Pam Houston: The Oakland, California-based author's resume includes stints as a hunting guide, a creative-writing instructor, a horse trainer, a bartender, a ski instructor and ahighway-crew flagperson. She reads from and signs copies of her fine short-story collection, Cowboys Are My Weakness, at 8 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at Phoenix College, 1202 West Thomas. Admission is $5, $3 for students, seniors and those with limited incomes. For details call 922-5467.
Southern Culture on the Skids: SCOTS is a great name for a pretty good band from the Carolina sticks that plays ... well, let guitarist/vocalist Rick Miller sum it up: "Ours is a sound that reeks of swamp gas and watermelon seeds. Of amphetamine-crazed long-haulers and cicadas in heat. Of three-dollar thrift-store shoes and fresh-outta-the-oven biscuits." Touring in support of its new DGC album, Dirt Track Date, the trio performs on Thursday at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Flathead opens at 9p.m. Cover is $6. Call 265-4842.
Billy Taylor Trio: Pianist Taylor has shared the stage with Dizzy Gillespie, Stuff Smith and Eddie South, but he's probably best known as a broadcaster. Taylor's a longtime correspondent for CBS-TV's Sunday Morning and host of National Public Radio's weekly Jazz at the Kennedy Center show. Taylor and his cohorts, bassist Charles "Chip" Jackson and drummer Steve Johns, perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Symphony Hall, 225East Adams. The program includes Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train" and "Lush Life" and Gershwin's "The Man I Love." Tickets range from $12 to $36, available at the symphony box office and Dillard's. Call 264-6363.
Ruff and Tumble: Desert Hills Cluster All-Breed Dog Show and Sahuaro State Kennel Club's Harvest of Champions: The best breeds in the world are put through their paces in these canine competitions sanctioned by the American Kennel Club. The DHC show is slated for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday at WestWorld, 16601 North Pima Road in Scottsdale. Admission is free; call 948-9002. The SSKC pup-off is scheduled for 7a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday in exhibit halls C through E at Phoenix Civic Plaza, Second Street and Adams. It includes the 1995 ALPO National Grand Championship Finals and a performance by the Friskies ALPO Canine Frisbee Disc Demonstration Team. Admission is $5, free for kids under 12; call 262-7272 or 263-0575.
Jodeci, and Mary J. Blige: The brother act and the soul sister co-headline one of the most promising urban-contemporary bills in recent memory on Friday at America West Arena, First Street and Jefferson; see the review of Jodeci's The Show, the After Party, theHotel on page 102. Sharing the marquee: the Notorious B.I.G., Bad Boy Family, Faith, Total, Craig Mack, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Puff Daddy, Naughty by Nature, Luniz, and Adina Howard. Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $30, available at the arena and Dillard's. Call 379-7800 or 678-2222.
Phoenix Roadrunners: Arizona's International Hockey Leaguers host the Atlanta Knights on Friday, the Chicago Wolves on Saturday and the Las Vegas Thunder on Wednesday at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, 19th Avenue and McDowell; all of the games start at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Coliseum and Ticketmaster. Call 340-0001 or 784-4444.
Rita Dove: The Pulitzer Prize winner and poet laureate of the U.S. speaks on "Poetry in the Modern World" at 8p.m. Saturday atRadisson Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, 60 East Fifth Street, as part of Arizona Humanities Council's Arizona Humanities Day celebration. Dove autographs copies of her works after the lecture. A nohost bar precedes at 5:30, and dinner follows that at6:30. Tickets are $10 for the lecture only, $50for the package deal. Call 257-0335.
"Sheep to Shawl" Guild Wool Festival and Sheep Drive: Heard Museum hosts this celebration of wool and weaving in conjunction with the opening of "Classics and Dazzlers: Textiles From the Fred Harvey Company Collection" (see Art Exhibits listing). The festivities kick off with a sheep drive at 10 a.m. Saturday. The drive--a rare sight in modern Phoenix, though fairly common in the past--begins at the intersection of Central Avenue and Palm Lane, proceeding north on Central to Scott L. Libby Jr. Amphitheater on the Heard grounds, 22 East Monte Vista. The free, outdoor festival continues until 4:30 p.m. Saturday, resuming from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday; along with Navajo Churro sheep, it includes goats, llamas and lambs, shearing and weaving seminars, herding demonstrations by sheep dogs, crafts, lectures and Native American, Mexican and Basque cuisine. Regular admission prices are in effect at the museum proper. Call 252-8840.
Jurys Irish Cabaret: The house act at Dublin's Jurys Hotel makes its first stop in the Valley in more than a decade. The group performs its traditional blend of singing, dancing and sentimental humor at 8 p.m. Saturday at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache inTempe, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in SunCity West. Tickets range from $7 to $22, available at Gammage, Sundome and Dillard's. Call 965-3434, 975-1900 or 678-2222.