The Old 97's/The Gourds: Both of these Texas outfits crank out curious, likable hybrids of folk, country and rock. The 97's, based in Dallas, are touring behind their Elektra release Too Far to Care. As for the Austin-based Gourds, any band that titles a song "I Ate the Haggis" deserves some sort of credit. Playing in support of their Munich disc Stadium Blitzer, the Gourds open the show for the 97's at 8 p.m. Thursday, February 5, at Gibson's, 410 South Mill in Tempe. Tickets are $7. 967-1234, 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
Trinity Irish Dance Company: The Chicago Sun-Times described this lot as "The Rockettes of Irish Dancing." Smile when you say that. Three-time winner of the World Championships in Irish Dancing in Dublin, the company serves up enough sassy jigging, reeling, Ceili dancing, quadrilling and so on to make Michael Flatley roll his eyes. Presented by Southwest Dance, Trinity takes the stage at two Valley venues this week: first at 8 p.m. Thursday, February 5, at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue; then at 8 p.m. Friday, February 6, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Tickets range from $18 to $28. 786-2680 (Chandler), 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
"Africa! A Sense of Wonder": This impressive display concludes Sunday, February 8, in the Steele Gallery of the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central. The exhibit offers "new ways of looking at the art of Africa" and includes about 80 sub-Saharan objects that date from the 16th to early 20th centuries and range from the sociocultural to the fanciful. Drawn from the extensive collection of Valley resident Richard Faletti and family, "Africa!" was co-curated by Mary Nooter Roberts and Allen F. Roberts. Various related in-gallery presentations and performances are scheduled this week: Yoruban dancer, actress and storyteller Remi Ogunsile performs at noon and 7 p.m. Thursday, February 5. A family workshop for ages 7 and up titled "Kasing, Kasing: Rattles of West Africa" is presented from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, February 7. From 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, February 8, the native South African music and dance troupe Harare (Swahili for "let it be") provides the exhibition with a finale performance. The rattle workshop costs $15 and requires preregistration (257-2102); the other events are free with museum admission. 257-1880, 257-1222.
King Lear: This is it--a bona fide biggie, near the top of any sensible short list of the true masterpieces of world drama. Shakespeare's stormy tragedy of the doting old ruler who chooses the worst imaginable method for dividing up his kingdom among his three daughters is a terrifying vision of the world--a place where family members engage in vile plots against each other; where minor quarrels erupt into hideous and irrational violence; where small errors in judgment lead inexorably to catastrophe; where fools are sensible and kings are mad. Yet, paradoxically, the play keeps offering us reasons to live, and to be kind to each other. Obie Award-winning director (and former New Times contributor) Marshall W. Mason directs the show. Opening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 6; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 7; 2 p.m. Sunday, February 8; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 11, at the Paul V. Galvin Playhouse at Arizona State University's Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th Street and Mill in Tempe. The run continues through Saturday, February 21. Tickets are $12, $6 for students and seniors. 965-6447.
King Norris Band: A very different sort of king from Lear, this New York-based electric-blues-rock crew is fronted by Fred Norris, a regular on the Howard Stern show who has also written and performed with Leslie West, Ray Davies, Ozzy Osbourne, and Roger Daltrey. The band takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, February 6, at The Bash on Ash, 230 West Fifth Street in Tempe. Tickets are $16, $18 at the door. 966-5600, 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
The Heiress: This stage adaptation of the Henry James novella Washington Square opens just in time to compare to the current film by Agnieszka Holland. This telling of the marital fortunes of poor Catherine Sloper, the plain daughter of a rich New York physician, opened on Broadway in 1947 and was made into a like-titled 1949 William Wyler film with Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift. David Wheeler, who directed Al Pacino in Richard III on Broadway, helms the Arizona Theatre Company production, which stars Anne Torsiglieri as Catherine, Ken Ruta as Dr. Sloper and Robert Parsons as Morris Townsend, Catherine's handsome suitor. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, February 6; 8 p.m. Saturday, February 7; 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday, February 8; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 11, at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets range from $19.50 to $32.50. The run continues through Saturday, February 21. 252-8497, 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Nunsense Jamboree: If King Lear or The Heiress are a little too lightweight for you this weekend, consider this meaty second sequel to the ever popular Nunsense. Its full title is Sister Amnesia's Country Western Nunsense Jamboree, and it stars Georgia Engel--a regular visitor to the homes of Nickelodeon-viewing insomniacs as Georgette on The Mary Tyler Moore Show--as the heroine, who at long last realizes her dream of becoming a country-western star. Sister and pals take the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, February 6; 8 p.m. Saturday, February 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 8, at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. Tickets are $16, $22 and $28. 975-1900 (the 'dome), 503-5555 (Dillard's).