Didn't We Ramble: Of all the bedrock American musical styles that Texas can proudly claim, jazz seems to be the least recognized. Blind Lemon Jefferson plays that twangy down-home blues and Bob Wills moves a dance floor with his galloping Texas swing in our collective memories, but many of the great jazz instrumentalists of the last half-century have hailed from here. Any state that can boast Ornette Coleman, David "Fathead" Newman, Red Garland, Cedar Walton, and Julius Hemphill surely deserves a chapter in the American book of music, but so far, the region's jazz history hasn't been exhaustively chronicled. The Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters has taken up the cause and presents a night of many musical colors, all of them in the shade of jazz. "Didn't We Ramble: A Night of Jazz Joy in June" features four of the best contemporary North Texas musical outfits--Sebastian Whittaker and the Creators, Marchel Ivery, Rachelle Parks, and Wm. A Richardson and the Inner Circle Jazz Evolutionists. The Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters presents "Didn't We Ramble" 8 pm-1 am in the Clarence Muse Cafe Theater in the Dallas Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin. Tickets are $10-$12. For more info call 658-7147 or 943-0142.
Janet Leigh: While film scholars over the last three decades have poked, prodded, dissected, and generally emptied the clockwork contents of every movie Alfred Hitchcock ever made, his films continue to resist critical reductionism, perhaps because so many of them are so damned entertaining--the Master's first concern with every project. And while you can savor the pristinely realized themes of duplicity in Vertigo and voyeurism in Rear Window, many of us revere the more confrontational Psycho for its sheer, white-knuckle effectiveness. Indeed, as one of the few classic American thrillers that actually gets creepier the more you analyze it, Psycho is the pinnacle of all Hitchcock's intricate exercises in audience manipulation. The film's star, Janet Leigh, has just released a book on the making of the film titled Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Thriller. She appears to sign copies of her memoir at 7 pm in Taylors Prestonwood, 5455 Belt Line Rd. For info call 357-1700.
AmeriFest '95: Say what you like about Dallas' general apathy toward arts institutions that offer challenging work, but we sure know how to throw an outdoor festival. A bunch of corporations and business vendors see the chance for a little "community outreach" (read promotion), put their heads together, and voila!!--you have another outdoor festival with arts and crafts, food and drink, live performances, etc. Actually, early June is ideal for walking among crowds of fellow Dallasites--the sun is shining, kids are out of school and therefore pretty much thrilled to be doing anything, and the concrete hasn't yet begun to feel like the bottom of one of those old-fashioned bread-baking ovens. AmeriFest was first organized last year to coincide with the World Cup Games. When a whopping 45,000 folks made their way through, the organizers decided to give it another go. Just think of AmeriFest '95 as an excuse just to be. AmeriFest '95 happens daily June 9-11 on Main Street between Pegasus Plaza and Griffin Street. It's free. For more info call 742-4021.
The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb: By the time David Borthwick's 1993 The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb played at last year's USA Film Festival, the hour-long combination of latex creations and live actors was dragging a wagonful of international film festival awards behind it. No small wonder, because this Tom Thumb works as both a stunning technical feat and an unnerving, if ambiguous, exploration into the relationship between scientific innovation and moral decay, the latter represented by a sludgy, trashy underworld into which the tiny protagonist escapes. What makes the film especially eerie is the jittery movements of the live actors, who were filmed as though they were latex models---each gesture painstakingly recorded with a single shot and then woven together. The film is accompanied by a short work called Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life, in which the inimitable Richard E. Grant portrays an off-his-rocker Kafka trying to begin his short novel The Metamorphosis despite the interruptions of Christmas Eve well-wishers. The Inwood opens The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb and Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life for a midnight run each Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $7. For more information call 352-6040.
The Art of Collecting: Thirty Years in Retrospect: After playing host to a series of wildly successful international touring exhibits, Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum has decided to toot its own horn with the latest show on the schedule. Entitled The Art of Collecting: Thirty Years In Retrospect, the exhibition features 150 separate works in various media that stretch from the ancients to the moderns and include European, North American, Asian, and African artists. For years now, Kimbell staffers and directors have been working to assemble a permanent collection that distinguishes the institution not just as the stop in the Southwest for traveling mega-shows, but also as a formidable, internationally competitive holder of great works. They've got the family jewels on display here, so come and peruse. The Art of Collecting: Thirty Years in Retrospect opens June 10 and runs through September 3 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. It's free. Call (817) 332-8451.
God Shows No Partiality: It's a phrase you don't hear much these days from religious speakers. And while it's easy to bemoan the mean-spiritedness of rhetoric from the Religious Right, America has just joined an international trend that's been centuries in the making. Fundamentalism has ruled (and ravaged) just about everywhere but the West, from the bloody battles among Buddhist sects to waves of violent retaliation between Muslim and Jewish extremists. While fundamentalist Christian activists in the United States have kept their missiles verbal, an exploration into the motives of the Oklahoma City bombers might begin a new chapter in the American culture wars. The School of Theology For the Laity presents a lecture titled "God Shows No Partiality" by a black Southern man of God who has the academic credentials of an international scholar. Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr. is the presiding bishop of the Fourth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Louisiana and Mississippi, holds many degrees, and has traveled the world. The talk begins at 3 pm in the sanctuary of East Dallas Christian Church, 629 N. Peak. It's free, and supervised child care is available. For more info call 349-2792.
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Retratos y Seunos: Photographs by Mexican Children: For over four centuries now, the craggy, misty lands of Chiapas--Mexico's southernmost region--seem to have escaped the racial enmity that has marred the country as a whole. Here Indians and Spanish descendants live alongside one another in crumbling villages, raising animals and praying and marrying and living and dying. International photographer Wendy Ewald, who has a history of working with impoverished children from the Appalachians to Bombay, ventured there in 1991 to supervise an art project among the Chiapan kids. The result is Retratos y Seunos (Portraits and Dreams): Photographs by Mexican Children, an exhibition of 68 photos snapped by the children that documents their daily lives. The photographers weren't directed toward straight documentary images so much as capturing the people and daily rituals that affected them most. Accompanying the show is a documentary video and interview text. Retratos y Seunos: Photographs by Mexican Children opens June 9 and runs through August 6 in the Meadows Museum on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. It's free. Call 768-3510.
C.J. Critt: From Mary Matalin and Ann Richards to Ellen DeGeneres and Ab Fab's Patsy and Adina, it seems everybody's after women these days for their words, and--surprise!!--despite the American cultural assumption that females are somehow softer, more caring creatures, their sentiments can cut with the same force as men's. Barb-tongued C.J. Critt is slowly acquiring her own audience with shows in Dallas and New York City that resemble what you get when you cross a poetry reading with a mob scene--great torrents of words, some wry, some angry, with an emphasis on using the visual metaphor as a battering ram. Although clearly feminist-inspired, Critt wields something far more deadly than ideological rants--a sense of humor. She performs her own brand of satirical cabaret, this time without the usual accompaniment of her Angry Girl Sextet, June 10 at 4:15 pm; June 13 at 9:15 pm; and June 18 at 1 pm as part of the Dallas Theater Center's Big D Festival of the Unexpected in the Kalita Humphreys Theater on Turtle Creek. Tickets to each performance are $6. Call 522-TIXX.
Landfill: Because of the bare stage, you might be tempted not to take the proceedings as seriously. But staged readings are not events at which one sips beverages loudly, rustles programs, or gossips among friends. In some ways, readings require a higher degree of concentration because the playwright's work is usually unfinished, or the playwright wants to find out if it's unfinished. Your reactions, suggestions, remarks, and insights are all sought by the writer to help him or her figure out if the work has hit its intended marks. The Playwrights' Project, a Dallas-based nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding and encouraging theater, hosts a reading of a trilogy of one-acts by Jim Anderson. Landfill concerns itself with a postapocalyptic world in which escape comes with a price. Playwrights' Project presents a staged reading of Landfill at 7 pm in the Teatro Dallas space, 2204 Commerce. A $5 donation is requested. Call 661-3703.
Turtle Creek Chorale: Dallas' world-renowned, 200-voice, all-male choir The Turtle Creek Chorale wraps up its 15th season with two performances informed by a decidedly Wagnerian flourish. Take a gander at some of the titles on the program for their performances with the Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra--Mendelssohn's Festgasang An Die Kunstler, Strauss' Die Tageszeiten, and Bruckner's Abendzauber--and you can almost feel the braided wigs and breastplates vibrating with Teutonic vocal fury. The Chorale has tapped two formidable New York City opera talents to perform in these shows, though don't hold your breath waiting for Brunehilda drag. The New York City Opera's mezzo-soprano Melanie Sonnenberg, who replaced Cecilia Bartoli during those controversial Cinderella performances by the Dallas Opera this past season, performs along with the Metropolitan Opera's Timothy Jenkins, who has performed solo at the White House and is himself something of a Wagner aficionado. The performances will be recorded and released on Reference Recordings. The Turtle Creek Chorale performs June 11 and June 14 at 8 pm in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora in the downtown Arts District. Tickets are $10-$25. Call 520-