, he's collected shots of many a Texan. From those that draw "ohs" and "wows" to some that arouse a chorus of who? O'Brien has been called an "adoptive Texan" and lives in Austin, so there's a fairly good chance that the Texas tales he's heard have inspired him. After all, he's dedicated an entire exhibit, The Face of Texas: Photographs by Michael O'Brien, to Texans. See the Face at Fort Worth's National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, 1720 Gendy St., through May 2. Admission is $4 to $6, free for kids 5 and under. Call 817-336-4475.
Wednesday, March 17
This St. Patrick's Day we're looking for something real and true, with some dancing that doesn't occur on top of a bar sans shirt and some celebration that doesn't require a hand over the eyes of tykes. We're proud of our Irishness (however minute it is), and we've loved a good rendition of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" ever since we heard the greatest Irish tenor, John McCormack, crooning it on the hi-fi. Our traditional nature on this drinkiest of holidays leads us to the family-friendly Palace Arts Center in Grapevine for St. Patrick's Day at the Palace. Tenor Matthew Lord performs as well as the Iverin Irish Dance Company, dancing in traditional and modern Irish styles. There's a cash bar with green beer if your gullet needs hosing, and anyone joining the Grapevine Heritage Foundation will be admitted free. Otherwise it's $10 for adults and free for those under 18 and over 62. The show at 300 S. Main St. starts at 7 p.m. Call 817-410-3100.